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Active Vacations Fit For Summer

Written on July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am , by

In our July/August issue (get your copy now!), we highlight TWENTY totally awesome destinations that push you out of your comfort zone (where all the magic happens, obviously) while you explore beautiful locales. But in the end, we decided 20 options just wasn’t enough…25 sounds way better. So we present you with five more amazing trips to try. Go on, girl, start packing!

Run Wild’s Run Your Way to Optimal Health Retreat

Improve your trail running technique with this long weekend training workshop in the Colorado Rockies. From presentations on form, efficiency and stretching to cooking demos, this trip is the full package for boosting your overall performance. (July 17-20 or any time June to October, $697; shorter stays for $397 in Carbondale-Aspen, Colorado; runwildretreats.com)

The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu’s 4.0

Rev your metabolism with a four-day healthy lifestyle immersion program. You’ll jumpstart your routine with mountain hikes in the morning, afternoon exercise classes and vegetarian cooking demos come dinnertime—abs are made in the kitchen! (available year-round, $3,800; theranchmalibu.com)

Carmel Valley Ranch

Find something for everyone here—including glow-in-the-dark night golf!—like sunset hikes, private outdoor bootcamp, yoga, Pilates, indoor cycling or TRX suspension training to get your rear in gear. Enjoy cooking and wine classes in the evening. (activities offered year-round, prices vary; carmelvalleyranch.com)

The California Coast Classic Bike Tour

Coast for a cause: take an eight-day, 525-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to benefit the Arthritis Foundation (the number one fundraising event for the cause!). The full-service ride is a great way for beginners and experienced cyclists alike to enjoy the coastline’s famous wineries, lighthouses and beaches—while raising funds to find a cure. Bonus: overnight you’ll camp out between stops and guides will drive your gear from one location to the next. (September 13-20, $125 registration fee, plus $3,100 fundraising minimum; californiacoastclassic.org)

Big Cedar Lake Lodge’s “Catch A Cowboy”

Saddle up! Horseback ride, fish and embrace your inner Katniss with archery lessons in Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Missouri. Big Cedar’s endless land and aquatic activities will have you loving every second you’re outdoors. (Available year-round, $1,358/2-night stay or $1663/3-night stay; bigcedar.com)

Photo by Tim Soter

More from FITNESS: 

The Fit Girl’s Getaway Guide

Best Road Trip Ever: Vacations Across the U.S. 

Fit Destinations Editors Love 

Tara Stiles Wants To Bring Your Yoga Game to Bali

Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:44 am , by

I know it’s a busy day, but you’re already checking this out, so do me a favor: close your eyes.

Did you do it?

OK, do it again, but this time take a deep breath and imagine you’re standing on a quiet beach at sunrise, feeling the cool sand between your toes and hearing the gentle lapping of the waves nearby. You’re wearing the cutest workout gear (obviously) and ready to take your yoga practice to the next level. Oh, and here comes Tara Stiles, world-renowned yoga instructor (and super cute to boot), ready to help you conquer that one pose you’ve been struggling with all year.

Sounds pretty marvelous, right? Now, I’m not the type to give you all these good ideas without also providing a chance for you to make all of it a reality. Enter Stiles’ partnership with W Hotels, and their #PoseWhenever contest.

With little to no time to ourselves these days, it feels like a miracle if we squeeze in a workout at all, especially when traveling and feeling all sorts of jet-lagged—and “rebel” yogi Stiles gets that. She even has a pose for that, actually. So she teamed up with W Hotels—where she often stays when globe-trotting herself—to create FIT with Tara Stiles, an in-room program with a video and tip cards that you can practice whenever, wherever. And when I say wherever, I mean it—girl has ideas for getting bendy in the bathtub! Basically, making your health a priority, even if only for a few minutes, is easier than ever.

Now, back to this yoga on the beach scenario. You want in, don’t you? All you have to do is log onto Instagram and start showing off. Simply upload your best poses and use the #posewhenever hashtag and you’re automatically entered to win a trip for two to Bali, where you’ll stay at the W Retreat and Spa for 3 nights, and flow through a session with Stiles. But hurry, you only have until July 2nd to impress Stiles and those W Hotels judges. As a yogi-in-the-making, I’ll be checking out the hashtag for some serious fitspo, and I may even enter a few ‘grams myself.

More from FITNESS:

Win a Trip to Punta Cana – On Us!

Take the #VersaChallenge—and Win a $5,000 Shopping Spree!

