By Emma Stessman
This time of year, booking a solo getaway might feel like the self-care you desperately need.
Unfortunately, vacations often come with their own kind of stress—hours on the internet comparing hotel reviews and rates probably isn’t on your dream vacay agenda. And vacation indulgence (Abandon your workout routine! Spend hours at the swim-up bar!) can lead to post-trip sluggishness rather than that refreshed feeling you were looking for.
Could a group fitness retreat be the answer?
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“We see guests who come [on our fitness retreats] for three main reasons,” says Stacy Schwartz, the founder and CEO of Ketanga Fitness, one of the many fitness retreat companies that have been popping up across the wellness world (literally). “One, to maintain their active lifestyle while seeing new parts of the world. Two, to meet like-minded people who enjoy the same activities, and three, to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle or a new fitness routine or take theirs to the next level.”
Intrigued? Not all retreats are created equal, so we had Schwartz break down everything you need to know before you book a ticket to relax, indulge, and, of course, take daily workout classes with your toes in the sand.
Fitness Retreat Facts
1. There are endless options to choose from
When you think “fitness retreat,” you likely imagine sunset yoga on a quiet beach. Plenty of those exist, but there are also many different approaches depending on what you’re looking for. Maybe you’d like to bike and hike through the Dolomites with DuVine, for example? Or get fully immersed in local culture, like salsa dancing lessons in Cartagena with Escape to Shape? In addition to beachy retreats to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Ketanga offers a trip that involves horseback riding through Ireland and a cannabis-centered yoga retreat in Colorado.
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With so many options, how do you pick the right one? “When looking for a retreat that’s right for you, it is important to know what you personally want to get out of it,” Schwartz says. If you’re looking for a full wellness reset, you might want to pick one that’s all-fitness-all-the-time. Or, if you just need some TLC, you might try a relaxation-centered retreat. Look closely at the itinerary and trip description before you book, so you know you’re getting the exact activities and balance of fitness-to-relaxation you want.
2. You can meet your new wellness BFFs
“The common passions of working out, trying new things, and meeting new people brings everyone together,” Schwartz says. Meaning, you’ll meet a ton of different people––Schwartz says most people actually come alone––and you’ll all have at least one thing in common, which makes for a pretty cool experience. “It may sound cheesy,” she says, “but the relationships made on these retreats are different, stronger, and uniquely bonded.” If you’re especially excited about socializing and want to meet some people with common interests, some companies offer niche retreats for specific groups of people. Ketanga, for example, offers female-only and LGBTQ trips.
3. The trips include a lot… but not everything
Vacations can be pricey, so it’s not surprising that one that’s packed full of planned activities can be a hard on your wallet. The price for most trips includes things like the hotel, breakfast each morning, a ton of cool activities and workouts, and a couple of dinners. Most companies don’t include flights in their packages, so that’s an additional expense to consider when booking. Read the fine print so there are no surprises in terms of additional things you have to pay for.
4. You can still go solo
If you’re someone who really doesn’t like structure on vacation at all, a retreat is probably not for you. However, if you if you like having everything scheduled out but are concerned about getting time to yourself, know that once you’re there, nothing is mandatory.
Many trips include scheduled downtime during each day where you can explore the area solo (or with your new pals). And though you probably won’t want to skip an energizing morning workout or snorkeling off a catamaran in Costa Rica, you’re free to opt out of any the planned activities. So, if you’re super sore from the morning workout, feel free to skip the later one and go get a massage (or a drink!)… it is a vacation after all.