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Footsteps to Follow

By: Lois Hince
Posted: July 23, 2008, from the August 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
meditation on rock

page 5 of 8

Deborah knew guests would always show up for calisthenics, and she found herself refining the exercise schedule at the camp. “Reviewing the calisthenics common at that time, I saw that they were often boring. I inserted games into exercise, or silly rhymes, and most of all, music. Neighbor children thought it was great fun to hand-crank a portable phonograph accompaniment for a few cents an hour and the opportunity to learn English from our guests,” she writes.

While Deborah was involved in the exercise program, Edmond was experimenting with the hydrotherapy recommendations of Father Sebastian Kneipp. “Our adaptation of Kneipp’s herbal wrap became a regular ranch treatment because it eased the soreness in muscles unaccustomed to exercise,” she continues.

It wasn’t long before Hatha Yoga was added to the activities at the ranch, in addition to calisthenics. Deborah has some very insightful thoughts on the yoga. She writes, “It relaxed the tense Americans who were replacing our early pilgrims. The days of guests hauling water, stacking firewood, chasing after goats, baking bread in a Mexican outdoor oven, lending a hand in a makeshift office and hoeing weeds in the vineyard were coming to a close.” Progress took over and instructors with backgrounds in modern dance were hired. Activities were added and music took over. According to Deborah, exercise to jazz music was the most popular class of the day.

Throughout the early years and continuing today, the Szekelys closely followed trends in the diet-exercise, mind-body and fitness-health fields.1 They were always aware of what their guests wanted, and this awareness led to the 1958 opening of The Golden Door in Escondido, California, near San Diego, for guests who wanted more personal services and intimacy than offered at the ranch. It included the amenities found at the ranch in Mexico—its “sister spa,” as Deborah called it, but the setting was a bit more luxurious.

“One reason I selected a site in the Escondido countryside is that it affords Door guests their very own mountain for the same ritual dawn walk so loved at the ranch,” writes Deborah.3 Though no longer owned by Deborah, who continues working today with award-winning humanitarian projects, there are several Golden Door locations across the country now, managed by LXR—Luxury Resorts & Hotels.

Another pioneer