Find Your Fitcation Paradise

Instead of getting in killer shape for your vacation, why not do it on vacation? A new breed of getaways is designed to send you home healthier and happier.
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Instead of getting in killer shape for your vacation, why not do it on vacation? A new breed of getaways is designed to send you home healthier and happier.

By Devin Tomb, SELF

We love to stretch out by the pool and luxuriate with a few margaritas as much as anyone, but we don't love the way our pants fit when we get back to reality. And we aren't alone. According to a survey by TripAdvisor, roughly a third of Americans report that they always gain weight on holiday. But we can defy our fate! Right now, activity-based vacations are huge, increasing in popularity by 65 percent yearly since 2009, a recent Adventure Tourism Market report says. We went in search of the perfect fit-cation -- pack all the Lulu. You're going to need it.


You know surfing does the body good (we will never not covet Kate Bosworth's physique in Blue Crush), and even beginners can see results in a short time. "It doesn't matter if you can't stay up on the board, because paddling into the ocean over and over is a killer upper-body workout," says Aimee Nicotera, fitness expert and former fitness director at Canyon Ranch and group-fitness manager at Equinox gyms. Beyond the physical gains you'll make, there is also a burgeoning body of research that proves proximity to water can reduce stress and improve mood. "We found that even just the sound of water can make us feel more optimistic and positive about our lives," says marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols, Ph.D., author of Blue Mind. Where to go: Find surf serenity with daily lessons (beginner to advanced), friendly waves and dazzling beach at Mexico's Cabo Surf Hotel and Spa.

Book It: Cabo Surf Hotel and Spa, San José del Cabo, Mexico
Reservations: 858-964-5117;
Price Point: $265 to $625 per night

The oceanside Surf Lodge in Montauk has quickly become the gem of East Coast surfing. You'll agree once you ride along Ditch Plains Beach and Turtle Cove, which have some of the best waves on Long Island. On lazy days, paddleboard across the Fort Pond, then watch the sunset with a tasty mojito served over fresh fruit in a signature mason jar. The Surf Lodge is also known for its free summer concerts, and this year the indie lineup does not disappoint, with more than 15 shows starting on May 24.

Book It: The Surf Lodge, Montauk, New York
Reservations: 631-483-5037;
Price Point: Call for pricing

The Ritz-Carlton is no doubt a luxury stay, but you'll get your money's worth in Laguna Niguel. (Their first-floor oceanfront rooms are complete with a fireplace right on your private outdoor patio.) Even better -- the five-star hotel offers a range of active packages, including an all-girl surf getaway (includes two hours of individual instruction, with all equipment provided, and a complimentary 60-minute massage treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Spa), a Billabong Surf tour, as well as sea hikes along Strands Beach and whale watching along Dana Point.

Book It: The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, California
Reservations: 949-240-2000;
Price Point: Call for pricing

There's tons of action here for both beginner and advanced surfers at Blockade Runner Beach Resort. All lessons include a top-quality board and range between $60 and $120 for two hours of instruction, depending on your group size. Beginners will master basics like paddling strokes and pop-up technique. Advanced surfers will learn carving to aerials and layback snaps. (Other water sports include kayaking and sailing.)

Book It: Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Wilmington, North Carolina
Reservations: 910-256-2251;
Price Point: Call for pricing

Not only is the Andaz Maui in Hawaii going to bring you amazing waves, but the resort boasts four infinity pools and a 15-acre beachfront. Two-hour surf lessons range from $99 to $169 per person, depending on the size of your group, including board rental. Relax afterward in the apothecary lounge, which features a blending bar that incorporates locally grown herbs, plants and fruits for customized treatments. And if you happen to book your stay over July 12, sign up for the Ikaika Nui Extreme 5K Obstacle Challenge, just a half-hour drive away.

Book It: Andaz Maui at Wailea, Hawaii
Reservations: 808-573-1234;
Price Point: Call for pricing


Feel centered after an hour of Bikram? Imagine devoting an entire trip to quieting your mind and working out your kinks. "The relaxation benefits of yoga are reduced when we only squeeze the practice into our hectic lives," says Nicotera. When you don't have to rush to an early morning class or fight for a mat after work, it's easier to let go of distractions and be present. Extend the oms with a postyoga massage at your resort's spa, says Nicotera -- it may improve flexibility and recovery. If you're focusing on gentle, restorative yoga, ask the massage therapist to use a light touch. Couple more intense practice with deep-tissue massage, she says. Where to go: The Standard Spa in Miami Beach, which offers a wide variety of sessions, from Sunset Bayside Yoga to a Floating and Flying master class, plus muscle-melting treatments.

