Tropical Boot Camp

Shape Up in St. Lucia

Dreamscapes  Fall/Winter 2012 issue

8 a.m. St. Lucia time. My four-poster bed with the thigh-high mattress is so comfortable I slept in and missed tai chi class.

As I open the balcony door to yet another blue-sky day framed by ocean and green hills, the last of the early-morning keeners jog by, heading for squats and push-ups on the beach.

No worries, I can still grab breakfast and catch Calixta’s stretch class before surrendering to my first Ayurvedic massage.

It’s a typical day at BodyHoliday, the recently-renovated all-inclusive resort that combines a full-body tune-up with a blissful tropical vacation.

About 25 of us, most Brits and New Yorkers, stretch under the cooling fans of the mirrored exercise room. It’s bright and lovely, a welcome change from the dark, smelly gym back home. No fancy gym togs , just aging boomers (mostly female) in shorts and T-shirts wondering how we ever got so stiff as hands meant to reach over and touch feet hang impotently in the air.

Finding Balance

Outside in the blazing sun, I cross the courtyard of the Moorish-inspired wellness centre to the shaded veranda of the Ayurveda Centre, run by a doctor from India. Therapist Gina emerges from the cool, dark interior with a questionnaire to determine my mind and body type, or dosha, and help her choose the perfect massage oils. Was I Vata (air), Pitta (fire), or Kapha (earth)? I scored seven on the Vata scale, which apparently makes me slender and unfocused with quick movements.

The point isn’t to be one type, Gina explains, but a balance of all three. To lower my Vata, she recommends going easy on nuts and baked goods, eating more hot and spicy food and practising meditation. She ushers me into the dim massage room, where light filters through hand-carved sandstone jali, and warms two different oils, one for my skin and one for my hair, applying both liberally with long, smooth strokes. I emerge sleek as a seal, smelling of sesame, coconut and licorice.

Rather than letting me rush off, like a good Vata, Gina invites me to rest in a wooden lounger on the porch and sip tea. As I relax, the muffled beat of the 10 a.m. aerobics class floats across the courtyard. I don’t miss it at all.

By now, the  centre is swarming with guests, each clutching his or her personalized daily schedule, arranged in advance after a phone or email consultation with wellness specialist Emilie Haldane. Whatever your body needs, from diet coaching to tips on how to de-stress your life, BodyHoliday has an expert to help.

Schedules also allow couples with different interests—say he’s a marathon runner and she’s a book-loving beach bum—to schedule relaxation time together at the bar or beach.

In the air-conditioned gym, Felix the personal trainer prepares to put me through my paces, another BodyHoliday perq. He immediately zeros in on my jelly-like inner thighs. “I knew it!” he crows, when I can barely move my legs on the first machine. Weak adductors, he pronounces, requiring deep pliés and something called sumo squats. I fare slightly better on the other machines. To end the half-hour session, he takes my arms as if to waltz, and commands me to keep my chest up and out and my rib cage high. I now think of Felix daily as I glide through the streets of Toronto.

Another day, Ellie the osteopath finds my off-kilter hips and legs fascinating, then offers to balance my sacrum. Um, sure! As I lay on my back, knees up, she slips one hand under the base of my spine and holds it there for awhile, shifting her hand occasionally with the merest movement. Though I don’t feel anything at the time, I awake pain-free for weeks afterward.

I also return home with glowing skin thanks to the Sea & Senses massage and facial. One moment the lovely young woman is massaging my back with her hands, the next she’s tracing the same route with smooth heated stones. At one point I opened one eye to find her lifting a rubbery khaki-coloured seaweed mask from my face. What can I say . . . it works!

Beyond the Spa

Friday is sunset cruise night. About 150 of us pile on buses to nearby Rodney Bay and board a giant catamaran. Though I’ve never been a fan of booze cruises, after one rum punch I’m singing the Black Eyed Peas’ anthem—I Gotta Feeling—at the top of my lungs and swaying on the dance floor to the DJ’s soca and reggae hits. The female fitness instructors, accompanied by South African-born GM Mark Lyttleton-Frances, take turns shaking their taut little booties. We end the energizing night with a torch-lit Caribbean barbecue on the resort beach featuring ribs and local mahi mahi.

Next morning, cruise mates from the night before nod and smile at one another in the bright Cariblue restaurant as we fill our plates at the buffet with eggs and tropical fruit. The food here is fresh, healthy and varied, no precious “spa” fare. An award-winning pastry chef creates delectable desserts, and there’s a garden under construction. For a special treat, reserve a table overlooking the ocean at TAO, where east meets west in creative dishes like teriyaki flank steak with coriander gnocchi.

When it’s time to say goodbye, sip one last coconut juice on the beach and grab a chicken wrap at the open-air deli to eat on the flight home. Lyttleton-Frances promises Wi-Fi in the rooms soon (but no TV, ever!), and Canadian Club at the bar. He also notes that 65 per cent of BodyHoliday guests are repeat customers. Make that 65 plus one.

Insider’s tip:

Most Canadians visit in March and April when rates are lower, or look for last-minute deals throughout the year.

Travel Planner

For more information, visit Air Canada and WestJet offer non-stop service between Toronto and St. Lucia. It’s a 1.5-hour drive to the resort from the airport, or hop on a helicopter. The minimum age for guests for most of the year is 16, dropping to 12 during the summer and holidays. Prices include a daily spa treatment (except on arrival and departure days), a sunset cruise and much more!


  1. Well that ws a surprise to get your e-mail the second I opened up the computer.  Hope that you are both well.  Much love.

    >________________________________ >From: Cynthia David >To: >Sent: Friday, October 26, 2012 11:21:08 PM >Subject: [New post] Tropical Boot Camp > >cynthiadavid posted: “Shape Up in St. Lucia Dreamscapes  Fall/Winter 2012 issue 8 a.m. St. Lucia time. My four-poster bed with the thigh-high mattress is so comfortable I’ve slept in and missed tai chi class. As I open my balcony door to yet another blu” >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s