It could be right out of “Fantasy Island.” On a brilliant Sunday afternoon, two dozen strangers enter an exotic paradise. They’re an intriguing lot: a purposeful Manhattan obstetrician, a Nashville millionaire, a jaded documentary-film maker, and a devout executive couple from Atlanta, among others. They’ve paid a small fortune to plumb their souls, to wrestle with their private pain, to rethink — and perhaps to redesign — their fast-lane, high-stress lives.
But our story has more to do with reality than with fantasy. These characters have arrived at an oasis known as Canyon Ranch Health Resort, located in the cactus-studded foothills outside of Tucson, Arizona. Here they will spend a week confronting difficult questions that they rarely ask — let alone answer — throughout the rest of the year: If I’m so wealthy, why don’t I feel happier? If I’m so successful, why don’t I feel more satisfied? If I’m so busy, why do I spend so much time on things that seem so unimportant? It’s all too easy, amid the daily blitz of staff meetings, business trips, and Little League games, to brush off such vexing questions. The more these people achieve, though, the heavier those questions weigh on their minds. The tensions in their lives (the tensions between their ambitions at work, their financial goals, their family commitments, and their personal health) become even more urgent — until they almost have no choice but to visit Canyon Ranch.
Make no mistake: For many guests, the ranch is just another high-priced fat farm. Its luxurious spa caters to jet-setters like Julia Roberts and Barbra Streisand, as well as to Wall Street titans and corporate kingpins. The business elite and the cultural elite meet here to shed pounds, to nosh on edamame soybeans, and to indulge in all the aerobics, yoga, and massage that their bodies can take. The price for single occupancy: $3,480 or more per week during peak season (October to mid-June), plus an 18% service charge.
But Canyon Ranch is more than just a pricey escape: There’s meat tucked into all that tofu. Its Life Enhancement Center, a sort of spa within the spa, offers a weeklong program that’s designed to help overachieving professionals search for answers to some of the defining personal questions of the new world of work: When so many life goals seem attainable, what kind of life is desirable? In an age of more, more, more — more travel, more sales, more stock options, more challenges, more dreams — when does the pursuit of less make sense? How much is enough? Guests at the ranch attend seminars, as well as one-on-one consultations with therapists, physicians, nutritionists, and physiologists. All of that professional attention won’t reinvent anyone’s life in just a week. But the ultimate goal is nothing less than helping guests to turn their lives around.
Dan Baker, the center’s clinical director and spiritual helmsman, leads the search for “enoughness.” A tall man with broad shoulders and wire-rimmed glasses, he exudes the intensity and enthusiasm of a professor eager to connect with his students. (In fact, for many years, he taught psychology at the University of Nebraska, and today he is an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.) Baker, 52, is too grounded to call himself a guru. He credits others, including M. Scott Peck and Viktor Frankl, with coining many of the insights that he espouses. Yet, over the years, CEOs, celebrities, and entrepreneurs have sought Baker’s ministrations. “We’ve tried to create a goal-oriented environment that has a transformational element,” says Baker. “By the end of their week here, people often have a different perspective on life. They go home committed to taking the next step.”
Barry Baker, 46, president and chief operating officer of USA Networks, has taken many such steps. “Dan helped me get beyond the idea that my business defined me,” says Baker (no relation to Dan). Some guests continue their relationship with Dan Baker by phone — or fly him to their office to meet with him in person.
Baker has a real knack for helping people redesign their lives. But he doesn’t promise a quick fix. Nor does he demand a radical makeover. Baker favors simple, practical strategies: Commit to a few challenging but doable changes, and turn new behaviors into solid habits. “This program is all about change,” says Baker. “And the changes that matter most, the ones that really make a difference, are the ones that create the habits of a lifetime. Change is a matter of mind over body. The pursuit of balance is a lifelong journey.”
