Once upon a time, a beach vacation consisted primarily of soaking up the sun, catching up on reading and taking a Piña Colada off a tray. Today’s beachgoers want more than that, whether they are traveling solo, as couples or with family, for business or for pleasure and pretty much across the age spectrum. They lead more active, healthier lifestyles at home and they want the same thing when they are away.
“Today’s guests want to stay young, stay fit, stay active and healthy,” says Kristi Bonsack, director of wellness at the Longboat Key Club and Resort. Club members do, too. That trend is behind the club’s nascent Wellness Program. “The direction that (Chief Executive Officer/General Manager) Michael Welly is taking the resort is a holistic wellness-oriented destination,” Bonsack says.
The definition of wellness is a broad one, including mental, physical, social and emotional health. It encompasses not just fitness, including diet and nutrition, but stress management, balance and contentment, and the club’s commitment puts it on the forefront of the hospitality industry. Recognizing that it can’t deliver the desired experience without buy-in from its associates, the club is also developing “lunch ’n’ learn” and “snack ’n’ learn” classes and workshops designed and scheduled for employees.
Conceived in late 2010, the Wellness Program includes expert presentations that can have a big impact. An example comes from member Chris Meyers, who attended a program on integrated cancer treatment featuring Dr. Sophia Edwards-Bennett of the Moffitt Cancer Center. Meyers shared her learning with her recently diagnosed sister who acted on it and is now under the care of Dr. Mitchell Gaylor of Cornell, who started its integrated program 10 years ago. Her regimen now includes meditation with chanting, positive imaging with CDs and supplements including Metaformin, which is supposed to kill cancer calls.
“My sister feels very optimistic being treated with traditional medicine along with the alternative treatments,” Meyers said. “And we feel very hopeful.”
Beyond seminars, the Longboat Key Club Wellness Program menu is an extensive one (see sidebar) that addresses emotional as well as physical well-being. Bonsack and her team believe that, “Joy is a big part of wellness. Many of our activities involve the family, such as sand-castle building on the beach. We even do that with business groups.”
Art, too, has a part to play. An example is a program for wives of business-meeting attendees. The format consists of lunch, after which each participant receives a palette and the group paints a mural that has been outlined for them. The Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a division of Ringling College of Art and Design, collaborates on this activity.
In the area of nutrition, the Wellness Program offers “Dine Arounds” at every restaurant once a month. Fitness Manager Heather Hackett runs these events with six or eight participants.
“We sit there and pick apart the menu and talk about things like how to order a healthier pizza such as a thin crust with grilled chicken, loaded with veggies,” Hackett says. “The idea is not to give up pizza, but to get the pizza that’s right for you. People don’t know the extent to which they can customize their choices in all our restaurants, selecting hummus or pesto, perhaps, instead of mayonnaise or salsa versus salad dressing.”
Bonsack says the key theme of her program is “balance: not limiting life, but enhancing it,” and that the club is continuing to conduct surveys and test programs. It has just formed a Wellness Advisory Board consisting of a cross section of members — doctors, businessmen, golf and tennis players, etc. And the wellness team keeps members informed via an electronic newsletter called “This Week in Wellness.” Members and guests who want to learn more about the Wellness Program can speak with Bonsack at 383-1587.
Longboat Key Club & Resort Health and Wellness Services
Nutritional Know-How Seminars
• Eating out and staying thin
• A guide to portion control techniques
• How to manage your food cravings
• Obesity and overweight
Fun with Fitness Classes
• Exercise for couch potatoes
• Beach yoga
• Fore your game
• Piloxing (boxing/Pilates)
• Studio cycling
• Total body stretch
Mind and Body Workshops
• Meditation, stretching and yoga
• Healthy travels
• Lose weight without dieting
• Injury prevention
• Managing stress, family and a healthy lifestyle
• Why weight?
Sports and Specialty Training
• Speed and agility training
• Sport specific training
• Lower back strength and flexibility
• Yoga boarding
Representative programs; see “Reflections” member magazine for full list.
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older-adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. Email her at mschechter@YourObserver.com.