Losing weight, as we all know, is one of the hardest, most unpleasant things anyone can do. But if you're going to do it--or if you're simply trying to kick-start a fitness regimen--why not do it in paradise? Whether you're looking for a hardcore, boot camp type experience or a program that will teach you about long-term weight loss, there's something for everyone. Here are seven of our favorite places to work out in paradise.
If you think it's impossible to hike five hours in the morning, lift weights and do yoga for three hours in the afternoon, subsist on 1,500 calories of raw, organic food and no caffeine—guess again. Not only will you leave the two-year-old Ranch at Live Oak feeling stronger, tighter, firmer and more energized, but you'll be amazed at what you and 15 of your new best friends can accomplish. Sure, the no-options fitness program is a little intimidating (yes: the trainers will track you down if you miss a class), but by the end of seven days you, and your waistline, will thank them. Trust us. (And the daily massages are truly a blessing.) Cost: $5,600 per week, per person. Call 888-777-2177.
Canyon Ranch is renowned for its food, fitness offerings and out-of-the-box spa treatments (Watsu, anyone?), but it also has terrific weight loss programs at its three locations in Tucson, Miami and Lenox, Mass.
The seven-day Tucson program runs through June 15 and costs $6,960 per person for seven-nights. While that's just for adults, the resort is offering a specialized program for teens (ages 14 to 17) and their families from July 7 to 14. The one-week program teaches participants not only the fundamentals of reaching - and maintaining - a healthy weight, but strategies for building support systems, fostering open communication and promoting self-esteem. Best of all: Many sessions are separate, so teens can vent about their parents (and parents about their kids) with like-minded individuals who get it. Call 800-742-9000.
Rancho La Puerta, the beloved fitness resort and spa right over the Mexican border in Tecate, Baja California, has just launched its new wellness and fitness program, A Lighter You, for guests who want to jumpstart a weight-loss program during their one-week stay. The program includes a private 50-minute nutrition consultation; a private 50-minute diet analysis; tips on nutrition and low-calorie cooking; a 30-minute cleansing seaweed or herbal wrap; and, of course, fitness classes, strength training and guided hikes.
Rates for the Ranch vary depending on the type of room and time of year. The standard weight-loss package is $300 extra per person, and includes two weeks of staff nutritionist follow-up; the Deluxe Package costs $500 per person and includes six weeks of follow-up and a private personal trainer consultation. Call 800-443-7565.
Where do stars like Jessica Biel, Angela Basset, Chris Daughtry and Bette Midler go to kick some serious butt? To L.I.F.E, a fitness resorts cum boot camp in Laguna Beach.
Located at the swanky the Montage Laguna Beach, high on a cliff overlooking the Pacific, the program offers everything from Body Age testing to life coaching to "golf fitness" classes. While the California program is in the middle of a hotel, the South Carolina location is a little more secluded (translation: you won't have the opportunity to order room service). Prices vary; call 877-602-4863.
If you're more of an Individualist, check out "Surrender" at Spa Montage, a customized program tailored to individual guests' needs. That includes: fitness classes, nutrition, spa treatments, along with coaching about your life goals.
"Proper diet, exercise and bodywork go hand in hand to create a healthy person; all of our departments work closely to create a unique opportunity for our guests," said assistant spa director Michael Conte. "When someone chooses to 'Surrender' to us, we have the ability to find out more about the guest's lifestyle and what they need to help them achieve their goals."
Guests can stay for as little as one day or as long as three months (or more!), and can participate in whatever fitness workshops are available. Next up: The first mind-body yoga series; prices range depending on length of stay; call 949-715-6010.
No, Jillian Michaels doesn't terrorize guests at the Biggest Loser resort, but don't worry--the staff trainers can be just as tough as the noted celebrity trainer.
The average day consists of at least six hours of exercise, which includes hiking in majestic landscapes to swimming, kickboxing, and mat Pilates. There are 20 different classes offered on the rotating schedule.
The low-fat, low-calorie meals hover around 1500 calories per day. You also have access to a registered dietician and licensed counselor, along with treatments like massage and facials. Prices vary, but average around $2,500 a week. The best place to get the complete rates is to call 877-825-8878.
See the world! Commune with nature! Get in shape! The beauty of these one- or two-week programs is that you're hiking amid some of the most magnificent landscapes in the country--the Great Smokies, Big Bend, Mt. Rushmore, Joshua Tree National Park. You're also eating healthy food (which you carry yourself); at night you either camp out in a tent or stay in a hostel. And don't worry that you'll lag behind; each trip is geared toward a particular fitness level (easy, moderate, challenging), and the guides are happy to go at your pace. Prices start around $1,000, depending on length of the trip. Call 781-773-1115.