To Redesign Your Life, Reckon with Your Death
How do so many intelligent and insightful people allow their lives to get so far out of whack? By failing to ask themselves the kinds of questions that they routinely ask their colleagues and companions: Why do you work? What gives you pleasure? Most people, Baker says, are open and honest about life — until they need to be open and honest with themselves. Introspection takes too much effort and too much courage. That’s why he asks his visitors to engage in what sounds like a grim exercise: Think about your life as if you were on your deathbed. People on their deathbeds look back on life with a special perspective, Baker argues. They discard trivia and focus on what matters most: on relationships and on what Baker calls “defining moments” — those critical choices that lead us down one path or another. “It’s hard to take time in the middle of a busy life just to think about what we have done and what we want to achieve,” he says. “We have to find new ways to impose time-outs.”
The need for a time-out is what brought Jaynie Studenmund to Canyon Ranch. Studenmund, now 45, who lives in La Canada, California, has worked for three different financial companies in the past five years — most recently, for H.F. Ahmanson, a big California S&L. One after another, each company was acquired — one of them in a hostile takeover. “Three mergers in three years,” she says, as if she still can hardly believe it.
At each institution, Studenmund served as the executive vice president of retail banking and as a member of the company’s management committee. Those three years amounted to the most stressful time in her entire career, and while she relished the challenges that came her way, she also recognized the compromises that she had to make. After all, she wasn’t just a high-powered bank officer — she was also a wife and a mother. After putting her two young children to bed, she would work late into the night. She got by on four or five hours of sleep. She exercised, but she often skipped meals. In the middle of one merger, she worked 10 consecutive 18-hour days. When her son learned about the third takeover, he sighed, “Oh, no, Mommy, not again.”
Colleagues had urged her to take time off, but she had always been too driven to let herself do so — until now. She’s on sabbatical to recuperate, to reassess her life, and to map out her next move. At Canyon Ranch, Studenmund listens to a doctor describe the physiological effects of her recent lifestyle — how, for example, depriving the body of eight hours of sleep adversely affects mood and memory. She hears a fitness trainer explain that running — a longtime habit of hers — isn’t a well-rounded form of exercise. And she gets the results of a comprehensive blood test: Her cholesterol level is on the high side.
All of this comes as a real eye-opener. While serving the needs of both work and home, she has neglected herself. “I’m a very driven person, so you have to hit me over the head with a two-by-four to get my attention,” she says. “They do that here, but in a nurturing way. I know that the pattern I was living before wasn’t sustainable, although it worked pretty well for a while.”
Thanks to the golden parachutes that came with all of those mergers, she doesn’t have to work. Still, she’d like to get back into the game of business — on her terms. “I want to do something that I can feel passionate about, something that will let me make a major contribution,” she says. “But having time for my family is vital. I want to work for people for whom that is also important.”
Early in the week, Baker asks his guests, “What’s your vision? What are your goals?” Many of them don’t even know what their goals are. Some get swept up in a lucrative career and never pause to find true north on their inner compass. Others simply adopt someone else’s vision. Still others have achieved one set of goals and are at a loss as to what to do next. Many successful people, says Baker, set career goals in their twenties and thirties, and when they reach those goals in their forties or fifties — or, these days, even sooner — they’re disappointed by the view from the top. Baker calls this the Peggy Lee Syndrome: “Is That All There Is?”
When a successful career feels empty, it’s often because the price of success has been too high. Instead of having a rich family life and a supportive circle of friends, successful people have only colleagues and clients. “Work becomes your habit,” Baker says. “You don’t develop outside interests, so you don’t have anywhere else to go. You get all of your accolades, and you do all of your socializing, in that venue.” That’s an alluring trap, because the extra effort can pay off in the form of raises and promotions — which only reinforce the grind.
While some people neglect their own needs because they’re too busy pleasing their boss or colleagues, others act as self-centered as an infant. They operate at the center of their own universe, oblivious to their place in the world around them. Baker tells the story of an executive who, when he came to Canyon Ranch, insisted that his work had to be his top priority — that it was a matter of life or death. He left Tucson with a homework assignment: Spend two days volunteering at a pediatric-oncology ward. Baker made the necessary arrangements. “I could have talked about life and death until I was blue in the face, but he had to gain that perspective for himself. He called me two months later and said, ‘Now I understand. I have some serious issues involving work.’ ” The man began to spend more time with his wife, and eventually he started to pursue other interests outside the office as well.
