It’s ironic that when we’re in most need of information and tools to live healthier and more connected lives, we’re restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of access to the type of spa and wellness programming we’ve all come to take for granted. Fortunately, some spas, such as Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa in British Columbia, Canada, aren’t letting our new reality prevent them from finding a way to deliver programming directly to those who need it most.
“COVID really took us all by surprise,” says owner Alex Timmons. “We were just about to kick off our best season ever—pre-booking was through the roof—and then reality came crashing down on us. In what felt like a matter of days, the severity of the pandemic became obvious, and besides provincial mandates requiring us to close, we knew that as a leader in the health industry, it wouldn’t be ethical to operate our high-touch program.” Of course, that didn’t mean there wasn’t a need for health and wellness programming. In fact, it was even more important due to the pandemic. “We knew that our community was going to be affected just as much between self-isolation, work-from-home mandates, and the inability to see friends and family,” says Timmons. “So, we thought that because our guests can’t come to us, we’ll go to them, and the idea took off from there.”
As a result, the spa introduced its virtual Basecamp Weekend Retreat. Mountain Trek already had a proven formula with its full-week in-person program. To shift to a virtual model, the staff narrowed it down into 48 hours of programming, so people could participate over a weekend. The immersive program begins on a Friday afternoon and ends on Sunday. It includes two cookalongs; two sunrise mobility and release yoga sessions; two exercise classes; one functional and mobility class; guided meditations; and educational chats on nutrition, fitness, balanced health, goal setting, habit formation, and more.
The virtual retreats have evolved to include more mindfulness education and practices. Some higher intensity workouts have also been swapped out for a class called, Functional Mobility, which serves as an antidote to sitting at a desk all day and developing a tech-neck. According to Timmons, the cookalongs have been especially popular, as have the visualization sessions. “We do a life-vision exercise using an online design tool that guests love,” he says. “It’s basically digital collaging where guests pull images that represent their dreams and desires onto a single canvas. They love the exercise as it fires up their creative right brain.” The nature sessions in which participants unplug and immerse themselves in their surroundings are also quite popular. Although they enjoy the nature walks and such solo, they’re asked to take photos—with their phones on airplane mode—so they can share them with the group later. “Sharing photos itself is a really valued part of the weekend, as it bolsters a sense of togetherness, or what we call, “tribe,” an integral part of our program.”
What makes the retreat so special is the sense of connection participants experience and the tools and knowledge they’re given to improve their health and wellbeing. “The primary take-away is a fresh start, invigorated confidence and knowledge, and a well-thought-out strategy for how to reach their goals,” says Timmons. “That’s what this whole weekend is about—putting the brakes on habits that are taking you down a path that you’re not happy with, course correcting, and then hitting the gas in the right direction.”
For more information and the upcoming virtual retreat schedule, click here.