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Last year on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I was so blessed to go to California with my sister for a weeklong wellness retreat at The Ranch in Malibu . What could be better than hiking, clearing our heads, and detoxing right between Thanksgiving and the holidays?! Not much ☺ but we did certainly feel a bit of stress about leaving our families for the opposite coast during such busy time of year. As you all can imagine, this definitely requires a lot of pre-planning (organizing sitters, meals, carpools, playdates, sports, etc. etc!!!). We reluctantly left our six children and stunned husbands for what would turn out to be the trip of a lifetime. The only downfall was really the distance. So, you may wonder why we chose California for this adventure when we both live on the East Coast? We had heard wonderful things about The Ranch, but more importantly could not find something similar to it on the East Coast. 

Welcome GroundSea Fitness…the answer to this missing piece!! 

Busy New Yorkers, Tracy Gaslow and Denise Kleinman, also sisters, had done several similar trips to the West Coast over the years and decided this type of program was just what the East Coast needed. Together, with friend Hollie Levy, they created GroundSea Fitness, a new wellness retreat currently scheduled to take place about ten times per year in Great Barrington, MA.

If you’ve never heard of a wellness retreat (or experienced one), you may be thinking, “why would anyone spend thousands of dollars to work out and eat healthy?!?” In all honesty, my husband is still wondering just that! However, from my personal experience, I can assure you that this is about so much more than that. In our busy lives, we rarely get a chance to recharge, tune out, and truly focus on ourselves. How many times have you come home from a trip thinking you need a vacation from your vacation? A wellness retreat is truly a vacation for YOU!

Our society encourages people to take part in too many unhealthy, toxic behaviors when they vacation. I believe that vacations were meant to be opportunities to rest, refresh and take part in activities that we normally do not have time to enjoy in our regular lives. Through our Wellness Program, we give people more opportunities to take part in healthy, re-energizing behavior when they go on vacation, so they return to their regular lives with a newfound energy and perspective.”-Marc Alabanza, Program Director

At GroundSea Fitness, a typical day (see below) includes rigorous hikes, yoga, strength training, meditation, and a daily massage for each guest. Different from The Ranch, I love that they offer things like Reiki, health & wellness lectures, and personal health consultations in the evenings. They also offer a 4-day weekend retreat or a 5-day Midweek Retreat allowing for more flexibility when booking and have a maximum capacity of 11 guests at a time.

I was super excited to learn about GroundSea’s eating philosophy, which differs from many of the extremely rigid West Coast programs. They call it “detox without deprivation,” serving a mainly ovovegetarian (allows eggs, no dairy) diet and even allow caffeine using bulletproof coffee (hot coffee blended with grass-fed butter and a medium-chain triglyceride oil derived from coconut oil). 

I couldn’t be more thrilled to have a wellness program on the East Coast and absolutely can’t wait to try a GroundSea Fitness retreat. Read on for my interview to learn more, and if you are interested, make sure to sign up quickly…their dates are filling up fast. Click here for available dates and to learn more!


Interview with GroundSea Fitness

What is GroundSea Fitness and what motivated you to start this new program?

GroundSea Fitness is a new wellness retreat that makes immersive West Coast-style fitness more accessible to East Coasters. We had visited (and loved) many programs across the country, but craved something similar that was closer and easier to get to from New York City.  We looked and looked for such a program and could not find one that met our high standards for fitness and cuisine, so we started our own! The fitness component is based around morning rigorous hikes through the scenic Berkshire mountains and supplemented with core and strength-training classes in the afternoon.

What is the GroundSea Fitness philosophy?

GroundSea Fitness helps guests physically transform their bodies, and mentally transform their perspectives.

Where and how often will the retreats take place?

There are about 10 retreats per year that take place in a breathtaking property in Great Barrington, MA. All dates are listed on our website—Groundseafitness.com. Space is limited, and trips have been booking up quickly due to all the buzz surrounding an awesome article about us in Town and Country magazine. We are currently shopping around for additional locations and/or sites. Stay tuned!

Who is the ideal GroundSea participant? Do you need to be at a certain fitness level to attend?

GroundSea meets you where you are and elevates you to that next level, whatever that may be for you. We have had some fitness fanatics as well as individuals who have never hiked before.

What is the main goal of the program (detox, weight loss, general health)?

All of the above. We call it detox without deprivation because it’s less draconian than some existing programs out West. For example, we provide healthy bulletproof coffee in the AM, whereas others don’t allow any caffeine even in the days leading up to the retreat. The result? Caffeine withdrawal headaches. Bulletproof coffee is hot coffee blended with grass-fed butter and a medium-chain triglyceride oil derived from coconut oil. It’s higher in calories than the more-traditional Joe, but rich in health benefits. Bulletproof coffee sustains energy and blood sugar levels throughout the day, promoting easier weight loss. There are no scales at GroundSea. Will you lose weight? Yes, but there is so much more to this experience.

Can you tell us what to expect during a typical day of the program…activity and food-wise?

Here’s a sample day at GroundSea:
– 6:15 Wake up
– 7:00 Yoga
– 8:00 Breakfast
– 9:00 Hike
– 11:20 Snack (at hike midpoint)
– 1:00 Lunch
– 2:00 Fitness
– 4:00 Fitness/massage
– 5:00 Fitness/massage
– 6:00 Restorative Yoga
– 7:00 Dinner
– 8:00 Evening Activities

We craft a mainly ovovegetarian program. We use whole grains, beans, legumes, and seeds to supply the main source of protein in the daily diet, but we also supply a wide variety of essential proteins and fiber. Our meals are balanced, low in salt and sugar, with special attention to the good fats needed to fuel an active body and mind (all done with minimal adulteration from their original form in nature). Our varied menu features natural and organic foods, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs, some fermented foods to help our internal biome, house-made dressings and soups. Everything is as pretty and colorful as it is delicious.

Why are retreats like GroundSea important for our general health and well-being?

Our goal is to give our guests a week of living in a healthy, conscious environment by returning to the basics:
– Movement of the body
– Consumption of simple, minimally processed food and drink
– Communing with nature and other people of common purpose