Retreats tend to conjure up alone-time, walking mindfully in nature and sitting in silence, but there’s a new generation of this type of getaway that combines restful time with activity. Today’s fitness retreats aren’t just about getting you moving – they look at your whole lifestyle.
- They’re holistic
One of the leaders in this field -The Ranch Malibu – has now arrived in Europe, as The Ranch Italy and offers year-round daily hiking, alongside a gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and sugar-free, plant-based diet. Journalist and broadcaster Emily Maitlis had stunning results after her stay at Palazzo Fiuggi in the Roman hills. She said in her review for Queen of Retreats: ‘As I travel home, my shorts are significantly looser and my leg muscles are tighter. I arrived in Italy with a painful foot condition – plantar fasciitis….the pain has entirely disappeared. I’m convinced the diet has killed off the inflammation. I’m having to pinch myself – it feels too good to be true.'
- They’re flexible with dates
There are two types of fitness retreat. Set date retreats are just that – they run on set dates, often fairly regularly throughout the year. One such company is Wildfitness which focuses on diverse movement, healthy and local eating, and plenty of rest to reset and realign your body. They run on set dates on Menorca and Crete and in Iceland and Norfolk in the UK. The other option is retreats that are open all year and offer fitness as an activity, or the offer a fitness programme such as Spartan Spirit of Adventure, an outdoor activity week run by Euphoria Retreat on the Peloponnese in mainland Greece.
- There’s usually a good choice of activities
Love swimming but don’t fancy getting in the boxing ring? Prefer to walk 40 miles than run three? Most retreats that offer fitness recognise we all have our favourite activities. At Shanti Som in Malaga in Spain you can try your hand at yoga and Pilates or one of the detox, weight loss, fitness and wellness programmes. Teaching is high quality, and there are often one-to-one classes. Or consider The Zest Life in Wales, where retreats combine yoga with mountain hiking, wild swimming and stand-up paddle boarding.
- They usually offer excellent treatments
Training often comes at a price and a new injury can send the most dedicated off track. At Atmantan Wellness Centre in India there’s a Fitness Challenge package for in depth assessment and challenging exercise regimes. But the retreat also offers a Restorative Physiotherapy package that includes postural assessment, postural integration, and physiotherapy, as well as a team of specialists who can treat orthopaedic conditions, ranging from sports injuries to ligament injuries and osteoarthritis. Preidlhof in Italy is another retreat where treatments are worth a mention – you can join a programme to improve your physical fitness, but you also have access to some of the finest therapists and healing masters in the world.
- They include plenty of down time
At Azulfit on the sunny island of Fuerteventura you may well work hard at your yoga and Pilates, and concentrate on your meditation and nutrition classes, but there’s plenty of time built into the schedule for rest and relaxation at Surya Retreat in the volcanic hills of Villaverde. And at Kamalaya in Thailand, you can join a schedule of yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, pranayama, meditation, Pilates, fit ball, and a beach power walk, but afterwards there are healing therapies and treatments in a serene hilltop spa with ocean views.
- They’re often in gorgeous places
In France Group Evolution Retreats take place at the glorious Chateau de la Motte Henry near Laval in the Loire Valley. Fitness programmes range from yoga and Pilates to high energy sessions in the gym and outdoors. There are also training camps for elite, amateur runners, swimmers and cyclists. Or you could head for Portugal where you’ll walk above the clouds! Yeotown Madeira offer intense hiking, calming yoga and a detoxing diet.