SKI towns typically are not synonymous with health. After a full day of shredding we post up for pints, happy hour discounted nachos, and chicken wings. Our mogul-mashing thighs have earned it, right? Après festivities filled with celebratory beers, and Irving’s Hot Dogs are the norm. However, this all shouldn’t overshadow the abundance of healthy initiatives that lie at the core of this Valley. The abundance of wellness oriented events, fitness clubs, spas, and health conscious food resources here in Sun Valley encourage an overwhelming sense of well-being to locals and visitors alike.
Attend the Sun Valley Wellness Festival
A doctor, a priest, a neurosurgeon and a global activist for environmental sustainability walk into a bar. It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but these are just a few of the past key speakers at the Annual Wellness Festival, one of the top health-filled events in the United States. Presented by the Sun Valley Wellness Institute, the event brings together more than 30 guest speakers complete with workshops, demonstrations and vendors from all different backgrounds, but with one thing in common: the promotion of health and wellness in mind, body, spirit and environment. Past years, have been headlined by Arianna Huffington, a wellness advocate and co-founder of the media empire, the Huffington Post. Other key speakers include the world-renowned environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva and Humane Society CEO and President, Wayne Pacelle.
The Sun Valley Wellness Institute is a nonprofit dedicated to providing education through its partners, programs and events. The Institute provides an online wellness directory of practitioners, products and services that range from medical and mental health to financial and spiritual services.
Surrounded by not one, but five different mountain ranges, Sun Valley is a year round outdoor mecca. A world-class ski destination, Sun Valley Resort offers over 2,000 acres of downhill skiing and an impressive 3,398 vertical foot drop (yes, your quads will burn). The auspicious tall peaks of the nearby Pioneer and Sawtooth Mountains lure backcountry skiers and mountaineers from all over the country. Don your spandex and break out your sunscreen for a lap on the area’s 200km of classic and skate skiing trail systems. Designated by the US Olympic Committee as the country’s first Nordic Olympic Training and Paralympic Training sites, the Nordic trails of Sun Valley are top notch, and butt kicking. The Wood River Valley is also well known for its biking. While the Valley has over 30 miles of connected paved bike paths, the surrounding mountains are home to another 300 miles of connected singletrack fit for all levels of mountain bikers to explore.
Work it Off
In case you’ve over-indulged in fondu at the Roundhouse (which we whole-heartedly recommend), work it off at one of the many fitness institutions in Sun Valley. From yoga studios such as Gather and recreation centers like the YMCA and Zenergy, to hip-hop and dance-inspired classes at Studio Move and fondu-blasting boot camps at HardCore Training Center and Angela’s Gym, there are plenty of options to burn off après-fueled indulgences.
photo: Hardcore Training Center
Get Pampered & Assess Your Health
Zenergy is Sun Valley’s premier health club and spa, named one of America’s “most luxurious” over and over again. The 50,000 square-foot facility features a world-class spa with nine treatment rooms. The spa offers massage, acupuncture, reflexology, a nail salon, hair studio and tanning services. But it’s not all candles and fuzzy slippers. The health club includes indoor and outdoor saline pools, tennis courts, cardiovascular and weight training rooms, a squash court, group fitness classes like Body Pump and Spin, as well as yoga and Pilates.
photo: Steve Dondero // Zenergy
“Zenergy offers a five-star health club and spa experience, with a comprehensive approach to wellness,” says General Manager Derek Agnew. “Beyond the outstanding facilities and classes, guests are encouraged to enhance their health and wellness with additional programs such as the Advanced Preventative Health Assessment.” In conjunction with St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital, this unique program helps participants gain insight into their own personal health factors and provides recommendations for improvement.
Fuel Up & Eat Local
And of course, it’s not all burgers and schooners of beers at Grumpy’s. Healthy food offerings are an important and growing initiative in Sun Valley. If you’re craving a green juice or a cleansing tonic, stores, such as Glow and Nourish Me, offer locally sourced organic foods, supplements, education and events that encourage healthier lifestyles.
Locally grown foods are higher in nutritional value, taste better and help build a sustainable local economy. Kraay’s Market, located just south of Sun Valley, is an organic, non-GMO farm, producing vegetables like broccoli, spinach, bok choy and basil year round. Produce harvested here is available to consumers through the company’s residential home delivery service, arriving at front door steps for no extra cost. Idaho’s Bounty is a wholesale co-op providing locally and sustainably-sourced foods to grocery stores such as Atkinsons’ Market, shops like Glow and Nourish Me, as well as to restaurants like Rickshaw, Rasberrys, The Ram and Gretchen’s. From June through October, summer farmer’s markets are held across the Wood River Valley. These markets connect local farmers with Sun Valley residents, offering fresh produce, prepared foods, locally handmade crafts and more. So the next time you’re diving into a plate of monkey fries at Lefty’s or tachos at Apples, take pride in knowing that Sun Valley, albeit an après-loving ski town, is in fact a leader in wellness. If the multiple Olympic athletes bred by the town and the health-focused professionals who call this place home are not evidence enough, the health-conscious community that strives to support programs and lifestyles to build healthier lives attest to the fact that Sun Valley is truly a wellness mecca.