Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A week in the Life Enhancement Program

We spent our first official week at Canyon Ranch as guests in the Life Enhancement Program (LEP). Although I had heard a lot about the LEP over the years, I didn’t know much more about it than that it took place up near the T-pool in that big building called the Life Enhancement Center (the LEC – confusing, I know). We arrived for the LEP orientation on a warm Sunday afternoon, fresh from a long drive from LA. There was crudités and lemonade waiting for us, as well as nifty little name tags on a string that, as we soon found out, we were to wear around our necks the remainder of the week.

Ken and I sat down to have some healthy snacks, and I looked around at our fellow LEP participants. It kind of reminded me of the first day of summer camp – new faces, hesitant smiles, even a few expressions of confusion and doubt. I’m pretty sure there were a lot people thinking, "What did I get myself into?"

After a welcome greeting and a few ice breakers (this is what ice breakers are for, right?), we had dinner in the special LEC dining room and retired to our casita, anxious to get started bright and early the next morning.

Our week in LEP was packed with activities, including lectures on nutrition and heart health, stride and strength classes in the LEC gym, and of course, services of our choice (I think my favorite was Watsu – you have to try it). Pretty much everyone participated in all of the sessions together, so you really got to know everyone in the program. It truly was like summer camp for adults!

Despite all the activities we shared and health facts we learned, the most amazing result was how we had changed after just 6 days at the LEC. I thought back to the faces I saw on Sunday afternoon and didn’t recognize any of them by Friday evening. We were transformed. We were rejuvenated and at ease. And I felt like we were a family.

I know that every guest in LEC took home something special and personal. I definitely did. Unfortunately I was not able to say goodbye to everyone at the closing ceremony on Saturday evening due to a family emergency, but I hope each of them knows what a wonderful experience they helped provide to all of us.

To Your Good Health!

Nicole Zuckerman

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The 2-Mile Loop

Have you ever been running endlessly on a treadmill, and thought, there must be a better way? Even if there’s a TV screen in front of you, I can’t help but thinking, this is soooo boring. Although I grew up playing soccer, rugby, and a host of other field sports that required a massive amount of running, I could never get myself to stay on a treadmill for more than 20 minutes – and I’ve tried everything. I can have access to a treadmill with 3,000 cable channels, an i-Pod input with advanced digital displays, 400 different hill and interval workouts, and I will still want to shoot myself after 20 minutes. The fact is, I cannot run consistently, unless some 250-pound rugger is trying to crush me or I’m chasing after a ball.

It’s amazing that after working and staying at the ranch over the past 10 years, I had heard of but never experienced the mythical, “2-mile loop.” As I’ve struggled through my 20 minutes of running and lamented about the pain of it, people would always ask, “Why don’t you run outside? There’s a 2-mile loop literally 20 feet from the gym.” I would always tell them, that despite my hatred of the treadmill, at least I was in an air-conditioned room and I could tell how many miles I’ve run and at what pace, etc. Then one day as the summer was stretching into fall, I thought, why not? I’ll try the 2-mile loop. At least this way I can’t quit after a mile and jump into a much more inviting part of Canyon Ranch, like a nice warm whirlpool.

So, with the thrill of the unknown, I ventured out of the spa, and started on my first, 2-mile loop around the Ranch. With that simple decision, my running life was changed forever. The 2-mile loop goes through and around the Ranch. In case you haven’t been to the property, Canyon Ranch in Tucson is bordered on one side by the pristine Sabino Canyon Creek, desert to the south, several hills to the west, and the Catalina Mountains to the north. The property itself is a combination of natural desert and the manicured desert/grounds that guests often note. The 2-mile loop goes through all of this and provides you with unbelievable views in every direction. The best part of the loop is that it has a little bit of everything. A little trail running on a maintained dirt trail, a small amount of running on paved surfaces, various elevation changes, and even a portion of the trail that climbs the side of a hill. Once you reach the top of this hill it provides you with a breathtaking view of the whole property
and the Catalinas to the north. If you’re so inclined, you can use that same hill for intervals to vary your run workout.

However, the best part of this first run came about 10 minutes into it when I heard a rustling in the desert. Not more than 30 feet away, I spied a mule deer that had been feeding on desert grass and was staring at me with curiosity.

With gorgeous views around every corner, the thrill of running outdoors, and my proximity to nature I began to feel the unique energy of the land and desert. Needless to say, the time flew by and before I knew it, my two miles were up. I returned to run that loop everyday for the next week and for the first time in my life had implemented a consistent running program. So next time you’re in Tucson, take a walk or a jog on the 2-mile loop, and let me know what you think. I hope your experience will be as great as mine.

Live healthy!