Most people don’t realize how out of kilter their lives have become until they face a crisis — a divorce, a death in the family, perhaps a heart attack. Chris Newell doesn’t want to wait for that sort of wake-up call. His doctor told him that if he doesn’t lose weight and get his blood pressure under control, he’ll have to go on medication, and he doesn’t want that.
Newell, 48, is about to start a demanding new job that requires more travel than he is accustomed to. After running the Lotus Institute, an innovation lab associated with Lotus Development Corp., he is looking forward to assuming a more hands-on role as chief knowledge officer at Viant, an e-commerce consulting group. But he is also apprehensive. He has to do a better job of managing both his work and his health. “I’m about to enter a more stressful environment, and I need a better me — mentally, emotionally, and physically,” he says. “Before, I was running out of energy.”
Before, when he saw himself in the mirror each morning, he almost didn’t recognize his own body. The guy who wrestled at 140 pounds in high school, who played on the tennis team in college, who at one point could bicycle 100 miles a day — that guy had somehow ballooned to 250 pounds. If only he had taken his health as seriously as his career, he thought. “In the past, I rationalized things,” Newell says. “This time, I knew that if I didn’t take my health seriously, I might take years off my life.”
Newell wants both a challenging career and good health. He wants to help change the way companies share knowledge — but he also wants to be around long enough to enjoy his new house on Cape Cod, along with his wife, their daughter, and his 10 siblings. So, at Canyon Ranch, he meets with a physiologist, he attends classes on nutrition and takes a cooking class, he plays tennis for the first time in 20 years. The experience is exhilarating and inspiring. “It’s like recapturing the old spirit, the old sense of energy,” Newell says.
Balance Takes Discipline, Not Willpower
“There isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to get done.” Baker, who hears that complaint every week, says that it misses the point. Balance, he argues, is not a math problem: It’s not a matter of shifting a few hours each week from one activity to another. If it were that easy, everyone with a PalmPilot would look as serene as the Dalai Lama. Balance is a design problem — a matter of coming to terms with your values and priorities, of reckoning with the trade-offs that they require. Balance is not about willpower, Baker insists. If you depend only on willpower, you’re likely to cave in whenever you feel pressured, tired, or unhappy. Balance is about discipline: It’s about deciding what’s important and then creating a structure that defines how you spend your time.
All of that may sound self-evident. But when you lead the kind of pedal-to-the-metal schedule that many of his guests lead, you don’t stop to ruminate about time and values. And, if you do stop, you’re likely to see huge gaps between what you say is important and what you actually spend your time doing.
On Tuesday night, Baker leads a session on balance and values. He hands out a list of values: spirituality, financial growth, relation-ships, control, adventure. Circle any that are important to you, he tells the group, or add others to the list. Now narrow that list down to your three core values, and ask yourself, “Is there a gap between what I say that I value and how I behave?” Bridging that gap is essential to achieving “enoughness,” because living with that gap means that you’re living in conflict with yourself. In a well-designed life, behavior reflects values — and values drive action. So what should you do if your behavior is out of sync with your values? Write down specific actions that reflect your core values. Then do one of those actions this week, and do other actions on the list in the weeks that follow.
If there is one question that’s guaranteed to inspire a sense of purpose and discipline, it is this: What do you want your legacy to be? Baker suggests that his guests actually write their own obituary. At first, the exercise seems corny — even grisly. But soon the guests become deeply absorbed in completing a simple fill-in-the-blank form: “At the time of death, principal endeavor was . . .” So far, so easy. “Will be honored for . . .” A little tougher. “Will be remembered by . . .” Hmmm. “Because of . . .” Hmmmmm. “Made contributions in the area of . . .” “Always hoped to . . .” “Was most proud of . . .” How do you feel about your obituary? Baker asks his guests. Having read it, could you rest in peace?
Just Say No — To Stress
By midweek, a real change has come over the guests at the Life Enhancement Center. They’re relaxed. They’re hopeful. They also sound like converts. It’s amazing what a few days of exercise, healthy food, meditation, and plenty of sleep can do to wretches who are accustomed to driving themselves off a cliff.
