Meet Jimmy LeSage, M.S. Founder & Director of New Life Hiking Spa
For amost 40 years, I have welcomed guests to my destination spa and wellness retreat to enjoy hiking in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains.
I’ve been inspired by my work to receive a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Bridgeport, study nutrition at Harvard University, and to join Bill and Beth Reidler’s “Understand Yourself and Others” workshops. To keep up with the latest in body/mind technology, I’ve studied a wide range of bodywork treatments including Rolfing, polarity and acupuncture. From India to Val Morin, Canada, to visiting the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, my education in bodywork and nutrition has taken me around the globe.
For almost four decades, this journey has confirmed for me how undeniably challenging it can be to alter one’s eating habits or work towards a lifestyle change. With all the information and support available for such healthful changes, finding the best method to approach transformations in diet, exercise and lifestyle can be confusing. New Life can be part of this process by addressing lifelong social, psychological and emotional obstacles that affect your eating habits. By learning to work with a healthier and more balanced diet, you will be able to break free from old habits and start that “new life”. It is my hope that a stay at New Life Hiking Spa will help you to gain some insight into changing your eating habits and developing a personal approach to weight control and above all, well-being.
Motivation for New Life flourished while designing a series of nutritional plans for health assessment workshops in 1978. Working with a group of experienced doctors on the project, I became aware of the lack of available information on the subject of nutritional living. Combining my professional training in French, Austrian and Continental cuisine with a newfound alternative approach to nutrition, I began constructing the idea of New Life.
Nathan Pritikin’s work was a huge influence in the development of my ideas by encouraging a diet low in refined sugars, flours, simple carbohydrates and fat. Inspired by what I had read, I began converting restaurant-refined food into healthy, natural, unrefined cuisine that tasted great and was convenient to prepare.
Armed with this new information about eating habits, my background in yoga/bodywork and the opportunity to use a ski lodge that would normally be vacant in Stratton, Vermont, I launched the New Life Hiking Spa modestly in 1978.
During the first summer in operation, we had 12 guests who were focused on losing weight. The exercise regime consisted of yoga, short walks and whatever fad aerobics movement was in style. We concentrated on educating guests that diets alone don’t work, and that weight loss is about a lifestyle change that encompasses nutritional, psychological and sociological change. Within five seasons, New Life grew to accommodate hundreds of guests each year.
In 1990, I moved New Life to the Inn of Six Mountains in Killington, Vermont. The new location and our country’s shifting attitudes about health and fitness made for an ideal environment in which to offer a program heavy on hiking and a holistic approach to weight loss and fitness.
In 2003, I married my wife, Kathleen, who had a career in marketing. Through her efforts, the message of New Life Hiking Spa has been in Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, USA Today, major internet sites and Good Morning America, just to name a few. On a personal note, we have two children born in 2004 and 2007.
In 2015, we moved to a newly renovated hotel in Mendon/Killington with a huge history in the area. Today, New Life Hiking Spa has grown to accommodate approximately forty guests at a time. Yet, we are still small enough to offer a hands-on approach and three different programs based on our guests’ length of stay as well as their personal fitness and wellness goals.
After a brief stay at New Life, our guests leave with a new philosophy in hand, and return to their lives better equipped to face the nutritional challenges inherent in work, home and social situations. At New Life, we aim to change patterns of eating, exercising and living – not overnight, but over time. That’s the New Life approach, and the approach of this website and our e-newsletter. We invite you to use the recipes, tips and tools in our website as an extension of your stay at the New Life Hiking Spa. My hope is that when you return home from your vacation at New Life, you’ll think less about dieting, calories, carbohydrates, sugar, fat and protein, and more about eating whole foods that are unrefined, the way nature intended.