Yoga for Beginners

A Golfer’s Paradise: Vacationing on Amelia Island

Written on June 3, 2014 at 11:24 am , by

Written by Nichole D’Auria, art director

Nothing gives me greater hope than stepping onto a golf course and driving a ball 200 yards off the tee. Could this be the year I actually break 100? After suffering through what seemed to be the coldest winter on record, I was beginning to think I would never have the opportunity. Then, as luck would have it, the universe intervened and I was invited to spend three magnificent, sun-filled days at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort on the north coast of Florida.

From the moment I walked through the expansive lobby doors and past the two infinity pools, my eyes were set on the sand…the sand trap, that is. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A golf course on the beach? Was this heaven? After I made my way to my oceanfront room (all accommodations provide a view of the Atlantic), I knew I was in for a treat.

If you like adventure like I do, the Omni has a number of excellent options. With more than 1,350 acres, three world-class championship golf courses (which are so good that the Golf Channel’s popular Big Break reality TV series is filmed there), and an impressive tennis facility, guests can enjoy a wide variety of leisure activities, including kayaking, paddle boarding, horseback riding, sailing and swimming. I should know—I tried almost all of them. The resort also offers seven miles of oak-lined canopy trails to tempt joggers, hikers and cyclists alike. I tackled the trails on a Segway, which was both fun and hilarious.

I left Amelia Island happy, relaxed and reenergized, but wishing I could stay longer. There was still another golf game to play, a kayak to paddle, a restaurant to sample. I vowed to go back. Honestly, how many vacation spots can motivate and inspire you to look better, feel better and be better, all while enveloping you in a spa-like atmosphere? And hey, I still need another day—or three or four—on the golf course to finally break 100!

More from FITNESS: 

 Florida’s Best Kept Secret: Port Saint Joe

Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Exploring Aruba

Florida’s Best Kept Secret: Port Saint Joe

Written on May 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm , by

Written by Karina Dearwood, associate photo editor 

Out on the Florida Panhandle, about an hour east of Panama City, lies Port Saint Joe. The quaint Gulf County beach town offers a boatload of fun all in one spot—perfect for a fit gal! Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to visit the hidden gem for a few days and naturally fell in love with the laid-back vibe, active lifestyle and finger-licking good food. Here’s why you should add Port Saint Joe to your “To Travel” list:

To start, Gulf County has the charm and flair of the south—in the best possible way. The food is fantastic (po’ boys, hush puppies, sweet tea, the works!) and the people are beyond friendly (Now I forget this, being a New Yorker and all, but people outside of the concrete jungle actually wave and say hello to strangers). The fact that residents are also deeply rooted to the area, whether they are recent transplants or have been fishing there for generations, makes you feel all the more welcome.

To kick off my trip, I headed out on a pontoon boat through Saint Joseph’s Bay, up to the Intercoastal, where my fellow travelers and I learned about how the area is the world’s foremost supplier of Tupelo honey. We got a tour of a Donnie’s Bees, a small honey producing facility—did you know that even in this day and age, honey can only be cultivated by humans and not machines? Crazy! Donnie put us to work feeding the honeycomb through the machine, but we were rewarded with our own jar. I’ve been swirling mine into my tea ever since!

We then hopped back on our boat for an excursion through the Dead Lakes, which were formed years ago when sandbars blocked the Chipola River. A resulting flood killed thousands of trees, leaving eerie-looking stumps popping out across the lake. Add some fog to that scene because of some rainy weather? A perfect, tranquil spot. We had a fantastic guide, Matt Godwin from Off the Map Expeditions, who navigated the strangely beautiful maze with ease. 

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Telluride, Colorado: The Vacation Spot Perfect for Snow Bunnies

Written on March 13, 2014 at 1:42 pm , by

I felt like I was home the second I touched down in Colorado’s tiny Montrose Airport two weeks ago. The sun tickled my pasty skin as I  bounded off of my puddle jumper plane with a list of to-dos a mile long—pee, claim baggage, find my shuttle, etc.—yet all of those thoughts and former stresses seemed to disappear in thin air (literally, hello altitude) when I laid eyes on the snowcapped mountain skyline. Holy snowplow. I could get used to this.

