JUMP TO A SECTION
- Work hard, recover harder
- Listen to your body better
- Re-wild and tap into the power of nature
- Hit up an urban retreat
- Train with your favorite fitfluencer
- Cook and eat like a king
- Dabble in silent mode
- Reconnect with yourself
- Purge toxic emotions
- Expand your mind
#1 WORK HARD, RECOVER HARDER
Fast-track your fitness at these sweaty getaways that serve up specialized training, wild adventure, and intense recovery.
What: It’s a roving retreat for runners of all levels, with trips in places like Patagonia, Oregon, and British Columbia. Typical Day: In Oregon, you’ll run six to 12 miles over single-track trails through Douglas-fir forests and past waterfalls. Tip: Focus on efforts, not paces, says cofounder and elite runner Allison Macsas. “Navigating roots, rocks, and steep climbs takes practice. Ignore the numbers on your watch and concentrate on each step. Stay relaxed for the first half so you can finish strong.” Fuel: Frittata brunches overlooking thousand-foot cliffs, picnics alongside pristine rivers, and dinners cooked over campfires. Recover: Relax by floating down lazy rivers. Cost: About $2,600 for five nights; roguexpeditions.com
Surf Yoga Beer
What: Created by SoulCycle instructor Mantas Zvinas, this pop-up retreat celebrates his passions—surfing, yoga, and, yup, beer—in hidden spots in Nicaragua, Morocco, and Mexico. Typical Day: At Playa Maderas in Nicaragua, schedules are based on the waves but usually feature surf lessons, fitness classes, yoga, and snorkeling. Tip: Single-leg yoga poses can fine-tune your balance, says Zvinas. “Try the Superman pose to strengthen your core and lower back muscles,” he adds. It mimics many movements in the water: Drop down onto your stomach, lift both legs and arms to assume a flying position, then move one arm at a time as though you’re paddling on a board. Continue for 20 seconds for each set. Fuel: Local and fresh fish tacos washed down with fruit smoothies. Recover: Dance on the beach and drink ice-cold local Toña lager. Cost: Five-night getaways start at $1,950; surfyogabeer.com
What: The three-day, eight-person, men-only fitness camps take place in wilderness locations, where you learn to lift explosively, move with greater agility, and sleep outdoors. (Bring a blanket or a sleeping bag.) Typical Day: In Embudo, New Mexico, at MovNat Crucible, led by Vic Verdier, C.S.C.S., a former French naval officer and wilderness EMT, you’ll lift logs, climb trees, carry rocks, and take on other challenges that push you out of your comfort zone. Tip: “Sprinting is a great way to build explosiveness and mobility,” says Verdier. “A safe way to begin is to sprint uphill. It will self-limit your sprint in order to avoid any injury.” Sprint for 10 to 20 yards and take as long as you want to recover. Do 10 reps. Fuel: Very little water and almost no food. Recover: You’ll be fried. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Cost: $800 for three nights; movnat.com
Cal-a-Vie Golf Spa
What: Just less than an hour north of San Diego, this luxury retreat looks like it belongs in the French countryside, with fields of lavender and hills lined with grapevines, plus a links-style golf course. Typical Day: Play the par 72 course, then kick back at the pool or hike the trails and explore the on-site labyrinth. Tip: Constant awareness of the undulating terrain is critical to scoring low, says Head Club Pro, Ryan Dohrmann. On a sidehill lie, when the golf ball is above your feet (assuming right-handed golfer): grip down on the golf club and aim further to the right, as the ball will typically fly to the left. On a sidehill lie, when the golf ball is below your feet (assuming right-handed golfer): setup with knees flexed more then normal and aim further left as the ball flight will typically fly to the right. Fuel: Elevated spa food from the retreat’s popular cookbook, like duck breast with spaghetti squash, olive-golden-raisin relish, and spiced yogurt. Recover: If you’re not used to playing back-to-back days, gently soothe tired muscles with an aquatic massage or pamper tired feet with a reflexology session. Cost: $5,500 for three nights, all-inclusive; cal-a-vie.com
Rapha Cycling Club Summits
What: Three-day biking trips take you to epic cycling locations, including Bentonville, Arkansas; Los Angeles; and Mallorca in Spain. Typical Day: Bentonville: Choose from three to five rides of varying lengths—30 to 75 miles—over gravel and paved roads through the dense forests and rolling hills of the Ozarks. Tip: For gearing on gravel, opt for easier rather than harder gears to give you greater endurance, says Sarah Sturm, a cyclo-cross national champion. “Stay in your comfort zone descending and cornering on gravel—slip ’n’ slides are for your backyard, not your ride.” Fuel: Berkshire Hog Chop and creamed leeks with a side of grits at the Hive, a Bentonville favorite for the best local food and produce. Recover: Pack a foam roller to squeeze out all that lactic acid from your aching quads and calves. Cost: $2,750 for three nights; rapha.cc
#2 LISTEN TO YOUR BODY BETTER
At Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort, MH’s fitness director, Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., reboots his mind and body in ways he didn’t even realize he needed.
