By Andrew Mitchell
Cat Smiley, of the Boot Camp fitness program, wants to offer a handful of super-obese individuals a safe alternative to gastric bypass surgery, immersing clients in a 40-hour a week program for up to 16 weeks — effectively starting them on the road to losing up to a hundred pounds.
“Boot Camp started a Fat Camp program for obese people two years ago that was two hours a day, and that was for people who were not that overweight but needed to drop a couple of pounds. The lifestyle in Whistler makes it easy to lose track of how people in the rest of the world are living,” she said.
“(Boot Camp) was featured in three pages of Reader’s Digest recently and in Canadian Living, and I’m hearing from people who are a hundred pounds past being overweight. That’s when I got the idea to offer a full immersion program where people will live in Whistler, eat all their meals here, and follow a program to lose large amounts of weight.”
Smiley is confident that her clients will be inspired by the mountains and the general fitness of residents to follow the program. As well, she has enlisted the help of a psychologist and a weight loss coach, and will personally help with training, nutrition, meal planning and other aspects of the program.
“I hope to put Whistler on the map as a weight loss destination as I feel this town is an ideal place for obese and morbidly obese Americans and Canadians to make their home away from home while claiming their lives back through extreme weight loss,” she said. “In the past three years as a fitness therapist working with obesity related conditions, my clients have found Whistler to be incredibly supportive towards their weight loss mission. Clients have also found Whistler’s setting to be an inspiration, whether it’s to get fit enough to walk all the way around the golf course, opening their eyes to nature, or finding courage to go for a swim in the public lake.”
Sessions can be as short as two weeks or as long as 16 weeks. So far she has one client booked for two weeks and one for six weeks. Interest in the program has come from across Canada, as well as the U.S.
According to Smiley, roughly 3,700 people in B.C. are waiting for gastric bypass surgery, a risky and sometimes painful surgical procedure. As well, people have to qualify as obese for five years to get on the waitlist, at a time when fewer doctors are performing the surgery because of the risk of complications.
Smiley hopes to offer people an alternative to surgery through some fundamental training in fitness, nutrition and self-control.
The course is not cheap, Smiley admits, but comes with accommodation, meals, and expert advice and counseling. However, it is cheaper than elective gastric bypass surgery, and does not end with the last day of camp — participants are given the tools to help them make better choices in the future.
For the time being Smiley only accepts one client at a time because of the amount of time required. In the future she says she will be able to handle small groups as well.
“This is an extreme commitment for someone to make, but it’s a complete life change for some people who have no idea what it means to be fit,” said Smiley.