The Journey to The Dolomites
I planned my trip to have a few days of buffer so I wouldn’t embark on the most intense week of exercise I’ve ever endured on no sleep. Anyone who knows me knows that I NEED sleep to function, I am not one of those I sleep five hours a night people.
So I departed Phoenix Wednesday evening and flew direct to Frankfurt. My flight with Condor was fantastic. (I had never flown Condor nor heard of them prior to this trip) I then had a 4 hour layover in Frankfurt before flying into Venice. I arrived in Venice around 11pm and had only 1 hour to get my bag and get to car rental before they closed at midnight.
I booked my car with points via Chase/Hertz and when I arrived at the desk – the woman informed me they gave away my car and there were no other automatic cars left.
Ummmmm…what now? The desk next to Hertz was still open (Europcar) and they had one automatic car left. I grabbed it and off I went to my hotel that I’d booked the night before due to its free parking and proximity to the airport.
The next morning I catch a ferry to Venice where I plan to spend the entire day exploring. Venice is amazing and the next day, I catch the ferry back to my car and depart to Verona.
Verona was lovely – the most beautiful little city, so much history, just breathtaking. After covering the sites I hop back in the car and head to Lake Garda.
This is the MOST beautiful place I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I can’t believe it’s real and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it until I was researching places semi near Venice to see. (You don't need much more than a day or two in Venice)
I stay in a town called Torbole at the Lago Di Garda Hotel which is adorable, modern and right on the lakefront. I get in a few mile walk, grab dinner, and pass out back in the room by 9pm. Jet lag is very real and I need sleep before I embark on the reason I came to Italy...
The Ranch retreat!
The next morning I have breakfast at the hotel and depart for….
DAY 1: At the Ranch Malibu’s pop-up in the Dolomites
I arrive at Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano around 12:30pm. I get checked in and before I know it, the team is there to take my measurements and tell me what the rest of the day looks like.
First off, the middle of the day is a terrible time to get measurements from someone BUT hey, it will only make the end results Saturday better…right?
We all meet in the library for an orientation on how the week will look and depart on our first hike of the trip. This is a short, two hour jaunt to get us warmed up before we have our first vegan chef prepared meal.
The hike goes by pretty quickly, we are all in great spirits but you can tell people are nervous for the next day. There are 21 people in my group which is pretty sizable.
We get back to Rosa Alpina, take baths/showers (they provide Epsom salts for us) and reunite an hour or so later for dinner which is served at 7pm.
Dinner is AMAZING.
The vegan food was one of the things I was most looking forward to and it does not disappoint. (Mostly because I will never take the time at home to prepare ALL vegan locally sourced meals - I own a business and life is busy, that just isn't in the cards)
Also if you aren’t familiar with The Ranch – there is no alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, no gluten, no dairy – the diet is strict so you can detox from your normal life.
We all wrap up dinner and I immediately get to sleep by 8pm.
Day 1: 6.7miles in the books =945 calories burned.
A tap tap at the door at 5:30am and it’s go time. I wake up a few minutes before 5:30 feeling rather rested and very excited.
I get my pack set up, get my hiking clothes on and we all meet downstairs for an hour of stretching followed by an incredible breakfast.
We hop in The Ranch vans and head to the start of hike 1. This hike was tough for me. I hike often in Arizona but this was a different kind of challenge. Quickly our group starts to thin out – leaders of the pack – middle folks – and the folks at the end. The great part is that there are guides no matter which part of the group you’re in and the trails are clearly marked so you can’t get lost.
Two hours in we are granted the famous Ranch snack of six almonds and sea salt. We all grab our almonds and continue on.
Every hike is four hours.
We survive the hike and retreat to our rooms until lunch which is served daily at 1pm. Two days out of the trip you take your lunch with you on trail but more on that later.
After lunch is my daily massage which is absolutely necessary after how intense the second day of hiking was. After lunch I have to hustle to get dressed and downstairs for the first of three fitness classes. The first class is a circuit training class, second is either arms or abs depending on the day and the third is always yoga. I do the circuit class and abs class and dip out avoiding yoga. Yoga bores me and I'd rather rest and reset before our dinner at 7pm.
