Skyterra Wellness Fosters Sustainable Healthy Habits

LAKE TOXAWAY, NC—Set on a 200-acre campus against the natural backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Skyterra Wellness, a new retreat focused on a holistic and personalized approach to fitness and wellbeing. Open since June 2016, it’s a project that has been years in the making for a group of health professionals inspired to help guests achieve sustainable habits they can put into practice and continue after they leave.

“We work together and really focus on the customization. The number of guests and class sizes are kept small so we can customize the design for each person and meet their needs and desires,” said Amber Shadwick, director of operations at Skyterra Wellness. “You get to know the professional and there is a lot of compassion around changing people’s lives and in a way that is achievable. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.”

With its proximity to quirky and cultural Asheville, the year-round resort’s location draws people from the surrounding areas and beyond, enabling them to connect with nature and partake in the arts and food of a larger city nearby. There is also access to Pisgah Natural Forest and other state parks for fly fishing, mountain biking and more outdoor activities.

“We do a majority of our events onsite. We also do weekly excursions to a brewery because this is the up-and-coming beer capital. It’s about peacefulness and getting back to basics, back to nature and back to you. That’s what it’s all about,” she said.

Upon arrival, the team at Skyterra starts with a functional movement screening to get a baseline reading and determine a guest’s individual needs, including a review of body fat, visceral fat, basal metabolic rate, body composition, blood pressure and a mobility assessment. While there, fitness opportunities abound and range from strength training to hiking to cycling, as well as seasonal activities such as paddle boarding and kayaking.

“This is where the customization comes in. We need to understand the baseline, so we can meet them where they are. We sit down with each person to review their initial screening,” she said. “As director of operations and head yoga teacher, I need to watch the movement when I’m working with this person. If I need to address this person one way and do the pose anther one way, we can accommodate every skill level and need.”

A typical visit is one to two weeks, but the retreat can accommodate shorter stays. There are about seven guests and three instructors, creating an intimate environment where instructors get to know the guests well and vice versa. Shadwick credits the retreat’s success to its ability to cultivate a group among people with like-minded goals.

“I think that when you’re going away to take care of yourself and do the healing work, it’s inspiring to be around a community on the same journey and it’s empowering,” she said. “There are a lot of relationships built onsite and it help to inspire the longevity of their success. There’s this bonding that happens. A lot of people come in and say ‘I just want to lose weight’ and they don’t realize there’s all these layers—a lack of community, stress, etc. It’s like peeling an onion and that’s where the wellness happens.”