New Year, New Way to Kickstart Fitness!

New Year, New Way to Kickstart Fitness!

It is amazing what the body can endure, I thought this to myself, as I trudged up the lush, perfectly manicured path at Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara. It was 5 pm, but let me rewind: my day started at 6 am for a sunrise stretch – an hour of intense stretching. If you have ever taking a class dedicated to stretching you know there is such a thing, and if you haven’t, well you will just have to trust me on this one.


After the stretch class, we were guided up to the spa’s tranquil rooftop deck with a beautiful view, where we enjoyed vegan protein smoothies with fresh blueberries and half a banana.  Fueled up, we were ready for our hike to the top of Romero Canyon.  During the four mile trek, I was able to chat with some of the other participants in the Sky Ranch Fitness Retreat.

There was Elsa, a fearless yet elegant woman in her 70’s.  If she had told me she had been a beauty queen, I would have surely believed it.  Born in Egypt and raised in Paris, she and her husband and two young sons spent two years on a boat sailing and exploring the south Pacific.  She was a trooper.  When she was tired, she would rest, but she never quit.  In fact, she almost always had a smile on her face.  Throughout my visit, anytime I felt fatigued I would look at her for inspiration, thinking that if she could do it without complaining, than I certainly should suck it up!

I had many conversations with many different people, who were equally as interesting, as we moved up that beautiful mountain, passing through tree tunnels, and picturesque ridges.  Finally, and triumphantly, after two and a half hours, we made it to the peak; 3,100 feet in elevation with 360-degree sweeping views of both the mountains and the ocean.  Feeling accomplished, and happy for a rest, we all convened for a snack, and I tell you, an apple never tasted so good.

Stu Gildred owner of Sky Ranch Fitness

The four miles back down were a breeze, and when I arrived to the SUV, I was handed a cool lavender scented towellette.  Once the rest of the group arrived, we headed off to lunch at Alchemy Arts Cafe, a trendy new age restaurant and spa which boasted healthy fare.  The minute we walked our weary legs through the door we felt zen – the pleasing décor and scents; the peaceful energy was palpable.  We noshed on vegetable spring rolls, fresh farm to table salad with persimmon slices (if you have never tried perfectly ripe persimmon, you are seriously missing out) and probably the tastiest lentil soup I have ever had. It was clean, healthy and delicious.



Our bellies full and our feet and legs sore, we made our way back to the hotel where we had an hour rest until kickboxing class and an hour of yoga.  Back in the room, sore, (but the good kind of sore) I was back to reality with my phone and laptop going.  As 2 pm too quickly approached, I didn’t want to leave the comfort of that bed, but I dragged myself to the fitness center – literally dragged myself – head hung low, and I am sure I let out a moan or two.

When I got to the fitness center for kickboxing, George the instructor was waiting.  He was crazy energetic, crazy in shape, and just plain crazy in the best possible way.  He had everyone laughing, but still pushing us to our limits.  He made it fun, a lot of fun, and no one was more surprised than me that I actually felt better after the class, physically and emotionally.

Next up, yoga.  If I could conjure an image of the perfect angelic yoga instructor in my mind it would be Robin.  To say she was graceful and gorgeous is an understatement; like watching fish in a tank.  I could listen to her calm voice and watch her move her body effortlessly for hours.  After class, many people went to the spa for a well-earned massage, but I headed for my room, tired, but happy.  Endorphins flowing, I was completely at peace.

When I got back to my room, my keycard wouldn’t work, I had no choice but to make my way across the sprawling grounds of the hotel to the front desk to get a new one.  They asked if they could call me a golf cart to bring me back to my room, and to my surprise, the words “no thank you, I’ll walk” came flying out of my mouth.  It is amazing what the body can endure.  

Sky Ranch Fitness made me recognize what my body could endure.  To my surprise, the more I pushed myself, the more I wanted to push myself.  There is a sense of accomplishment that is hard to describe, but I was feeling it.  It is this feeling, combined with the passion of founder Stuart Gildred and his carefully selected team of fitness and wellness experts, that ensure you leave feeling physically fit, as well as emotionally connected, recharged and inspired.  It is the reason so many celebrities have attended this retreat and people keep coming back and bringing their friends.  Go to  Sky Ranch Fitness  for more information.

In Summary;

Sky Ranch Fitness was well-run and well-organized.  The accommodations were comfortable, luxurious and did not disappoint.  A week at a Sky Ranch Retreat includes a mix of spa, healthy eating, indoor and outdoor fitness activities, and trendy Santa Barbara restaurants.  The Sky Ranch staff was top notch – representing the best in their respective fields.  Inspiring and down to earth, the staff was not only knowledgeable, but you felt that they truly cared.  Aside from the daily hikes and various classes – including spinning, kick boxing and yoga – they offer a trip to Whole Foods Market with nutritionist Dr. Jessie, to help you identify healthy options and answer any questions. This program is perfect for anyone who is looking to kick-start a healthy lifestyle, or for those who are already fit.  Go to Sky Ranch Fitness for more information.

Jessica Denay

Jessica Denay is the founder of Hot Moms Club, author of the Hot Moms Handbook series, and has appeared on more than a hundred television shows as a lifestyle expert, since 2005 she has dedicated her life to helping moms feel good about themselves. Jessica practices what she preaches, she strives to live a life of healthy and harmony, her wellness articles highlight all of the things that have help her achieve peace love and healthiness! ;-)

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