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Vacations with fitness built in.

Since 1988, Wechsler and her staff have challenged guests with week-long programs of hikes and exercise in the outdoors. The regimen is tough, the accommodations are plush, and the food is sybaritic, albeit healthily so. And the scenery--Montana, Maui, or Utah's Zion National Park--can make toning those quadriceps seem almost inspirational.

MountainFit and other adventure fitness programs are a new wrinkle--no, make that new muscle--in the fitness world. They're smaller and more tightly focused than full-scale spas like California's Golden Door, Arizona's Canyon Ranch, or Colorado's Aspen Club. Unlike Outward Bound and other hard-core outdoor training programs, they give you gourmet meals and a comfortable bed.

Though a well-run program will ascertain that you are fit enough to take part, you don't have to be a park ranger or a triathlete. Guests have included outdoor novices and fit 70-year-olds. But the programs are definitely not for vacationers whose idea of holiday exercise is lifting a hand to signal for another mai tai.

"It's the greatest

feeling of

accomplishment"

A typical day at Mountain-Fit's Maui center begins with an hour of yoga. After break-fast you embark on your hike, which can range from 5 to 15 miles and will take in such terrain as Mount Haleakala and the Hana coast.

With the high staff-to-guest ratio and small group size (12 is average), each participant gets lots of individual attention and encouragement. After-hike hours may be used for swimming and snorkeling, evenings for relaxing at the program's Kihei Lodge.

Other programs are similar. At Arizona's Sedona Challenge (one of three programs available through The Challenges, based in Glendale, Arizona), guests toughen legs and lungs in surrounding red rock canyons, but can also gallery-hop and hot-air balloon. At Mountain Trek in British Columbia, hikes are combined with weight training and low-impact aerobics.

Sna Jose, California, executive Dan Callahan has joined MountainFit programs in Montana two years in a row. "I'm 41, and was not a hiker," he says. "The first day, a couple of people in our group said, 'There's no way we can do this.' By the end of the week they were climbing a 10,000-foot peak with ease. It's the greatest feeling of accomplishment."

Many enthusiasts find the combination of scenery and exertion ideal. Travel agent Judi Davison of Lafayette, California, says of her week at Mountain Trek: "The combination of the mountains, the lakes, the hikes, and the yoga makes each day feel like a spiritual experience."

Says Dan Callahan, "I never realized that walking and hiking could be that emotionally rewarding. It's truly the first vacation I've ever taken where I really felt I had been on vacation."

Fitness vacations

across the west

Fitness adventure vacations aren't cheap. Costs range from $1,200 to $2,100 per week. They're not for loners--you're with the group almost all the time. The focus is clearly on hiking; if you're more interested in other sports or in programs like nutritional counseling, you may be better off at a larger spa.

Bringing children is not encouraged; nor, generally, is the use of alcohol or tobacco.

The following Western programs offer the most focused adventure fitness vacations.

The Challenges, Box 5489, Glendale, Ariz. 85312; (800) 448-9816. Locations in Sedona, Arizona; Maui; Mount Shasta, California. Cost: $1,300 to $1,700 per week.

MountainFit, Fifth Floor, 633 Battery St., San Francisco 94111; (800) 926-5700. Locations in Maui, Utah, Montana. Cost: $1,750 to $2,100 per week.

Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa, Box 1352, Ainsworth Hot Springs, B.C. V0G 1AO; (604) 229-5636. Cost: $1,200 U.S. per week.

For more information about fitness vacations, see Fodor's Healthy Escapes, by Bernard Burt (Fodor Travel Publications, New York, 1991; $15).
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Fish, Peter
Publication:Sunset
Date:Feb 1, 1992
Words:618
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