New Heber Valley resort is headed up by former health gurus

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25 2012 3:00 p.m. MDT

Chocolate Mousse made with healthy stealth ingredients such as dates and avocado, is served at the National Institute of Health and Fitness. The institute teaches people how to change their lives to become more health conscious.Chocolate Mousse made with healthy stealth ingredients such as dates and avocado, is served at the National Institute of Health and Fitness. The institute teaches people how to change their lives to become more health conscious.

Weston Fuller, National Institute of Health and

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the National Institute of Fitness was the place to lose weight and feel great. Owners Marc and Vicki Sorenson compiled an impressive track record at the Southern Utah resort for helping people shape up and overcome health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. NIF's sensible approach included hiking in red rock canyons, exercise classes, hearty meals of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and daily seminars from Marc Sorenson, who has a doctorate from Brigham Young University in education with a health emphasis.

The Sorensons decided to sell their spa in 1994, and the property eventually became the Red Mountain Resort.

Over the years, the couple pursued other interests and organized some fitness retreats.

"But we missed making people well," said Marc Sorenson. "We had some fun at our ranch in Nevada, and taking cruises and traveling in Europe. But when people come to you daily and tell you that you saved their lives, you miss it and want to do it again."

And now they're back. The National Institute of Health and Fitness opened its doors in June as part of the Zermatt and The Homestead resorts in Midway. Guests can enjoy healthy meals, exercise and health classes; hiking the scenic Wasatch foothills, playing tennis, swimming laps in a heated pool, or relaxing in the geothermal waters of The Crater, a natural spring on the Homestead property.

"This is a working spa, not a bunch of ladies sitting around waiting to be pampered," is how Diane Richman of Beverly Hills, Calif., a resort guest in August, described it. "If you're going to lose weight and feel healthy, this is the place to go."

Steve Eddington, managing partner of Zermatt and The Homestead, said the NIHF is considered a "primary pillar" to both resorts. "We want to create destination locations, and this is a cornerstone to helping us accomplish it. We are in one of the most natural wellness areas in the world."

Marc Sorenson said he and Vicki had considered a few different offers in the St. George area, "But then Steve and his wife came and visited with us in St. George, and asked if we could do the same magic as we did before at NIF."

Vicki Sorenson said she immediately fell in love with the European-style ambience of Zermatt, with its alpine setting. The Homestead, with its old-fashioned charm, recently underwent a renovation of all its guest rooms.

"We felt very prompted to come here," said Vicki Sorenson. "There are legends that the Native Americans once called this the Valley of the Healing Hearts, and we have seen health miracles with our guests every week, with people who were able to get off insulin or see their high blood pressure drop, or relief from fibromyalgia. In this industry, there are a lot of copycats but we are the originals. Nobody's been able to touch what we've done."

According to The NIHF website, guests may lose four to nine pounds per week, depending on their individual metabolism and commitment to the program.

The NIHF program starts at $999 per week (double occupancy, for a four-week stay). This includes a hotel room and all meals, classes and exercise instruction. Comparably, the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge starts at around $2,000 per week and Red Mountain Essential Retreat is $230 per day. For those who want to splurge on pampering treatments, Zermatt's in-hotel spa offers an array of massages, facials, pedicures and other treatments, for a separate fee.

"That way, we can keep the cost low for people who really need to be here to make some lifestyle changes," said Vicki Sorenson.


Diet programs have come and gone over the years. Atkins. Low-carb. Paleo. The Zone.

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