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Winning Big

By Samantha Boden
Posted On Jun 02, 2015

Whether you’re looking to jump start a healthier life, shed extra weight, or reset priorities, the Biggest Loser Resort Niagara is the superstar program for you.
By Samantha Boden

Located in upstate New York, the Biggest Loser Resort Niagara (biggestloserresort. com) is a world-class health and wellness destination set among 300-acres of majestic forest and glistening lakes (1 week, all-inclusive stay runs $2,445– $3,295). As is to be expected of a facility bearing the Biggest Loser name, the NBC competition that’s been slimming down America for more than a decade, the resort offers state-of-the-art equipment, a healthy eating program, and encouragement from elite fitness pros. It’s transformation for body, mind, and spirit.

Let’s Roll Things start early here. The first class of the day, stretching, is at 6 a.m. Though optional, it primes you for the day and is recommended by staff and “stay overs” alike. (A “stay over” is a guest at the resort for longer than a week.) Breakfast is served, then there’s a vigorous hike, weatherpermitting. They emphasize cardio and resistance work, and four daily workouts range from high intensity cardio and swimming to cycling and circuit training.

“Intervals are the fastest way to get into shape and dig into your fat stores,” says trainer Theresa Armbrust.The trainers make classes fun and accessible always demonstrating at least three modifications so you’ll never feel like you can’t do an exercise. All levels of fitness are welcome, but all of the education and fitness classes are mandatory. The trainers will even call rooms to check in.

Learn It Each day consists of two to three educational series with topics like goal setting, meal preparation, portion control, and dining out, in which you learn lots of tricks. One great tip: There’s no ideal time when dinner should be served. If you get home at 9 p.m., eat dinner then, as long as you’re eating every four to five hours and dinner is always the smallest meal. Never skip breakfast.

Eat Up Hard work is rewarded with great meals. The organic cuisine is locally sourced and perfectly portioned. Corporate executive chef Mark Camalleri creates a four-week seasonal menu rotation. “Breakfast, soups, stocks, lunches, dinners, snacks— everything is made from scratch,” says Camalleri. “I only use organic poultry, grass-fed beef, and organic pork.”

Dig In Guests are served three meals and two snacks per day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5:15 p.m., so they are rarely left feeling hungry. Meals are calorie-controlled (around 1,500 a day) and contain the right nutritious balance of protein, carbohydrates,and healthy fats. A perfect plate should be divided by 50 percent vegetables (non-starchy carbs), 25 percent protein (3 to 6 ounces), 25 percent starchy carbs (½ to 1 cup), and 1 to 2 tablespoons of healthy fat blended into meals.

Fat is not the enemy and is a must at every meal; even real packets of butter are served. Morning snack is a protein (hummus, almond butter, egg, nuts), a veggie, and a fruit. Afternoon snack is similar, minus the fruit. Water (plain and infused) and teas are the only on-site beverages. Yes, this is a caffeine-free resort.

Kept Classic The menu is very low in gluten, and a nutritionist makes substituting a meal easy. “I wanted to take mainstream, classic, contemporary dishes and simply take out some bad things and put some good things in there,” says Camalleri. His barbeque chicken pizza, turkey enchiladas, and vegetarian lasagna are tasty examples. Best of all, there’s an unlimited salad bar filled with fresh veggies, pickles, and homemade dressings. A homemade soup accompanies lunch, and dinner is even served with a dessert.

Spa Away At the end of an exhausting NYV6_1_BEscape03day, guests should book some R&R. Spa Alexis is open after dinner and offers manis, pedis, massages, and facials, as well as “healthy mind” and wellness treatments. The Ionchi Detox Foot Spa is a foot bath to clean out the heavy metals and toxins in your body through the soles of your feet.It is said to boost energy, assist with weight loss, alleviate pain, and bestow a better state of mind. If you’re missing candy bars during your stay, try the Chocolate Glow—a chocolatemint scrub with an orange chocolate moisturizer that promotes cell renewal.

Pay Off The week ends with an emotional graduation ceremony. Trainers, nutritionists, and chefs want the guests to keep in touch via email or a closed Facebook group. The staff reiterates that it’s not about being perfect at home but setting goals and eliminating bad habits, one step at a time. “The most important thing for guests to realize about exercise and fitness is that we don’t expect you to go home and start a program of five days a week,” says Armbrust. “If people go home and attempt to do everything perfectly, they often wind up failing.”

At Last The program is not a diet; it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle. It’s not about losing 20 pounds during your stay; it’s about the knowledge and skills you learn to implement a healthier lifestyle. Cutting out favorite foods cold turkey isn’t ideal because it’ll bring on even more cravings. It’s about portion control and making sure meals are balanced with the proper amount of protein, carbs, and fats. This commonsense ethos is an experience that everyone should have at least once in life— overweight or not.