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Sometimes, in order to prioritize one’s health, people need outside help for that final push. For Carolyn Balmer, age 51, from New Orleans, Louisiana, that push was coming to Movara.
Outside of Movara, Carolyn’s attempts to lose weight were difficult and unsuccessful. Carolyn admitted she “wasn’t really able to lose weight” before coming to Movara, or that if she did, her weight would fluctuate—she would lose a few pounds and then gain it back. “It was really hard because I had a goal of losing probably about eighteen pounds. And it wasn’t really working out what I was doing at home.”
Then Carolyn decided to prioritize herself again. She first heard about our resort three years ago, when she did our program in Malibu, California.
“I loved it when I came three years ago,” Carolyn said. Since our Malibu location is no longer open, she decided to come to Utah to continue her fitness journey. “I knew I was going to come back, I just had to find the right time.”
Carolyn spent three weeks at Movara Fitness Resort’s southern Utah location. “A week is great, [but] two or three weeks really helps to kind of bring it all together.” Carolyn believes the extra time she spent in the program helped to “grow the healthy habits and get rid of the bad habits.”
A large part of a healthy lifestyle is maintaining a nutrient-balanced diet. Thankfully, the lectures at Movara teach about proper nutrition, eating healthily while staying full and happy, as well as overcoming the stresses of everyday life without resorting to an unhealthy diet. Carolyn said that through the lectures she learned more about proper portions, lean proteins, and that becoming fit is “more of a lifestyle choice than a fad or a diet.”
“What I love about this place is everyone is so open,” Carolyn said. “The staff here, and the owners here, their words match their actions and their actions match their words… and that’s what I love about this place. It’s very consistent, and the people here are very authentic. They really are interested in you and your own journey, and they will do whatever they can do to help facilitate you to get to that journey.”
After the program, Carolyn was most proud of how much she improved in her hiking. “I definitely got really strong with my hiking,” she said. Carolyn ended up joining the fastest hiking group, a feat she had worked to achieve from the start of her stay.
“It’s amazing to be here, but now that they have this home program, that sounds amazing too,” Carolyn said. If people have a busy work schedule, or a stressful holiday, she hopes our forthcoming home fitness app, Movara Home, will help those who are struggling to keep fit be able to start or continue their fitness journey while outside the resort. “I’m interested in doing the home program,” she said, “you need that backup plan, those reminders of everything you’ve learned here.”
Carolyn has a message for all of those who are considering prioritizing themselves again: “Come check it out, because it’s an amazing place. Definitely, come do it.”
For many people, a stay at Movara can feel like a gift. For Don Benson, age 65, from Oregon, it actually was — his three week stay at Movara was a retirement gift from his wife, who knew Don had been wanting to prioritize his fitness.
“I wanted to do something as the start of my retirement to basically get fit again,” Don said, “and I chose Movara to come to, and I have no regrets at all about it. It’s an experience that I’m never going to forget.”
Don actually first heard about Movara from another fitness-oriented organization. “I came to Utah about 23 years ago,” Don said. “I came to another organization down here. We called them up, and they actually recommended Movara as a place to come to.”
Movara is known as a dedicated, goal-oriented program with the means to reinvent one’s lifestyle for the better, and that was exactly what Don was looking for. “I wanted a place that was strict and to help out with my exercise, and getting back in shape,” Don said. That desire for strictness also applied to Don’s diet: “I wanted to eat correctly. I didn’t want any other food, other than what was served here.”
Don’s desire to come to Movara was influenced by a multitude of factors. “My age, my grandkids; there was a lot of incentive to come down here,” Don said. But more than anything, he wanted to feel better about himself, and to be able to keep up with those most important to him. “I’ve been playing with my grandkids a lot lately… I’ve just been wanting to keep up with them, and I hadn’t really been able to do what I want with them; I was huffing and puffing.”
After starting the program, Don initially struggled with soreness. While he thought he was reasonably fit before his stay at Movara, he realized that there were big improvements he could make that would improve his quality of life. “My legs were really sore my second day being here,” Don said, but “you’re so well taken care of here at Movara, if you do have a challenge, they usually help you with it.”
Before coming to Movara, Don’s focus was less on losing weight and more on becoming physically fit again. “But in the process of coming to Movara, I did lose weight, and I feel much healthier now,” he told us. “And it’s been a big improvement in my life so far.”
Don’s improved physical fitness has led to a broad range of changes to his lifestyle: “I get up earlier in the morning now,” Don said. “I have a stretch class in the morning, I go hiking. I just feel more energy, I’m more energetic… I’m thinking better.” Now, rather than dreading exercise, Don is eager for it. “I look forward to going out and exercising! Hikes… hikes are the big thing down here. The beauty that you see in Utah is unbelievable.”
More than just getting fit, Don also enjoyed interacting with fellow guests and staff. “You’re just so well taken care of,” he said. “You never have to worry here. No one is ever going to put you down. You go at your own pace, you are not in a competition with anyone. They help you out. The encouragement you get down here, it’s unbelievable. You get to know people down here that help you through it. And learning to eat and exercise together, it’s just so easy when you come down here. It just kind of falls together. I didn’t really expect that at all.”
“If you wanna lose weight,” Don said, “just come on down here. I’d recommend two or three weeks here, at least, and you’ll see a big improvement.”
For many, weight loss can be a challenge. For Heather Hume Park, age 42, from Phoenix, Arizona, that challenge simply wasn’t enough. She wanted to take on the Movara Challenge, which means she would have to complete every workout, hike, and lecture Movara has to offer, for an entire week.
