Healthy holiday retreats

Posted Date: 08 September 2015
Health retreats

There are a number of activity-oriented holidays available. These specialised retreats are often set in beautiful and challenging landscapes and offer the perfect opportunity for you to fine-tune your body and your mind. So if you ever considered combining your sports training with a holiday, why not check them out?

Health and fitness holidays

Is there such a thing? Aren’t holidays all about food, wine and happy hour? For some yes, however health and fitness holidays are on the rise, especially with increased media attention on unhealthy food, new diets and extreme fitness regimes. When you’ve been working too hard, you often crave the chance to enjoy some relax and enjoy some pampering, learn a new sport, or have a body detox.

Many hotels and resorts now offer day spa treatments to indulge in and the wide range of choices mean that a little TLC doesn't have to break the bank.

Want to learn yoga?

There are hundreds of dedicated luxury resorts that will help you improve your physical and emotional wellbeing, whilst set in beautiful surroundings. With so many types of yoga to choose from you really need to research which style and resort is best for you. Yoga isn’t all about deep breathing and twisted poses, it can be a very physical cardio workout as well and you’ll need a strong core, so be prepared to work it. If you’re new to yoga, tell your instructor because you might need some extra help to get accustomed to it.

Our top pick: Vida Yogi Safari, Botswana

Boot camp and cross fit

While some people couldn’t imagine anything worse, these retreats are now an increasingly popular choice and there are a variety of options. You can go the route of tough love and intense training, where you get your butt kicked into shape for a week. Or for the newbies, there are beginner friendly options that safely ease you into classes. You’ll be challenged but there will be less drill sergeant yelling!

Going too hard can set you back, so work at your own pace to avoid injury. Your insurance won’t cover physio but it will cover more traumatic injuries like sprains or worse. If you choose the right resort, you can reward yourself for all the hard work with pampering after each session. After all, aren’t massages and spa treatments the perfect complement to a hard days training?

Our top pick: The Ranch at Live Oak, California

Become an ace

If you thought tennis camp was only for kids, think again. You too can improve your backhand, learn to topspin or serve like a pro. Lessons are adapted to your abilities and if you book your tennis retreat in the off-season, you might get lucky and have a coach all to yourself.

It’s not all court work so be prepared to put in extra time at the gym to enhance your game and all round fitness. Many retreats offer pilates, weight training and swimming to complement your tennis training. Your insurance won’t cover pre-existing conditions like tennis elbow, so consider whether or not this type of retreat is right for you.

Some sports gear is hard to protect when travelling, so it’s probably best to leave your expensive tennis racket at home and use those provided by the resort instead.   

Our top pick: Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Austria

Get into the swing of it

Golf retreats are popular all over the globe, with world-class courses designed by pros like Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. Many of these courses are long and demanding, so grab a golf cart if you don’t want to walk it all. Expect to play on perfectly manicured courses with serene backdrops to inspire you throughout the day.

Lessons with a pro are included in many resort packages and they are one of the best ways for you to improve your technique. Many resorts will have the latest clubs to hire if you don’t want to take your own. This is a great way to trial new clubs with the latest technology. However, if you want to take your own clubs make sure you clean them and your golf shoes very thoroughly before you fly and before you come home. Border security will confiscate your clubs and shoes if they are not up to their standard of cleanliness.

Out top pick: Mukul Beach Golf & Spa Resort, Nicaragua

Sink or swim

Want to train like a pro for a triathlon or improve a specific discipline like cycling or swimming? There are retreats for that too. They will help you improve your times and learn valuable techniques to help you reach personal goals. Sea swimming will take you out of your indoor sprint comfort zone, prepare you for long distance swimming and improve your confidence in the sea.

Altitude training is a great performance enhancer but trail running in the mountains might not be for everyone. If you’re admiring the scenery, remember to keep an eye on the trail, a twisted ankle can ruin a great day out. You should also consider carrying food, water and some spare clothing in case of a sudden change in conditions. It’s recommended not to run alone and to ensure that someone back at the resort knows of your plans. Taking a map of the trails is a good idea too, as you can’t always rely on phone or GPS coverage in more remote areas.

Our top pick: Swimquest, Arctic Circle

Detox retreats

Detox retreats are a great way to re-energise your system. They claim to release toxins to improve your mind and body. Unhealthy eating and poor lifestyle choices can leave you feeling rundown and lethargic and a detox is a great way to kick-start a healthier you. There are many different types of detox cleanses from juice, raw food, to macrobiotic so it pays to learn about the different processes and find out what would be best suited to you.

Ask about any side effects that may occur on the detox. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it pays to mention them before booking, just in case the detox interferes and aggravates your condition or isn’t suited to you. Have a plan of what you want to achieve from your detox holiday and ask for help to maintain it when you return home. Before taking any local remedies or treatments, it’s a good idea to take the same precautions you use for water and food hygiene – if it isn’t sterilised it could be harmful to your system.

Our top pick: Absolute Sanctuary, Thailand

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