Ken Morris

Monday, November 3, 2008

Passing of the Family Torch

I’ve been told countless times that my mom used to carry me around in a wicker baby basket when Canyon Ranch first opened in late 1979. Of course, I don’t remember this, but over the years I have run into many longtime guests and employees who all seem to recall me in that basket.

Many people are shocked when they realize that enough time has passed for me to graduate from college with a business degree in Economics, complete law school, spend a few long years practicing law in Los Angeles, and get married (to Kenny, who, unbeknownst to me, worked in the Men’s Locker Room ten years ago when I was working in the Human Resources department).

Having spent the first 18 years of my life in Tucson I thought I might never move back. L.A.’s vibrant city lifestyle was simply more enticing for a newlywed couple still in their 20s.

But this past April, the phone rang in my 20th floor office, and it was Kenny on the other end. He was in Tucson and had just had lunch with my grandparents. Something had hit him: If we wanted to join the Canyon Ranch family, we should do it sooner rather than later. At first I was stunned – Kenny and I had discussed the possibility of returning to Tucson to work with the Ranch, but only after spending at least a few more years in L.A. Yet after just a few minutes discussing the possibilities with Kenny, I joined in his excitement. Within three months, we had sold our condo in L.A., quit our jobs, packed up our cat, Periwinkle, and headed back to Tucson.

So here we are. It’s nostalgic and a little strange driving past my old high school and the Einstein’s Bagels hangout. But it’s great to be home, closer to both our families. In addition to Tucson, we will be spending time at the properties in Lenox, Las Vegas and Canyon Ranch Miami Beach.

Next time you’re at the Ranch, track us down, say hello. I’d like to think I’ve come along way since that baby basket ...

To Your Good Health!

Nicole Zuckerman

Meet the New Generation of Canyon Ranch

Almost ten years ago, I found myself making one of the most important decisions of my life. Do I accept a job at Canyon Ranch or at Baskin Robbins?

It was the spring of 1998, my high school soccer season was winding down, and I thought it was time I found a summer job. So, after several weeks of interviews, applications, and thought, I had two very different offers sitting before me. On one hand, I would be working at a world-class health and wellness resort and on the other, I’d have access to all the ice cream I could eat. Although becoming the ice cream czar of my school was strangely appealing, I decided an offer from Canyon Ranch was simply too good to pass up. For the next two years, I was a Men’s Locker Room attendant and began a journey that would instill in me a passion to learn about how to lead a healthy life.

As I look back at that pivotal year, I realize that I could have gone in two vastly different directions. Besides my job duties and responsibilities at the Ranch, I was immersed in a world that gave me my first strength training program, my first nutritional plan, and exposure to a world of healthy living and the possibilities a healthy lifestyle can provide. This exposure, which was available to me as an employee of Canyon Ranch, laid a foundation that is the bedrock of my current life a decade later.

Of course, this blog isn’t about my life ten years ago, it’s about today … when I am once again a part of Canyon Ranch. How did that happen? Last time I looked, I went to the University of Arizona, graduated with a degree in Business Administration, dual-majored in Finance and Accounting, worked at Deloitte and Touche as an accountant/auditor, worked on Wall Street in commercial mortgage-backed securities, then became a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch (no, this isn’t my resumé, bear with me, my point is coming). As you can see, there’s no Canyon Ranch in that equation, except for the fact that three years ago I met my lovely wife Nicole, who just happens to be the granddaughter of the founders of Canyon Ranch, Mel and Enid Zuckerman.

Ever since I’ve known Nicole, she has dreamed that one day she would become involved in the family business she grew up with. Unfortunately, as we were living in Los Angeles at the time, this seemed to be a geographic impossibility and was relegated to the back burner indefinitely. However, one day an innocent lunch with Enid and Mel made me realize how important it was to him and Enid to keep the business in the family and not have to sell to someone who would turn it into a lifeless corporate organization. After a tremendous amount of soul-searching and numerous discussions, Nicole and I agreed. We just couldn’t let the Zuckerman family dream die.

With that in mind we decided to take a leap of faith, leave our careers, move back to Tucson, Arizona, and learn the business. For Nicole, this decision was fairly easy as this plan had always been a tickle in the back of her mind. For me, the decision was easy but for a different reason. Working at the Ranch ten years ago really opened my eyes to the power of healthy living. I saw the evidence as plain as day with each and every guest. I would see people come into the Spa weary from life, work and long travels. In a few days they were bursting with energy and ready to take on the world. When I met Nicole and her family, I was re-exposed to this message, lifestyle and purpose, and it just made sense. Joining the family business is an unbelievable opportunity and I will be working for a company that has a positive message I can truly believe in.

Live healthy!

Ken Morris