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Health Club Management
2013 issue 8

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Leisure Management - Running on juice

Nutrition

Running on juice


Whether you’re looking for weight loss, detox or disease prevention – in some cases even cure – juicing claims to have the answers. Kate Cracknell reports

Kate Cracknell
Vale started juicing to cure a skin condition
The retreat sees many returnees who come for an annual reboot
Turkey: Daily walks in the surrounding mountains
The retreats at Juicy Mountain offer around eight hours of activity every day
There are more nutrients in one juice than many people get in a day
The newer Juicy Oasis retreat in Portugal is more luxurious

Seven days up a mountain in Turkey, far away from all temptation, exercising for five hours a day fuelled on nothing but four daily juices and plenty of water. That’s how I spent the first week in June this year. Many people thought me mad; even I had my doubts before I went. So why on earth was I doing this?

‘7lbs in 7 days’ would be a compelling enough answer for many people – the amount of weight the average person loses over the course of the week. And that’s how the Juice Master retreat is marketed, at least at an entry level, based on the bestselling book of the same name written by Juice Master founder and director Jason Vale. But I soon realise there’s much more to it than that.

Hitting re-set
“It was the publisher that wanted to call the book 7lbs in 7 days – Super Juice Diet,” explains Vale. “I didn’t even want to include the word ‘diet’ in the title. Weight loss is a by-product of what we do – I think of the programme, and the retreats that we’ve set up based on that programme, as the most effective one-week recharge you can give your mind and body.”

Interestingly, that sentiment was echoed by most of the people attending the retreat with me. Many had been at least two or three times before; one was attending for the seventh time. All of which begs the question: why?

“I come every year for a reset and a re-balance – to get my body back to feeling good,” one guest told me before we’d even left the airport. “It’s not about losing weight. It’s about energy and health.”

“You feel so energised by the end of the week,” agreed another. “Your taste buds change too – you go home wanting totally different foods.”

Arriving at the resort and meeting the other guests, it was clear that juicing was in fact already a way of daily life for most, with many citing the health benefits rather than weight loss. So far, so intrigued. So what was it all about? And could juice alone really sustain me for a week?

Nutrient-rich diet
“If you tell people you’re just going to have juice for a week, they’ll tell you it’s dangerous – and yet they don’t bat an eyelid if someone’s living off junk food for months on end,” says Vale.

The focus of Juice Master is therefore on explaining why to juice, not just how. “People want to feel good, and when you juice you’re getting everything your body needs. You feel recharged, rebooted, full of energy. Your skin becomes clearer, your hair and nails better, you lose weight. It also has huge health benefits: the two biggest causes of all disease are toxicity and nutrient deficiency, and our programme addresses both of these.

“When you explain it that way, people find it very logical, very tangible. It isn’t about going on a diet – it’s about changing your diet.”

“You get more good nutrients in one juice than most people get in a day,” explains retreat manager Becky Lennox on our first morning up the mountain. You might feel a bit hungry, although in my experience not as much as you’d expect. You might even get a headache for a day or two – withdrawal symptoms from the likes of sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol. But while our stomachs might be used to more volume, inevitably our normal daily diet will include a good smattering of junk food – food with little nutritional value. We may feel physically full, but nutrient-wise and at a cellular level our body is quite likely starving. Give it a week of freshly extracted, live juice (none of this tetra-packed, pasteurised, longlife stuff) and you’ve recharged it, replenishing the live enzymes, vitamins and minerals it needs to remain healthy, while simultaneously removing all the toxins that prevent it from functioning efficiently.

“We often eat the wrong things – things that make our body acidic, which in turn is the cause of a number of diseases,” continues Lennox. “The body works best in an alkaline state, and juices – especially green juices – help put your body into this state. Sugar is the worst offender. It’s the number one ingredient that contributes to acidity, and it’s very addictive. Our retreats help you break that cycle of addiction.

“People ask why not just eat the vegetables, but one of the benefits of juicing is that it gives your body a break from having to digest food; digestion takes up a huge amount of energy. When you juice, the nutrients go straight into your system, so your body can preserve its energy to heal itself. Not only that, but if you look at everything that goes into one glass of juice, would you really sit and eat your way through all that?”

She continues: “Juicing also retains a much higher percentage of the nutrients in fruit and vegetables than if you just eat them. You can get everything your body needs from juicing. People often ask about protein and fibre, but we use superfoods in our recipes – avocado in our smoothies, for example, and spirulina, which is a complete plant-based protein with all the amino acids. And apples are in most of our juices – they include pectin, which is a fibre.”

