We all need some well-deserved R&R sometimes and one of the best ways to recharge your batteries can be by testing the limits of your strength and stamina. Ankita Mamgain takes you to some amazing destinations that cater to both mind and body.
What could be a better way to jolt us out of our excessively sedentary lifestyles than a vacation? But if you’re thinking 15 days of soaking up the sun while playing with the tiny umbrella on you cocktail glass, eating hamburgers for breakfast and becoming the (not-so) proud owner of a newly acquired ‘beverage’ belly – think again. What if you could return home with six-pack abs, a new personal running record and an energised mind, all along with a camera full of exotic pictures?
A number of companies are offering fitness or workout vacations, which are a bit different from a wellness break at a luxury spa resort. This experience is all about action and the best part is, it allows you to discover some of the most picturesque, diverse and interesting locations around the world. Whether you’re into running, cycling, skiing, snowboarding, CrossFit, horse riding, golf, yoga or something that calls for even more adrenaline pumping through your veins, if you’re taking some time off this new year, how about coming back a new you?
An Active Safari
South Africa packs some of the best that the African continent has to offer into one brilliant microcosm. From leisure seekers to adventurers and culture vultures, the Rainbow Nation extends a warm welcome to all. Its urban hotels boast some of the best gyms and spas, but there’s much to be experienced in the wilder pockets. And for fitness freaks it doesn’t get any better than this with a terrain that often surprises you with truly demanding and exhilarating experiences. Hike along Table Mountain’s base to world-famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden or bike from Cape Point to Chapman’s Peak and possibly spot ostriches, baboons, rare Cape Mountain zebras and eland. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Retreat offers great mountain-biking terrain featuring ancient Bushman rock art and red hartebeest antelope.
Take a guided bike ride into the Zululand Rhino Reserve and learn to track wild animals such as cheetah, hippo, hyena, members of the Big Five and hundreds of bird species. You can even hike from lodge to lodge, exploring a different section of the park every day. When in the mood to relax, taste the local vintages, indulge in a spa session or go canoeing.
A Hawaiian boot camp
This destination has health and fitness vacation plans for all budgets and intensity levels. Use the island’s stunning nature as a gym with surf lessons, kayak excursions, rainforest hikes and beach runs. There are a number of fitness resorts to choose from which offer a host of services like personal trainers, health-minded private chefs, personal assistants, sports instructors and wellness practitioners from massage therapists to intuitive healers and even astrologists, letting you decide how active or mellow you want your stay to be.
For the diehard CrossFitters, companies such as The Trip Tribe, Destino Retreats and Pure Kauai have crafted ‘WOD-cation and Paleo Retreat’ programmes with all the burpees, skill sessions and Paleo-friendly foods you could want. You get to compete in a state-of-the-art CrossFit gym, paddleboard in the Hawaiian waves and even crush some non-Paleo-friendly margaritas after a hard day’s work, then go home feeling healthier, stronger and leaner. While you’re there, take some time off the workout regime and hike the legendary Na Pali Coast, take a whale watching trip, explore the volcanoes and visit the majestic Waimea Canyon.
A Full Body Holiday
It may take serious willpower to make this getaway a boot camp as this is the kind of location that Caribbean holiday dreams are made of. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, St Lucia is a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown and offers a large range of activities.
For those of you with enough drive to push your limits and dive into a mega workout regime, its arsenal of boutique to ultra-luxurious resorts has a variety of packages to offer. An all-inclusive package at any of these resorts can cover spa treatments, a range of sporting activities from tennis to scuba-diving, and a dazzling array of exercise classes from dawn to dusk. If committed to the cause, your day may start with a 7am beach boot camp class, followed by a four-mile run, morning aerobics, afternoon windsurfing and evening Ashtanga yoga. Head out to explore the natural beauty all around you with a trek in Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, a breathtaking site that’ll not only get your heart pumping as you walk across the six-acre range, but a dip in its hot mineral springs will rejuvenate you with all their natural goodness.