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Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa

By Catherine Roscoe Barr

Perched on a hilltop overlooking 100-kilometre-long Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountain Range in British Columbia’s interior, Mountain Trek’s sprawling lodge and health spa is a hub of activity.

From late April to Mid-October intimate groups of 16 arrive for one or two weeks of wellness re-sets to their metabolism, increase their fitness, shed pounds, and learn incredible life skills from Mountain Trek’s highly qualified team of life coaches, dieticians, kinesiologists, yoga instructors, massage therapists, and certified outdoor guides.

During the retreat, the first hiking-focused luxury bootcamp program in Canada, participants train like Olympians, with six hours of exercise per day. Kirkland Shave, Mountain Trek’s program director and lead guide, says, “This much activity on a calorie-controlled diet of vitality rich, organic and wild food spread across six meals and snacks per day, re-boots a sedentary metabolism.”

Mornings start at 6:00 am when participants make their way to the dining room for ginger tea and a protein smoothie, and by 6:30am everyone’s made their way to the fitness studio for a gentle hatha yoga class, while watching the brilliant sunrise behind the mountains through a wall of windows.

Photo Credit: Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa

Breakfast, one of six calorie-reduced, nutrient-dense and utterly delicious meals and snacks per day, is promptly served at 7:30am. “We’re continually trying to be on the cutting edge of science-based formulas for nutrition, metabolism, fitness and sleep health,” says Shave of the comprehensive program.

After the first slightly crabby 48 hours without sugar, caffeine, alcohol, processed carbohydrates and any other junk, I felt the most vital, vibrant and svelte I’d felt in a long time.

Depending on the day of the week, and now oversees a seminar on anything from fitness and detoxification to sleep and stress management which either precedes or follows the daily four-hour hike, before which an extremely thorough foot care regime is undertaken before guests put on their hiking boots, fill up their backpack’s water bladders, and gather snacks and lunches, which are labeled and laid out on a table in the lofty boot room.

Hiking is the heart of Mountain Trek’s fitness retreats, completely transporting participants away from the harried lives they’ve left back home (which ranged from Toronto to New York to Florida to Seattle during my stay).

“The secret formula of our program and guest success,” says Shave, “is that the majority of our six hours of activity are spent in nature, pristine forest and mountain environments proven to lower stress hormones and activate our ‘feel good’ hormones, motivating us to reclaim our natural state of health and vitality.”

A fleet of SUVs shuttle guests to a different and spectacular hiking location each day, chosen for its terrain and ability to accommodate a range of physical abilities. Guests are divided into groups of three to five, each with an experienced guide, so every fitness level can be challenged and every hiker can feel that buoyant high of achievement when they join the group stretch at the completion of the hike.

Hikes are of the too-tough-to-chat variety – a number seven on the “rate of perceived exertion” scale is the goal and trekking poles are incorporated for balance, safety and a reported 20-percent increase in caloric expenditure – but the summer-camp feel to the retreat, and the shared struggles and successes, are a wonderful breeding ground for camaraderie, with high-fives, cheers of encouragement, and heartfelt pats on the back bestowed in droves.

Following a small window of personal time, everyone reconvenes in the dining room for dinner, where head chef Cailin Brown and his team serve gourmet fare, from wasabi-crusted sustainable halibut and marinated free-range steak to luscious tofu bowls packed with fresh, nutritious vegetables.

After dinner it’s back to the gym. It’s here that recently appointed Program Director, Katya Campbell, who has been the Lodge’s yoga instructor of 20+ years, and her team teach anything from CrossFit to aerobics each night.

Photo Credit: Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa

Then guests spread out for a well-deserved detoxification circuit which includes therapeutic massage, a good sweat in the infrared sauna, hydrotherapy in the outdoor hot tub and cold plunge pool, and access to nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs.
After moving, stretching, challenging, nourishing, and pampering my body, the act of climbing into bed at 9:00 pm was met with blissful submission and followed by the deepest and most restful of slumbers.

On the seventh day, I walked back to my room following my final body composition assessment, outlining the inches and pounds I’d lost, before boarding the complimentary airport shuttle to catch my flight home.

I marveled at everything I’d ingested, as well as pounds shed, excited to go home armed with new healthy-living skills, while also anticipating trying on all my pants!

The seven-day health reset program starts from $7,500 CDN.

Wellness Travel BC is proud to work with The Lodge to promote living and being well. Visit for more information or to book a wellness retreat at this exceptional destination.

Catherine Roscoe Barr is a neuroscience-based wellness coach and founder of The Life Delicious, empowering women leaders to reclaim their time and rediscover wellness. Offering women’s coaching circles, co-ed retreats, corporate workshops, and keynote speeches; Catherine is a certified personal trainer, fitness instructor and coach practitioner; and writes about fitness, food and travel for numerous publications including Montecristo, Canadian Living, WestJet Magazine, BC Business and BC Living. Catherine produces wellness retreats at Oak Bay Beach Hotel, a participating Wellness Travel BC partner located in Victoria, British Columbia. Find retreat information at