In the second part of Troy Haas’ post about The Ranch Malibu, he delves deeper into his ranch experience. From the food to the exercise to the accommodations,Troy gives insider info that is a must read for those wanting to visit The Ranch. (You can read Part I here!)
From the time I entered the property I was struck with the light, serene and active vibe of The Ranch. Open and airy amidst the great Malibu weather and Santa Monica hills, it is easy to see the appeal of So Cal outside the big cities. The ability to unplug is aided by the requested removal of watches. An alarm is replaced with a soft morning chime by the staff as they walk by the cabins to gently awaken guests. Handheld radios are the lifeline and are used to announce morning stretch classes, meals, hikes and classes. This allows you to just ‘submit’ and go with the flow. Wonderful, though a bit hard to adjust to for some type A folks.
The ‘heart’ of the ranch is very open and spiritual without adhering to any one faith tradition. This approach was lovely for me, allowing time for morning prayer and readings and for contemplating verses of scripture when hiking alone and exploring my faith. Others with different faiths shared similar experiences with time for meditation and their own rituals and traditions. A great example is the dinner time. It opens with a ‘gratitude’ moment where all hold hands at the table, bow and, in silence, give thanks as they desire. The hand holding with strangers is so intimate and connecting, and the silence allowed me to thank Christ while not imposing my understanding of God on another. And vice versa. I have seen this done many times, but not as well as at the Ranch.
This was my biggest surprise. Who knew a 180 pound guy could do all this activity on about 1500 calories and not be seriously hungry? And the food was amazingly good (other than a kale salad which I damn near broke a sweat in chewing forever…). I came away with recipes for great granola, smoothie, dressings, oatmeal, vegetable dishes etc. that tasted GREAT. No sense in compromising taste to be fit. I loved these dishes and look forward to adding them to my regular diet.
Together with the great food we had great insights about how to practically introduce better ingredients and meals with lots of Q&A from the delightful culinary team and activity leaders. While consistent in mindset, it was refreshing to have a wide variety of attitudes about the foods and that kept this from being too rigid. More on that in Part III.
Rooms are modest at about 200 sq. feet but appropriately sized and equipped. Rough plank flooring, great windows and light, egg white walls with natural wood trim, a shower with great water pressure, fragrant local soaps and excellent bedding all are luxury touches that ‘feel’ great. Rooms have wonderful ventilation so no a/c was needed on my late May trip, and indeed one night I had to close windows to the chilly night air.
Exercise approach and experience
A day at The Ranch is all about a very full day of moderately strenuous exercise. Awaken at 5:30 to stretch at 6, breakfast at 7 and off to hike at 8. 4-5 hours of hiking in the hills. Routes are adjusted for physical levels so that all finish at about the same time. Then back for lunch (or lunch on the beach. Awesome), followed by naps (my favorite). After naps it is class time at 3, 4 and 5 for a variety of core, strength and flexibility in the Romper Room gym on top of the Ranch. It is a tough hike to the ‘Room’, but it is a gorgeous and well equipped room with breezes and views that make the exertion a bit more palatable. A high spot is the daily massage that usually comes during one of these classes. Then a quick change after for dinner at 7 with a talk of some sort on fitness or nutrition as everyone works to avoid planting their face in their plate before 8!
All of these activities are led by some of the most kind and genuine staff I have ever encountered. They watched us like hawks to see who was struggling. If you couldn’t make a coherent sentence after a 4 hour hike or had a glazed look on your face, they offered water, salt and supplements to help. And along the way we had so many good conversations on a variety of areas around living in a more healthy way by sharing their personal insights.