As a self-proclaimed “summer girl” who finds winter’s only redeeming quality to be powder-packed slopes, it has been a dream of mine for far too long to experience trails (both “groomies” and glades) out West. So when I was invited on a trip to Telluride, I felt like a kid in Toys-R-Us the week before Christmas—wide-eyed, jaw ajar the entire five days I spent gallivanting about. But is the skiing really that much better than the Northeast? Like, worth the extra travel and lugging of clunky equipment? Abso-freaking-lutely. The conditions rocked the socks off my go-to stomping grounds (while lacking that bone-gnawing bitter cold us Northerners are all accustomed to), and the town itself had the local charm a city dweller craves…without sacrificing cell service. From backcountry hikes and wildlife tours to snowmobiling and gaga-worthy dining views, the destination is a fit gal’s heaven. And the food? I can’t even begin to explain the flavor explosion my taste buds experienced. It had the high-end Manhattan quality, touting a local farm-to-table flair. Insert your choice of an expletive adjective to describe the melt-in-your mouth pork belly.

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Have You Joined #GetFitParty? You Could Win a Trip to Aruba!

Written on January 20, 2014 at 9:51 am , by

In the beginning of 2014, there are a lot of hopes and dreams. Not only about goals you want to accomplish (and will!), but about trips you want to take, places you’re eager to explore and adventures you’re excited to experience. If you’ve joined the #GetFitParty, you’re already well on your way to crushing those goals (one reader has already dropped 5 pounds!). If you haven’t joined, well, what are you waiting for?! Between the four-week workout plan that sheds unnecessary pounds off your figure, the “I refuse to starve or eat tasteless food” meals that energize your bod, and the digital support that’s waiting for you around every social media corner (with weekly prizes happening on Insta), there’s no reason to miss the fun. But if that’s still not enough, we have one more thing to entice you.

A four-night getaway – on us! – to Aruba, where you’ll stay at the swanky Hotel RIU Palace Aruba. Guys, I’ve seen this place up close and personal, and I can tell you one thing: it’s gorgeous. But that’s not all, of course. The winner of this trip gets to bring a date, and both of you will head off on a snorkel-and-sail excursion (I saw ship wrecks on mine!) and be treated to a blissful spa massage. Because every fit girl deserves a little down time to unwind and boost muscle recovery. And if that’s not enough for your adventurous selves, there’s plenty more to do – you can see our top recommendations here, but I love the idea of taking a jeep ride through the rugged Arikok National Park, swimming in Conchi, the Natural Pool or kayaking in the crystal-clear ocean waters.

After all that, we know you’re ready to get in on the action. So sign up for the Better Body plan here, which enters you to win this fabulous trip (or you could score a StairMaster!). And don’t forget to follow – and use – the #getfitparty hashtag online to keep you motivated on the journey of your “fit in ’14″ goals.

Get More #GetFitParty Action

Panama: Where You Can Play Hard, Day and Night

Written on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am , by

 

That’s me ziplining in the Anton Valley!

Written by Kathy Green, managing editor

It’s January and most of the U.S. is in a deep freeze.  What better time to plan a trip to somewhere warm!  How about Panama?  I was there recently as a guest of the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  The temperature was perfect (it’s always around 80 degrees) and their eco-tourism is growing.  There are lots of daily flights, which makes it an easy, sunny destination for a break from the cold.

Before this trip, my only association with Panama was the canal, but I discovered there is a lot to do there. My travel buddies and I drove for about 2 hours outside of Panama City to the Anton Valley—a rich rainforest that is a volcano crater.  We hiked into this beautiful park and then zip-lined over a tremendous waterfall called Charro el Macho.  I had never tried ziplining before, and soaring through the lush canopy was truly a special experience.

After ziplining, it unfortunately started to pour, but that didn’t stop us from ATVing around the hillsides of the valley.  Even in the rain, we had a great time.

We also discovered the Soberania National Park, just 20 minutes outside of Panama City. A rainforest this rich with wildlife so close to civilization is a true find.  When we entered the park, the guide told us we’d possibly see monkeys, kinkajous and an abundance of birds and plant-life. Soberania delivered on beauty and rainforest magic­­­­—just as we started off on our three-hour hike, we found a sloth high up in a tree relaxing in the sun.

My friend Jennifer and I ATVing in the rain!

An added perk from Soberania? Driving right by the Panama Canal to get there and back from Panama City.  So even though we didn’t have time to take a tour, we did stop and take pictures of ships going through the locks.

So if you like to party as much as you like to hike, the perfect place to stay in Panama City is the new Hard Rock Hotel Panama Megapolis.  It’s located right near the harbor and attached to a large shopping mall filled with stores such as Diesel and Nike (shopping and partying—what’s not to like?!). I stayed in a beautiful suite with a great view of the skyline and ships lined up to go through the canal. With no time for a pedicure before leaving New York City, hitting up the spa (at a reasonable price) was the perfect prep for the Hard Rock night scene.