What guests first notice about Canyon Ranch is its mountainous desert terrain. But what sets the therapeutic mood is the quiet, the absolute stillness of the place: You’ve never heard so much silence in your life. The ranch is nearly devoid of beepers, cell-phones, pets, children under 14, and standard forms of nightlife. (Evening activities include classes on astronomy, among other subjects.) At 10 p.m., the complex begins to wind down. And, since this is a health resort, no alcohol is served.
At 7 a.m., the day begins with a group speed-walk along the resort’s serpentine roads. Then it’s off to an omelet bar (egg whites only) and a full day of classes. Along with the Life Enhancement offerings, there are sessions on low-fat grilling, family conflict, sexuality, memory — you name it. There are also more than 40 fitness classes, including sessions devoted to kick-boxing, yoga, and water aerobics in a heated pool. What does all of this have to do with finding out how much is enough? Well, everything, says Baker. The goal is not only to balance career, relationships, and health, but also to balance the elements within each of those areas: Eat a well-balanced diet, but also follow a well-balanced fitness routine. Lift weights to build muscle, but also be sure to include stretching and cardiovascular activity in your daily regimen.
At 5 p.m. each afternoon, the stress-management seminar begins. Even if you act in concert with your values, stress can undermine your pursuit of balance, like termites attacking the foundation of a house. The physical, emotional, and psychological consequences can be profound: overeating, inactivity, anxiety, depression, anger, poor sleep, heart problems, and increased mortality. Learn to manage stress, Baker says, and you can drastically improve your quality of life.
It’s important to know what stress is, says Dr. Philip Eichling, medical director at Canyon Ranch, who offers this definition: “the mind’s interpretation of an event in a way that causes characteristic physical effects.” The key word is “interpretation.” “You cannot control outside stressors, but you can control how you perceive and react to those stressors,” Eichling says. In other words, take a moment to calm down. Take several deep breaths. “I concentrate on slowing down my heart rate and envisioning a good moment. I think of the look on my son’s face when he’s sleeping. That feels good.”
If you’re self-aware, you can tell when you’re wound too tightly to concentrate. “You want to find an optimal level of performance — a balance between tension and relaxation,” Baker says. “Whenever you feel panic, just close the door, turn off the phone, turn out the lights, and take five minutes to practice meditation or deep breathing.” Make such moments a regular part of your day, like a morning staff meeting. One minute here, five minutes there, and soon those moments of relief will begin to add up.
The point is, you cannot avoid stress altogether (some Canyon Ranchers even get stressed out by trying to squeeze in every class). But you can minimize its effect by becoming more resilient. Control what you can. Instead of letting others determine your life, draw boundaries and learn to say no when necessary. For high achievers, who typically hesitate to delegate or to turn down a request, that’s not an easy task. But try saying no just once, Baker advises his guests, and see what happens.
Rob Hallam, 41, director of internal communication at the Atlanta headquarters of the Home Depot, has come to Canyon Ranch to get a grip on stress. When you work for a fast-growth company like the Home Depot, stress is so endemic that trying to avoid it is like trying to ignore gravity. Every 72 hours, another Home Depot store opens in the United States or abroad. In 10 years, the company has grown from 90 stores with 12,000 associates to more than 800 stores with 175,000 associates.
“Rapid growth brings change, and change is inherently stressful,” says Hallam, who routinely logs 60 to 70 hours on the job, Monday through Saturday. But lately he hasn’t felt as productive or as energetic as he used to. “Bottom line, I want to feel better about myself,” he says. “I feel that I’ve been working too many hours and not getting enough out of it.”
Hallam isn’t the first stressed-out Home Depot manager to show up at the Life Enhancement Center. Colleagues of his, some of whom visit the ranch twice a year, told him how beneficial the program can be. So he and his wife, Jeannine, 33, executive administrator for the Atlanta chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, decided to see if the center’s offerings could help them enhance their life together. Married for three years, they sometimes find it hard to enjoy their professional opportunities, which require them to spend less time together than they would like to. Their relationship isn’t anywhere near crisis yet, but they hear warning bells. Both devout Christians, they pray together daily — yet work often seems to throw them off course.
