"Imagine you have a marble halfway between your navel and public bone and want to roll that marble down into your navel," Pilates instructor Patricia Brooksbank is saying. "Press your lower back to the floor, tilt your pelvis up."
It’s 8:30 on a Friday morning at the Westin Resort and Spa in Whistler and Brooksbank is introducing Pilates, a set of core strengthening exercises invented by Joseph Pilates, a German emigrant who ended up the darling of the 1950s New York dance scene with a simple but challenging regime he’d designed in response to his own childhood frailties.
The hour-long workshop is a sample of just one event Westin’s Avello Spa has scheduled for Whistler Wellness Week, beginning Friday. In its third year and spread over 10 days, the week presents 28 local health and wellness providers to the Whistler community. The week also includes a film and international speakers (see sidebar).
Complementing the workshops, a free one-day trade fair open to the public will be held Saturday, May 6, at Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa with 35 local businesses participating. Organized by Roxanne Chappell of Mind Body Fitness, the fair will include product demonstrations, free samples and half-hour seminars.
Organizer Glenn Iles, a former hospitality marketing director, has lived in Whistler for 12 years and says the week is part of a grassroots determination to cultivate awareness of the resort’s wellness potential and economic diversity opportunities.
"It’s a community effort where providers can offer specials, create seminars, and do different things during the week that can showcase their offerings."
Iles pointed out Whistler has nine full service spas, some staffed with Olympic-calibre trainers, a fact often unnoticed given Whistler’s pre-eminence as a winter sport resort.
"Skiing and golf are some wellness activities Whistler has to offer, but there are so many other things we do that are all about wellness as well," Iles said.
"No matter what your definition of wellness is, right from the person who defines wellness as being fit and youthful to the senior worried about nutrition," Iles said there will be something for everyone to discover during Wellness Week.
The community-organized Wellness Week is nominally supported by Tourism Whistler, though the organization has identified health and wellness as a new growth segment for the area.
Tourism Whistler spokesperson Michele Comeau Thompson said their mandate is to liaise with third-party producers, rather than take primary event organizational responsibilities.
"Our role is the incubator of packaging, theming and promoting Whistler and pulling together our members to help showcase Whistler’s variety of products," she said.
Wellness Week participants include most Whistler spas, Meadow Park Sports Centre, and smaller businesses, such as Neoalpine Yoga in Function Junction, My Foot Reflexology, Vida Wellness Spa, and Whistler Physio in Marketplace.
Workshops range from athletic-focused Nordic walking, Iron yoga, and Reiki to more indulgent Thai massage, manicures and pedicures. Nominal $5 fees apply for most events.