day 2: I’m a mountain goat

The most beautiful part of 6:00 a.m. stretch class was during the final moments, when we would lay on our backs, taking deep cleansing breaths in and out. My eyes would move upwards towards the large windows framing the magnificent backdrop of red rock mountains. When we started the class it was nearly pitch black outside. By the end, the sun would be cresting the mountain tops and bathing everything in its ethereal glow.

In that moment I felt complete peace.

Those moments, while blissful, were always short-lived. The Russian Princess and I had to rush back to our rooms, get changed into our hiking gear and head to breakfast. The schedules were built with military precision, and we were obedient soldiers.

Back in the quiet of my room, I carefully wrapped my feet in duct tape, a blister-prevention hack I had picked up in Malibu, and inspected the damage from the previous day’s hike. Two small blisters; one on the inside of each foot, near the base of my big toes. A matching pair. All things considered, not bad, I told myself.

During breakfast, Carrie, the hiking program manager, announced which vans we had been grouped with, and also which hikes we would be completing that day. Since I had no knowledge of the trails in that area, the hike name, Hidden Pinyon, meant nothing to me, but as I looked around at the Van #6 crew I had been grouped with, my stomach clenched. This was going to be a speedy bunch.

Even if I had been familiar with the Hidden Pinyon trail, I still wouldn’t have been prepared for the fresh hell that awaited me. The hiking guides at Movara, it seems, like to free-style it. Carrie provides a location for each group to start from, ensuring no traffic jams along the trails, but then the hiking guides have license to get creative and decide how much ground their group can cover in the allotted time.

As it turns out, the Van 6 hikers can cover A LOT of ground in 2.5 hours.

In total we bagged three peaks that morning. First up was a little gem known as Piano Rock:


Doesn’t look so bad, right?

Yup. Wrong.

This should help put it into perspective:


This picture does not do justice to the steepness of the climb.

Here I am, bringing up the rear with my hiking guide, wondering what dark force I could sell my soul to in return for teleporting me to the top of Piano Rock.


Once up top though, nothing but smiles and cheese.


I could tell you about the horrific decent over smooth sandstone, on a decline that had my feet pointed straight down at an angle even a ballerina would envy, but I’ve banished most of that trauma from memory.

My new spirit animal is mountain goat. Apparently we share much the same DNA.


No sooner had we finished the descent from The Piano, we began the climb up Stair Mistress.


Again, this picture doesn’t adequately depict just how steep the climb was. They do not equate it to a StairMaster for nothing. Trust me.


The rest of the group were making their final push to the peak, as I contemplated how much I hated my life. The talk track playing in my head at this moment:

I hate everyone. I hate this mountain. I hate StairMasters. I will never hike again after I finish this hike. Okay, I know that last part is a lie, but right now it feels good to say it. 


And finally, once at at the peak, a burst of energy to snap pictures of the outstanding views. No filters necessary in this landscape.


Nothing but smiles from the Van 6 hikers at the top of the Stair Mistress.


As if The Piano and The Stair Mistress weren’t bad enough, the guides informed us we had one more climb ahead. I don’t even remember the name of the third one. Or possibly I experienced a blackout from lack of oxygen.

I don’t remember the climb, but I do have photo evidence of a third summit.


I hate that my pictures don’t accurately depict the inclines and that you aren’t getting a true sense of the hell I went through to climb up.

Oh but the views! Dare I say, these vistas made the climbs worth it?


Possibly one of my favorite shots of the entire trip: Shadow dancers.


And lest you think that the crazy mountain-goat style hiking was the sum total of our exercise for the day, check this out:


We returned from the hike only to climb another mountain. This time on a treadmill. “Mt. Kilimanjaro” was a hill program from hell. We started out our treadmills at an incline of 15. Prior to that day, I wasn’t even aware treadmill inclines went higher than 10. For details on this program, click over to the Cardio workout page.