Rob doesn’t blame “the Depot,” as he refers to the company. Promoting balance and health is part of its corporate philosophy. (Employees at headquarters have exercise facilities, for example.) Instead, he blames himself. He’s easily seduced by all of the projects that come across his desk. Getting up-to-date information on 50,000 products into the hands of Home Depot associates, developing a series of Home Depot home-repair books — such challenges get his juices going, and he wants to make the most of them.
But if he takes on too much, he creates more stress both at work and at home. “You get caught up in rapid growth, because growth is exciting,” he says. “And you can get buried in that excitement.”
Achieving profound self-awareness is difficult enough. Actually changing behavior — well, that’s even tougher. We can come to grips with destructive lifestyle patterns, we can acknowledge that tension or conflict is unhealthy — but doing something about it? That’s where many of us get stuck, Baker says. We cling to old patterns and bad habits, because changing them means breaking away from what’s comfortable.
To achieve lasting change, you need to make an emotional connection to your new habits and to the benefits that you’ll reap over time. Mel Zuckerman, the founder of Canyon Ranch, calls that connection an “aha” moment — an “epiphany of spirit.” It goes beyond an intellectual understanding of the reasons for change; it’s something that you experience at a deeper, more personal level.
Dan Baker knows from personal experience that reaching that point isn’t easy. He recalls a Sunday morning many years ago, when his 11-year-old son looked at him over breakfast and said, “Gee, I haven’t seen you since last Sunday.” Baker was floored by the irony: At the time, he was a psychologist at the National Center for Preventive and Stress Medicine, and he regularly talked with patients about how important their families should be to them — yet he wasn’t making enough time for his own family.
“I did some soul-searching after that,” he says. “I asked, ‘Why am I so driven? Why do I go to the hospital so early and stay until 10 at night?’ I was successful, but I had tripled my caseload. I finally realized, ‘I’m afraid of being a father.’ I’d spent years training people about relationships, but I was afraid of having relationships.” Despite that realization, he says, he needed another three years to change his life — to cut back at work and to begin scheduling time with his family as if they were his most important client.
When people consider changing their lives, they often view the process as being so dramatic, so earth-shattering, that the mere prospect of change becomes overwhelming. And so they do nothing. Baker suggests that people think of change not as a major overhaul but rather as a gradual redesign: “It’s all about continual improvement through small, incremental, seemingly insignificant steps. Let’s say you’re working 80 hours a week. How about cutting back by 5 hours a week? Now let’s figure out how to spend those 5 hours on your health or on your relationships.”
Toward the end of the week, Baker and his staff ask their guests, “What are you going to do during the other 51 weeks of the year?” On index cards, participants list three agenda items that they will pursue when they get home: nothing too ambitious — just small, doable changes, first steps that can lead to bigger steps. At a final celebration on Saturday, the guests toast one another’s progress, clinking flutes of sparkling cider. They exchange phone numbers and email addresses; they talk about holding a one-year reunion. Then they fly home and start putting their plans into action.
Back in Boston, Chris Newell calls a tennis pro to a schedule a lesson. He plans to play twice a week, as long as he’s not on the road. He’d also like to teach his 13-year-old daughter, Stephanie, how to play, so that they can spend more time together. He says he’s going to watch less television and to go to bed earlier, so that the can get up at 5:30 a.m. and run or bike before work. He’ll concentrate on eating well-balanced meals and snacks instead of relying on a quick-fix diet. “On the plane home, I was looking over some of the low-fat recipes that I picked up,” Newell says. “I’m going to the store tonight.” As he sees it, he not only has a new job; he also has a new responsibility to his body.
The day after she arrives home, Jaynie Studenmund buys a set of dumbbells. (She’s adding an upper-body strength program to her regular running routine.) She also sends her nanny to a health-food store with a grocery list that includes baked chips and apple butter, and she purges the kitchen of greasy snacks. “I’m never eating margarine again,” she vows. She adds a few health books to her reading list and a note to her To Do list: Buy new music, something soothing to listen to in the car. She also plans to get more than four hours of sleep a night. She’ll continue to push herself, of course, but she’s no longer going to run on fumes.
