Make time for fitness each day, it will improve your health and wellness as well as counter the effects of many diseases.


Gimme 10!

Gimme 10! Happy women after a workout10 minutes, that’s all we’re asking, okay, if you’ve been to Mountain Trek, you know the magic number is 40 minutes of exercise 3-5 times a week (in your target heart rate zone, breathing hard but not breathless). A study in a new research field called “metabolomics” is showing evidence that 10 minutes of exercise increases metabolic changes up to one hour. Bonus if you are already fit, you may get more benefits.

The following is a quote from the AP article from which the study is cited:

First, in 70 healthy people put on a treadmill, the team found more than 20 metabolites that change during exercise, naturally produced compounds involved in burning calories and fat and improving blood-sugar control. Some weren’t known until now to be involved with exercise. Some revved up during exercise, like those involved in processing fat. Others involved with cellular stress decreased with exercise.

Those are pretty wonky findings, the first step in a complex field. But they back today’s health advice that even brief bouts of activity are good.

“Ten minutes of exercise has at least an hour of effects on your body,” says Gerszten (a researcher), who found “some of the metabolic changes that began after 10 minutes on the treadmill were still measurable 60 minutes after people cooled down.”

So when you have only 10 minutes to spare for a quick walk around the block, take it! 10 minutes goes a long way to contributing to your overall health.

You can read the entire article here.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Ecstatic Energy from Reaching a Goal. Now That’s Vitality

everest base camp

In March, eight Mountain Trek Alumni, with Program Director Kirk Shave and iTrekNepal’s intrepid Sherpa guides embarked on a “bucket list” adventure to Everest Base Camp.

Despite weather delays, the group used teamwork to create a bond of support, propelling them from 9000′ to over 17000′ and back down to 13000′ in just 9 days. Views of world famous peaks, glaciers, and rivers mixed with rich Buddhist Sherpa culture, made for a once in a life time adventure. Mountain Trek’s week long, hiking based, fitness program allows guests to kick start their return to an active lifestyle, making dreams like this a reality.


The Good News Is…

Hiking The AlamoAs hikers it’s pretty obvious how important our knees are to us. Everything from proper hiking posture to using trekking poles to strength training, helps to keep knees healthy and ensures our ability to hike for many years to awe inspiring peaks and places.

It was affirming to read the article from the American Council of Sports Medicine, which provides strong evidence that physical activity is beneficial to knee joint health.

As it turns out, exercise affects each part of the knee differently, which helps explain why there have been conflicting reports for so long.

Happy knees like to move so keep getting those 10,000 steps in a day and do your strength training. Spring and hiking season are just around the corner!

Quick & Skinny

The University of Florida’s Weight Loss Study supports what we believe, and teach, here at Mountain Trek. Our 1200 calorie-controlled spa cuisine, 6-7 hours of physical activity per day, and stress reduction and detoxification practices, benefit our guests with a rapid, healthy raise in metabolism. The by-product: weight loss averages of 4-6 lbs for women and 7-9 lbs for men in 6 days. The physical and motivational results from 1 or 2 weeks in our Program combine with our educational lifestyle tips, to support our guests in maintaining increased health goals when they go home.

Read the full Good Housekeeping article below

We’re not pulling a fast one: Losing weight quickly at the get-go may help you lose more overall. In a University of Florida study of 262 women on a diet-and-fitness program – participants were encouraged to stick to 1,200 calories and to walk an extra 3000 steps per day – those who dropped the most pounds in the first month went on to lose the most weight by the end of the 18-month study (30 pounds, versus 11 for the others). The fast-starters also kept the weight off most successfully. Seeing larger changes early on may give you the “I-can-do-it” confidence you need to stick to your plan, says lead study author Lisa Nackers, who suggests aiming to drop a pound and a half to two pounds per week for the first month to get the lift.

– Good Housekeeping, September 2010

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

The Tortoise and the Hare

SOME exercisers are tortoises. They prefer to take their sweet time, leisurely pedaling or ambling along on a treadmill. Others are hares, impatiently racing through kilometers at high intensity.

Each approach offers similar health benefits: lower risk of heart and stroke disease, protection against Type 2 diabetes, and weight loss.

New findings suggest that for at least one workout a week it pays to be both tortoise and hare — alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with easy-does-it recovery. (Mayo Clinic, 2009) A workout with steep peaks and valleys (a.k.a. INTERVAL TRAINING) can dramatically improve cardiovascular fitness, break a fitness plateau and raise the body’s potential to burn fat.

We use interval training at Mountain Trek regularly.  Many of our trails are undulating; meaning the trail goes up for less than 100m and then descends for less than 100m repeatedly throughout the hike.  So your heart rate goes up for a short burst ascents and then recovers as you descend repeatedly throughout the hike.   And if you’ve completed our spin class you’ve definitely been put through interval training!!

So how about considering bringing interval training at least once or twice a week into your cardio regime?  Interval training can be done on any cardio machine or outdoor activity.   Joggers can alternate walking and sprint.  Swimmers can complete a couple of fast laps, then four more slowly.  Walkers can find hills or stairs to climb quickly and then walk it out.  Cardio equipment such as elliptical trainers or recumbent bikes can be programmed to interval training sets.

There is no single accepted formula for the ratio between high intensity hard work interval and a moderate pace or recovery interval. In fact, many personal trainers recommend varying the duration of activity and rest.

But some guidelines apply. The high-intensity work phase should be long and strenuous enough that you are out of breath — typically one to four minutes of exercise at 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate (PRE 8-9).  Recovery periods should not last long enough for your pulse to return to its resting rate.

