Heather Bond, founder of Healing Adventure Retreats, is back to guiding local women down the trails of Santa Barbara on her relaxing and introspective outdoor journeys. On September 17 and 18. She will be hosting a prelaunch retreat at Lake Cachuma. She told the Independent, “working women face our society’s biggest health risks,” especially with the inordinate amount of stress they face; she hopes to alleviate as much of those burdens as she can on her two- to five-day mentally, physically, and spiritually empowering retreats. If there’s anyone up to the task it’s her; she’s spent months in an Indian prison, recovered beyond medical expectation from a severe spinal injury suffered when an EMT/firefighter, and has a 28-month-old daughter.
She’s not alone either. Four to five other staff guides, including a masseuse, a life coach, an intuitive reader, a private chef, and a yoga instructor accompany Bond on each of her adventure retreats. Each trip is tailored to the ability and desires of each individual group of women, but generally Bond says she takes her clients hiking, kayaking, and sometimes rock-climbing and rappelling to get them to bask in the tranquility of nature.
You can tell just by inquiring about her career path that Bond is truly inspired by the natural world and physical fitness. She’s worked as a stuntwoman — and therefore a member of the Screen Actors Guild — in various T.V. shows and martial arts movies. She was also a participant on the TV show “American Gladiators,” as well as a competitor in the first Summer X-Games. In the 1990s, she both designed and participated in 350-400 mile adventure races that consisted of mountain-biking, kayaking, mountaineering, whitewater rafting, and sometimes even spelunking and caving.
Not all of Bond’s adventures have been voluntary; one of her most harrowing experiences made the local news in 2008. While leaving India with her mother, Monica, airport security found 11 9-mm bullets that had accidentally been left in her bag prior to leaving the States. Before they knew it, they were being held in an unfurnished prison, awaiting trial as “suspected terrorists,” their cellmates including three other women accused of killing three people in a bombing. After over three months and a letter from Governor Schwarzenegger, she and her mother were let out on humanitarian leave with the expectation they’d return for a future trial. They still have a warrant out for their arrest in India, but Bond doubts she’ll be headed back anytime soon. She’s already published one book based on her healing retreat philosophy, and now hopes to complete a second book based on the experiences she had and people she met while in prison.
Bond has also been an athlete since the age of four, and a personal trainer for the last 22 years, but she says what she does now is a lot more than run-of-the-mill personal fitness training. She considers herself a body guide, someone who assesses and aids people mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. “From what I’ve experienced with my own body, work, and injuries it’s all just a mental thing. And if I can’t help you, I’ll find you someone who can,” she says passionately. She’s had a unique medley of jobs and experiences, and she’s dedicated to use her knowledge and fitness prowess to help the women of Santa Barbara.