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Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr

Fitness expert and success coach Charlene SanJenko hosts a number of fitness vacations at the Painted Boat Resort Spa and Marina each year

Sometimes a 24-hour getaway, like those offered by fitness expert and success coach Charlene SanJenko at the Painted Boat Resort Spa and Marina, is all you need to reset, recharge and refocus 

I arrived in Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast, by seaplane and was completely unable to wipe the huge grin off my face.

It was my first time on a seaplane and the friendly Harbour Air pilot let me sit upfront beside him. I nearly filled my camera’s memory card with images on the flight there; even on a grey and rainy day the view was breathtaking and spectacular.

As we prepared to land I got a little nervous but I was pleasantly surprised by how soft the landing was, like landing on a cloud! The Vancouver harbor terminal is close to my apartment downtown, and the flight made me feel like a VIP, offering complimentary amenities like newspapers, gourmet coffee, tea and baked goods, Internet kiosks, and Wi-Fi access (eat your heart out, Air Canada). The flight to Sechelt only takes 20 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs less than $60 – it's a fast, fun and affordable alternative to the ferry.

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You may be surprised by how luxurious the Harbour Air terminals are, with comfy leather chairs, great music, and lots of complimentary amenities. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

I was on the Sunshine Coast to join a group of eight women at the Painted Boat Resort Spa and Marina for a weekend Jump Start fitness vacation hosted by fitness expert and success coach Charlene SanJenko.

SanJenko organizes destination fitness vacations throughout the year, offering one-day “Jump Starts” and multi-day getaways to learn new fitness and nutrition tips, get fired up with group goal-setting sessions, relax and rejuvenate at the spa, socialize with friends, new and old, and spend some precious time alone with your own thoughts.

Another participant arriving by plane from Nanaimo and I were taken from Sechelt to the Painted Boat, a half hour drive up the coast, by Sunshine Coast Limousine, Shuttle and Taxi. Our wonderful driver, Scott, went above and beyond by taking a few detours to show us around the little communities along the way.

Workout at the Painted Boat Health Club

We all showed up dressed in fitness gear ready to get right down to the business of working out. The Painted Boat’s health club is situated right above the marina on a hill, and has an outdoor hot tub, infinity pool, and fitness centre with floor-to-ceiling windows so you can enjoy the incredible view while you sweat.

SanJenko is a trainer after my own heart. She carefully explained the how and why of each exercise and then split us into two groups of four, with one group doing cardio intervals and the other doing a circuit of five exercises repeated twice, after which each group switched activities, from cardio to weights and vice versa. We ended our workout with some core exercises and stretches.

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The healthy bento box lunches provided by The Restaurant at Painted Boat are to die for. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

I am a big fan of working harder, not longer, and think teaching people to work out in circuits and intervals is a great approach. The groups’ ages ranged from 20s to 50s and SanJenko’s personal attention allowed everyone to work out safely and efficiently, and challenge themselves for their individual fitness levels. It was a great bonding experience that set the tone for the rest of the day, and with our workout out of the way we could look forward to delicious food, heart-felt conversations, and decadent spa time.

Goal Setting in the Villa

We headed over to the spacious villa that was at our disposal for the day, had a delicious post-workout snack of protein shake, dried mango and nuts, and then congregated in the living room overlooking the marina for our goal-setting and coaching session.

I am all about goal setting and got so much out of our roundtable discussion. Each participant wrote down specific 90-day, 30-day and 7-day goals and shared them with the group, and SanJenko talked about the importance of writing down goals that were specific and had a timeframe – something I have long seen the value in doing.

Some of the women in our group had already worked with Sanjenko, either having just completed or preparing to start her Sleek and Sexy 90-day online fitness program, but everyone was there for a motivational boost, and to take a step away from their busy lives and dedicate a day to themselves to reset their healthy living goals and indulge in a little pampering.

Afternoon Lunch and Spa at the Painted Boat

Pampering first showed up in the form of an amazing lunch catered by The Restaurant at Painted Boat. We each got a bento box with beautiful smoked salmon, a boiled egg over roasted vegetables, a mixed grain salad, yogurt and fruit, and a little piece of cake. It was divine.

