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Reset Your Goals — Peak Performance

A 60-year-old man visited Canyon Ranch for the first time last year. He was overweight and had never done anything athletic. During a physical examination, Canyon Ranch in Tucson Medical Director Steve Brewer, M.D., offered a challenge: Run a 5K race.

The man started training. He got in shape, lost weight and, yes, finished the 5K run. More than that, he has become an enthusiastic cyclist and has set a new goal – to ride in El Tour de Tucson bicycle event next year. He probably won’t place first, but his performance will be a personal best for him. That’s what peak performance is all about.

Aiming higher
Dr. Brewer explains that, whatever your status, the next level of performance is within reach. This may seem unlikely when you’re feeling discouraged or a bit too comfortable where you are, so he offers these words to get you going: “It all begins with a goal.”

A longtime athlete and motivational dynamo, Dr. Brewer helps guests reach peak performance in whatever sports they choose. They define the goal, then devise a strategy.

“The great thing about doing this at Canyon Ranch,” he says, “is you get the benefit of a whole team. In addition to medical consultation, we share expertise in nutrition, exercise, behavioral and alternative practices.”

Some people arrive at Canyon Ranch unaware of all the resources available to help them. Many simply expect to de-stress and get pampered. A Program Advisor will often suggest consultations with specialists who can spark a very different experience.

Wisdom & inspiration
“We assess and honor the person’s medical status, ”Dr. Brewer says, “and we also consider needs in specific areas. A guest meeting with a nutritionist might find out not only about weight loss, but how to eat for energy and performance based on blood chemistry.”

Exercise physiologists use their expertise combined with state-of-the-art technology to get precise measurements on fitness levels, abilities and imbalances. Their exercise prescriptions are tailored for each person’s needs.
One may learn techniques to pursue elite athlete status; others aim for a noncompetitive peak.

“One woman was dealing with arthritis and couldn’t run the way she used to because the impact hurt her joints,” Dr. Brewer says. “She learned to swim instead. It’s not painful and we all move more easily in water.”

Dr. Brewer also mentions a fellow physician who had been a top athlete but had developed spine problems. “We suggested using a recumbent bike for exercise, taking the pressure off his spine. He was thrilled – and couldn’t believe he’d missed such a simple solution.”

Mind & matter
Obstacles to peak performance are often based on attitude or emotional context. Licensed therapists work with guests to let go of old patterns and envision new possibilities.

“Techniques like visualization and EMDR – eye movement desensitization and reprocessing – can redirect a person’s thoughts and get them unstuck,” Dr. Brewer says. “Mental preparation is important for peak performance.”

Dr. Brewer has worked with top athletes with the highest aspirations, fine-tuning every aspect of performance in sports where a fraction of an inch makes all the difference.

“I sometimes meet former professional athletes who are older and can’t perform the way they once did,” he says. “They’re still competitive and don’t want to perform at a lower level. We can rekindle their passion by directing them to different sports. If you were a pro tennis player, why not try golf?”

There’s no one picture of peak performance. It’s what each person sets as a goal. And it’s achievable, with a little help from the pros.


Steve Moro of Burlingame, California, is a serious amateur cyclist who came to Canyon Ranch in Tucson with his wife. He expected to relax in the sunshine and have some massages, but he found so much more.

“I had no idea you had a Tour de Tucson winner here,” says Steve, referring to Doug Loveday, an exercise physiologist and world-class athlete who won the famous 100+-mile bicycle event in 1991. “He helped me so much with my training.”

Steve says he had been monitoring his own heart rate based on an arbitrary target number. “I had a VOmax test with Doug and learned the number I was targeting was way too high. I was actually going for ninety-five percent of my maximum heart rate and it was destroying me. I made adjustments to train at my true eighty percent level, and it’s made a world of difference.”

After working closely together, Doug developed a detailed training prescription for Steve. “I have a coach at home, so we intertwine the training,” Steve says.

Steve also draws on inspiration he got at a presentation by Dr. Steve Brewer. “I recall his words as I ride: Think only about what I’m doing now, not what’s ahead or behind. Focusing on now makes all my rides better.”

Steve says of Canyon Ranch, “This is where you can fix your head, fix your body and get exactly what you need. I’ve moved my training to another level. I can even imagine myself on the podium someday.”

Ready for the next level?

Whatever your chosen sport, you can have your own team of experts helping you get to the next level. When you visit Tucson or Lenox, ask about a Canyon Ranch health package focused on sports training. Our professionals will assess your status and help you pursue your goals. Learn More