The hotel is full of incredible rock n’ roll memorabilia and it has the greatest room service offer—you can get a Fender electric guitar or personal DJ box delivered so you can be a rock legend in your very own room. It is a party-hardy place with great restaurants (we ate in two of them–Soy and Tauro and the food was first-rate), bars (the roof bar has awesome views of the city) and a happening club called BLING—THE place to be seen in Panama City (Justin Bieber was hanging out there a couple of nights with his entourage). The DJ was exceptional, and my friends and I had a blast dancing into the wee hours of the morning. Calorie burning, right?

BLING, the trendiest club in Panama City

 

But if hiking isn’t your thing, and you’re not quite into the party scene, there are plenty of other things to satisfy your thirst for adventure in Panama. Try a visit to the Old City, bike along the Amador causeway or go to one of the great beaches on either the Caribbean or Pacific coasts.  Plus one essential perk: a Panama vacation can be reasonably priced. And we know that’s the real reason to start booking your next vacation.

Photos courtesy of Jim Raycroft

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Here’s Where to Go Warm Up

Written on December 9, 2013 at 9:32 am , by

Winter is my favorite time to get out of New York City. I can handle the scorching heat in the summer when every trip down into the subway feels like you might melt right there on the platform, but once the Starbucks Christmas cups come out (which oddly gets earlier and earlier every year) that’s my cue to book a vacation somewhere bright and sunny. If you feel similar, I’ve got just the place– The BodyHoliday LeSport in St. Lucia. Here’s why:

A bird’s-eye view of the resort.

It takes all-inclusive to a different level. I’ve been to my fair share of all-inclusive resorts, but The BodyHoliday LeSport really ups the ante. Staying at the resort gives you access not only to the gorgeous beach, restaurants and fruity cocktails galore, but you’ll also have free reign over exercise classes, water sports, guided hikes, bike tours, group runs and tons more on any given day. Upon check-in, you are actually given an activities booklet that lists everything going on day and night during your visit. Oh, and also included in the all-inclusive is a spa treatment of your choice. Every. Single. Day.

The Tree House, where cycling and group classes are held.

You can pick your own adventure.The BodyHoliday LeSport has an island motto. “Give us your body for a week, we’ll give you your mind.” Seems simple enough, right? This is the type of place where you can have a healthy getaway – from 6 a.m. yoga classes to afternoon paddleboarding – or not. You can snooze on the beach from sunrise to sunset and no intimidating boot camp instructor is going to come rip your towel up from under you to make you get to class. You can even tailor your vacation based on one of the resort’s specialty programs. I visited in October, during Octoba Yoga – so the activity roster was beefed up with different yoga and stretching classes. If yoga’s not your thing, though, check out the resort’s other monthly offerings, like a month focused on dancing and even a singles month – where single travelers are invited to stay for a lower rate to meet, mingle and melt!

The Zen Deck, where you can downward dog with the sunrise.

It’s OK to travel solo any time you want. While the resort does have a special promotional month for single travelers, you don’t have to wait until then to hop on a flight. As a single traveler myself, I found all of the activities totally fine for one person to do alone (without getting weird, sad stares) and at night a communal dining table was provided to eat with the fitness instructors (appropriately called Bodyguards) and resort staff so you wouldn’t have to dine solo. Plus, when you are surrounded by sun, sand and blue sparkly water, everyone always seems to be in a good mood.

There’s so much more the resort and the island has to offer (not surprisingly, it also made our list of Honeymoon Destinations for a Fit Vacation), so to start your own mind and body getaway check out www.thebodyholiday.com.

The Fit Girl’s Guide to Exploring Aruba

Written on September 16, 2013 at 11:14 am , by

This could be the view from your Aruban room.

Is it just me, or does it feel like now that summer is over, it’s time for another tropical vacation? If you’re in the market for a getaway, I have a great suggestion: Aruba. While I love lounging on the beach as much as the next girl, there comes a point in my trip when I feel the urge to get up and go. So, if you’re like me and need a healthy mix of active adventure sprinkled with total relaxation, then the One Happy Island is perfect for you to explore. Allow me to explain:

Beaches. Aruba’s got ‘em and they’re beautiful. The crystal-clear water is extremely inviting, and the temperature is perfect for swimming, snorkeling or a good ole’ splash fight with friends. The sand is pure white, and with more than 10 locations, there’s plenty to choose from if one spot is a bit too crowded for your liking. One warning, though: It’s windy in Aruba (making the high temps super comfortable). So if you’re a girl who prefers sun-bathing to water-splashing, I’d recommend lounging by the pool.