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The Spa at Painted Boat has an outdoor spa garden with sauna, glacial rain shower, hot pool with waterfall, and warm salt water flotation pool. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

After lunch we were spoiled with an afternoon at The Spa at Painted Boat, where we lounged in the outdoor spa garden’s sauna and hot pool, and then moved indoors to the relaxation lounge to sip herbal tea and read. Some of the ladies also took advantage of the 15% discount available to retreat participants on all spa services.

Our blissed out group reconvened in the villa’s living room, snacked on hummus, crackers, fruit and yogurt, and had a final discussion about staying on track. 

Sanjenko offered a few words of wisdom:

  • If you can't see yourself doing something five years from now it's likely not the successful lifestyle change you’re looking for
  • Fitness is about so much more than diet and exercise, it's a doorway to living your very best life
  • Healthy energetic living (what she calls "aliveness") is a daily practice – do it every day and just keep doing it
  • Practice the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time stay on track with your eating and exercise and 20 percent of the time cut yourself a little slack

Half of the women went home after our final group discussion and the other half, myself included, stayed overnight, with two people per two-bedroom, two-bathroom villa.

The four of us remaining went to The Restaurant at Painted Boat, which is perched right over the edge of the marina, for dinner and enjoyed a superb two-course meal. I had the decadent lobster bisque with vanilla milk and the Chicago-style beef flat iron with barley Risotto, slow-cooked squash, and cilantro pesto. 

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Overlooking the charming marina, The Restaurant at Painted Boat serves up gorgeous food made with fresh, local ingredients. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

After dinner we retired to our rooms for a little me-time.

I had a delicious evening curled up in bed with my journal and a great book. It was heaven. I enjoyed having the time and space to reflect on the day and think about the goals I’d set for myself for the days, weeks, and months ahead. 

The next morning we had the option of working out or sleeping in. I chose sleeping in. For breakfast, we had a basket of ingredients delivered to our villa so we could make a healthy breakfast in our spacious kitchen. The option to do that is such a special touch and I couldn’t get over how adorable the presentation was. Breakfast is definitely the way to my heart!

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Amazing breakfast baskets, full of ingredients to cook breakfast in your villa’s spacious and fully stocked kitchen, are available at an additional cost. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

Following breakfast we had a little more personal time before packing up and getting a ride back to the Harbour Air seaplane terminal with our driver, Scott.

The beautiful weather we’d experienced the day before was nowhere to be seen as we enjoyed lunch from the waterfront Lighthouse Pub in Sechelt (I am happy to report that this was one fitness vacation where a little pub fare wasn’t frowned upon). We could see raindrops whipping against the glass and the seaplanes bobbing uncomfortably in the waves as we received the bad news that all flights were being cancelled that day.

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The newly renovated Lighthouse Pub overlooks Porpoise Bay and Harbour Air’s arriving and departing seaplanes. (Image: Catherine Roscoe Barr)

Fortunately, inclement weather is no match for the Langdale ferry and with a generous ride to the ferry dock from a Sunshine Coast Tourism volunteer, I made it home without incident. And I still had the afternoon and evening to prepare for the week ahead and reflect on the inspiring and energizing weekend that had allowed me to refocus and set specific goals for a successful 2012.


The next Jump Start one-day fitness vacation at the Painted Boat is on February 25. Early bird rates for the one-day Jump Start Fitness Vacation are $99 per person and an overnight stay is an additional $99 per person based on double occupancy.

SanJenko is organizing a number of other destination fitness retreats throughout the year including a three-day retreat at the Painted Boat to coincide with the BMO Sunshine Coast April Fool’s Half Marathon on April 1, and a seven-day fitness and yoga retreat in Puerto Morelos, Mexico on May 20.

You can also book a Girlfriend Getaway weekend at the Painted Boat with SanJenko, specific to the needs of your group, whether it’s for a birthday or bridal bootcamp, or just because.

Participants on multi-day retreats will receive a complimentary copy of SanJenko’s Sleek and Sexy 90-day online fitness program.

Expert childcare, including engaging games and outdoor activities, is available to retreat participants through Sunshine Coast Nannies, owned by longtime childcare professional Caroline Gagne.