Following lunch and an amazing lecture on “Self-Sabotage” (one which deserves (and will get) its own post), it was back to the treadmill for 45 minutes of Cardio Intervals.

At the exact point my legs were hitting wet noodle stage and crying Uncle, it was time for Sharon’s “Bootcamp“. Because life is cruel like that.

In my delirious post-Bootcamp state, I made the worst decision of the week. I assumed that both of the 4:30 classes (Stretch and H20) were stretching sessions.

Imagine my shock and horror to learn the H20 class I chose to attend was an actual pool workout.

My hate-filled climbs during the hike that morning paled in comparison to the rage I felt in that pool. I pictured The Russian, in her temperature-controlled room, stretching tired muscles out, and cursed myself for this colossal error. Trainer Cliff’s voice, commanding me to swim another length of the pool whilst holding float-y weights below the surface of the water, snapped me back to reality.

Since I was already in my bathing suit, I took the opportunity for a 5 minute soak in the hot tub following H20 class. I felt slightly less stabby after that.

All told, Day 2 delivered:

  • 27,789 steps
  • 11.8 miles
  • 2,383 calories burned
  • 1,200 calories consumed
  • My first cry

It wasn’t the physical brutality that brought the tears. Nope. The waterworks arrived at the lecture titled, Self-Sabotage. I cried like a baby.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This program breaks you physically, but it really breaks you emotionally. In the most beautiful way possible.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

p.s. Skip straight over to Day 3 now.

101 thoughts on “day 2: I’m a mountain goat

  1. Sounds exhausting, but fun. Is Piano Rock a real formation? I can’t imagine anyone carving a rock on a mountain top to look like a piano.

    • Oh dear. Sweet, naive, gullible Rob. 🙂 In nature, they often name rock formations after things that they sort of look like. It’s a momentary distraction from the sheer pain and exhaustion of climbing mountains to look up and say, “hey – it’s a ____” fill in the blank: elephant, turtle, piano, Scooby-Doo, etc. 🙂

      It was a brilliant hike – crazy exhausting – but brilliant. The 3 hours of gym classes plus pool class that followed were just rubbing salt in the wound.

  2. I made the same mistake on the stretch/H2O choice. I thought, “pool stretching will feel great.”

    And I’m really enjoying your blog. It’s bringing up great memories from my stay there nearly one year ago.

    • Hi Linda! Thanks for reading abd for taking the time to comment! I’m sorry I’ve been so slow at publishing posts about my week at Movara. Things have been unbelievably busy, and I’ve had non stop business travel between Movara week and Christmas. I’m hoping to write up a few more posts while I’m off this week and schedule them to publishing a queue starting next week. The best laid plans though… 🙂

      Haha! I can imagine your shock and horror when you made the sane pool class mistake I did. 🙂 I never repeated that mistake!

    • Surprisingly, nay SHOCKINGLY, I kept my potty mouth to a minimum the entire week. I’m still not sure what came over me, but other than the under-our-breath exchanges between The Russian Princess and I, my language was downright Puritan that week.
      I blame it on the lack of oxygen.

    • It’s the strangest thing how I can hate something SO MUCH in the moment I’m doing it, and then love it a few minutes later. Even now, writing up these posts, I’m feeling nostalgic and want to head back for another week. 🙂

  3. Oh wow, I consider myself an advanced exerciser, but that schedule looks brutal. I can’t imagine people don’t leave with injuries. My knees wouldn’t care for all that. But you did it, Nancy! You are amazing. I’m so glad you took the time to snap photos too, so the rest of us can share in the beauty (without any of the pain!).