Rob and Jeannine Hallam plan to take back their weekends. That will require Rob to be more productive during the week and to start saying “no,” or at least “not now,” to all of the great ideas that people pitch to him. Come Saturday morning, the couple plans to visit a farmer’s market and to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables: Healthier lunches and snacks will help Rob keep his energy level up at work. And by giving up caffeine and alcohol, they hope to improve the quality of their sleep. Rob plans to start taking breathing breaks to manage stress at work. “I want to use self-focus to calm my system down,” he says. He and Jeannine are confident that these changes will last. Because they attended Canyon Ranch together, they can help each other to reinforce their new habits.
These Canyon Ranch graduates understand that change — even incremental change — won’t be easy. There will be missteps and backsliding along the way, and their progress will be modest. But, as Dan Baker would say, they have made a good start on their change journey. And, in a year or two, they will be ready to recommit to change — or, perhaps, to change course again. Even the best plans have a limited shelf life.
When in doubt, Baker advises his acolytes, take a step back and remember the goal that you’re pursuing. The journey may be grueling, but the destination remains relatively clear-cut. “At the end of your life,” he says, “you want to be able to look back with few regrets and to feel good about the choices you made. That way, you can go in peace, knowing that you’ve invested your life and your life’s energy wisely.”
Sidebar: Can the Center Hold?
Title: President and COO, USA Networks
First Visit to Canyon Ranch: 1990
Back in the summer of 1990, Barry Baker was a deeply trouble man. “I wasn’t a human being,” he says now. “I was a human doing.” As he built River City Broadcasting, his St. Louis-based media startup, into a chain of 10 television stations and 24 radio stations, he was working 70 hours a week (including weekends) as well as during vacations. His schedule was full — but he felt empty inside. So Baker, who was approaching age 40, flew to Canyon Ranch to reflect on what was missing from his life. He realized that he had a problem not with his calendar but with his identity. “I was making the first real money in my life, but my life didn’t have meaning. I asked myself, ‘What do I to be remembered for?’ I wanted to contribute to the growth of people, not just to the growth of assets.”
He began delegating at work, and he cut his workweek back to 55 hours. With his newfound time, he carved out a personal life. He took up squash, hiking, and skiing, and he joined several local charity boards. He chose to end his first. unhappy marriage. and a few years boards. He chose to end his first, unhappy marriage and a few years later, he remarried and became a stepfather.
Today Baker faces a different question: Can the center hold? In 1996, he sold River City, which he had started with $5.5 million, to Clair Broadcast Group for $1.2 billion. Last February, he quit Sinclair to join his friend Barry Diller at USA Networks, where he is now president and COO. The position offers a rare opportunity to explore the marriage of television and the Internet. But it is also very demanding, requiring him to commute from Baltimore to New York and Los Angeles. Baker insists that this stage of his career “won’t be about work.” He has established a work rhythm that is vigorous yet reasonable: a few 14-hour days, followed by long weekends with his family. “You need downtime — to be happy personally and to think. If you’re ever going to grow, you have to allow time for thinking.”
Sidebar: Find the Right Pace
Title: Associate commissioner, Connecticut Department of Education
First Visit to Canyon Ranch: 1998
Betty Sternberg had long pushed the envelope. At age 22, she was closing in on a joint PhD in education and psychology from Stanford — while teaching school full-time and writing four math textbooks. By her mid-thirties, she was helping to engineer school reform for the Connecticut State Department of Education — while raising two children as a single parent. “I believed I was doing important work for society.” says Sternberg, now an associate commissioner in the department. “But I knew that my kids were more important. I always felt like I was cheating one side of my life or the other.”
Actually, she was cheating herself. She slept as little as four hours a night. And when a string of crises hit — divorce, high blood pressure and diabetes, her mother’s terminal cancer — she began to experience constant emotional conflict. Although each emergency got her attention, Sternberg couldn’t bring herself to change her Work habits. The resulting stress led to chronic overeating.
Last year, when she arrived at Canyon Ranch, her goal was to lose weight. But she soon realized that getting serious about a healthy diet and regular exercise meant getting serious about her work routine. So, instead of getting to the office by 8 a.m., she began staying home to jog on her treadmill and to lift weights. To manage her diabetes, she started bringing snacks to her meetings and eating regularly throughout the day.