Day 2 = 10.14miles in the books =1641 calories burned.
2 workout classes = 596 calories burned.
Lisa Farrar is a fitness nutrition and holistic health coach located in Phoenix, Arizona. I first met Lisa last summer and was incredibly enlightened with her aura and sense of purpose. I felt like she had a lot of really great things that everyone needed to hear and last month we finally took the time to sit down and chat about health and all of the controversies and confusions that go along with the idea of "healthy living".
I explained to Lisa how I am so sick of diet trends and fads, as a normal, average human it seems there is nothing you can do "right" before it's no longer right. "Don't eat fruit, it's all sugar. Don't eat carbs, eat lots of fats. Don't eat meat, you'll die faster." WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TO BE #Healthy?! Drink water and eat air? HELP PLEASE.
Q: LISA, HOW DO WE WIN AT HEALTH??
"Point blank. any eating plan that isn't sustainable is a waste of time. If you look at all of the different phases that have occurred in the last 50 years, there isn't anything that somebody didn't tout as the end all - and then 99% of them phase out. It makes you really wonder if there is any science to nutrition."
Q: So after studying all of this, what conclusions have you come to?
"The best solution is whole foods. The perimeter of the grocery store is the only place you should technically be shopping."
Q: But how can we be sustainable in this world? Why do we all feel the need to always be smaller?
"Shame on the world for telling us we need to be smaller. Self love is the most important thing we should focus on for our health. If you are not experiencing self love, you are taking steps towards a less than healthy lifestyle. I was so skinny five years ago and yes I loved it, but guess what? Cortisol levels happened. Healthy should be the new body type."
Q: How can we combat this whole skinny = healthy ideal? I'm not "skinny" but I just had a physical which stated I was in the very top percentile of being healthy according to all of my stats and blood work. It's such a frustrating epidemic/mindset!
"If you think about it, a lot of women who are super thin are just skinny fat. They don't have muscle tone. They don't have strong bones. They're thin because they aren't nourishing their bodies. I also think it is impossible to say what the norm needs to be because every single body type is different. What works for me, may not work for you."
Q: So how do you help guide your clients to an optimal level of health?
"For starters, you can't tell anyone what to do. It's not about telling them what to eat or how to exercise, it's about asking questions and listening. This is the first step to helping people become healthy on their own. Everyone has it within them but they have to come to those conclusions themselves."
Q: What if someone asks you exactly what to eat and how to exercise?
"Even if they ask and I give them a framework, it's not their commitment, it's not their decision. They have to be committed for anything to really change. I am simply the support system that helps guide my clients once they have decided what it is that they want."
Q: How do you personally define health??
"Health to me is tiered: primary and secondary.
Primary is your life - spirituality, career, leisure time, friendships, relationships, all of the the things that impact your life that have nothing to do with food/nutrition. If something is out of balance in that primary part of your life, chances are your health isn't going to be optimized. If you have a bad marriage or hate your job, if those things are out of sync, then health will be out of sync. If you think about someone who wants help with feeling better, looking better, sleeping better, it's important to ask questions about everything in their life – to really identify what could be impacting their health.
If someone said I hate my job, etc. my answer cant be you just need a new job – I need them to tell me more about what areas they are struggling with.
I work with the 3 deep questioning model. The first answer never actually gives you an answer but by the third question, you're making progress to towards the root cause."
Q: What is the secondary tier of health?
"Secondary is food. If you are out of sync, good nutrition isn't necessarily going to result in what you are trying to accomplish. Even though you eat great food, you didn't get good results.
My biggest thing is mindset. Mindset is where everything begins. Mindset and focus can have such an amazing result."
Q: What are a few daily habit changes that are sustainable?
"The intention behind everything I do is to bring light to everyone who steps foot in here. When you come in for this ride, it's challenging, but our intent is to have you become something bigger than yourself. Never coast. Who is a never coaster? Someone who refuses to give up. Refuses to settle for the easy route. Accepts any challenge. Is REAL. We gear our life towards the never coaster."
