So maybe your New Year’s resolution to cut out sugar and run five kilometres a day didn’t quite pan out. Now is your second chance to jump-start the year: But this time, perhaps you can better match your goals with your preferred form of exercise, whether that’s an immersion experience, golf-based fitness, or trekking across the countryside. These eight fitness vacations, listed from north to south, offer a chance to detox, toughen up, and unwind in beautiful destinations across California.
Wine Country Trekking
Bay Area wine country
Great for: A challenging trek—followed by wine
In 2006, Greg and Mary Guerrazzi were trekking from village to village in Switzerland when they thought, “We have to do this in America.” They returned to the States and, with Mary’s sister, started Wine Country Trekking, the only inn-to-inn hiking company in the U.S., which allows guests to stroll, trek, or run their way through the hills of Marin County to the vineyards of Sonoma. Trip options range from three to 10 days, with the most popular trek being the 10-day San Francisco to Sonoma route, which also includes one morning of kayaking and a private, catered dinner. You’ll receive detailed trail maps and a packed lunch for your daily self-guided hikes; when you arrive at your evening destination, your bags will be waiting for you.
Yoga & Pilates Retreat, Sagrada Wellness
Great for: Mind and body rejuvenation
If your resolutions typically include the words “balance” or “stress,” consider the Yoga & Pilates Retreat on the Central Coast, where the focus is a combination of fitness gains and a renewed sense of self. Your day at this shared-living-space resort will start with a guided meditation walk followed by a wholesome breakfast before your first yoga session. Guests have the freedom to choose how they spend their afternoon—hiking or reading in a hammock are options—before the second yoga or Pilates class. Want to watch the sunset with a glass of wine? Feel free to indulge. And don’t miss the opportunity to stargaze from the ranch’s hot tub.
The Ranch 4.0
Great for: A weekend push with a little flexibility
You’ll get eight hours of exercise, organic meals, and daily spa treatments—but with a few lifestyle indulgences, like free reign to use the Wi-Fi. Accommodations for R4.0 are at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, where you’ll find an equal spa-to-sweat ratio. Group yoga and weight sessions are included, as are cooking demonstrations, body fat tests, and, happily, a planned afternoon nap.
Great for: A celebrity-worthy transformation
Oprah, Jane Fonda, and Amber Valletta are on the list of celebrities who have retreated to the Santa Monica Mountains to experience a transformative week at The Ashram. The program was one of the first of its kind more than 40 years ago, and today, the week of strenuous hikes, two-a-day yoga sessions, garden-to-table meals, and evening educational programs continue to push guests beyond their limits. During your weeklong stay, be prepared to wake up before sunrise, hike at least 14km a day, and survive on fewer calories than you’re probably used to.
The Ranch Malibu
Great for: A strict, off-the-grid immersion
Need a full detox from all of your bad habits? The regimented, no-options week at The Ranch Malibu will strip away what you don’t need (coffee, alcohol, Internet, meat) and amp up what you do (nature, hiking, yoga, vegetables), to focus your weight-loss efforts. (This is the stricter version of sister program R4.0.) You and a maximum of 17 other guests will stay in minimalist-yet-luxury cottages on the secluded property, and participate in long hikes, core work, and weight training, all fuelled by organic, vegetarian meals. Your hard work will be rewarded every afternoon with a private massage, included in your stay.
The Biggest Loser Resort at JW Marriott Desert Springs
Great for: A reality-show-style butt-kicking
You won’t be weighed on national television or sent home during your stay at The Biggest Loser Resort, but you’ll definitely be whipped into shape. The comprehensive program is not just about last-chance workouts, either—it also focuses on teaching you how to grocery-shop smarter and manage your stress. Meals are prepared by resort chefs and total around 1,500 calories per day (although you might score extra snacks, based on individual assessment), and yes, you’ll be encouraged to give up coffee, soda, and alcohol while you’re there. The main program lasts one week, but you can book for multiple weeks.
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa
Great for: A personalized fitness program
Sitting on 200 private hectares covered with citrus groves, lavender fields, and vine-covered hills, the Cal-a-Vie resort in San Diego County feels “truly like being in the South of France, without the jet lag,” says Gary McGiboney, the resort’s vice president of operations. When you arrive, you’ll meet with a staff member to discuss your goals, determine your customised meals (down to specific portions), and choose the multiple workout sessions and spa treatments you’ll try daily. There are over 160 exercise classes to pick from, whether you’re after gentle exercise (candle-lit yoga), strength (Upper Body Blast), cardio conditioning (Piloxing), or just something new, such as a spin session in the pool.
Golf FIT, Omni La Costa
Great for: Improving both your physique and your golf swing
If you want to up your golf game while also shedding some of those lingering 19th-hole pounds, the five-star Omni La Costa Resort and Spa’s Golf FIT program could be your game changer. You can opt for a one-week to one-month stay, which includes morning fitness classes, daily one-on-one lessons with a PGA pro, course time, healthy gourmet meals, blood work assessments, and treatments at La Costa’s world-class spa. The program is meant to be a live-in, intensive experience, says the camp’s managing director, Zach Cutler. “If someone is committed to a lifestyle transformation, there’s no place better in the world to do it,” he says. “We’ve seen miracles happen in even a week.” Plus, the program is not meant to be just a quick hit—you’ll be sent home with 12 weeks of meal and fitness plans to keep the momentum going.