THE NEW YORK TIMES Get a Workout and a Vacation at the Same Time by Amy Tara Koch
For fitness enthusiasts who also love traveling to far-flung locales, a new breed of travel company wants to take you anywhere you want to go — and give you a great workout when you arrive.
On Escape to Shape’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, guests enjoy activities like circuit training and dance classes, all designed to keep visitors fit and in touch with the local culture. Credit Tim Freccia
First came workout boot camps. Then off-the-grid yoga retreats. Next, hotel chains touting celebrity-orchestrated fitness programs. Now, there is another way to travel without leaving your workout behind. Fitness pop-ups in vacation destinations like Capri, Sri Lanka, Goa and Vietnam all offer relaxing getaways combined with exercise options, sightseeing and meals prepared by a professional chef. Often, these groups stay in private, rented villas. These four companies have created custom itineraries with workouts and wellness in mind.
Escape to Shape
Designed for solo travelers to experience off-the-beaten-track destinations through fitness and wellness, Escape to Shape’s itineraries include destinations like Marrakesh, Jaipur, Siem Reap, Bhutan, Botswana and Cape Town. The packages are ideal for goal-oriented, luxury lovers who want a fitness-based trip in an exotic destination without skimping on the indulgences of a high-end getaway.
Erica Gragg, founder of the firm and a former event planner, hosts every trip personally and has a winning formula: workouts inspired by bucket list settings (Khmer boxing in Cambodia, circuit Training on the ancient rampart in Cartagena, beach boot camp in Vietnam, yoga in the underground cisterns of Istanbul), wellness elements (journal writing, meditation, yoga, massage) and thoughtful excursions (market visits, group hammam visits, a water blessing with a Buddhist monk, wine tastings) intended to deliver a culturally authentic taste of the destination. Guests stay at five-star hotels or villas and enjoy healthful meals prepared by an on-site chef.
Rates from $4,500 to $14,000 per person, depending on location, room type and length of trip. International airfare and alcohol excluded.
In 2012, Zanna Conlan, a former Australian football coach and surf instructor, started Active Escapes as a way for fitness aficionados to have a sweat-laced, tropical getaway — think twice daily high-intensity interval training, surfing and evening yoga — with like-minded vacationers.
What began in Bali for the company has evolved into trips to seven destinations, including Australia, Hawaii, Dubai, Barbados, the Maldives and India, some featuring a marquee trainer like the American bodybuilder Steve Cook. When guests aren’t swinging kettlebells on the beach, they go snorkeling, surfing, biking or practice sunset yoga. Lodgings are private villas or boutique hotels, and last year the company added a trip aboard a 123-foot yacht in the Maldives featuring beach workouts on different islands.
Rates from $1,500 to $8,250 per person, depending on location, room type and length of trip. Airfare and alcohol excluded.
Surf Yoga Beer
As the company’s mantra “no goals, all vibes” indicates, four-year-old Surf Yoga Beer represents a version of this trend that’s focused a little more on fun than fitness. Billed as “sleepaway camp for adults” (participants share rooms, often with bunk beds, in a large house or small hotels), the company’s fitness adventures to Ibiza, Havana, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Miami are about bonding over intense exercise and partying (unlimited beer is included in the price of the trip).
Mantas Zvinas, the company’s founder, a happy-go-lucky surf coach and Soul Cycle instructor, leads the itineraries personally along with a number of marquee trainers including Jaws Nelson and Julian Devine of NYC’s Rumble Boxing, and Hunter McIntyre, the professional obstacle course racer. The trips are packed with beach boot-camp workouts, surf sessions, yoga, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding and, insome locations, sightseeing. The traveling chef-in-residence, Eddie Larios, extends the communal ambience with an open-for-visits kitchen, impromptu cooking classes and visits to local markets.
Rates range from $999 to $3,600 per person, depending on location, room type and length of trip. Airfare and alcohol, outside of beer and the group happy hour, are excluded.
Fit & Fly Girl
Sometimes women just want to relax, and work out, with other women. That’s why Rebecca Garland’s women-only Fit & Fly Girlretreats have taken off. The trips are for women who enjoy a balance of fitness and activity-based sightseeing in locations like Cote d’Azur, Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Ibiza and Morocco.
Excursions include perfume-making in Provence, sunset kayaking in Ibiza, watching polo matches in Buenos Aires, visiting Yves Saint Laurent’s garden, Jardin Majorelle, in Marrakesh. Those adventures are book-ended between fitness classes that range from cardio dance and circuit training to Pilates and foam rolling, and elegant meals are served communally by a local chef at the group’s private villas. For 2019, the company has added trips to Mykonos and Palm Springs.
Rates from $3,200 to $5,600 per person, depending on location, room type and length of trip. Airfare and alcohol excluded.