It’s just hours into my first day at Sensei, and I’m already working out. Well, sort of. I’m jumping straight up as trainer Kyle Silvey, C.S.C.S., studies my vertical. Silvey is my guide on this trip to Sensei, a new wellness resort created by Oracle founder Larry Ellison and David Agus, M.D., founding director of USC’s Institute for Transformative Medicine.
Together, they built a 24-acre compound on a small island in Hawaii. The tranquil, no-kids-under-16 resort has trails through a forest of Cook pines, private spa areas, open spaces for horseback riding and archery, and an adventure course where you can zip-line through the jungle. It’s also home to Sensei’s Optimal Wellbeing Program, which aims to deliver personalized insights to me in four key areas: fitness, nutrition, mental health, and breathing.
I’m here for a five-day mind-body reset. The go-go stress of New York City has me frazzled, and I want better tools to manage that. As my tiny vertical leap attests, my workouts need an infusion of athletic moves. Fourteen days before my flight, I’d completed a questionnaire about long-term wellness goals and linked my Whoop 4.0 fitness tracker to Sensei’s portal so that Silvey could scrutinize my metrics. Sensei built my itinerary using that information and set out to guide me to wellness gains. I was skeptical, but my Whoop data revealed that I was overtraining, and the blue sky—and ocean—provided an inspiring backdrop for new thinking.
Breathing: Keep It Simple
When I meet with mindset guide Marcus Washington, the last thing I want is another complicated breathing technique. Washington sticks to the basics. He has me choose either four-second inhales and exhales or six-second inhales and exhales. All I have to do is maintain one technique for two minutes. I appreciate the simplicity of deep breathing, especially when Washington shows me how it affects my heart-rate variability. A high HRV signals that your body is ready for action. Washington connects me to a real-time HRV tracker, and I watch as it rises during this drill. I now breathe like this for two minutes pre-workout.
Nutrition: Oatmeal Up
On my second day, I sit down with registered dietitian Marlee Finkelstein, who walks me through the results of a blood-panel test and analyzes my diet. I mention to her that my muscles haven’t looked as full in recent months, and she pinpoints the problem: My high-protein diet lacks carbs. The fix: a cup of oatmeal with brown sugar every morning, a snack that I add to my rotation.
Meditation: Enjoy The Noise
New York City leaves little room to contemplate silence, so meditation expert Nico Akiba proposes I try listening intently to any and all sounds around me for 90 seconds. Instead of cutting myself off from the world, I’m learning to focus and choose what I hear. Months later, I do this often, whenever I need to collect myself.
Fitness: Contrast It
On the last day of my trip, Silvey suggests a solution to my lack of explosiveness—contrast training. We do four reps of heavy Romanian deadlifts, then immediately do four vertical jumps. The heavy move recruits an abundance of muscle fibers, he says, prepping my body to jump higher. We do five sets, resting two minutes between them.
Five weeks later, when Silvey checks in with me (your guide stays in contact with you for several months), I tell him I feel more explosive, thanks to twice-a-week contrast sessions. With the help of breathing drills to control my HRV, I’m finally logging high Whoop recovery scores again. Sensei’s guides gave me the lessons I needed—and listening to the rhythmic sound of crashing waves didn’t hurt, either. From $1,355 per night; sensei.com
#3 RE-WILD AND TAP INTO THE POWER OF NATURE
Nature and nurture your mind and body at these retreats that feature wilderness and wellness.
