Vacations for Fitness Buffs and Powder Puffs

Retreats That Actually Feel like Vacation

outside fitness!

Is a vacation really a vacation if there are no frosty umbrella drink on the beach? These fitness retreats seem to think so.

Away Game
Check a few countries off your bucket list and work out along the way. Escape to Shape heads to far-off places like Puglia, St. Petersburg, Istanbul, Morocco, and Laos, and offsets untouristy but educational and engaging excursions with Pilates, yoga, and bouts of boot camp each day. When it comes to local flavor, trainers and teachers work with chefs well in advance to make sure travelers experience the cuisine that reflects the region while taking dietary needs into account (which may mean baked instead of fried bananas in Cartagena).

Crunch Time
As if a week of lengthy treks through the Malibu mountains isn’t challenging enough, The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu is gearing up to open the Romper Room this summer. In addition to the luxury boot camp’s core training sessions, yoga classes, and pool work (that’s right, you work in the pool) that fill every afternoon, you can now try boxing, rope climbing, and core-targeting suspension frame system training. Recuperate with a detox smoothie or high-protein bites at the new snack bar while you take in the ocean view and count the minutes until your next massage or organic, vegetarian meal.

Well to Do
Feeling burned? Go raw at an Epic Self retreat. Prepare for a day of surfing, swimming, hiking, yoga, and/or Pilates with a power-packed green superfood smoothie for breakfast, refuel with a wrap or salad for lunch, then dive into the hands-on holistic nutrition and natural cooking classes every night to prepare the evening’s raw or vegan meal. Destinations change (Phuket, Thailand, anyone?), but the take-home package stays the same: recipes, stacks of reference, and a video series that includes diet tips and a do-anywhere Pilates and breath-work routine.

Bikini Kill
The name Paradise Island should be reason enough to justify a weekend away, but in case you need 56 more of them, a Physique 57 retreat will do. The high-energy, isometric overload-style classes have a cult following in NYC and L.A.; take two per day at the One & Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas. Recovery in the spa and refueling at the Jean-Georges restaurant is encouraged with $100 and $300 credits, respectively, included in the package. When it was first announced in January 2010, the dates sold out in minutes, but there are more available through 2012.

For the Birds
On any Iron Crow yoga retreat, evening cocktails start at 6:30 p.m. And to think, just twelve hours earlier you were being rustled from your bed for 90 minutes of Ashtanga yoga done with an Anusara twist. Fill the day with hikes, surfing, painting, healthy cooking, lying on the beach or by the pool before another round of yoga — this time followed by meditation and an aromatherapy massage with Reiki — rolls in around 4 p.m. After a few relaxing days like that, you’ll likely lose track of time.

Southern Comfort
Even after ten years of Body and Soul Adventures in Paraty, Brasil, Mike Mitchell, a former partner in the infamously tough ashram program, keeps finding new ways to keep the retreat fresh. This year he is taking a new approach to nutrition with chef Wojtek Swiech. Instead of a restricted-calorie weight-loss plan, the focus is on healthy eating driven by educated, conscious choices. All the better for sweating the day away on the ocean or in the jungle ropes course, our pretty.

Photo: ZenShui / Milena Boniek / Getty Images