Stepping Outside the Box

We all fall into ruts sometimes, and Canyon Ranch is a great place to go wild and wander off the old track. Some of our favorite guys can attest to that. If you associate Jude McCarthy solely with intense sports, can’t picture Mark Liponis, MD, without his stethoscope, or think of Jeff Dolgan as a strictly ex-phys guy, prepare to be surprised:

Jude McCarthy

Canyon Ranch in Tucson Manager on Duty Jude McCarthy is best known to guests as a sports and fitness animal – from organizing intense basketball games during his 15 years at the Lenox property to the Keeping Up With Jude athletic events he’s hosted over the years at the Ranch in Tucson.

Working at Canyon Ranch has presented a ton of fascinating opportunities, he says. “I was once a guinea pig for a full body wax – ouch! When it grew back, I’d take off my backpack after a hike and rub my back against a tree like a bear, to relieve the itch!

“I’ve had my hair colored blond in the Salon, done a Soul Journey and Watsu – but I really enjoy getting a facial.”

He keeps a bottle of moisturizer and a lip balm handy next to his computer. His wife, Beauty Services Corporate Director Laura Hittleman, has taught him a lot, he says, but after his first facial he was independently hooked. “Facials put me in a trance. They’re really relaxing, and your skin feels good when it’s exfoliated and moisturized. Who doesn’t want to look better? Even inside, I use moisturizer and sunscreen. When you’re going outside in the cold, wouldn’t you put a winter coat on? It’s just an extension of getting ready for your day.”

“I think the culture’s changing,” he says. “A lot of guys get facials. Here at the Ranch you can try lots of things you never tried before, including skin care and beauty.”


Mark Liponis, MD

When Corporate Medical Director Mark Liponis isn’t working with guests at the Ranch in Lenox, he and his wife travel to third world countries to help people with no access to medical care. It doesn’t leave much time for play. The ideal opportunity came last year, though, after a working trip to Canyon Ranch in Tucson.


“While I worked, my wife went to the Spa and tried every single thing. One evening at dinner, she had this big grin on her face. She told me she’d been out in the desert and made fire rubbing two sticks together. She was so happy and proud of herself. I was pretty impressed – I’ve never made a fire without a lighter or matches. I felt a bit jealous that she was doing all these fun things and I had to work.”

The idea of making fire stayed with him. Then, five weeks later, he took part in a media event in New York City to introduce people to the Ranch. Among the presenters was Randy Kinkade, Canyon Ranch in Tucson Outdoor Sports Manager.

“I said to him, ‘You taught my wife how to make fire. Can I learn?’ We went up on the roof of this New York building; it was about the 30th floor. He picked some twigs and made some kindling, and I made fire by myself, right there on the roof! I felt the same satisfaction you do as a doctor when you get a splinter out. It’s immediate gratification. There’s nothing wishy-washy about it; you did it. I didn’t just make some smoke – it was real fire!”

Jeff Dolgan

Until a year ago Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa exercise physiologist Jeff Dolgan tended to shy away from areas like Healing Energy. In his 12 years working at the Lenox property and then Miami Beach, he’s tried many services, but always stayed within his comfort zone.

“I used to be pretty hardheaded; I couldn’t connect with things I couldn’t explain – but last year I was going through some difficulties and my stress levels were high. Typically, I would have relied on exercise, but a colleague who’s a Healing Touch practitioner recognized I was stressed. She practically demanded I have a session with her.”

At first, the idea was intimidating. “I was nervous, but I made a conscious effort not to have any expectations or try to control the experience. That’s how you let these things happen.”

Healing Energy focuses on unblocking energy, he explains. “I had a block in my third chakra – I was holding onto something so energy couldn’t flow through properly. I learned how to let go of some of the emotional baggage I was holding onto – and how to breathe more deeply, and connect with my breath whenever I’m feeling stressed. I walked away with a greater sense of self and forgiveness of myself. I was able to walk out feeling my soul was cleansed. I did this a year ago, and to this day I remember things she taught me and ways of controlling my anxiety.

“It opened my mind to a lot of other possibilities. Since then, I’ve done more Healing Energy sessions, as well as acupuncture. I’m just more in touch with my own wellness.”