45 minutes south of San Francisco, Canyon Ranch Woodside’s redwood-canopied retreat inspires a connection to nature. Sleep in a glass-clad tree house with a deck, run creekside stairs during outdoor group workouts, hike to the oldest and largest living tree on the peninsula, and exhale on guided forest meditations. You’ll unwind with calming evening yoga or workshops like drawing and origami. From $1,325 per person, all-inclusive; canyonranch.com
At the brand-new Hacienda Alta-Gracia from Auberge Resorts—encompassing 180 acres of rain forest—tranquility comes in the form of hikes to bird sanctuaries and waterfalls. Need a bit more adventure? Explore the nearby hills and coffee plantations on horseback. There’s also a six-hour high–altitude mountain hike, tree climbing (where you can abseil back to the forest floor), and surfing in the nearby town of Uvita. $1,550 per night, all-inclusive; aubergeresorts.com/altagracia
Hiking is the attraction at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa, cocooned in the rugged Canadian Rockies. Start your day with yoga and a smoothie before hiking the peaks, increasing in intensity each day. Highlights include millennia-old glaciers, raging rivers, and turquoise lakes. Back at the lodge, recuperate in an ice-cold plunge pool or an outdoor Jacuzzi overlooking Kootenay Lake, detox in a sauna, and recover with a massage. $6,100 for one week, all–inclusive; mountaintrek.com
Castle Hot Springs’oasis resort is set against Arizona’s dramatic red-rock Bradshaw Mountains. Geothermal, mineral-rich soaks and morning meditation classes balance out mountain biking, paddleboard yoga, Wild West shooting, archery, and wildlife-guided hikes to see bobcats, hawks, and bighorn sheep. Need an even slower pace? CBD massage treatments are conducted in outdoor cabanas overlooking a palm-strewn creek. From $1,300 per night, all-inclusive; castlehotsprings.com
At the nine-cabin Stillpoint Lodge on Kenai Peninsula, the emphasis is on wildlife and wellness. Hike or kayak to spot bears, bald eagles, orcas, and otters, then practice mindfulness with yoga and meditation sessions. Much of the menu is grown or caught locally. The lodge sits on Halibut Cove, which is also home to king salmon and Pacific cod, and its gardens produce greens, root vegetables, and berries. Unlike at many retreats, kids ages six and up are welcome. Activities include fishing, interpretive hikes, and tide-pool expeditions. Three-night nature and nurture packages from $8,250; stillpointlodge.com
#4 HIT UP AN URBAN RETREAT
Whether you’re looking for a calm oasis or high-end fitness session, these retreats can energize your stay in a city.
In the heart of Hudson Yards, Equinox Hotel New York offers signature group fitness classes, personal training programs, and both an indoor saltwater lap pool and outdoor pool overlooking the Hudson River. If the soundproofed, pitch-black, snooze-enhanced rooms don’t already give you the sleep of your life, you can always tap an onsite sleep coach to analyze your circadian rhythms and prescribe personalized solutions for optimized sleep. From $795 a night, equinox-hotels.com
The beachfront Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is a 70,000 square-foot wellness juggernaut. Home to the largest spa on the Eastern Seaboard, its thermal hydrotherapy circuit has six heat unique heat experiences and two cold. An on-site biostation features treatments like, HRT for Men and Women, Nutrient Therapy, HGH & Peptide Therapy, and more. plus there’s a two-story indoor rock wall and 65 weekly classes, including cycling, TRX strength, and more. From $439; carillonhotel.com
If you’re in L.A. and need an a la carte fix, Remedy Place is both a social club and a wellness tune-up center with therapies like infrared saunas and ice baths to soothe sore muscles. Grab a juice shot during the non-alcoholic happy hour, then peruse a long menu of treatments alongside breathwork classes, sound baths, and more. A New York City outpost opens this fall. Treatments range from $50-$300; remedyplace.com
#5 TRAIN WITH YOUR FAVORITE FITFLUENCER
Why work out virtually when you can go on vacation and train IRL in a great location with trainers that inspire you?
Work Out with Laird Hamilton
Join the legendary surfer in Malibu or Costa Rica and be immersed in his XPT training method, which emphasizes strengthening what he calls “the whole organism,” aka your mind and body. Expect intense underwater workouts, ice-tub sessions, and lots and lots of breathwork (Costa Rica, October 11–13). $6,500; shop.xptlife.com
Lift Heavy with Don Saladino
The celeb trainer’s annual retreat, Don Con, is a six-day fitnessfest on a private island off Puerto Vallarta. Saladino uses the intimate setting to teach advanced muscle-building techniques, workshops on form, and key moves to get those superhero abs and arms. From $1,750; donsaladino.com
Do Yoga and HIIT with Britney Shine
At this four-day December yoga and fitness adventure retreat in Scottsdale, Arizona, you’ll take two classes a day with the yoga luminary and Sui Yoga NYC instructor, doing everything from HIIT to handstand workshops. Chase that with a desert hike or horse ride. From $1,775; ketangafitness.com
#6 COOK AND EAT LIKE A KING
At this food-forward retreat, you not only eat and drink super well, but you can learn to forage, prepare, and cook next-level meals.
