Sheila Cluff, founder of the Oaks at Ojai, works out eight to 10 hours every week, and leads the spa hike or walk most mornings. A champion figure skater, she is training to compete in the World Masters. She is the author of Living Your Dream, an inspirational memoir. Cluff just renewed her membership in SAG and AFSTRA, so you may see her in television commercials very soon. We sat down to hear some of her wisdom.
How has the spa industry changed?
When we first started, people would walk in the door, say here’s my body: starve me, punish me. They thought the Oaks was a vehicle to do it for them. I was bucking the trend when I said no, we are going to work out a sensible program together, and show you how to make good healthy choices. And now everyone else is, too.
Talk to us about balance, you seem to have mastered that. What does it mean to you?
Balance is both physical and mental. The College of Sports Medicine has shown you can reduce the aging process by practicing balance every day. I recommend snacking on fitness: using the wasted moments in the day—for example, standing on line—to stand on one foot. When it comes to balance in life, I’m a very good delegator—almost to a fault. Sharing responsibilities can be tough, but it’s getting easier to say you can’t be all things to all people.
Why did you write the book?
Two years ago my ski buddy—a tremendous athlete—woke up on the floor at Mammoth, she’d had a heart attack, then another. She had a medical problem she didn’t know about. That influenced me to say I’ve got to let people know there are peaks and valleys in life, my life has had them. It’s how you handle those valleys that make you a better person and help you do good for others. Maybe you have to take a detour—I may not make the same leaps I used to in figure skating—but don’t stop. Just find another way that’s more compatible with where you are. Ask yourself, how do we use our time, energy and experience to give back to the world? You can make a tremendous impact.