It can be a big temptation to go on vacation at a destination beach resort and turn into a beach potato. It's safe to say that every resort and most hotels have a fitness center of sorts where you can get a strength and cardio workout that will keep you in shape for the upcoming ski season.
However, many destination full service resorts now take it a step further and offer structured activities designed to get you up and moving and take away a little bit of the guilt you may harbor from all that fine food and delicious desserts that are a big part of every vacation.
Many of the all inclusive island getaways and resorts on both coasts and throughout the Gulf region include programs led by certified fitness trainers that are full time resort staff employees. What makes these fitness sessions even more attractive are that many of them are free to registered guests - and free means that cost is not an excuse to become a "manatee" in the sun while a good beach yoga class is happening in front of you.
Resort Programs at the Don CeSar Beach Resort
The Don CeSar Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach, Florida is an excellent example of a resort that puts together a full menu of fitness programs and during the week I vacationed there I was absolutely without excuse to stay active.
Open 24 hours a day for guests is the fully equipped fitness room with cardio, free weights and Lifefitness station equipment and a stretching, body weight and band exercise area. If you are motivated, you need to look no further than here to keep up your fitness routine.
A big part of vacations is seeing and trying things you don't normally see and do at home, and that's why resorts offer a variety of fitness programs on site. At home, most of us skiers don't have the time, money, or opportunity to do a beach yoga class in the morning, a noontime pilates class, and maybe even water yoga before dinner. At many resorts you'll find this and more on the menu, free of cost.
Check out the Program Menu
Resorts recognize you are on vacation and while relaxing is a priority, they know that sight-seeing and other off-resort excursions are part of most families' plans. In order to accommodate everyone's plans, there may be several sessions of the same program scheduled so you can just show up and join in without sacrificing your other plans.
However, if you're staying at a resort with limited staff or vacationing during the off-season, you may be asked to call ahead and reserve a spot for a class. In general, resorts are understanding when plans change and you have a time conflict, but if reservations are required it's a good practice to call and cancel if necessary.
Well Designed resort Fitness Program
Depending on the resort, the fitness program schedule may vary as to what is being offered. A well designed fitness program activities menu will look something like that offered at the Don CeSar and include classes and sessions for:
- Body Toning
- Beach Yoga
- Water Yoga
- Indoor Yoga
- Restorative Yoga
- Beach Track
- Extreme Workout
- Water Aerobics
These types of classes can done by people of all fitness level and activity. For open programs like these, the instructors are trained to recognize the fitness and ability level of participants and demonstrate variations of the poses and exercises to get everyone moving within their comfort level.
Resort instructors also put together programs that are a bit out of the usual YMCA format, but still encourage getting everyone involved and moving. A good example is the Don CeSar Ballroom Dancing class which is really exercise in disguise.
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) - A Great Core Workout
Stand Up Paddleboards are becoming a staple at many full service beach resorts. Keep in mind that there is a liability issue involved that may require signing a waiver, and there may be an age requirement imposed by the resort. If you have teens or younger children, don't plan this as a resort family outing until you check the resort parameters.
If the resort you are staying at doesn't offer SUPs, off-resort rentals are now pretty common at major beach resort towns and can be rented very reasonably by the hour or for the whole day. Most rental shops or kiosks offer an introductory lesson included in the rental price.
Stand Up Paddleboarding evolves from standing on a long surfboard with an extra long hand paddle and paddling along much as you would in a canoe or kayak. I say "evolves" from a long surfboard because Stand Up Paddleboarding has been refined to the point where some SUP boards I've seen on the Gulf of Mexico actually have a pointed bow and can move through the water very fast.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is definitely a great core workout - just watch a proficient paddler and you'll see the forces generated in the arm stroke and the ant-rotational core muscles holding back against that force. The first time you try it, you will feel it in your muscles after an hour, and be prepared for muscle stiffness the next day - guaranteed.
SUPs are popular in both landlocked lakes and ocean/gulf resort areas, and in order to stay safe while staying toned for skiing, there are two points to remember in whatever water you use an SUP are:
- Wear a Life Vest - The water may be calm when you start, but wind can pick up much faster than you can paddle. While you wear a long ankle tether that ties you the board - much the same as a powder cord for skiing in deep powder - if a wave throws you off the board, you want a life vest as a precaution in case you hit your head or can't get back up on the board.
- Lather Up with High UV Protection - You are on the water, standing up fully exposed not only to the sun above but to the reflection off the water. The air off the water may seem cool but the sun's rays still burn through that cool air.
I know it's great to feel pampered at a full service resort, but be careful not to take advantage of the opportunity to become a lazy beach bum. Join in a couple of the programs to keep toned, and use the Spa and Wellness center to squeeze out last winter's snow lingering in your muscles and head home dreaming about skiing.