Find yourself researching what’s on the menu? You’re not alone: Seven out of 10 travelers choose destinations based on food and drink, according to a 2020 World Food Travel Association global culinary traveler research study. Now you can learn how to prepare the finest meals out there as you are to enjoy them. The best retreats let you bring the tastiness back home.
Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains in Walland, Tennessee, luxe retreat Blackberry Farm now has Wellhouse, a full-service spa. Join a chef and learn to cook dishes like shaved fennel and rhubarb salad and seared salmon with grilled shishito peppers. Best of all, you get to eat the meal paired with wines from the 160,000-bottle cellar. From $845 per night; blackberryfarm.com
#7 DABBLE IN SILENT MODE
A communication break—whether you seek hard-core Jared Leto-esque total silence for 10 days or just quiet periods during the day—can help dissolve fatigue and increase energy.
Get back on track with the ultimate me time: a silent retreat to reflect and recharge. “People often tell me they get more done in the week after a silent retreat than they got done the month before,” says senior instructor John Osborne at the Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina. Choose how much silence you’re after; each retreat can be customized. (Chatting by the campfire is permitted.) Activities include nature walks, pottery, and yoga. $1,295 for four nights; artoflivingretreatcenter.org
Zen Mountain Monastery, located on a forested property in New York’s Catskill Mountains takes a hybrid approach. Silence is observed during the morning, evenings, and periods of meditation, but lifted during the day. From $250 for weekend room and board, zmm.org
Perched in the Colorado Rockies, Drala Mountain Center hosts a seven-day silent retreat emphasizing mindfulness and weaves in walking meditation and yoga. From $1,547 for seven nights; dralamountain.org
#8 RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF
#8 RECONNECT WITH YOURSELF
At the new Miraval Berkshires Resort & Spa, Ben Court tries to exorcise trauma, takes a smoothie workshop, and seeks emotional-intelligence tips from a horse.
I’m making my best cowboy clicking sounds and staring at Maple, urging the 800-plus-pound, 15-year-old chestnut Missouri Fox Trotter to walk toward me. Maple is my equine partner in this nonverbal-communication exercise. The goal is for me to lead her, showing her where to move in a collaborative dance of space. She is not budging. Horses don’t respond to auditory cues or eye contact, says animal-connections specialist Jen Leahey, call sign nature. (All instructors here wear a name tag with a word that characterizes their true essence.) Horses communicate using energy and touch and are all about being emotionally present. They also see the world in the soft gaze, favored by expert meditators. First, I need to connect with Maple by petting her with long, firm strokes, “like a mare licking a foal.” Then I need to project where I want her to move and trust she will go there. Our dance is more of a shuffle—I walk to where I want Maple to go, and she follows, sometimes quickly and other times slowly—but soon we’re grooving.
By connecting with Maple, I’m also connecting with myself. Before arriving at Miraval Berkshires in western Massachusetts, I had a consultation about “the intention for my journey” and identified a word to guide me. Mine is connect, with my partner as well as myself. We’re working parents, with a two-year-old and a tween, and after two years of cooped-up pandemic living, we wanted—okay, needed—some intense self-care and uninterrupted together time. Miraval is seeing more people like me, says Simon Marxer, associate vice president of spa and well-being, “guys who are seeking a personal experience, some dimension of transformation, and a sense of inspiration, versus simply seeking relaxation.” The experiences menu glows with wellness options, everything from paddleboard yoga and adventure-course exercises to forest bathing and aura imaging. Along with dancing with Maple, three other experiences stood out.
Use Exercise to Exorcise Stress
In the 80-minute session called Tension Release Exercises, spiritual coach Mark Gerow, call sign resilience, explores how your muscles can store trauma and stress and guides you to release both. We target the psoas, the girdle of muscle that runs from your lumbar spine to your hips, by doing a series of exercises that fatigue the muscles around it. Then I lie down with my knees apart but the soles of my feet together, inhale and exhale deeply, bring my knees closer together, and . . . wait. I didn’t expect anything to happen, but after several minutes, my hips start to quiver. resilience explains that this is normal and that my body is releasing stress. It’s deeply unnerving as the shaking and fluttering come in unpredictable waves. I imagine traumatic memories leaving my body like Slimer & Co. being zapped in Ghostbusters. It’s that weird and goes on for about 30 minutes. Afterward, I feel profoundly relaxed. resilience says it’s a therapy that can be used to treat back pain, anxiety, and even migraines.
