If your resolution to get in shape still hasn’t quite gelled, consider an active vacation where fitness is factored into your trip. The options are all over the map, and they’re becoming ever more energetic.
"The move from more passive and pampering wellness experiences to far more active — even extreme — wellness and fitness offerings is one of the biggest trends this year," said Beth McGroarty, research director at the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute, a Miami-based research-and-educational resource for the wellness industry.
Here are some ideas, from lower key to turbocharged.
The language of dance
If you like the idea of exercising both mind and body, try double-dipping.
GoLearnTo wants to fill your dance card with group trips that combine learning Spanish with some moves. Options include Spanish and Argentine tango or salsa lessons in Buenos Aires; salsa or flamenco in Barcelona or on Costa de la Luz in Spain; and flamenco dance lessons, with Spanish, in Granada or Seville in Spain. There’s even a Latin dance option in the Dominican Republic’s Puerto Plata. Prices range from $330 to $450 for a week.
If you don’t have rhythm but you can put one foot in front of the other, check out a small-group offering from Responsible Travel that combines daily Spanish classes with three to five hours of walking a day — thankfully not at the same time. The setting is a language school situated at the gateway to the Picos de Europa National Park on the northern route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Prices start at $492 for a week.
Farther north, the Deutsch Institut Tirol in Kitzbuhel, an Austrian alpine resort, combines German classes with a variety of outdoor activities. From October to April, students can ski or snowboard. Otherwise, they can choose among hiking, golf, tennis and horseback riding. Prices start at $570 for a week.
On these active outings, animals will sometimes lighten your load and always join in the fun.
Wild Earth Llama Adventures in New Mexico offers custom-designed llama treks for all ages and fitness levels. Guides lead excursions in the wilderness areas of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Rio Grande Gorge, near Taos and Santa Fe. During multiday wilderness adventures (single-day outings are possible too), you’ll set up a base camp and go on day treks from there. Overnight treks cost $425; a four-nighter costs $1,025.
You might have heard how smart donkeys are. See for yourself with a weeklong family trip, offered by Responsible Travel, spent in the company of a friendly donkey that will set a casual pace as you make your way along the Rhone Valley. Prices start at $500 a person for a one-week tour.
Also from Responsible Travel, visitors can spend a week at a husky farm or a nearby lakeside hotel and go on guided husky trekking tours outside of Kuhmo, Finland. Walking with huskies is much more physically demanding than your average walk to the dog park, as the dogs are "eager to study their surroundings," according to trip details. The provided shock-absorbing leash should help. Prices start at $1,669.
A "grand" adventure
These spirited outings are especially for grandparents and grandchildren, so leave the parents at home.
Forge a bond with your grandchildren (7 or older) on an easy backpacking trip offered in July by Sierra Club Outings. The six-day trip in California’s Tahoe National Forest starts and ends in a lodge, and includes a hike to Peter Grubb Hut, the base camp for further explorations, as well as hiking to the top of a mountain and swimming in a pristine lake. The cost is $745 for adults and $645 for children.
Share your love of active learning with the grandkids (ages 10 to 12) in Road Scholar’s exploration of forests and waterways in Wisconsin. You’ll all learn to canoe in aquatic ecosystems, hike into the forested landscape, build a fire and orient yourself with a map and compass. Other activities include studying the world of raptors and making a leaf-printed T-shirt. Six-day trips start at $649 for adults and $499 for children.
Feel the burn
If you need an incentive to go to your workout classes, it helps when they’re just outside your tropical getaway.
In Delray Beach, Vita Boot Camp is conducted monthly at Vita Vie Retreat, a boutique fitness program at Seagate Hotel & Spa on the Atlantic Ocean. The classes, five hours a day, include beach boot camp, sports conditioning, core conditioning, balance training, Pilates, ballet tone, dynamic stretching and yoga. Instructors use the beach, local parks, an outdoor patio and an indoor studio. All-inclusive stays run three to six nights and range from $1,590 for three nights to $2,790 for six nights (not including single supplement).
At BodyHoliday, an all-inclusive resort on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, you might be on holiday, but your muscles will be on overtime.
There’s an activity for every interest, including yoga, sailing, hiking and biking as well as several overall categories, such as sports or fitness. In the fitness track, for instance, you can choose group classes (cardiovascular, dance, holistic exercise); walk or jog the mile-long Wellfit Trail, which meanders across beaches and up into the hills; receive personal fitness training; or participate in the "quadrathlon."
That weekly challenge begins with an 8-mile mountain bike ride on a dirt track that crisscrosses the island, switches to a 2.5-mile run to a cliff, then a 100-foot rappel down the rock face to the beach below, and continues with a 1.5-mile kayak course along the north coast, where the circuit ends at the resort’s shore. Rooms from $550 per person.
Some fitness-focused travelers are taking things to another extreme, physically and fiscally.
One example is "Get Lost," customized excursions from Britain-based luxury travel company Black Tomato. Travelers choose the terrain — polar, jungle, desert, mountain or coastal — then are dropped into the ultimate test of survival (with some guidance along the way). Physical and mental preparation for the trips, which typically last about five nights and start at $20,000 per person, begin six months in advance. According to the trip description, "By starting with the feeling of being genuinely lost, you will set out (under the distant watch of a dedicated support team) to find your inner steel, beliefs and passion to lead yourself to their journey’s end."
Diane Daniel is a writer based in the Netherlands. Her website is bydianedaniel.com.