“In any case, the body only uses the juice that’s contained within the fibres of the fruit and veg,” adds Vale. “Fibre itself can’t penetrate the intestinal wall; it just keeps things moving in the colon, and you can use psyllium husks for this.”

One disease, one solution
There will still be some who want to question the science, but the testimonials speak for themselves – including, on our retreat alone, a diabetes sufferer who almost halved his insulin dose just in the space of the week, and a regular juicer whose husband has seen his MS symptoms improve dramatically since she got him onto juicing every day.

Meanwhile a number of reputable studies link juicing to a range of health benefits, from apple juice to alleviate asthma in kids (National Heart and Lung Institute, UK) through to three-times weekly juicing leading to a 76 per cent lower chance of older people developing Alzheimer’s (Vanderbilt School of Medicine, US), and many more besides.

The Juice Master team is also a living, breathing case study. Lennox uses juicing as a way to manage her arthritic condition, while Vale originally came to juicing in his late 20s in a bid to cure his head-to-toe psoriasis. “At the time I smoked 50 cigarettes a day, I was overweight, unfit, drank too much, had asthma and eczema and other allergies – and then there was the psoriasis.”

Discovering a book by Norman Walker, considered to be the pioneer of juicing, Vale read that his psoriasis could be treated with a juice of celery, cucumber and spinach. “But I hated vegetables and I just couldn’t drink that combination, so I tried carrot juice instead – I’d read about someone who’d used it to cure himself of bladder cancer. I spent months just drinking carrot juice. It didn’t work for my psoriasis though – I just turned orange!

“So I went back to the original recipe but added other ingredients to make it more palatable, including fruit. It cured my psoriasis – and all my other conditions too.”

Such whole-body benefits are echoed by experts across the globe. Charlotte Gerson – daughter of Max Gerson, who devised Gerson Therapy, the controversial juice-based nutritional regime that’s said to cure cancer (see Spa Business 2 2008, p62) – famously said: "You can’t heal selectively. You can't keep one disease and heal two others. When the body heals, it heals everything."

This is what Vale calls “one disease, one solution”. He explains: “I believe juicing can help all illnesses. Never underestimate the power of the body to heal itself when given the right nutrients and opportunity to do so.

“Even the World Health Organisation says 85 per cent of Western disease is caused directly by what we eat and drink. So why isn’t diet the first thing to be suggested when it comes to illness?”

A number of documentaries, such as Food Matters, go so far as to suggest that it’s the influence of Big Pharma – the drug companies – that ensures the power of nutrition in preventing and curing disease remains all but hidden. Vale is a little more balanced in his outlook. “I accept there are times when medical intervention is necessary, for short-term, acute conditions,” he says. “But for long-term chronic disease, I think it’s non-sensical to only treat the symptoms and not the causes.”

For all of that, he’s certainly not advocating that people do nothing but juice for the rest of their lives. “Yes, you’ll eat again – who would want to live on juice alone? Out of sheer desperation to rid my body completely of psoriasis, I once did a juice-only programme for three months – not even any smoothies or superfoods. Would I recommend it? Not in a million years. I lost too much weight – excess fat, but also healthy fat and lots of lean muscle.

“That said, I’ve devised the 7lbs in 7 days plan so carefully that you could live on it for three months if you chose to. There’s no need to, and I don’t recommend it, but on a nutritional level you could.”

In fact, the recommendation is to wean yourself back onto food carefully, starting with raw food like salad – which is great, as after a week of detoxing that’s what you’re craving anyway.

The idea is that you then progress to, as far as possible, a diet of what Vale calls Low HI (human intervention) foods. “It’s not about reading what’s on the label,” he explains. “It’s about eating food that doesn’t need a label to explain what it is.” Around 50 per cent should be high water content foods such as fruit, veg and juices, with the rest being lean proteins and wholegrain carbs. There’s also an acknowledgement that, for it to be sustainable, up to 10 per cent can be what Vale calls ‘party foods’… the naughty stuff.

Juicing the world
Speaking to Vale it’s clear that, in spite of the well-documented weight loss successes of his programmes, it’s the health aspect that most interests him.

“We’re filming a documentary at the moment – Super Juice Me: One Disease, One Solution – that’s all about putting health back in your hands. We want to test the ‘one disease, one solution’ hypothesis, so we have eight people with various conditions ranging from fibromyalgia to arthritis, eczema to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. We already know we can reverse type 2 diabetes in four to six weeks, but now we’re setting out to prove that, in just one month of juicing – and with everyone having exactly the same treatment – the vast majority of those conditions, hopefully even all of them, will get better. I believe this documentary will have the biggest impact of anything we’ve ever done.”

