With less than two months to go till swimsuit season, it's time to start thinking about working off that winter chub layer and kick-starting your fitness. Thankfully, resorts and fitness companies are coming up with ever-more-innovative and creative programs that combine strength training, dance, hiking, biking and other flab-busting moves.
On the Ball Core Training
Just two hours outside Los Angeles, Oaks at Ojai offers all sorts of specialty programming throughout the year. Its On the Ball week (May 20-24) is the toughest offering on the spring calendar – as those who have done even a standard hour on the stability ball know. Test balance, core strength, and hundreds of tiny muscles you don't even realize you have…and be aware, 50 minutes wipes out most people. Five days is only for those with champion willpower.
Boot Camp for the Brain
Led by Dr. Daniel Friedland, author of Evidence-Based Medicine, this left-of-center wellness offering by Fairmont's Willow Stream Spas helps participants achieve peak wellness via mindfulness. The next weekend workshop (April 12-14 in Southampton, Bermuda) will focus on navigating and coping with stress, improving person-to-person communication, and making better decisions.
Symphony of the Senses at Lumeria
Another holistic retreat with unique cultural offerings is tucked away in Paia, where the seaside meets upcountry Maui. Lumeria is a place for naturopathic healing, New Age classes, organic food in a beautiful setting. Symphony of the Senses is its latest specialty workshop – a hybrid of yoga, meditation and music. Off-property excursions visit some of the island's sacred sites.
Got balance? Then you'll dig this yoga/stand-up paddleboarding hybrid. Fans of SUP enjoy the ocean sport because it's easy to learn, great for your core, and takes less balance than regular surfing. However, once you start incorporating yoga poses while on the board, things get substantially more challenging…and more interesting! That's why it's all the rage in Florida and other warm locations with calm seas.
Baby Boot Camp
No daycare? No need to skip your workout. In California, New York City and other fit-minded places, some instructors are asking moms to incorporate their little ones into special workout programs, using them as weights, partners and of course moral support. The generic name for this new trend is "stroller fitness," and it's well on its way to becoming not just a specialty activity, but nationwide craze a la Zumba.
Maybe you're just not an exercise person. Maybe you're more of a foodie…or maybe you just prefer to be outdoors. In that case, trick yourself into getting seriously active with a hiking-wine tasting trip along the Rogue River Trail in Southern Oregon. Over four days, hikers will cover 40 miles of terrain following the river, with nightly wine tastings followed by lodge dinners. Hikers who get fatigued can hop on the supply raft and float down the river.
Inn to Inn Hiking
It's not quite as indulgent as wiking, but the inn-to-inn hiking offered in Estes Park, Colorado is great for people who like to be outdoors for sport, but then comfortably indoors with good food and full power/water by evening. This activity takes place along the Walter Tishma Way primarily, and was inspired by the country walking tours offered in England or France. Participants get a full-service indoors breakfast and dinner every day, and without the worry of packing in supplies. A transport car takes care of luggage transfer.
If you're one of the 90 percent of people who think there's nothing to do in New Orleans except party and eat, here's a surprise for you: Half-day urban kayaking tours take participants through the historic Bayou St. John waterway, to see all sorts of iconic New Orleans landmarks and neighborhoods while getting some low-impact exercise– and with a guide to share plenty of colorful history. Sunset paddles are available, and highly recommended in warmer months. One quick note: You will get splashed. Be prepared.