“I just felt like I was at the point where if I didn’t do something right now, six months from now, I would be forty pounds heavier and still not have a handle on it,” Heather said. “The weight was coming on so fast, I felt like if I didn’t do something fast it would be almost hopeless. Which is a very scary place to be.”
So Heather decided to face her fears. She found out about Movara from a friend-of-a-friend, and decided to prioritize herself. “Honestly, out of all the places I considered going, this was the best fit,” Heather said. “This area of Utah is beautiful; the hiking I was looking forward to… it just seemed like a really good fit.”
Heather’s perseverance and hard work helped her through the program, and while her drive to finish the challenge may not have made her stay easier, it did make it more rewarding. “It was intimidating at first,” Heather said. At the start of the week, she wasn’t sure if she could complete the Movara Challenge. “The first hike was really challenging for me. I was really exhausted… my muscles were so sore, and there were times I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to get through the afternoon workout. It makes the fact that I did it all, and did the Movara Challenge, so rewarding, because it was so scary—so hard to do.”
Before coming to Movara, Heather had tried different diets and workout routines, but had little success. “I’ve tried everything, like Keto, Atkins, Weight Watchers. Seriously, just name it—I’ve tried it,” she said. She was ready for a change: for a fitness program that would help get her back on track.
“There was still a real big piece that was missing,” Heather said, “and I couldn’t put my finger on it.” That piece, as it turns out, was Movara. Luckily, Movara provides not only workouts to build lean muscle mass and burn fat, but lectures to help build the knowledge needed to continue your fitness journey. “I was expecting to come here and hear ‘you’re not getting enough protein, you’re not getting enough carbs, or you’re not doing something right,’” she said. Instead of being rudimentary, however, the lessons helped change her life.
“Jared’s lecture about fitness was a game changer,” Heather said. Jared Jones, the fitness manager at Movara, gives weekly lectures on health and nutrition. His lectures emphasize the importance of proper nutrition, and the famous 80/20 rule: that 80 percent of staying fit is reliant on your diet, and only 20 percent is physical exercise. “It is an absolute game changer on how I’m going to interact with food for the rest of my life. And that’s like a huge deal for someone who has struggled… and tried every weight loss thing there is.”
Movara also offers lectures that discuss mood, meditation, and maintaining a healthy mindset. Dr. Jared Dupree, a psychologist and lecturer at Movara, provides courses that help maintain a healthy mindset, and reinforce positive emotions. “Dr. Dupree and his wife, their presentations together, how emotions play on it, and how that affects your body — that was like seven years of therapy in like two lectures and a one-on-one session.”
The prize for completing said the Movara Challenge? A Movara bracelet (or another piece of apparel of your choice, often chosen by those who decide to complete the challenge more than once). The bracelet is a symbolic prize, but a powerful one. It is a reminder of what you are capable of when you prioritize yourself, and how far you’ve come on your fitness journey.
For Heather, it won’t just be the bracelet she’s taking with her after Movara, but the new friendships she formed with guests and employees during her stay. “I don’t know how you found people to stay here that are just so wonderful to be around,” Heather said. “I don’t know how you’ve created this Movara bubble where, at 42, hours after meeting Jared, I literally told him something that’s never ever come out of my mouth before. I don’t know how you guys created an environment where people feel safe doing that, but holy cow that’s an amazing achievement.”
For most, planning for retirement is a financial exercise. For Mary Oheir, 58, a bank compliance officer from Henderson, Nevada, preparing for retirement is a physical exercise.
Mary is approaching her retirement window, and was worried what retirement would be like if she didn’t get in better shape. “I’ve gained 10 pounds a year over the last decade,” she said. “I’m not going to have work as an excuse anymore. If I don’t change my ways before [retiring], I might sink into the couch and not live this life I’ve been waiting for.”
But Mary’s attempts to start her fitness journey outside of Movara had been stunted by a lack of drive. No matter how much she prepared herself for exercise, she simply didn’t go through with it. “I’d even get up in the morning, put on the clothes I was going to walk in, put on my walking shoes to start my day,” Mary said. “And I always chose not to do it.”
Mary felt like she finally made fitness a priority when she registered at Movara. “That’s the first step,” she said. “Then you get here and they make it easy to participate in the classes. It would be hard to come here and spend a week and not come away with some high-powered tools.”
Before coming to Movara, Mary researched our program to make sure it was the perfect fit. “I read as much as I could about Movara, and every comment from people said the staff is very friendly, the staff is very good,” Mary said. At first, she thought Movara would be as accommodating as any nice hotel. But what she discovered was something far greater. “It is a very different experience here. It is the genuineness of people. It feels like everyone they picked to work here had to be top of their class to be here.”
While staying at the resort, Mary also worked remotely. Movara told Mary she could use the onsite computers, desk space, and internet to complete her work while also working on her personal fitness. “I felt supported before I even arrived,” she said. “When I got here I just knew I had to get it done.”
Despite her busy work schedule, Mary still managed to attend many hikes, lectures, and classes. The lectures taught her about the importance of nutrition in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and preparing herself for the retirement she had dreamed about. “I was amazed at what I learned about nutrition and how important it is, because I tend to want to exercise off what I eat, and make poor food choices,” she said. “They really do a good job of finding the content and delivering it in a way that motivates you.”
Mary says that, without Movara, life “wouldn’t be as full, and I wouldn’t be as optimistic.” Her time at the program gave her the necessary knowledge, and “toolset,” that she needed to succeed in her fitness journey. “I feel like I got a couple of neat tools that are going to get me further,” she said. “I feel like I have a good toolkit now.”
“You have to take the leap of faith to get here,” Mary told us. “You have to summon up enough courage to register. You just don’t know that it’s going to work; you don’t know how it’s going to work, but you have to take the leap of faith, and say ‘I want something different’.”