Seed a Better Smoothie
Miraval Berkshires offers culinary and nutrition classes on everything from knife skills to kombucha brewing. In Blend ‘N’ Balance Smoothies, a 45-minute workshop led by program chef Beatrice Blais, aka joyful, I learn to make three classic smoothies—chocolate/peanut butter/banana protein, berry antioxidant, and power greens—even more nutritious and tasty. My favorite is the berry smoothie that joyful says doubles as a hangover cure and digestion aid—the chia seeds help scrub gunk from your gut.
In a blender, mix 2 cups mixed berries, ¼ cup chia seeds, ¼ cup rolled oats, 1 apple, juice from ½ lemon, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 16 oz coconut water, and some ice. Serves 2
Stretch a Smile Upon Your Face
“Be kind; be compassionate to your body,” says fitness specialist Tariq Pinkston, aka empathy. In his Happy Hips class, we’re spending 45 minutes doing gentle yoga–inspired moves to open up the hips and improve mobility. I now do three of them once a week as a hips circuit:
- Foam-roll: Quads—front and back—and glutes.
- Raises: Lying on your side, raise your top leg for 5 reps, circle it for 5 reps, and pulse for 5 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Do 3 rounds per side.
- Openers: Lying on your back with your legs straight, take your right foot and draw a semicircle toward your butt. Repeat 5 times, then circle the other way. Switch sides and repeat. Do 3 rounds per side.
Breathe Yourself To Sleep
In Meditation for Superior Sleep, also taught by RESILIENCE, you learn to scan your body mindfully to help you fall asleep. Start lying your back with hand on your belly and breathe deeply in and out; inhaling and exhaling out of your nose. RESILIENCE says gradually slow your breathing by exhaling for longer than you inhale. Then breathe in calmly and think about a tense area of your body, for example between your eyes, and then exhale and relax that area. Repeat that sequence for 10 to 15 other body parts, and repeat the whole cycle until you fall asleep! Another sleep tip RESILIENCE shares: Put a red night-light in bathroom because it will reduce light stimulation if natural calls.
The totality of those experiences, plus the mindful vibe of the resort—with downtime by the pool, hikes in the forest, tasty local food (think grass-fed filet, broccolini, aubergine puree, and beef jus), and healthy-ish cocktails (mescal, pomegranate liqueur, ancho-chile liqueur, and lime juice)—helped shift our world into a softer, kinder focus. Maple would approve. From $899, all-inclusive; miravalberkshires.com
#9 PURGE TOXIC EMOTIONS
A new breed of weekend retreats provides a supportive space for men to work on personal development and embrace emotional vulnerability.
Evryman’s retreat helps men connect with themselves—and others. In nature-based locations like the Berkshires and Joshua Tree, therapists and life coaches facilitate group conversations to ask deeper questions, all in the presence of other men asking similar questions. “It creates a real opening for guys to put aside all of the sarcasm, performance, and bullshit so that we can really look at ourselves and ask, ‘who am I and who do I want to be?’” explains EVRYMAN cofounder Lucas Krump. Play is equally weaved in: yoga, sports, rafting, campfires, and hiking expeditions. Two-night retreats start at $1,000; evryman.com
ManTalks retreats host daily group discussions on finding more purpose, confidence, and clarity, while outdoor exercises push you mentally, physically, and emotionally. Retreats are held around the U.S. and Canada, including Austin, upstate New York, and Vancouver. From $2,500 for the weekend; mantalks.com
#10 EXPAND YOUR MIND
#10 EXPAND YOUR MIND
Budding research—and centuries of practice in various cultures—attests to the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics, you can test them out for yourself at international retreats.
At the Costa Rican seaside jungle retreat Soltara Healing Center, Peruvian Shipibo healers work with the therapeutic plant ayahuasca to focus on whatever guests need, be it spiritual healing or creative expression. Baths and pre–ceremony yoga ensure the experience is as relaxing as it is transformative. From $1,875 for a five-night retreat; soltara.co
Shamans and local indigenous leaders oversee psilocybin ceremonies at Silo Wellness retreats, set on a Jamaican villa amid coconut and citrus groves. “These experiences give you a better insight into yourself as if you’re a third-party observer looking at your life,” says Mike Arnold who founded Silo Wellness in 2018.The five-day retreat is rounded out by daily yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic spa treatments. Four-night retreats start at $3,850, experiences.silowellness
This story is in the September 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
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