Sean Boynton/THE NEWS                                 Victoria Farahbakhchian, her father Karim, and Conner Henry stand on the site of one of the planned fitness stations for Loon Lake Lodge’s Timber Cruiser Circuit, which is expected to open next summer.

Sean Boynton/THE NEWS Victoria Farahbakhchian, her father Karim, and Conner Henry stand on the site of one of the planned fitness stations for Loon Lake Lodge’s Timber Cruiser Circuit, which is expected to open next summer.

Fitness course coming to Loon Lake Lodge

Resort partners with Envision Fitness to create educational experience for visitors

Visitors to Maple Ridge’s Loon Lake Lodge and Retreat Centre will soon have another opportunity to get active in nature.

The resort, located deep in the heart of the University of British Columbia’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, has started designing and building a new 2.5-kilometre fitness course that will test endurance and inspire a love for the natural world all at once.

The project is a collaboration between the resort, the UBC forestry research team that works on the site, and local company Envision Fitness.

“We’re always looking for new ways to get people involved in nature and to respect nature,” said Victoria Farahbakhchian, a grad-intern working for the research forestry team who holds a masters in ecological restoration from Simon Fraser University and BCIT.

“You can call it a fitness trail, or even a spiritual trail if you’d rather take it slower. But just getting people outdoors and appreciating nature is the first step to becoming greener, and more sustainable. That’s our goal.”

The course, dubbed the Timber Cruiser Circuit, is set on an old logging road that runs deep into the forest that surrounds the resort.

There will be around six stations set up along the trail, made up of obstacles and structures designed for hands-on fitness activities.

The challenges will become more difficult as the course goes on, but will get easier again near the end so participants don’t tire themselves out too much before the long walk back to camp.

The idea for the course came when Farahbakhchian’s father Karim, the facilities manager for Loon Lake Lodge, joined Envision about a year ago and got a look at the company’s unique approach to fitness.

“I was really impressed” by Envision’s personal and methodical approach to helping clients achieve their fitness goals, Karim said.

“When UBC asked me who could help with this, I knew immediately who to reach out to.”

Conner Henry, an Envision coach who’s designing the stations along with co-worker Erick Rodriguez, says he’s excited to be providing visitors a chance to work out in a natural setting.

“There’s so much to work with here, right in our own backyard,” he said. “That’s huge, and ties into what we do at Envision where we try to teach people how to move their bodies in space. Nature is a great way to express that.”

Karim Farahbakhchian says the stations will mostly be built with wood sustainably forested from the area, similar to how all of the resort’s lodges and cabins are built.

Metals and other materials for structures like monkey bars, for example, will be purchased from local suppliers.

Although the designs haven’t been set in stone yet, Henry says there may be everything from climbing areas to traditional workout stations — chin-ups come to mind — to maybe even parkour obstacles for those who don’t want to stop moving.

“The possibilities are really endless,” he said.

The trail won’t just be for adrenaline junkies, Victoria Farahbakhchian says, explaining she also wants to have a side of the trail set aside for those who want to explore the outdoors at a more leisurely pace.

“We want to have signs at various points of the course that explain the significance of the trees, the wildlife, the flowers, everything that’s here and special to the landscape,” she said.

Signs set up at the fitness stations will also be designed to educate users about the forest and its history.

The total budget has not been finalized yet, but Karim Farahbakhchian said he’d be able to cover some of the costs with minimal rate increases for the corporate retreats and children’s camps that make up the resort’s bookings.

The team estimates the building of the stations could be completed by the end of the year, with the course fully open and operational by next June.

For Victoria, the course is an opportunity for people of either low or high intensity to educate themselves about the world around them.

“The last thing we want is for people to come up here and be in this natural environment and not learn anything about it,” she said.