    • A lot of people do suffer a lot of injuries, Carrie. It’s one of the things I don’t like about the program (or the Biggest Loser TV show). I managed to take some of my “year of sweat” learnings to the program this time, and decided to honor my body by listening to it. 3 years ago, I would have cut my own arms off if it meant not being the last one up the mountain. This time around, I pushed myself, but at a pace I could manage – and one that would allow me to complete the rest of the program without compromise.
      I heard many stories that week about people who did so much damage in week 1 of their multi-week stays that they had to sit out most of the week (and/or do things like recumbent bike or pool class the entire time).
      I also find it mildly concerning that there don’t seem to be any medical professionals at the resort. 3 years ago when I was struggling (resting heart rate super high; blood pressure super low), I had to police myself and slow down, but no one on staff in Malibu seemed that bothered. This time around, Irina developed pins & needles/numbness in her feet while running on the treadmill. After determining it wasn’t because of shoes that were too tightly laced, I called over a trainer. She had a mild look of concern on her face, but encouraged Irina to just push through it. Makes me nervous for folks who are in poor health or at risk of heart/stroke…

      • I’m glad you brought that up, because it was certainly on my mind as I read through your posts and FB updates. It’s risky to push our bodies that hard, especially when we’re older. An injury that heals quickly when we’re 20 might not do so when we’re 50. Plus, we can suffer re-injury and are forced to modify our activities from then on in to avoid triggering it. So I agree–it would be nice to see more medical professionals there, especially a sports medicine doc or nurse practitioner.

      • Surprised to hear there weren’t more protocols in place – but then that’s what all those forms are for that I’m sure you signed… “mountain – goat style hiking at your own risk,” was surely in the fine print!

  4. Apparently I’m part Mountain Goat too. I was looking at your pictures saying, “oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god.” I think I even broke out into a sweat. Can I just hike and mountain climb vicariously through you? 🙂

  5. I wondered about “Self-Sabotage” when I looked at the list? I pictured a platter of unhealthy snacks baiting campers as they walked by. Kind of like an IED. 🙂

    • Bahahahaha! Not exactly, Pat. 🙂
      It was a lecture with a lot of group sharing. I’ll blog about an “all or nothing” mindset that resonated big time for me. It was a watershed moment for sure. Pun intended.

  6. despite the fact that this place sounds awesome…

    if anyone made me spend 45 mins on a treadmill, twice in one day I would be fit to kill! Or potentially dead when I had tumbled down, been flung across the room and hit my head on things along the way!!

    hehehehe aqua aerobics is funny 😀

  7. OMG Nancy. I started reading with the thought “there’s something good about 6am?” What an accomplishment to keep moving through such a day but still maintain at least a little awareness of your true hard-line limitations. I have some plans for this summer that are going to make me feel like that mountain goat too if I don’t get my self back into something resembling shape. Yikes!

  8. I feel like an absolute sloth in comparison. This is a workout day that would reduce me to a quivering mess … and the next day wouldn’t be happening. You are one very crazy woman …. but admittedly, that scenery would make it all worthwhile!!

    • It is pretty amazing that the pace stays this crazy for 6 straight days! Clearly an “extreme” situation that no one would ever maintain post-visit, but I feel pretty proud that I was able to show up every day for six days! And those views were to die for!

    • What’s awesome about this place is that each individual is empowered to push themselves as hard (or not) as they like. Lots of folks opted out of hiking groups and did a uper long, uphill walk along a paved road. Still hard work, but easier on the knees and more stable ground for those with mobility issues. I love that they allow you to choose what works for you.

    • I will definitely write a post on that lecture once I get through the remaining day’s recaps. I was going to go there in this post, but at >1,000 words already… Reader fatigue! 🙂

  9. I am a total sloth…. did you know my name could conceivably mean “Lord of the Mountain Goats” ?? Well, if that translation is indeed true then I must be one of those lords who …uh… lord it over their subject from the comfort of their throne while being fanned and fed by attentive attendants.

    That is a helluva work out! good for you.

  10. I hope you are incredibly proud of yourself, Nancy! You’ve really taken on a challenge few of us even aspire to begin! And it’s definitely praiseworthy! I hope the new year just continues to open up possibilities for more goals and some awesome hiking opportunities! Happy New Year!

