Monday, July 30, 2012

Top 10 Fit Vacations

by Jeremy Berger, Published July 22, 2012 on

For a number of reasons, vacations in which you get plastered in Las Vegas or eat your way through Paris are on the outs. We don't have time to come back and recover before hitting the bricks again. 

At the same time, there's something about continuing our regular exercise regimen while we're away that seems doltish. The alternative? A vacation that leaves your more fit than when you left. Here are 10 of them to get you started.

10. Spa Trip
A spa vacation may not sound like something that would lead to stories you can regale your buddies with when you return, and here's the thing: It's really not. Still, there are a lot of guy-oriented spas (or at least programs for guys) in really cool destinations that are well worth a trip. The benefit is that you'll get massages and skin treatments to fix a bit of the damage you inflict on your body sitting at a desk day in and day out. Even the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas has a spa designed for guys, which either means spas are gnarly or we've all gotten a little soft.

9. Yoga Retreat
We're arrived at a point where making fun of yoga actually isn’t fun. Elite athletes do it, beautiful women do it, and the health benefits are clear: increased strength, balance and better posture, flexibility and mental focus. That doesn't mean you've earned the right to wear yoga pants or ever mention “sun salutations” in a public setting. Also, a "Yogi" should only refer to a certain famous New York Yankee Hall of Famer -- and don’t forget it.

8. Fly Fishing
In the classic novella (and even better movie) A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean says, “In my family, there was no real difference between religion and fly fishing.” It's not our game to send a guy on a religious pilgrimage, but we do recommend setting out for a contemplative vacation with nothing but a few buddies, the fish, and the man upstairs. It's the ideal combination of sport and philosophy, one that's been legitimized by legends like Ernest Hemingway.

7. Kayak Tour
You remember the crew team in college: ripped, Nordic-looking guys all over six-feet tall. We can't help you with the height or ethnic origin thing, but kayaking for a week or two will add some definition to your upper body. It's a versatile sport with sessions ranging from navigating through extreme white-water rapids to more mellow cruises along rivers and coasts -- suitable for the adrenaline-minded or the low-key traveler alike.

6.  Boot Camp
We're talking about fitness boot camp here, a practical option for people looking to lose weight in a hurry. The combination of running with interval training and weights will get you ripped and encourage working a more serious exercise regimen into your daily routine. Plus, there's the added benefit of being with a group, which works well for people who need a little extra encouragement. The other option is actual military recruit training. It's not a vacation, but you'll definitely get fit.

5. Cycling
We’ve suggested biking to work instead of driving, and now we’re getting behind the sport as the ideal way to go on vacation and come back in better shape. The options are extensive: Elite cyclists can sign up for races around the world on some of the same tracks that pros ride, while more casual riders can bum around Bordeaux with a glass of red in hand.

Cycling is also something you’ll be able to do when you’re older and other sports like running and rock climbing become more taxing on your body. Let’s be honest, nobody stays in shape by playing golf alone.

4.  Camping
There are gradations of camping. Certainly, driving to a campsite and sleeping in a trailer fits in this category somewhere, but what we're talking about is a week-long grueling excursion into the mountains with supplies and shelter on your back. By the time you pack in food, gear and a tent, you'll be hauling about 40 pounds, which at the rate of over 10 miles per day, will add up to a significant workout -- not to mention the health benefits of being away from email and television for a week.

3. Surf Camp
Like the other vacations at the top of our list, surfing trips offer physical challenges that, at their best, can also bring some sense of existential clarity -- at least for a week or two. Physically, paddling, springing up and balancing amount to a complete workout, not to mention the mental-health benefits of hanging out in the ocean and on the beach with women in bikinis. We're pretty sure there's a study to support that.

2. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing ranks high on the list of fit vacations because it's one of the ultimate tests of mental and physical grit. It requires strength, creativity, concentration, and the ability to overcome some pretty basic human fears (like falling to your death). More experienced climbers with their own gear will likely plan out their own routes and trips, but there are also plenty of guided options for beginners climbing on both rocks and ice.

1. Outdoor Leadership
The best vacation for our buck is one that combines a physical challenge and self-improvement with adventure (the sum of which equals fun… sometimes). Outdoor leadership and survival skills courses tap into our desire to be self-sufficient, skills that have largely been replaced by technology in our highly connected, overly comfortable lives. Spending a vacation (or longer) learning about mountaineering, wilderness medicine or caving will leave you more physically and mentally fit than the average beach vacation will.


Cheers Eights & Weights!

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