As the sound of the chink of glasses and Auld Lang Syne begin to fade, what's the betting that keeping fit features as one of your New Year's resolutions? And what better way to motivate us travel lovers than combining it with a break? Fitness and wellness holidays now run the full gamut from spoil yourself spa retreats to intensive military style boot camps. We fancied something in-between where we could take in some inspiring scenery at the same time and, yes, have a bit of fun too. This is what we found:
Japan is almost as renowned for its healthiness as its culture. In fact, being active is very much part of the culture in a country where it’s not uncommon to witness septuagenarian grannies on challenging mountain hikes. The full active Japan experience is perfectly condensed in Tokyo-based Bashukway Travel's Eight Day Fitness Vacation. The tour takes in zen meditation, sea kayaking, shiatsu massage, cycling and a hike up Mt Fuji, alongside tutorials on the mental and physical discipline of karate, aikido and sumo – quite a work out, with some sightseeing, culture and delicious healthy cuisine thrown in. The company also offers a wide variety of other packages to suit most tastes.
If you’re already fairly fit and fancy some hardcore thrills, negotiating steep canyons and waterfalls, Responsible Travel’s canyoning courses could be the just the ticket. Not for the fainthearted.
With its relaxed vibe, gorgeous scenery and year-round good weather, California is the perfect place to get fit and actually enjoy every minute of it. You don't often see the words 'luxury' and 'bootcamp' together but that's exactly the combination on offer at The Ranch at Live Oak, Malibu. Set on a working ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains with an on-site organic farm and surrounded by miles of walking trails, the locale is more than a little enticing. In classic Cali style, the week-long fitness programme is all about cleansing and the great outdoors, with group hiking, yoga, massages and an emphasis on "low impact, moderate activity".
If you want your wellness served in tropical climes and paradise-like surroundings, St Lucia has plenty of adventure beyond its regular resorts and beautiful beaches. The focus at The BodyHoliday is on the restorative, rather than the strenuous, but that doesn’t mean lying about all day. Scuba, golf, fencing, tennis, aerobics, yoga, archery and watersports and much more are on offer, with one-to-one consultation and personal training available for many activities. Nutrition and relaxation are also a key part of the experience, so prepare for a lot of pampering on the side.
If all that tranquillity leaves you in need of some real action, a visit to the Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery is must-do and will definitely get the adrenaline pumping. Take a rainforest hike or, even better, work up a sweat ziplining through the treetops.
If new skills and experiences are more important than a totally 'new you', learning to ride the surf of New South Wales is a good challenge – great exercise coupled with that easy-going Aussie vibe. 'The Search', run by Sydney Surf, is the ideal beginners' all-in-one course, with beach hut accommodation, meals thrown in with four days of expert tutoring on all the fundamentals. Get yourself up to speed (and hopefully up on the board) at Sydney's quiet Seven Mile Beach, before making waves with your big finale in beautiful Byron Bay.
For a truly transformative experience that will take any city dwelling body right back to nature, Kenya is the place to head. In coastal Watamu – a designated UN area of outstanding natural beauty with one of the world’s best beaches – the Wildfitness team’s aim is to bring out your full potential and send you home with the agility and strength of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. A nine-day course packs in boxing, jungle circuit training, an obstacle course and a (barefoot) beach running and swimming 'Aquathlon'. Workshops on 'Wild Eating', metabolism and posture are also included and there’s still time for snorkelling, traditional dance entertainment, drinking and even a spot of shopping.
If you've discovered a great way to stay fit at any of destinations we'd love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.
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About the author: andrewAndrew Bowman
Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.