Here are the four variables you can manipulate when designing your interval training program:

  • Intensity (speed) of high intensity work interval
  • Duration (distance or time) of high intensity work interval
  • Duration of recovery interval
  • Number of repetitions of each interval

There are a variety of ways to set up interval workouts. One option is measured periods of high intensity work followed by measured periods of recovery. An example would be 1 minute of high intensity work (such as a sprint), followed by 2 minutes of low intensity exercise (e.g., walking) and alternating that several times for 40 minutes.

You can also do intervals that aren’t measured or known as fartlecks. For example, if you’re outside, you could run or speed walk to something in the distance (a tree, building or good look’in guy/gal) then slow down to recover, repeating the sprint when you feel rested.

You are in charge of the intervals and how hard you work during the work sets. The idea is to work harder than usual in your work sets and to fully recover during the low intensity intervals.

To go hard, the body must use new muscle fibers. Once these recent recruits are trained, they are available to burn fuel even during leisure paced workouts. “Any form of exercise that recruits new muscle fibers is going to enhance the body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and fat,” Dr. Coyle of the Mayo Clinic said.

Interval training does amount to hard work, but it is a great way to change your routine, increase results and burn more calories.  Best of all, a workout that combines tortoise and hare leaves little time for boredom.

Happy trails,

Cathy, Mountain Trek’s Fitness Director

“Strict Style Is Still King”

I have been watching some of our guests in the gym of late and often detect and correct a very common practice involving the use of free weights, specifically dumbbells where they swing their arms freely with fast, loose movements.  So how important is proper form when using free weights?

Back in the early 1980’s (yes, I know I am dating myself) an article entitled “Strict Style is Still King” appeared in one of the more popular fitness magazines.  Truer words have still never been spoken.  While you should be using strict style in all your exercises, it’s absolutely crucial with free weights.  Machines are a bit more forgiving and will allow a small degree of looseness; free weights however, demand that you pay total attention to technique.

When performing an exercise, you change direction at two points: the top and the bottom.  If you train with fast, loose style, you’ll be using your joints as springs when you change direction.  Sudden, explosive movements are likely to lead to injury.

Perform all of your exercises with solid technique not only for safety but for effectiveness, keeping bouncing or jerking movements to a minimum.  Always lift and lower weight at the same rate and keep it slow and controlled.  ENGAGE YOUR CORE (use your breath as your trigger, lift the pelvic floor, contract your abdominals, shoulders back and down) to promote strong posture and protect you lower back.

Happy lifting, over and out….Cathy

Exercise Has Gone to the Dogs

fidoMaybe you have trouble getting out the door when it’s time to go exercise, citing a myriad of reasons to put it off until tomorrow. Nearly everyone does better with a work out partner; someone who expects us to show up and participate. Well imagine if you could have your own personal exercise buddy that doubled as a personal trainer. You can. Man or woman’s best friend is available 24/7 and is always eager to get outside.

Unknown ObjectScience backs up the notion that people with K9 companions live longer healthier lives. If at first it isn’t glaringly apparent, think about it. What do dog owners do more than anyone else? They go for walks! Whether you’re hiking, biking or swimming, dogs are eager, joyful friends that are always up for a good time outside.

In a 12-month study, experts at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago demonstrated that both people and pets were more successful in staying with a weight loss program when they did it together. (Besides, you know how Fido hates to go to the gym alone!)

biking with dogsBoth people and their pets were placed on a balanced, low-calorie diet and given a 30-minute moderate activity plan to do together, three times a week. When compared to dogs only and people only, the combined people-pet group lost the most weight — the people, an average of 11 pounds, the dogs, 12 pounds.

Interesting that the dogs lost more than the humans!  It shows that consistent moderate activity and controlled diet lead to weight loss. Now go grab your hikers and Fido’s leash and get out there.

Source: People and Pets Exercising Together presentation, North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) annual scientific meeting, November 2004, Las Vegas.

Shake Your Booty

Shake shake shake, Shake shake shake, Shake your booty! Shake your booty! 

Who can forget K.C. and the Sunshine Band? Well, we’ve found another reason to shake your booty at Mountain Trek and it’s called Zumba!

Zumba fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms with high energy moves. If you can dance, you can Zumba. If you like calorie burning workouts, you’ll love Zumba. It’s like interval training as it incorporates fast and slow movements combined with resistance training but it’s more like dancing. Our red headed guide, Krista has been trained in Zumba and will be teaching it this year. It’s all the rage in Mexico even billboards are advertising it!

Reinventing Aging – Part 1 – Inflammation

Years ago, I had a discussion with a medical doctor regarding what we thought contributed to cellular breakdown in the body. We both agreed it was chronic high blood sugar as well as constant inflammation in the body. Inflammation occurs as a response to something foreign or broken in the body. Think of your finger when you get a sliver, how immediately the body responds to the area by swelling. This is system is self regulated meaning the inflammatory response will start reactions to stop further inflammation. However, when our bodies are overwhelmed with “irritants” (creating by foods we eat, environments we are exposed to, stress, as well as the ability for our body to detox to name a few), our inflammatory response is continually “on”. It’s like your body is constantly on fire. This adds to tissue breakdown. Tissue breakdown (without adequate repair) can lead to an increase in the aging process ie. increase in wrinkles, longer recovery times, more illness.

Okay, now that we know, briefly, what inflammation is and the problem it can create, what’s the cure? Remember, the body has an amazing capacity to rejuvenate. Lessen inflammation in your body. There’s great references out there that discusses inflammation in great depth (ie. more science), however it comes down to a few simple steps…increase the amount of plants in your diet (colorful food is recommended), reduce processed foods, adopt stress busting strategies which work for you, and make sure you incorporate detox practices weekly.