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8 Jump-Start Fitness Vacations

8 Jump-Start Fitness Vacations

Kick your neglected New Year’s resolution into high gear with a fitness-focused getaway

So maybe your New Year’s resolution to cut out sugar and run five miles 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

Santa Margarita      

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

Westlake Village

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.

The Ashram


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 nine miles 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 fueled by organic, vegetarian meals. Your hard work will be rewarded every afternoon with a private massage, included in your stay.

Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

Desert Hot Springs

Great for: A restorative stay that’s easy on the environment

The first carbon-neutral resort in the country, Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa has been known simply as the “Desert Spa” since the ‘40s. The property that the 67-room boutique hotel sits on is famed for its lithium-rich geothermal hot springs, which flow from a 600-year-old source that recharges every 24 hours. Once you choose from the three types of rooms offered, you’ll be ready to select a service from the full-day spa menu, or book a retreat held in their stunning 3,000-square-foot yoga dome. Mud baths in a mixture of peat moss and mineral-rich clay are also a specialty, but Two Bunch Palms’ main draw remains the hot springs, renowned for their therapeutic and mood enhancing properties.

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa


Great for: A personalized fitness program

Sitting on 500 private acres 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 customized meals (down to specific portions), and choose the mutliple 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.


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