Bootcamps are normally a way for the seriously committed to reboot their fitness program or to shed a few pounds, and aren’t known for comfort. But an increasing number of resorts around the world will now both seriously kick your butt to get you fit and then pamper you with nutritious gourmet meals, massages and opulent accommodation. The idea is that you’ll come back fitter, leaner and more relaxed. But before you sign up for any of the following bootcamps, be very clear: they are real bootcamps. Don’t go to one of these resorts expecting to take it easy.
THE RANCH AT LIVE OAK
We use the term “vacation” loosely here. On the ranch you’ll endure week-long tests of physical endurance and digital detox (no Wi-Fi or cell reception) and a super-strict diet without meat, sugar, caffeine, alcohol or processed foods. Guests undertake a daily five hour regimen of Dzno-optiondz activities consisting of low impact but moderate intensity physical work, including hiking, weight training, yoga and core work. The ranch feeds you fresh, organic, vegetarian fare and when you’re not required to train you can laze by the pool or luxuriate under the firm hands of a masseur.
Program: Runs from Sunday to Saturday, with a shorter four day version, R4.0, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The seven night programs run between October and April, and the program usually books up in advance.
Fly to: Los Angeles.
Into Paleo eating? Maybe you should go “hunter-gatherer” in Africa, on the north coast of Kenya near the fishing village of Watamu. Here, you get back to nature on the sand beaches of the Indian Ocean and in the surrounding jungle and coconut groves. But be warned, the camp’s philosophy revolves around the concept of “wild” eating, moving and living as a way of transforming the body, so expect to eat lots of whatever the local fishermen catch, and to move a lot. Sessions are based on moving as nature intended, with skill and running circuits, boxing, kettle bell drills and lots of barefoot running and swimming. Thankfully, the program also emphasizes resting and recuperation and provides relaxation massages, but you’ll have to work hard because you’ve signed up for results.
Program:Courses go for nine, 14 or 24 days.
Fly to: Nairobi.
PRESTIGE BOOT CAMP
Puerto Banus, Spain
You have access to three outdoor swimming pools, an indoor pool, a jet wave exercise system, three hot tubs, sauna, gym and spa, all within reach of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea and trendy Puerto Banus. So what’s not to like? Plenty, if you don’t like physical torture. First, there’s the challenging physical training sessions led by British Military Physical Training instructors that will push you far beyond your comfort zone. A typical day might include boxing, circuits, hiking and team games at the extensive grounds onsite or on nearby beaches or forests. Then there’s stints at rock climbing, zip lining, abseiling, kayaking, surfing or stand up paddling. And, of course, the exclusive bootcamp chef cooks up a treat using the eight UK government healthy eating targets based around the Eat Well plate model. No fad diets for these military guys! The best thing is, you can take home recipes and exercise plans to help keep you on the health and fitness path.
Program: The seven night programs run between October and April.
Fly to: Malaga.
ALGARVE LUXURY BOOTCAMP
Start your morning with a detoxifying juice before getting stuck into the first of the day’s two bootcamp sessions based around high-intensity interval training. Then look forward to a dose-controlled dinner to ensure your weight loss goals are met. Wow, sounds like so much fun. Still, if you want results and some beautiful Portuguese scenery, this is the place to be. The bootcamp maestro, Marco Baioa, runs the camps from two five star hotels that are on the same glorious coastline but on opposite sides of the tourist hub of Lagos. Both offer the same grueling program, but also plush rooms and spa services that your tired muscles will enjoy. Check out the different inclusions before you book.
Program: Two, seven, and 14 day programs are available.
Fly to: Faro.
FRESH START THAILAND BOOTCAMP
Chang Mai, THAILAND
They don’t take you to your room when you first get to the Fresh Start Bootcamp at the Spa Health Resort in Chiang Mai. They take you to a weigh in and fitness assessment instead. Then for several gut-busting days, you’re subjected to a relentless body blast of interval training sessions, kettle bell classes, cardio combat, fitness circuits, aqua aerobics and laps of the exercise track. For breaks, there’s challenges. How about a relaxing how-fast-can-you-climb up the 350steps in the Doi Suthep Temple Climb Challenge? Or maybe a chilled session going toe to toe with professional Muay Thai boxing trainers? But before youbeat a quick retreat to the next item in this story, know that once you’ve done the work at the bootcamp, you’re treated to delicious Thai food and Thai spa treatments in one of the world’s most beautiful tropical landscapes, amid rice fields and lush mountains.
Program: Bootcamps run Friday to Friday, or stay for as many weeks as you like.
Fly to: Chiang Mai.
CAL-A-VIE HEALTH SPA
Don’t be lulled by the luxury French-inspired decor of this Californian destination spa. It all may seem decadently comfortable, but this place will get you seriously sweaty. Class junkies will love the 100 plus group exercise classes, which range from mind and body Pilates and yoga to hardcore, high intensityinterval, circuit, spinning and boxing. The schedule is mind boggling, and if you have the burning desire to exercise from dawn til dusk with short refueling breaks, you could squeeze in at least nine sessions a day. In theory you can do as little or as much as you want, but with a 5:1 staff-to-guest ratio, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to come up with enough excuses to keep the trainers off your back. Visitors rave about the spa — of course — with treatments ranging from bathhouse specialties like massage, wraps, scrubs and all manner of anti-aging and rejuvenating facial treatments.
Program: The signature seven night package runs from Sunday to Sunday, three or four nights for shorter stays.
Fly to:San Diego.
FITSCAPE FITNESS HOLIDAYS
San Cassiano, ITALY
This is where the Sound of Music turns into the Sound of Masochism. This Dzfitness holidaydz might be based at the ultra-luxurious Relais & Chateaux Hotel, Rosa Alpina, but it’s not the 5000ft altitude that will have you gasping for breath — it will be the three personal trainers whipping you into shape. The bootcamp provides a comprehensive mix of hiking, circuit training, jogging, running, cycling, mountain biking and stretching classes, plus an indoor pool and sauna for chilling out. A restorative massage and a healthy gourmet meal willencourage you to do it all again the following day. And the day after. For a full seven nights in the pure mountain air!
Program: All packages are seven nights.
Fly to: Innsbruck (Austria).
Bali has developed a reputation as party destination, but you can avoid the bars,street hawkers and tourists and head to Bali Elements, a holistic fitness retreat set in the lush, manicured grounds of the Canggu Club resort. This is where you’ll push your body and mind to the limit but with a backdrop of beaches, terraced rice fields, nearby volcanoes and tropical sunsets. Get stuck into at least threeactivity sessions a day including outdoor adventures like tackling rope courses, cycling and rice field trekking. The prestigious Canggu Club’s facilities are part of the program; aqua training, tennis and group fitness classes, so feel free to fill up your spare time with whatever activities the club offers. The prime beachfront position isn’t wasted, so expect an introductory surf lesson if you haven’t already tested the waves.
Program: Runs for five nights.
Fly to: Denpasar.