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TOP FLIGHT:

SURVIVAL
OF THE
MODERATELY FIT

How two VIOLET GREY staffers survived a stay at The Ranch, Hollywood’s most demanding (and most indulgent) wellness retreat.

Written By JAYME CYK and KATE KLOBE

Nestled in the hills of Malibu, The Ranch is a fitness and wellness retreat beloved by Hollywood elites looking to tone up, trim down, or dry out. The program’s picture-perfect surroundings and blue-chip accommodations obscure the rigor of its treatment protocol, which includes over six hours of daily exercise and adherence to a vegan, gluten-free diet. Caffeine, sugar, and alcohol are verboten. For the length of their stay, guests are encouraged to unplug from their devices and cultivate new habits of mindfulness and discipline. To celebrate the launch of The Ranch’s body care line, two VIOLET GREY editors underwent The Ranch 4.0, a truncated program based out of The Four Seasons Westlake Village. Read on for their first-hand account. 


BEFORE

Jayme Cyk: I’ve always considered myself a healthy eater and very active, but since I moved to Los Angeles two and a half years ago, I put on some weight. I’m lactose-intolerant and I blame the weight gain on vegan dessert and willpower. So when I decided to take four days to detox, I wanted to make it count.

Kate Klobe: Ditto on the fitness level—I dance, run and lift weights at least five days a week. Non-ditto on the healthy eating. I hate grocery shopping and eat out approximately 99% of the time. Plus, like every other lame Millennial, I maintain a pretty solid rosé habit. So yes. It was time for a reset.

JC: What was I told before going to The Ranch? Expect to get six almonds as a snack, positive affirmations, and a lot of hiking.

KK: About a month out from check-in, the lovely staff at The Ranch sent over a set of preparatory instructions that seriously rivaled my college orientation packet. One of the more fun parts was buying all the requisite hiking gear. I went to REI for the first time in my life and was, like, talking really loudly to impress the other customers. “I’LL BE HIKING FOR 12 MILES EVERYDAY.” We were instructed to buy Camelbaks that could hold a minimum of three liters of water. But the 2.5-liter packs were like $40 cheaper, so I got one of those and then bought a Chanel bronzer on my phone while I waited in the checkout line.  

DURING

KK: Per instructions, we showed up at the lovely Four Seasons Westlake in our hiking clothes, and proceeded directly to The Ranch intake center. There was a first-day-of-school vibe among the guests—lots of sizing one another up, very little direct eye contact. Luckily, we all had a heap of paperwork to get through. The questions were thoughtful: “On a scale of 1-10, how much encouragement would you like from The Ranch staff?” Um, no pep talks but also please don’t leave me on a mountain?

JC: Then we got weighed and measured—bust, waist, hips, thigh circumference. These metrics complemented tests for body composition and cardiovascular health that were done in the following days. 

KK: Everyone got a tote bag filled with supplies: journal, walkie-talkie, water bottle, and what I thought was a bottle opener. Nope—it turned out to be an emergency whistle in case we got lost while hiking. Oof.

JC: After intake, we went to the insanely gorgeous greenhouse (where all our meals took place) to have a smoothie before heading out on the first hike! It was three-and-a-half hours, and a good intro to navigating trail terrain—everyone slipped about five times. But I actually fell. That’s what I get for wearing worn-in APLs on a serious hike.

KK: Jayme also had a Camelbak mishap and realized at the halfway point that her water pouch had been leaking the whole time. Luckily, Rob, a staffer at The Ranch, hooked us up with emergency hydration.

JC: We ended up chatting with Rob the whole way back, asking him a million questions along the way. He gave us the inside scoop on the hardest hikes, the best masseuses, and his favorite Ranch meals. He also almost convinced us to take a breathing class, which is hilarious—I can’t sit in savasana, and Kate doesn’t even take yoga.

Back home, we gathered for dinner and went around the circle sharing gratitudes and why we were there—it seemed like everyone had different goals. Angela, the program manager, recommended that we disconnect from technology, but conceded that each person’s journey is for them to decide. By the way, the food was amazing. Green salad, chickpea tofu, forbidden rice and a veggie stir-fry with homemade teriyaki sauce.

KK: After dinner, I went back to my room and did what I always do when I’m in a hotel: watch reruns of Sex And The City on E!. And even though it was a really good episode (“The Agony and the ‘Ex’-tacy”), I passed out early—I was zonked from the hike, and mildly gripped with terror at the prospect of having to wake up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. 


KK: Technically speaking, caffeine—like sugar, alcohol, dairy, and wheat—is verboten at The Ranch. That said, it’s pretty easy to procure black coffee at The Four Seasons; I had a pot delivered to my room each morning. I knew that, without it, I would be an absolutely colossal, whining nightmare. Honestly, it didn’t even feel like cheating, since the program’s ethos is all about achieving growth and results on your own terms. What else is the program about? Really effing hard hikes.

JC: The second day was the hardest hike of all.

KK: If you ask me, the third hike was worse. But they were all nuts. Four hours a day of covering ten to twelve miles while scaling the equivalent of 150 stories. I had to remind myself every two minutes that I wasn’t being punished, and had signed up to do this voluntarily.  

JC: Fortunately, the amazing makeup artist Pati Dubroff was also on the retreat. So the three of us spent more than enough time swapping product recommendations on the trails. And when we couldn’t talk about beauty anymore—predominantly because we were out of breath—we walked in silence to regain our strength.

KK: Post-hike, we would sit for lunch. This was followed by a brief rest period, two hours of weight training, a session of restorative yoga, an in-room massage, and an early dinner. Like a very posh military school, days at The Ranch are characterized by an immense amount of structure and very little variation.

JC: Perhaps with one exception. If you’re not a fan of poop talk then skip this part. I usually only poop in the morning, never at night. But I was thrilled that, during my stay, I was pooping throughout the day.

KK: Everyone is on their own journey.


AFTER

KK: Just four nights and 45 miles later, it was time to head home. Our departure hike was a quick, three-mile loop. Perversely, it felt like an easy warm-up. Jayme, any parting thoughts?

JC: What I thought would be the hardest part—hours of physical activity on only 1,400 calories a day—wasn’t. I thought I would be starving. But I was completely floored by how satisfied and how great I felt. The meals were incredibly filling and delicious.

KK: Co-sign. The head chef, Meredith, is an absolute genius. One of the highlights of The Ranch was shedding some misconceptions about vegan cuisine. I still crave particular dishes that she made.

JC: Following my experience at The Ranch I became a pescatarian, retiring chicken and red meat from my diet. And I have to admit I feel pretty fucking great.

KK: Would I do it again? Absolutely.

JC: That night, Kate texted me: “I miss The Ranch.” And I agreed.

Up for a challenge? To learn more or to book your stay at The Ranch or The Ranch 4.0, visit their site for further information. 


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