Choosing a Fitness Retreat That Suits You

boot-campCapitalizing on the current obsession with weight control, fitness, and a desire for luxurious surroundings, fitness retreats are enticing people to travel further afar for a weekend, a week, or even a fortnight of fitness. They offer the allure of losing fat, toning muscles, and shedding stress all the while enjoying beautiful settings and sometimes even opulent accommodations. Whatever your idea of what a fitness retreat should be, you can find it—either nearby or further a field.

Fitness retreats appeal to today's goal-oriented individuals with active lifestyles who want to make the most of their downtime as well as increase their fitness levels. Unlike a spa vacation that focuses on relaxation and stress reduction or a spiritual retreat that works on your inner well-being, a fitness retreat boosts your activity level and challenges you to new heights. Sometimes literally with such activities as rock climbing, ski-ing or mountain biking. All the focus isn't on activity, however. You will also learn about good nutrition and matching exercise to your body type and fitness goals. Some retreats also include the pampering of a spa experience and holistic approaches to wellness.

If the thought of an activity-filled holiday with the potential of a makeover appeals to you, you'll want to carefully investigate the possibilities—not all fitness retreats are created equal. And you need to find the one that matches your needs and expectations.

Where in the World?

Fitness retreats can be found worldwide—from Texas to Thailand. Each one has its own flavor and programs. A retreat in Wyoming near the Devils Tower rock formation focuses on rock climbing and other outdoor activities. One in Tuscany, Italy, offers activities that incorporate the beautiful local landscape, including a 50-kilometer bicycle ride as well as hiking amid the picturesque wine country and historic villages. A retreat in the Hill Country of Texas caters to women and offers horseback riding and hiking on the ranch land. If you prefer a more luxurious approach, a retreat near London may appeal to you with its opulent accommodations and spa features in addition to exercise programs tailored to your requirements. One company in Spain offer everything from stand up paddleboarding to detox retreats and fitness holidays on the island of Ibiza; combining 5 star hotels with endless stretches of sand and sunshine. An intense eight-week program in Los Angeles bills itself as a boot camp that personalizes the program to the individual and has Dr. Phil's endorsement.

Fitness retreats promote a variety of physical activity including exercise routines such as pilates, aerobics, yoga, dance classes, stretching, and strength building. Outdoor activities may include horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, walking, golf, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and running. The most aggressive retreats tout their program as boot camps, and participants can expect a rigorous regimen. But the retreats are not solely physical exertion. Many retreats have a holistic approach and include programs geared to total wellness. Detox fasting, nutrition training, and therapy massage are examples of activities at this type of retreat. Participants at some retreats can also choose among activities such as cooking classes, meditation, motivational and educational lectures, and creative classes such as beading, watercolor painting, and other crafts. Many retreats offer pampering spa experiences that include massage, steam baths or showers, sauna, and beauty treatments.

In addition to the types of activities featured, fitness retreats also cater to various types and ages of people. A retreat in LaJolla, California, appeals to the young adult woman who feel overweight is limiting her life. A retreat in Hilton Head, South Carolina, specializes in couples fitness and suggests that couples who tone up together will benefit romantically as well. Whether you are an active outdoorsman or an overweight and out-of-shape business executive, you'll want to find the retreat that best suits your needs and physical ability.

Why Am I Doing This?

You first need to determine your reasons for going to a fitness retreat. Do you want to lose weight or train for a marathon? Do you want to learn a new skill, such as rock climbing or horseback riding? Do you simply enjoy the physical aspect of activity and want to participate in it with other people? Reasons abound for choosing a fitness retreat. It is wise to determine what yours are before scheduling your retreat. Your reason for going will be a major factor in the type of retreat you choose.

Another consideration is your level of physical condition and what you want to accomplish related to that. Are you already fit but want to tone up? Have you put on weight that you'd like to drop? Perhaps you want to train to participate in a marathon or other activity. You will want to determine if the fitness retreat you're considering is appropriate for the activities you want to pursue. As a novice you wouldn't want to attend a retreat that caters to experienced rock climbers, for example. And neither would a high-level cyclist want to attend a retreat geared to weight loss. Get your doctor's okay first.

You will also want to determine the amount of time that you need to accomplish your goals. One week is not enough time for significant weight loss. Will you be satisfied with learning to choose food wisely, beginning an exercise program, and starting to develop the discipline to continue the program once you're back home? Or should you choose another option that offers a longer stay?

Are you looking for a retreat that offers personal attention to a small group or do you want one that has a wide variety of activities for a large number of people? Some retreats offer facilities to groups who provide their own trainers. Others have specialist trainers for many activities for large groups.

You will also want to check out the staff. Some types of professionals at fitness retreats are personal trainers, instructors in various activities such as yoga, pilates, strength training, rock climbing, and dance, nutritionists, personal chefs, nurses, massage therapists, and reflexologists. Other personnel may include lecturers and instructors in crafts and other activities. Not only will you want to find a retreat that has the staff for the activities you want, but you also want the staff to be personally qualified and an adequate number for the number of guests.

Food is always important. You may be interested in losing weight and want food that is low calorie, but tasty. Or if weight is not a problem you might be more interested in enjoying healthy, gourmet dining. Be sure to find out what meals your retreat package includes. Are all meals included or will you have to pay additionally for some, such as dinner excursions in town? Ask, too, about the types of breakfasts and lunches. Is breakfast yogurt and an apple or a hot meal prepared by a personal chef?

Another consideration is the cost. A luxurious setting, in general, will increase the cost of the retreat, and the number and types of activities can affect it as well. More varied activities can add to the expense of a retreat because generally more personnel are needed. Activities that require professional instructors and specialized equipment will result in more expense than activities with fewer requirements. The number and quality of meals will also affect the price. Another cost consideration is the distance you have to travel to get to the retreat. The price of a fitness retreat can start at around $2,000 and reach toward $20,000 or even more and may not include travel and other related expenses.


Does It Fit?

You will also want to consider your personality and personal goals. Are you seeking some solitude to consider your future? A retreat that schedules every moment may not be what you're looking for. Do you enjoy focused individual goals or do you want to test yourself against others? Are you interested in a beautiful local or do you prefer to focus on the physical fitness aspect of your retreat? Do you want to socialize and meet new people or do you prefer a small group of acquaintances? Do you want a hard-hitting fitness regimen or would you prefer a program that incorporates spiritual or creative activities? And if a spiritual aspect is important to you, consider whether you want to explore beliefs outside your own or delve deeper into your creed.

Discovering what you expect from a fitness retreat is the beginning to a good experience. The next step is to find a retreat that matches your expectations. If you have friends or acquaintances who have gone on fitness retreats, asking for their recommendations is a good idea. But take into consideration whether or not their fitness levels and personalities are similar to yours. If their expectations are different from yours, you might find that their recommendations don't really make sense for you. If your friend is a high-energy marathon runner and you've just begun to jog, his hard-hitting fitness recommendation might not be a match for you.

Searching the Internet for fitness retreats will turn up a wealth of possibilities for you to consider. Also check fitness magazine advertisements and articles for other suggestions. By determining your goals and expectations and asking the right questions ahead of time, you can be assured of finding a fitness retreat that suits you.

If you have any questions, please ask below!