Fitness Resorts

By: Michelle Magnan Rancho hiking

Fitness resorts never held any sort of appeal for me. I’m active at home, work out as often as possible and eat as healthy as my lifestyle allows. Why would I spend my hard-earned money and vacation time on a resort that would expect me to wake at the crack of dawn, exercise all day and eat mainly veggies? Because, as it turns out, it’s really fun.

In August 2012, I was treated to a five-day stay at Rancho La Puerta, a famous fitness resort in Tecate, Mexico. The long-standing resort – it’s been around since 1940 and is about an hour’s drive south of San Diego – has drawn everyone from celebrities to everyday athletes looking to slow down, indulge in some serious fitness and eat clean, organic food.

The daily program begins at 6:15 a.m., with optional hikes through the stunning surrounding mountains. A healthy breakfast (think egg whites, fruits and veggies) follows. At 9 a.m., the real fun begins. Every hour on the hour, you have your choice of a handful of fitness classes.

During my stay, I tried yoga sculpt, abs and cycle, cardio blast, body bar classes and much more. The biggest surprise? A “Qi dance” class with a Puerto Rican man named Manuel. He looked a bit like Ricky Martin and taught the most high-energy class I’ve ever attended. I laughed at myself through the whole workout. A Qi dancer, I am not.

They warned us on Day One to not go “too crazy,” meaning we should pace ourselves and try only a class or two to begin. Yeah. We didn’t do that. We hit three or four classes the first day, thinking that, considering the array of classes, that was taking it easy. We felt that decision later on Day Two, when standing up from the dinner table was nearly impossible. Apparently, everyone makes that mistake; it’s hard to limit yourself to one or two classes when there are so many wonderful options to choose from.

We spent some quality time at one of the resort’s five pools the next day, and scheduled massages, too. The full-service spa, complete with an outdoor hot tub, is lovely, as are the women who rubbed my muscles into recovery.

Rancho WatsuMy favorite treatment was something called Watsu, water shiatsu, held in a small, warm pool. As I floated in and out of the sunlight, I couldn’t recall ever feeling so peaceful. When I got out of the pool after the hour-long session, I felt brand new.

That feeling of total wellbeing lasted for weeks after my return to Calgary, as did my refreshed eating habits and the commitment to daily exercise. Rancho La Puerta taught me not just to appreciate fitness resorts, but to nurture my wellbeing better than ever. For that alone, I will be back.


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