In early December of 2010, I said goodbye to blustery New York City for 4 days of intense boot camp training in a gorgeous beach setting at St. Pete Beach, Florida. Dubbed a "boutique boot camp vacation" by owner Maria Walker, this 5-day, 4-night Getaway Fitness trip proved the perfect distraction to a busy holiday season.
My goal for this trip was to lose 5 pounds, meet some interesting people and get in some beach time. Mother Nature had other plans for us, but we'll get to that in a bit.
What to Expect From a Fitness VacationFitness vacations are almost always located in some fantastic exotic locale such as Escape to Shape's Bali vacation or Bikini Boot Camp in Tulum, Mexico. You can also get in shape at destination fitness resort like Rancho La Puerta.
What attracted me to Getaway Fitness was the ease of travel. No passport or 2-hour bus ride needed, I just hopped on a plane at JFK and in a few hours I was at Don Cesar Beach Resort where Getaway Fitness holds its Florida program (there's also a California option).
These fitness getaways are usually all-inclusive. I got a basic room at the Don Cesar for 4 nights with a super-comfortable king bed, 3 meals a day (all healthy) and access to the Don Cesar's many amenities.
You can expect to exercise for about 5 hours a day at Getaway Fitness with breaks for breakfast. Your afternoons and evenings are free for beach-time, relaxing by the pool or time in the spa. You can also explore the surrounding area if you have a car, but there's really no reason to leave the resort.
A Typical Day at Getaway FitnessOur first day the group met at 7 a.m. in the resort's cafe. Here, we learned there would be 5 of us attending the program, led each day by a different personal trainer. The program keeps the group size to under 10 which is great value because smaller groups mean more one-on-one personal attention. I was told on occasion there has been only one participant, which they loved because they got individualized attention.
Each morning, we were expected to drink a protein shake we got in a care package upon our arrival to the resort. These shakes had enough calories to help us power through an intensive morning workout, which began at 7:30 on the beach. We started the day with an hour-long boot camp. Each day's boot camps were different, but usually involved several series of minute-long exercises. We did cardio, lots of walking push-ups, a few crunches and many exercises involving weight balls and bands. Some exercises were fun. Others elicited groans.
Note: Getaway Fitness designs workouts for hardcore fitness enthusiasts as well as newbies. You can take breaks anytime without affecting someone who's in better shape than you.
After boot camp, we walked and/or ran 4 to 5 miles along the beach. Running on the beach was a blast. I listened to a playlist I created for runs, but the third day was brutal because the tide was in and it was windy. Running on soft sand into headlong winds is hard work.
Breakfast followed the beach exercise. Getaway Fitness has special healthy menus participants dine off of. Each morning, I had oatmeal, but there were other healthy options including egg-white omelettes, which everyone said were delicious. During breakfast, we usually had a nutritional informational led by the personal trainer.
Every day, we left the resort for off-campus fitness after breakfast. One day we kayaked, another day we biked in downtown St. Petersburg. Yet another day we traveled an hour away to Tampa Bay for an afternoon of rock climbing in a gym. After these (usually) outdoor activities, we went to a gym in St. Petersburg for an hour of weight-training, after which we were released at 2:30 p.m. for lunch and to enjoy our day.
Hotel AmenitiesThe week I attended Getaway Fitness's program was atypical for Florida. Temperatures averaged in the 50s for much of my stay, with about one day in the low 70s. Our last evening, hurricane-like gales lashed at the beach and the resort. Because of the bad weather, there weren't many vacationers at the resort, which is not typical for the Don Cesar, according to staff members who told us the hotel has hosted many famous people.
Because of the bad weather, we couldn't take advantage of the beach or the hotel's heated pools. Instead, my new friends and I indulged in the Don Cesar's amazing restaurants, in particular the newly renovated Maritana Grill, which rivaled any of the top NYC restaurants I've been to.
Our group also flocked to the resort's luxurious Spa Oceana where we enjoyed massages, facials and the spa's hot tubs and saunas. If you book a Getaway Fitness vacation, I strongly recommend the Spa Oceana. Book your visit for after 4 p.m., keeping in mind the spa closes at 6 (a shame). Arrive at least 45 minutes before your appointed session so you can soak in the hot tub. The hot stone massage I had was the best one I've had. And I'm a beauty editor.
Getaway Fitness's rates (see them here) amounted to about $570 a night for solo travelers or about $470 per person/per night for double occupancy, which is excellent considering you're getting personal training several hours a day in a luxury vacation spot with gourmet meals every day. My New York City personal trainer is $100 for an hour-long session so for me, this was good value.
Would I Do It Again?I can't wait to go again, although I'd prefer to attend in the months where Florida's weather is warmer. March, April, May are prime months, although December is usually nice. I'd also bring a friend along to keep me company in the evenings.
As for my weight loss goal, I hit it within a week of my return home!
Getaway Fitness Vacations in Florida and California
Phone: (866) 629-0555
Web site: Getaway Fitness Vacations