Feb 14, 2013

Visiting Rancho La Puerta: A health spa and fitness retreat guide

By: Noah Lehava

Rancho la Puerta Author: Elle Canada Credits: Rancho la Puerta

Feb 14, 2013

Visiting Rancho La Puerta: A health spa and fitness retreat guide

By: Noah Lehava
Your crazy schedule may have you dreaming of sipping frosty mojitos by the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. But why not consider a getaway that will leave with more than just a hangover? Come back energized, refreshed and maybe even a little lighter. Whether you’re an exercise novice or a 3-time triathlon champion, health and fitness retreats can be both invigorating and relaxing. They offer a transformation of body, mind and spirit with a mixture of high-intensity workouts, therapeutic programs and lush spa treatments. We chat with Toronto fitness expert, Jannah Watt, Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology and owner of Kuhoot, on her tips on how to stay balanced with exercise and treatments while on vacation.

Where: Rancho la Puerta, Tacate Mexico.

Why: It is the oldest destination fitness retreat, founded in 1940 by Deborah Szekely (who at 90 years old, is still actively running the fitness retreat). The retreat, boasts 87 villas, spaced throughout the beautifully landscaped grounds to encourage lots of walking. Located on the cusp of the Baja Region, Rancho offers guests a menu of fitness classes, lectures, cooking classes and health spa treatments that have them coming back over and over again. Its weeklong program offers a vast variety of activities that let guests curate a custom schedule to fit their needs. The celebrity hotspot has attracted the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Sophia Loren. Get fit and pampered at every level as we take you through a day at Rancho la Puerta.


a.m: Start your day with a brisk 2-mile hike to view the luscious grounds of the 6-acre organic garden.

Snack: Take a break in the heart of the garden, where the renowned La Cocina Que Canta cooking school is nestled. The ultimate treat, feasting on freshly picked rainbow-hued garden tomatoes, free-range organic eggs, and delicious lemon tea.

p.m: Get your heart rate up again with the Hot Latin Drum Dance that will have you laughing and burning calories without even noticing.

Health spa treatment: After a relaxing yoga session, opt for a soothing body treatment like the Energy Balance Therapy which balances your chakras and restores holistic health.

Expert tip: "Since this may be your first time at a fitness retreat, make sure to listen to your body. Ease into the week with mind-body workouts, such as yoga and Pilates, and have a rest day if needed. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the pool!" - Jannah Watt

Local option: If you're looking for a mini-escape for your body and mind, head over to Yogathletix in Toronto. This bright and spaceous studio combines the spiritual aspect of yoga with other mind-body methods for a full rounded experience.

If you're looking for a slightly more intense experience at health and fitness retreats, read on to the next page... 0-0-Ranchoexterior.jpg


a.m: Wake up at the crack of dawn -- trust us, the cool morning air is a welcome relief -- and start off on a heart-pumping Pilgrim Hike, a 3.5 mile trek weaving through the sandy mountainside.

Snack: Refuel with the extensive spread of organic oats, fruit, cottage cheese, and freshly squeezed juices offered up for breakfast.

p.m: Strengthen your core with a Pilates Matwork session (classes gradually increase in difficulty throughout the week) and you’ll be surprised out how flat your tummy will feel. Correct your alignment with Rancho la Puerta’s Postural Technique, which works with small, but effective, movements to improve posture and strength.

Health spa treatment:  A Hot Riverstone Massage can release tension of the mind and body through the placement of warm naturally polished stones -- the epitome of relaxation.

Expert tips: "A good thing to keep in mind when at a fitness retreat is to alternate your days between cardio and resistance classes. If one is offered, take a stretching course to speed up recovery time." - Jannah Watt

Local options: Indulge in luxurious escape that is right in your backyard. Azuridge, a 13-acre estate nestled in the foothills of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, offers a Canadian experience that is both exciting and relaxing. Cross-country ski through it's surrounding trails, or spend a few thrilling days on the slopes of Lake Louise.

If you're a fitness enthusiast, keep reading on to the next page... 0-0-RanchoLaPuerta.jpg



a.m: Hike above the heavy fog to the peak of the dusty Mount Kuchumaa and watch as the sunrises over the Mexican horizon. Embark on the Seven-Mile Mountain Breakfast Hike, and challenge yourself everyday with new routes and intensity levels.

Whet your appetite and load up on your proteins and grains before you continue your day of high-energy workouts.

p.m: With options like TRX, Cardio Cycling, and Body-Bar workouts, there is no shortage of challenges. Smoothie bars and healthy food options are available throughout the day, so remember to keep hydrated and eat well.

Health spa treatment: Invigorate the circulatory system (and speed up recovery) by taking a dip in the hot and cold pools. To loosen the tension of your tight muscles, indulge in a Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage where a skilled therapist will work to relieve knots and kinks.

Expert tips:
"Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Your workouts will be intense, so make sure to alternate between cardio, resisitance, and meditation classes to keep your body balanced. You don't want to exhaust yourself on the first day." - JW

Local options: A breakthough in fitness, FitWall takes your workouts from the ground to the wall. Based on Verticle Training, where your only source of stability is your body, the workouts force your body to use every muscle. The best part? It is all done on one machine and incorporates compression training, plyometrics, suspension, resistance band, and turbo bar exercises.

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Visiting Rancho La Puerta: A health spa and fitness retreat guide