Those changes represent a departure from her old work pattern. “I used to schedule people back-to-back, like a doctor’s office. Now I know that it’s okay to stop.” Now that her son and daughter are in college, Sternberg is tempted to fill her extra time with work. But she’s determined to stick to her new priorities: exercise, “mindful I eating,” and hobbies. “I know that I could drop dead any minute,” she says. “So I’d better live my life the way I want to live it.”
Sidebar: Resort Course
Title: Founder, Canyon Ranch Health Resort
First Visit to Canyon Ranch: 1979
He had built one of Tucson’s top residential-real-estate development operations from scratch. But Me! Zuckerman was a mess. He had high blood pressure, and he was50 pounds overweight. His doctor told him that he had the body of a man who was pushing 70-when, in fact, he was not yet 50. It was 1977. Zuckerman’s father had just succumbed to cancer, Haunted by his father’s death and worried about ignoring his own health, Zuckerman checked into the Oaks at Ojai spa, in Ojai, California. For the first time in his life, he started exercising regularly. He lost weight, and before long, he felt better than ever.
Out of that experience, Canyon Ranch Health Resort was born. Zuckerman decided to build a “vacation-lifestyle resort” that would focus not simply on dieting but on attitudes as well. Lenders wouldn’t touch the idea. So he liquidated nearly everything he had, putting up $2 million in savings and $5 million in real-estate holdings. Although the ranch lost $l million in its first year, it soon garnered some travel magazine write-ups and developed a growing clientele. Zuckerman later opened a second resort, in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and a third facility will open in Las Vegas this summer.
Now Zuckerman and his wife, Enid, live at the Tucson ranch full-time. He’s up at 4 a.m. to watch CNN Headline News in his Jacuzzi. Then he exercises in his home gym for an hour and a half. After holding a 7 a.m. breakfast meeting with his management team, he works until 4 p.m. Then it’s time for his daily massage.
At 71, Zuckerman remains intensely active both in his business and in philanthropy — and his doctor says that he has the body of a man 30 years younger. That’s progress. “I don’t really like the term ‘personal transformation.’ That’s too ‘la-la land’ for me,” he says. “It’s a process, you know: As the Chinese proverb says, ‘The 1,000-mile journey begins with a single step.'”
Sidebar: Charity Begins at Home
Brandon Coleman Jr.
Title: President and CEO, Coleman & Coleman
First Visit to Canyon Ranch: 1993
He couldn’t stop. Brandon Coleman Jr. was immersed in work that he loved — building the Houston-based branding and marketing firm that he had founded at age 23. He was father to three children, and he reveled in coaching their sports teams. He attended church-board meetings and charity events. It was John O’Neil’s book, The Paradox of Success (Putnam, 1993), that persuaded him to take a time-out. “All of a sudden, it hit me,” Coleman recalls. “This was too much.” He headed to Tucson: “At first, I wondered, ‘I can afford to drop everything and do this?’ Then I thought, ‘Can I afford not to?'”
During a counseling session at Canyon Ranch, he covered a wall with index cards, each of which listed one of his many obligations. “No wonder stress was getting to me so much,” he says. Coleman already knew that what mattered most to him was not business success or wealth, but religious faith. He was a devout Christian — and yet, he says, “I knew I didn’t have the balance that God wanted me to have.”
So Coleman began setting limits. He resigned from three of the boards on which he served, and he hired someone to assume more of his responsibilities at work. None of this was easy. “I could spend 24 hours a day at my business,” he says. “I love it. And the business could be bigger than it is now. But at what cost?”
He also tended to his problematic marriage by returning to Canyon Ranch with his wife Cindi. For two weeks, they took part in intense daily sessions with Dan Baker. The trip not only saved the marriage but also “took it to the next level,” says Coleman.
Coleman has returned to Canyon Ranch for at least a week during each of the past seven years — to recommit himself to his faith, to address his other needs, to recharge. “I tell my clients, ‘I’m going away for a week, but I’ll be coming back with great ideas for you and your company. Believe me, this is going to help all of us.'”