Water sports. This is the place to try it all and really test your limits. If you’re a beginner, try snorkeling or stand up paddleboarding. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, give wind- or kite-surfing a whirl. I hopped on a catamaran tour with friends, where we explored three different locations, including a ship wreck! And you have to be sure to try a unique water activity I had never heard of before: Snuba. A cross between snorkeling and scuba diving, this is for those who don’t have their scuba certification but still want to explore the depths of the ocean. The difference: instead of strapping a tank to your back, it stays above water so you can swim freely. Perfect compromise, right?

Guy-friendly adventures. If you’re bringing a special man along, most of the time they do a good job of relaxing on the beach beside you while sipping ice-cold beverages (I recommend tasting an Aruba Ariba, the island’s famous tropical cocktail). But if they’re being honest, most would rather explore in a more, er, rugged way. Enter ATV riding. The landscape in Aruba has turquoise waters colliding against desert-like terrain, giving you those Instagram-worthy views (#nofilterneeded) and him an adrenaline rush as you cruise over sand dunes, past cacti and through the rocky cliffs of Arikok National Park. And if that’s not quite your speed, you can hike or hop on a horse – you’ll still slowly walk along the beach for more of a romantic vibe, but there are plenty of trails that take you through the same rugged terrain as an ATV. Join a tour of more experienced riders and you won’t soon forget the feeling of moving along at a full gallop with ocean views to your left and rocky mountains to your right.

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Adventuring in North Carolina’s Crystal Coast

Written on July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am , by

Climbing to the top of Cape Lookout is roughly the equivalent of climbing to the top of a 12-story building!

In our July/August issue (on newsstands now!), we explored the best sporty activities in the top 10 most visited cities across the country. But that doesn’t mean others don’t have something fun to offer! After visiting North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, it’s safe to say there are plenty of fit activities to take advantage of if you’re looking for more than a “lay on the beach and drink all of the margaritas” type of getaway. Here, some of our personal faves:

Surfing. Hang ten in these waters and you can definitely call yourself a surfer. The waves vary from two- to three-feet high—perfect for beginners—and can get all the way up to 19-feet during a tropical storm (obviously better for those well-versed on the board). We loved our lessons from Mike over at Hot Wax Surf Shop, but if the adrenaline rush isn’t quite your style, they also offer more low-key stand-up paddleboarding (SUP).

Beach Running. Rent a house from Emerald Isle Realty and you’ll only have to take a few steps before you’re at the beach. Perfect for lounging and getting in a quality workout! We were hosted by the company in one of their beachfront homes, and had a personal walkway leading straight onto the beach—no crazy maneuvering required! Waking up to the sound of the ocean each morning had us leaping out of bed and lacing up the sneaks for a quiet, peaceful jog along the water before diving into the day. If your feet are ready for it, head closer to the water and forgo shoes for some barefoot running so you can really feel the sand beneath you (and burn up to 60 percent more calories!). Watch the sun fully rise post-run and indulge in a little seaside yoga for a true feeling of bliss.

Lighthouse Climbing. If you want to see the Southern Outer Banks from a higher perspective, head over to Cape Lookout National Seashore over on Harkers Island. Accessible by ferry, we suggest packing a picnic to enjoy by the water, then climbing the 207 steps to the top of the lighthouse! The breathtaking 360 views allow you to take in miles of uninhabited territory, except for the wild Spanish mustangs over on Shackleford Banks. The park is a sea turtle nesting area, too, so keep an eye out for hatching nests. Once you’re finished, ask the ferry driver to slowly bring you over to the Banks, where you can get a closer view of the elegant horses. If you’re extra lucky (like we were!), you may just get a little show from the wild dolphins while you zip back to land.

Sightseeing in Beaufort. A short drive away, this quaint little town is not only voted America’s Coolest Small Town, it’s also the famous location of Nicholas Sparks’  A Walk to Remember (and we know you’ve seen that movie!). Stroll the waterfront docks while the sailboats and yachts come in and out, spot the wild mustangs from across the water, or tour the historic area of town. Definitely a walkable town for those who love window shopping, this is a fun way to take in a cool movie location, soak in a little American history and log those 10,000 steps!

Now you tell us: What’s your favorite way to explore a new place while on vacation?