Meet Kristina Girod.
Head Instructor of Flywheel Scottsdale, and Lululemon Brand Ambassador. Have you seen those abs? Clear to see why! However, Kristina's allure is far deeper than just physique. She is also the most inspiring instructor I've ever met. After my first class, I told her I'd be writing a letter to HQ because she belongs at the master instructor level, she is just THAT good at her job.
As you know, I recently moved to Arizona and when I arrived I made it my mission to try out all of the top rated gyms and of course, visit one of my favorite East Coast studios - Flywheel Sports.
Flywheel is a competitive spin class. They are HQ'd in NYC and I became addicted to them while living in DC. Fortunately for me, a new studio popped up in Scottsdale a few months prior to my arrival and thus led me to Kristina.
There are so many fitness professionals in the world, it can be hard to stand out - so when you find someone who does, you just want to learn more.
How old are you and where are you from?
"33, Flagstaff Arizona."
How'd you wind up in Scottsdale?
"I am one of six siblings, I moved after college, and now my entire family is also here."
Tell us about your path into fitness.
"I was an athlete growing up, I tore my ACL at age 19 playing volleyball and got out of sports. Gained weight and after college, got into working out. I lost 20lbs and got shredded. I started working out at 24hour Fitness lifting and doing turbo kickboxing classes. I then became a turbo kickbox instructor and taught for two years. That was too intense on the knees which is what led me to spin.
I started teaching cycling in 2014 at Lifetime Fitness, then moved to Fit Republic, and then the Madison Improvement Club. Spin was just my side gig. I was working full-time for Yelp in their franchising division."
So how'd you land Flywheel?
No, I'm not MAD at you. It's the name of the gym, silly.
Now you're wondering, what is this gym phenomenon and why haven't I heard of it or tried it?
MADabolic stands for:
Simply put: each daily workout is designed around one of those three driving concepts and you are never completing the same workout twice.
Last week while back in DC visiting our clients, I had the pleasure of not only squeezing in five MAD classes but also getting to know the owner of the Arlington/DC location, Corbin Jennings.
Corbin began his career, like many, in corporate America. He studied economics in college, worked in banking for a minute, then logistics for Lowe's and Under Armour.
It was during his time at Under Armour when he realized he needed a life change and could no longer sit at a desk for 60+ hours a week, staring at excel sheets. He was bored to death.
After doing the MAD workouts in Charlotte, North Carolina, Corbin decided to throw caution to the wind and began looking into opening a MADabolic of his own in the DC metro.
Two years later, at age 28, Corbin successfully became the owner of the MADabolic franchise in Arlington, Virginia. Pretty impressive...
How did you go from a corporate minion to business owner and what were the challenges you faced?
"I was always willing to take risks. The really challenging part has been not knowing the 99% of the operational side - taxes, licenses, etc. I am constantly in unfamiliar area. Prior to becoming a MADabolic owner, I was in roles where I could become really proficient at something and master it. Entrepreneurship is not like that.
What led you to pick MADabolic out of all the fitness franchises out there?
"I was a member in North Carolina for six months before deciding to franchise. I fell in love with the workout - genuine strength and athletic training. It was far superior to everything else I'd come across."
What was your fitness background prior?
"I was an athlete growing up and played soccer competitively but I was not a personal trainer or coach."
So how did you become one?
"There is a four to twelve week intensive onboarding program for trainers that takes place at the HQ in Charlotte. I completed that and I am also ACE certified.
WOW! That is a long training program, why so tedious? Explain the hiring process.
"There is a 25% fail rate for the onboarding program, it is designed to challenge. Before sending people to Charlotte, we have our own hiring process. We want people who can move REALLY well. At first, I was hiring a lot of former crossfitters, but as I've gotten further along, I've realized they aren't very dedicated. Now I am looking for passion and dedication to the program, attention to detail, and the ability to move REALLY well.
What has your turnover rate been like?
"We have only lost two trainers since opening. We had two potentials we sent to Charlotte but they didn't end up moving forward. In the gym industry there is a notoriously high turn over rate."
Let's dig into the workout...