    • Thank you, Debra! I was very proud of myself for completing the week, on my own terms – abd while listening to and honoring my body. Doing this 3 years ago, I pushed and pushed, feeling miserable the entire week, not to mention putting myself at tremendous risk for injury. It feels good to know I’ve learned a few things in the ensuing 3 years and that I went into this with a healthier mindset this time.

  11. Holy wow, Nancy! If you ever decide to change careers, you might consider being a Navy Seal. I’m pretty sure I’d poop myself half way through that schedule. I ran a few marathons back in the day, but this looks way harder. Peace.

    • The first 3 days were super heavy cardio. By Day 4 they incorporated more strength training into the mix. I think, by design, they try to throw as much shit at you early on as possible, so that by mid week, when you’re ready to throw in the towel, they throw you a bone by having you lift heavy things for a change of pace. 🙂

  12. Pingback: day 1: a wake-up call | my year of sweat

  13. So Nancy . . . as you know I’ve been absent from the ‘sphere for a while so when I came upon Day 2 I thought surely she is rehashing that original experience. I read back a few posts and you managed to convince me that this torture was reasonably recent. Why, oh why Nancy? To me it would be like ripping one leg off and then thinking, “Gee, that didn’t hurt enough. Let’s rip the other one off.” AND you got a friend to go with you. Is she still your friend?
    They say that visualising exercises commits some of that energy to one’s muscles so keep it up Nancy. I’m feeling as fit as a fit thing reading yours posts.
    btw I’m on the Prosecco so don’t expect any sense out of me now. If you ever did xx

  14. Sounds like a wonderful hate-filled experience, Nancy! For me, I don’t think I’d subject myself to military-grade precision for getting in shape. I’m not a very good soldier 😦 but I’m sure the physical effort , precise or creative, is effective. Particularly when combined with hot tub and some ‘waterfall’ stuff. Kudos to you & Princess for doing it gain! Happy New Year!

  15. OMG I can’t believe you climbed up that massive thing… Mount Piano! I can only imagine the state of your tendons afterwards. Must try the duct tape, that’s one I’ve not heard of, but it makes sense.
    Happy 2016!!

      • And the adhesive doesn’t bother your skin? I must experiment–I have a bandaid “allergy” and have to use paper tape instead. But maybe the paper tape would work just as well.

      • Nope, the duct tape doesn’t bother my skin at all. Now – on area with blisters, I apply the bandaid, etc., and then I apply the duct tape over all of that.

      • If you’re hiking on uneven terrain for hours at a time, blisters are likely to happen. Apparently blisters have everything to do with sweat, and it’s hard for your feet not to sweat over that length of time. Double-thick socks or socks with wicking help, but the duct tape is an extra insurance policy for when that sweating and rubbing of shoe/sock/skin starts to happen.

  16. OMG. The photos are stunning. I am so incredibly proud of you! What an incredible experience. I can tell in spite of all your joking, that this was life-changing. I would love to do something like this myself. You are such an inspiration! xoxo

    • This is absolutely life-changing, Kelly. I’ll save a lot of that stuff until my wrap-up post (day 7). I’m so grateful I decided on this do-over. My experience this time versus the first time 3 years ago couldn’t be more different.

  17. Hi Nancy! Oh you can be sure that we can all tell the true hell of climbing those mountains from the emotion and description you provide in this post. Well done…because you surely made me glad I was only climbing up inside a couple of pyramids in Egypt rather than joining you at this spa! ~Kathy

  18. Well Hot Damn! Where the hell have I been all these months????? It’s about damn time I make my way over here but realized I couldn’t read day 5 without starting where I finished off (day 1). For crying out loud! These pics are phenomenal, Nancy! You look a lot cuter than the mountain goat, for sure! 🙂 Off to read Day 3. xo

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