Written on August 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm , by Katie Maguire
Oh, summer camp. The words alone instantly bring to mind nostalgic memories of swimming in lakes, late-night campfires filled with s’mores and wonderful friendships that last a lifetime. In a world that constantly has us glued to our devices and planning every second of our time, wouldn’t it be nice to retreat to the simple days of camp? Just unplug and relax for a weekend free of technology, responsibilities and the nonstop bustling of life? Soul Camp is the answer we’ve been looking for!
Taking place from September 4-7th, Soul Camp is a 3-night adult sleepaway camp that allows you to hit your reset button and reconnect with nature. The team behind the camp promises that you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated, renewed and inspired to make your everyday life the one you’ve always dreamed of.
Each ticket includes 3 meals per day from an organic menu (with vegan and gluten-free options), as well as all daily activities with approximately 300 other campers, like yoga, boating, nature walks, aerobic classes, organic farming, arts & crafts and more.
Plus, as a special treat, the women behind the weekend are offering all Fitness readers $100 dollars off ticket price if you enter the code SOULFULSUMMER at checkout! Go to www.soulcamp2014.com for more info and to reserve your spot. Ticket sales end on August 25th, so get them quick! But really, what are you waiting for?
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Written on August 5, 2014 at 11:12 am , by Lisa Haney
Looking for your next active vacation? Check out The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which opened in December 2013. FITNESS recently visited the gorgeous oceanfront retreat for a long weekend. Here are the highlights from our fit trip:
In-Room Workout Gear Delivery*
Go on, pack all those extra bikini and sandal options—you can leave your workout gear at home. We’re not telling you to ditch your regular exercise routine—instead, reserve a pair of New Balance running shoes, socks, shorts and a shirt (all in your size) to be delivered to your room to use during your stay. Not going to lie, we thought wearing borrowed shoes would be weird. But our pair of Barringer 890s, a neutral cushioning shoe, arrived nearly brand new, yet broken-in enough that we didn’t get blisters when we laced up for several 3-mile runs. Plus, the new socks eliminated the ick factor. (WestinWORKOUT Gear Lending Program with New Balance, $5.)
A Personal Running Coach
We were lucky to run with Chris Heuisler, the RunWESTIN Concierge (best job ever?). Unfortunately, he’s not based at the resort. But you can go for a warm-up run with him and get his pre-race advice if you book the Westin VIP Marathon Package to stay at the hotel when you run any Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. Other perks include: speedy bib pickup, race day grab-and-go breakfast for two and in-room ice delivery post-race. (Deets and booking at runwestin.com. Follow Chris @RunWestin)
Ready-to-Go Running Routes*
Westin provides a pocket-sized map with 3- and 5-mile loops (created by employee runners) from the hotel, making it easy to get out and go without worrying about getting lost. The course took us through the surrounding tony resort community—where we did some serious real estate window shopping—and it was easy to veer off for a run on the beach.
Ocean Paddleboarding and Lagoon Swimming
SUP, people! The Paddle Surf Eco Tour, which begins on the beach right next to the Westin, is the perfect fit-vacation excursion. You hop on a stand-up paddleboard and cruise in the ocean along the coast of the resort, stop at a private white sand beach for fresh coconut water (super fresh: your guide cracks open a coconut with a machete), then hike through a rainforest to take a dip in an amazing lagoon.
Speaking of fresh coconut: They use made-daily coconut oil in the Punta Cana Signature full-body massage at the nearby Six Senses Spa. Book it for a relaxing end to a sporty day.
Healthy, Delicious Eats*
It’s refreshing to have plenty of healthy options when traveling and Westin includes SuperFoodsRx options—nutrient-packed, low-calorie dishes designed by doctors and nutritionists—on their menus at restaurants Anani and the beachside Brassa Grill & Bar. Try the crab cakes, cilantro lime shrimp salad and the Puntacana salad, made with arugula and other organic veggies grown at the resort’s ecological foundation. We also loved the berry yogurt parfait for a quick in-room pre-workout breakfast. Check out other great nearby restaurants, all waterfront: The Grill (our favorite for lunch), La Yola and Playa Blanca.
Not that into paddleboarding? There are plenty of other ways to play: kite boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, horseback riding, tennis, golf and Segway tours. Of course, there’s ample opportunity for beach/pool lounging and umbrella drinks.
(*Available at all Westin hotels.)
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Written on July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am , by FITNESS Editors
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
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Written on June 25, 2014 at 11:21 am , by Bethany Cianciolo
Living in NYC, it’s pretty safe to say that most people (at least the ones that work at FITNESS) would prefer to take a breezy bike ride to work any day over a crowded, sweaty subway commute. And because we know you love jumping at every opportunity to get your heart pumping and sweat glands going, we figured you’d get just as excited as we are about this cool program.
Element Hotels is launching its third annual Pledge to Pedal initiative, which encourages participants to ride his or her bike one day each week instead of driving a car. The bonus? Element will give away a custom-made Mott Street Cycles bicycle (hello, dream bike!) every week for 10 weeks. Yes, you read that right—a new bike will be given out EVERY WEEK.
How do you enter to win? Simply head to Element Hotels’ Facebook page, sign up on the “Pledge to Pedal” tab by August 27th, and get pedaling. That’s it!
What we love most about this initiative—you don’t have to be a guest at any Element Hotel, or live in a certain city, to join in. To us, that’s a rad testament to the company and their dedication to helping people stay healthy all summer. But if you do happen to be traveling—and stay at an Element Hotel—you’ll find an array of Mott Street bikes in the lobby ready for you to use. Fit vacations? We’re in.
Photo courtesy of Element Hotel
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Written on June 23, 2014 at 10:44 am , by Samantha Shelton
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.
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Written on June 3, 2014 at 11:24 am , by FITNESS Editors
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!
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Written on May 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm , by FITNESS Editors
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.
Written on January 17, 2014 at 9:10 am , by FITNESS Editors
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.
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?
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