So what else is new at Juice Master? “We’ve just opened our second retreat in Portugal, which I’m really excited about. It’s stunning, and includes a gym and spa [see p40].

“We have a 5lbs in 5 days programme coming out in January 2014, as people were telling us they found it hard to maintain a juice-only diet at weekends. It aims to give the same results as 7lbs in 7 days but in a shorter timeframe, incorporating high-intensity training.

“Juice Master Delivered is a relatively new service where we deliver frozen juices directly to your door – if you freeze juices immediately, it maintains the goodness. In my mind this service is only for really busy or really lazy people, but it’s already taken off to the point that we’ve had to bring someone in to take it over for us.

“Similarly, we have a franchise concept for Juice Master juice bars in shopping centres, but we’re not a big company and haven’t had the resources to really grow that. We currently have seven sites, with a few more in the pipeline – in Dubai, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and Belgium – but Paul Duffen, the former owner of Hull Football Club, has come in and wants to make it the biggest chain of healthy juice bars in the world.

“If there’s one part of the business I’m slightly uncomfortable with, it’s that we have an online shop selling Juice Master products and merchandise – even though I’m very careful about what we put our name on. That said, if someone wants to wear a ‘Running on juice’ T-shirt or use a ‘Juice Junkie’ flask, it helps create a community and spread the word. It’s my mission to ‘juice the world’.”

Collaborative ventures
Given how important exercise is in all Juice Master programmes, would Vale consider teaming up with health clubs to drive forward this mission?
“I’d love to run our programme at a boutique health club, but the challenge is that we’d want to take over the whole place for five days, with the operator taking it back for the weekend trade. At our retreats there isn’t even a village shop nearby – nothing to tempt you – and we’d need to replicate that within the club.

“I’d also like to work with a gym chain, as I think a lot of personal trainers already use 7lbs in 7 days with their clients. I’d consider developing a package for new members that includes the book when they join, perhaps a discount on a Juice Master retreat, and the gym could incorporate some PT. I think it could do a lot for new member retention, as they’d get quick results.”

A juice partnership, with all its health benefits, could also help clubs strengthen their offering in the preventative healthcare arena. Vale concludes: “With our new Super Juice Me documentary, which we’ll also roll out into a book and a programme, we want to coin the phrase and put it into everyone’s psyche. If someone’s ill, instead of people’s first reaction being ‘you should go to the doctor for medication’, we want them to think: ‘You need to be Super Juiced’.

“After all, if you don’t look after your body, you will have nowhere to live.”

Juice Master retreats

“We ran our first retreat in Turkey around 10 years ago – the 7lbs in 7 days book had done incredibly well, so we contacted our database to see if anyone would like to go away for a week to do the programme with us,” says Juice Master founder Jason Vale. “It was such a success that we found a location we could rent throughout the summer months.”

Located in the mountains outside the village of Gocek, the ‘rustic’ Juicy Mountain retreat offers 11 rooms and four luxury tents. There’s a pool filled with mountain water, a covered space for exercise classes in the heat of the day, a platform for morning and evening yoga and rebounding – high-energy classes using mini-trampolines – and of course the beautiful surroundings for the daily walks.

Nothing is compulsory, and there are a few hours in the middle of each day for relaxation, but guests are encouraged to participate in as much as they can, with around eight hours of activities scheduled every day. One-to-one yoga or fitness training is also available (£40 for an hour), as well as massages (£50 for 50 minutes).

Meanwhile Juicy Oasis launched in Portugal in June 2013. The new retreat – this time wholly owned by Vale – is bigger and more luxurious, but again offers ‘stylish camping’ options. As it’s open all year, it also includes a gym and spa – the Eden Spa – to ensure guests have fitness and relaxation options whatever the weather. “There’s a beautiful relaxation room with suspended cocoons, a hot pool, five treatment rooms and an outdoor loft sauna overlooking the lake,” says Vale. “There’s also a yoga dome, a huge exercise platform overlooking the lake, and a small gym with equipment from Life Fitness and TRX.”

And Vale has plans for more Juicy Oases. “I’d like two in the States, one in Australia and one in England, in Cornwall. But if, on my travels, I found a spot on the beach in Thailand that I could buy and make a rustic retreat with wooden tree huts, I’d consider that too!”

Prices for the week, excluding flights and transfer, range from £450–£1,150 for Turkey, or £645–£2,150 for Portugal. Eden Spa treatments cost €65–€140. Details: www.juicemaster.com

 



Juicing is described as one solution for many different ailments

Originally published in Health Club Management 2013 issue 8

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