A few days at Canyon Ranch: A health and fitness retreat

Canyon Ranch hike

Over the Easter weekend, my husband and I travelled to Arizona to spend some quality time with his family at Canyon Ranch, a wellness health resort in the Santa Catalina mountains. It seemed to be the perfect place for us. An active daily schedule with seemingly something for everyone, it promised to be the perfect mix of family bonding, healthy activities and some good old-fashioned rest and relaxation. Arizona also gets close to 300 days of sunshine per year so that alone was enough to get me excited. My pasty white skin needed some vitamin D.

The day time flight proved to be a good way to be ultra-productive. I watched two movies, wrote several blog posts, and got caught up on some life admin.

Phoenix Airport

After an 11 hour flight, the baggage carousel was the perfect location for a hamstring stretch.

The resort was everything I could have ever imagined and more. There was a schedule of endless exciting fitness classes, daily activities, a spa and three pools (one of which had underwater treadmills – more on that in a future blog post!)

Canyon Ranch underwater treadmill

Obviously, the very first place I went.

With the exception of alcohol, ask and you shall receive just about anything when it comes to food at Canyon Ranch. There was beautiful, healthy food available any time, exactly as you wanted it. Beautiful salads, fresh fish, pasta bars, healthy wraps, cold brew coffee, green smoothies… I indulged in everything and it was lovely.

The people were also ridiculously nice. Everyone had this look like they absolutely loved their lives and their jobs. They always remembered your name. They went out of their way to make you feel happy.

Jetlag worked in our favour. With an 8-hour time difference from London to Arizona, we were always up bright and early. This made getting up for early morning hikes and bike rides very easy.

Canyon Ranch hike

One morning, we did a 3 hour long hike where they actually provided us with our own hiking backpacks full of everything we would need: snacks, water, and a towel!

Canyon Ranch hike

Hike selfie

We enjoyed some epic lookouts in the morning sunshine.

Canyon Ranch hike

Every day started with some activity. One morning, we did a bike ride to a national park. Another morning, I went for a run around a 2-mile loop surrounding the resort. I liked it so much, I did three loops of it. My brother-in-law’s fiancé joined me for a loop, bravely dodging tarantula holes and giant cacti with me.

A run in Canyon Ranch

A sweaty, mid-run selfie.

The same day, we also decided to do a kettlebell workout, and a team fitness challenge that involved burpees, pushups, jump squats and other dynamic exercises. Later that evening, I joined my sister-in-law for a unique yoga class called Glowga, where you cover yourself in glow paint and do yoga under the soft glow of black lights and the sweet sounds of Justin Bieber.

Glowga at Canyon Ranch

Definitely picked the right shirt for GLOWGA!

Contrary to what you might be thinking, I did find some time to chill. In amongst the activity, I spent ample time lounging in the sunshine, working on my tan. I also had a massage and a facial. Canyon Ranch also has a metaphysical centre, so I decided I would visit a clairvoyant while I was there. I mean, why not? She told me about my aura, prepared me for some future events she predicted and even told me about a past life. Apparently, I was a male sailor of a fishing vessel in the 1700s – a real George Washington type, she said. I cared deeply about my crew, and I was a good leader. She said at some stage, I disembarked my ship for a smaller boat, and it capsized and I died. She wondered if I currently had a fear of water. I don’t. But hey, it was unique experience!

On our last day, we decided to try the climbing wall for one last bit of activity before boarding a very long flight home.

Climbing Wall at Canyon Ranch

After conquering the main walls, they offered us the chance to try the main wall blindfolded, adding a whole new (and terrifying!) level of skill to our climbing. I made it to the top, but it was scary!

Climbing Wall at Canyon Ranch

Have you ever seen the Netfix show, The Good Place? Canyon Ranch is my Good Place. It was like it was manufactured for my happiness. My only regret is that we didn’t stay longer. I sincerely hope we’ll be back one day.

Big shout out to the Markham family, especially my mother-in-law Janet who spearheaded the whole adventure. It was the perfect trip. Also hat-tip to my father-in-law Ian who can seemingly exercise constantly for 5 straight days and have absolutely no muscle soreness. You probably should have been a professional athlete.

family photo


  1. Tina April 5, 2018 / 9:33 pm

    Putting this place on my vacation list!!

  2. gigi March 3, 2019 / 7:05 pm

    Hey there, looks like a fantastic trip! I’m going with a friend next week and we were going to try for a private hike. But was the hiking included good too (we were worried too long/and more time getting everyone geared up and wanted to make most of our time).

    • thoughtsandpavement March 4, 2019 / 9:21 am

      Hi Gigi! Yes, I thought the included hikes were really good! It was still a small group – about 10-12 people and they give you everything you need including a proper hiking backpack, water, snacks, a towel, etc. I don’t think you’ll find it takes too long to get everyone geared up. They do these hikes everyday and its a pretty slick operation. I would highly recommend it.

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