Finding Fitness at a Spa Boot Camp
You know that you should exercise more, eat better, maybe drop a few pounds. But when you’re caught up in everyday distractions and deadlines, finding the time and motivation isn’t easy. Spa boot camps provide the kick-start you need, along with luxurious accommodations in a resort setting.
With programs ranging from a single five-hour day to a comprehensive five-week makeover, how do you choose the right one? It depends on your time frame and your preferences. You can squeeze a short but intense program into a quick weekend getaway, or you can commit yourself to a life-altering, weeks-long wellness retreat. If you like structure, you’ll want a regimented schedule that maps out every hour with classes, workshops, activities and training—but if you cringe at crowded to-do lists, you might seek more flexibility and free time. Social types may prefer programs with family-style dining and group interaction, while the less garrulous may crave privacy with their Pilates. We’ve found boot camps to suit all types. Whichever you select, you’re sure to feel good while you get fit.
Fitness Boot Camp:
Red Mountain Resort, St. George, Utah
Nestled among red sandstone cliffs and capped by a brilliant blue sky, Red Mountain Resort feels like summer camp for grown-ups. Taking advantage of its location bordering Snow Canyon State Park, near Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon, the resort’s boot camp offers such outdoor activities as horseback riding, rock-climbing, kayaking, biking and hiking for all fitness levels, plus dozens of classes, from Pilates to pool workouts, and new regimes such as Warrior Yoga, GPS adventure courses and the TRX Suspension Trainer total-body workout.
The weeklong boot camp includes all the exercise you can pack in—plus nutritional consultations, fitness assessments, assorted workshops, personal training, take-home aids (including a heart-rate monitor), cooking demos and massages. “This program has enough structure to be motivating, but not so much that it’s stifling,” says Dr. Stuart Hall, a pediatric cardiac anesthesiologist from Houston. “I had several hours of dedicated exercise daily: stretching, yoga, TRX classes, calisthenics and personal training.”
Meals are wholesome but hearty, favoring salads, fresh fruit and whole grains. “I was prepared for a tofu cube, a date and an almond at each meal, so I was shocked to enjoy delicious, healthy food, with everything marked for calorie content. I learned about portion control—and I lost 15 pounds in three weeks,” Hall says. “The combination of beautiful scenery, gourmet food and excellent exercise programs made this one of the best experiences I’ve had. After two days, I felt like a different man.”
Price: From $415 per night, all-inclusive
Contact: 800-407-3002, redmountainspa.com
Satori Wellness Retreat:
Sanctuary Paradise Valley, Arizona
From the moment you’re whisked from the airport by town car to your mountain-vista casita, everything about your stay at Sanctuary, a 105-room boutique hotel on the slopes of Camelback Mountain, feels exclusive, luxurious and personal, including this three-day wellness program.
Nothing is set in stone. If you like, fill your days with Pilates, yoga, swimming or tennis, as well as more rugged calorie-burners like mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding or kayaking. Nutrition workshops and consultations, chef-prepared spa meals, fitness classes, personal-trainer sessions and spa/salon treatments are included (but not required). Or, you can always give yourself permission to relax and choose none of the above.
The nonregimented atmosphere appealed to Lynn Manley, a former corporate banker who now works as a consultant in Seattle. “I swam laps every morning and did yoga/Pilates in the afternoon, plus I worked out on the stationary bicycle. It includes all the fitness stuff you might want to do, but you didn’t have to do anything. It was a self-defined, relaxing time out and a chance to catch up with myself, which is why I chose it.”
Your Welcome Gift Bag at the resort is stuffed with goodies, including a lifestyle journal with health information and positive affirmations, so you can record your thoughts, triumphs and progress.
Price: Three-night all-inclusive retreat, $3,034; four nights, $3,879
Contact: 800-245-2051, sanctuaryaz.com
Sunrise Boot Camp:
Ritz-Carlton, Cancun, Mexico
If you believe a Cancun vacation means sleeping in and drinking margaritas poolside, Sunrise Boot Camp will change your mind. This intense, five-hour program is packed with cardio, strength training and flexibility-balance exercises, all customized to your fitness level.
The program was created in response to guests’ requests for regimented fitness classes to jump-start, maintain or add variety to a workout, says Paulina Feltrin, spokeswoman for the 365-room luxury oceanfront resort. The day starts at 6:30 a.m. (no partying till the wee hours) with a beach power walk, followed by yoga fusion, light breakfast, pool exercises, Pilates/stretching and a dynamic circuit workout using balls and weights. The workout ends at noon with a healthy seaside lunch; then you receive a take-home personalized program, so you can continue the benefits after your vacation ends.
A single day of exercise isn’t likely to change your life, habits or body, but you can keep the momentum going by repeating the boot camp daily during your stay, or burn extra calories at the resort’s tennis center or gym, which offers a full lineup of classes and a complimentary steam room and sauna.
Price: $200 for one five-hour session, $300 for two, additional sessions $150 apiece; accommodations additional, from $369
Contact: +52 998-881-0808 or 800-241-3333, ritzcarlton.com
Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, Vancouver, Canada
Accessible only by ferry or floatplane, British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, is remote, rugged and pristine. Bald eagles soar overhead, trails wind through misty old-growth rainforests; towering lodge-pole pines, firs, cedar and cypress rise from moss-covered rocky shores of hidden coves; and a cobalt sea that’s as still as glass beckons sailors and kayakers.
It’s just too pretty here to stay inside, so stepping into a gym to do pushups isn’t a great option. But fitness-minded folks have lots of ways to burn calories without ever looking at a treadmill. The two-night Adventure Package at Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, created with couples in mind, immerses the two of you in all-day outdoor play with certified guides and local outfitters: guided kayaking (under the moonlight, if you like), mountain biking (entry-level or hardcore), hiking excursions with endless vistas, and horseback riding.
Though not specifically billed as a boot camp, this program ensures that you’ll work muscles you didn’t know you had—while having a blast. At the end of the day, reward yourself with a massage in a private spa-tent nestled in the forest, then relax in your small but comfortable cabin, lodge room or luxury tent-house overlooking the glistening waters of the Strait of Georgia.
Price: From $365 per person ($469 in summer), includes two nights of accommodations, daily breakfast and activities
Contact: 877-296-4593, rockwatersecretcoveresort.com
Spa Body Makeover:
Loews, Santa Monica, California
If anything will motivate you to trim down, it’s seeing all the perfect bodies on Southern California beaches. You’ll soon fit right in, with a little help from the Spa Body Makeover at Loews Santa Monica, a 342-room, business-friendly hotel located steps from the Pacific.
The comprehensive one- to five-week program includes personal training, aerobics and nutrition workshops on topics like junk food and restaurant ordering. (Yes, there really is a junk-food class.) Five to seven small meals are delivered to your room throughout the day, so you’ll never go hungry.
You’ll have time for spa treatments, yoga, Pilates and the fitness center, where the new cardio equipment features personal TVs and iPod docking stations. “Our program challenges the body to create rapid change and achieve long-term results,” says Kris Reid, the program’s CEO. “Most guests lose at least four pounds and shrink their waists by more than an inch.”
Included are limo service to/from LAX, accommodations, chef-prepared meals, a farmers’ market tour and other excursions, guided meditation, cooking classes, personal training, $300 in spa credits and a take-home program.
Price: Seven nights single occupancy from $5,500, all-inclusive; $5,000 per additional week; double occupancy from $8,000; $7,500 per additional week
Contact: 310-458-6700, loewshotels.com
Maryann Hammers, former editor-in-chief of Spa magazine, is now a freelance writer.