Book It: The Standard Spa, Miami Beach
Reservations: 305-673-1717;
Price Point: From $295 per night

Named the Best Wellness Resort by USA Today, there's something for every yogi at the Miraval Resort & Spa. Choose from restorative yoga, a yoga hike along the foothills of Miraval ($55 for 2.5 hours) and even aerial yoga, where you can feel just like P!nk and stretch and twist using silk hammocks suspended feet from the ground ($75 for 45 minutes). The resort also offers tons of integrative wellness and nutrition programs, including an anti-inflammatory kitchen and a seminar on mastering your metabolism. Check out the Girls Getaway Package, which includes a $150 nightly resort credit to spend on select services at the resort's luxurious Life in Balance Spa.

Book It: Miraval Resort & Spa, Tucson, Arizona
Reservations: 800-232-3969;
Price Point: Call for pricing

If you're looking to book a true yoga retreat, the Feathered Pipe Ranch hires the best trainers to help you do it right. They have tons of excursions throughout the summer, from The Whole Enchilada: Practical Yoga Therapeutics, Ayurveda, and Nutrition (July 5-11), featuring healing Hatha yoga with Dr. Baxter Bell and nutritionist and Ayurvedic health educator Melina Meza, to Watching the Body, Watching the Mind, offering a yoga practice that will turn off your crazy-brain (July 19-25). Yoga instructors should look into Mindful Resilience: A Veterans Yoga Project Training for Yoga Teachers (August 16-22).

Book It: Feathered Pipe Ranch, Helena, Montana
Reservations: 406-442-8196;
Price Point: Call for pricing

For a real escape, Ahau Tulum is an environmentally friendly Mexican resort that prioritizes wellness. They offer morning yoga sessions every day of the week, as well as yoga classes with live music ($12) and candlelight yoga, wine and chocolate included ($20). If you're game to jump in the water, you can also take paddleboarding lessons with certified instructors right along the Mexican Caribbean.

Book It: Ahau Tulum, Mexico
Reservations: 52-984-802-5632;
Price Point: Junior suites from $250 per night

Canyon Ranch is a luxury destination in Lenox, Massachusetts offering more than 40 complimentary fitness classes, including yoga, of course! They offer everything from a chill morning stretch to athletic-level classes. And if you want to practice your moves ahead of time, their website is updated regularly with yoga poses to energize your morning, restore you throughout the day and relax you at night. They also have locations in Miami and Tucson, Arizona.

Book It: Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts
Reservations: 800-742-9000;
Price Point: Call for pricing


Your treadmill has nothing on nature's own version -- the trail. "A hike is rarely just an hour, and you're on very varied terrain -- climbing up rocks, or pushing against gravity as you descend a steep hill," Nicotera says. Same goes for biking and kayaking: You're on unpredictable ground or water, so your muscles are challenged more. You'll also access vacation Zen with ease: You're more mindful of your movements in nature, so the workout becomes as much about the mental engagement as the physical. Where to go: For prime trails and stunning views, check out Rockwater Secret Cove Resort in British Columbia, near Smuggler's Cove Provincial Park. They even offer couples packages, so you and your guy can rack up those hiking and biking miles together.

Book It: Rockwater Secret Cove Resort, British Columbia, Canada
Reservations: 877-296-4593;
Price Point: From $139 per night; couples packages start at $399

The Solage Calistoga, a beautiful hotel set in America's wine capital, has a Team Fitness Challenge ready for you and your friends to take down. It includes boot camp classes, competitive bocce and -- no joke -- Wine Country Olympics. Smoothie shots and energy snacks are complimentary, and there is a personalized awards ceremony and a group photo at le fin. Start rallying the troops now.

Book It: Solage Calistoga, Napa, California
Reservations: 707-266-7531;
Price Point: From $55 per person for a minimum group of 10

If you want to whip yourself into shape this summer and have no jokes about it, Bella is your boot camp. You can do a full program for up to 6 nights. The boot camp at Vita Vie Retreat includes a room, three full meals per day, five classes per day (from core training to pilates and belly dance/hip hop), a spa treatment and more.

Book It: Bella Boot Camp, Vita Vie Retreat, Delray Beach, Florida
Reservations: 800-768-5708;
Price Point: From $890 for a 3-day program

Just two hours outside of Las Vegas, the Red Mountain Resort features a bucket-list-worthy roster of fitness classes -- from Tabbata boot camp to TRX, HIIT and sports training. For Tabbata, our fitness editors recommend instructors Cindy Boyce and Lorie Jones. For TRX, try to train with Rebecca Dalley. All classes are complimentary with any retreat package.

Book It: Red Mountain Resort, St. George, Utah
Reservations: 435-673-4905;
Price Point: From $200 per night

As the name would suggest, New Life Hiking Spa is a hiker's paradise. You can choose beginner trails (2 to 4 miles), pass waterfalls along their classic 4-to-6 mile hikes, or go all the way to the top of Vermont at an elevation of 4,000 feet -- a certified alpine tundra environment. There are tons of classes, from yoga to dance kinetics and fitball, plus a relaxing spa to soothe sore legs. One $75 service is included with your stay -- try the Swedish massage or reflexology.

Book It: New Life Hiking Spa, Killington, Vermont
Reservations: 802-353-2954;
Price Point: Call for pricing

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