It’s morning at New Life Hiking Spa. You meet downstairs after breakfast with your fellow guests. You collect fruit, water and your hiking poles. Then you gather around to hear about the day’s menu of hikes.
There’s a total of 21 treks in the Vermont countryside and up in the mountains, but there will be two or three to choose from on a given morning. You might choose a starter hike, an amble along a gravel road with gentle swells and hills, shaded by maple trees as you approach bridges that span wooded rivers and creeks. You take in the picturesque Vermont countryside and cozy farmsteads.
Or you might opt for something more challenging, something that will lead you along the Appalachian and Long Trails. Perhaps you’ll choose to shape and polish your quads on the brambled inclines leading to Killington Peak, one of Vermont’s highest summits, where a flat sunny boulder awaits so you can rest and enjoy in the expanse of green pine unfurled before you — and the fact you got there on your own power.
Whatever your body can handle, there is plenty for the mind and the senses of a New Life hiker to appreciate, with the rich scenery, gentle nature sounds and sweet air to serve as an antidote to a stressful life. Choosing to be here, on a hike, is so much better than staying home and running on a treadmill. The treadmill is a great tool, but it’s a boring way to get in shape. It’s hard work, mustering the will to keep going. Hiking is not boring. There’s no hopping off. You are in it, you must finish. As a New Lifer, you don’t have to lift a finger to do something about motivation, about making time. When you’re on that path, it’s “One step at a time,” as the mantra goes. Plus, you’ll get a much better workout, walking up and down steep inclines, along roots, logs and rocks.
Exercising outside and among nature does some wonderful things for the mind and soul. Research says so. It reduces those downward spiral-inducing ruminating thoughts, boosts memory, and improves concentration and focus. Forest therapy, as one study called it. Bonus: If you see something that inspires awe, that gives you a mental boost, too.
So, you see, you are built to benefit from this hike. You need this. Your path chosen, you board a van with your fellow hikers, and you’re off for your morning hike.