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September 30, 2014
By Deborah Frank | Fitness
The Top Three Workouts in Miami
<a href="http://mattroyphotography.com/" target="_blank">Matt Roy Photography</a>

These three popular fitness studios keep Miami locals looking beach-ready. Here’s where to book your next class.

P2 Pilates Miami Beach: Located in a former school in South Beach, the lure here is instructor Amanda Tamis’s private training sessions. 1910 Alton Rd.; 305-479-1237; p2pilatesmiamibeach.com.

b2 studio & boutique: Twice a week, Zumba Fitness’s co-creator, Beto Perez, teaches a class of his energized invention. A key element is the music, which has a Miami-esque feel. 801 SW Third Ave.; 305-989-3747; zumba.com.

Pilates One: A former partner in P2 Pilates, Karen Schachter runs this homey studio in South Beach, with clients in fields like law, public relations and fashion. 2001 Meridian Ave.; 305-794-0175.

August 27, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Fitness, sports

Three Luxe Athletic Training Vacations
Photo courtesy of Eric Orton

These days vacations are not just for lounging—they’re opportunities for truly dedicated athletes to hone their skills. This fall, running, cycling and tennis devotees have the chance to indulge their passion with these three luxe athletic training vacations, which promise access to experts in three of the world’s most beautiful locales.

  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, celebrated running coach Eric Orton (Born to Run) and Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa have partnered to launch a four-day running camp in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming. From September 10 to 13, participants will receive personalized coaching from Orton on trail running and training in world-class terrain. Campers should be able to run a minimum of two to three hours comfortably upon arrival. $899; runningwitheric.com.
  • The Viceroy Snowmass (130 Wood Rd.;970-923-8000; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) partners with sports concierge service Pros in Motion (aspenprosinmotion.com) all year-round to create custom itineraries for its guests, but there’s no better time than autumn to hop on a bike in Colorado. Bespoke private packages can include guided road or mountain bike tours complemented by post-ride clinics and massages, as well as gourmet picnics and protein breakfasts. Rooms start at $175; biking packages start at $611 a day.
  • From November 18 to 22, Rosewood Little Dix Bay (Lee Rd.; 284-495-5555; rosewoodhotels.com) in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands hosts The Legends Camp, a five-day tennis clinic taught by renowned tennis pros Wayne Bryan, Murphy Jensen and Brad Gilbert. The package includes transportation to Richard Branson’s Necker Island to watch tennis stars Björn Borg, Boris Becker, Kim Clijsters and others compete at the Necker Cup Charity Exhibition and entrance to the “End of the World” charity dinner, auction and party. Starts at $7,645; 800-376-0975; premiertennis.com.
August 05, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Fitness Find: A New Technogym Line
Photo courtesy of Technogym

Feeling in control of one’s fitness is essential these days, and at the forefront of the movement is renowned Italian brand Technogym, which recently debuted its new ARTIS line of workout equipment at the Four Seasons hotel (57 E. 57th St.; 212-758-5700; fourseasons.com), the first place to showcase it.

The 30 pieces of cardio, strength and functional equipment (from $5,000) feel less like clunky, linear machines and more like full experiences, thanks to clever interactive additions. The treadmill features delightfully realistic virtual course options and the smoothest interval-training transitions we’ve ever experienced, segueing from a walk to a modest jog to a faster run with virtually no jarring skips. Ergonomically placed screens on strength machines keep resistance training on target by displaying how fast a movement is performed and if its full range of motion is being reached.

Useful high-tech additions abound. The MyWellness cloud stores shareable personal progress and workout data; web cams allow for long-distance training sessions; a cardio interface called UNITY is compatible with fitness-tracking apps like MapMyFitness and RunKeeper; and a sustainable feature recycles a percentage of energy generated back into the system.

The bottom line is ARTIS feels as good as it looks, with details that add a layer of responsiveness not normally found in machines. And the bells and whistles actually serve a purpose, helping trainers to further tailor programs for clients and ensuring users learn to execute exercises correctly. How progressive is that? technogym.com.

July 18, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Six Senses Launches Yoga Programs Worldwide
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

While it might seem as though everyone is in a yoga class at this point, doing it and truly feeling connected to it are two very different things. Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, which recently launched yogic programs at its properties worldwide, prefers the latter approach.

“We wanted to be able to deliver not only general yoga but targeted programs, as yoga has so much more depth to it,” says Anna Bjurstam, vice president of spa and wellness.

Offered at Six Senses properties including Zighy Bay in Oman and at its spas in hotels like Soneva Fushi in the Maldives and Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic, the lineups are geared toward all levels. Mark Sands, area director for Asia and formerly with the Ayurveda resort Ananda in the Himalayas, created the program, pulling in yoga expert Dorelal Singh, Six Senses corporate yoga teacher, for further development. Instructors must have a solid background in hatha yoga and are rigorously assessed to assure high performance.

Yoga’s benefits—from improving mood to lowering stress to upping brain function—are kept top of mind. Discover Yoga is for the newbie, focusing on private sessions that illustrate basic principles and how to engage the body in a variety of poses. Hatha instruction is built around an easy flow of asanas (postures), and Yogic Detox speaks to the experienced yogi.

Going a step further, and piggybacking on the relaxation and calm that yoga can bring, Yogic Sleep (expected to launch later this year) will introduce guests to nidra, a practice that puts the body on the road to a deeply meditative state. Combined with breathing techniques and spa treatments, its goal is to improve sleep. We have a feeling the benefits won’t stop there. sixsenses.com.

July 02, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Learning Your Fitness Age at Canyon Ranch
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Age might be nothing but a number, but when it comes to where you stand fitness-wise it can be a powerful indicator of the work that needs to be done. The Determine Your Fitness Age program, developed by exercise physiologists at wellness resort Canyon Ranch, does just that—in motivating (though still humbling) fashion.

Based in part on Canyon Ranch founder Mel Zuckerman’s wake-up call with a similar test nearly 40 years ago (then 49, he received a fitness age of 75), the new assessment, which launched in June, puts participants through a five-part circuit. Each element is weighted according to its contribution to total conditioning: aerobic fitness performed on a rowing machine (30 percent), body composition determined by skin-fold measurements (20 percent), upper-body strength via a bench press (15 percent), lower-body strength via a vertical jump (15 percent) and balance (20 percent).

The results are compared with a range of averages and voilà: a physiological age is revealed, both overall and for each of the five categories. “There’s no real hard-and-fast science out there for this type of thing,” says Mike Siemens, an exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch’s Tucson location. “But this is just our professional knowledge combined with an educated attempt to estimate how these different areas impact fitness age.”

The results are eye-opening for better or worse (we came in ten years younger than our actual age, which was a nice surprise) and allow you to retool your workouts to address neglected areas. Ideally executed over two days, with 50 minutes of testing and health history done on day one and analysis and exercise prescription discussed on day two, the offering allows for plenty of quality gym time with trainers who help recalibrate goals, whether, based on your results, you need to incorporate interval training with prescribed heart rates or more intense strength training. “It’s proving,” says Siemens, “to be a great motivator and discussion starter for how we spend our exercise time.”

Currently available at the resort’s outposts in Tucson (600 E. Rockcliff Rd.; 520-749-9000) and Lenox, Massachusetts (165 Kemble St.; 413-637-4100), the program might also prove to be utterly irresistible to those eager to turn back the clock—and perform better for it. Rates start at $370 for two 50-minute consultations; canyonranch.com.

May 13, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Healthy Flats, Healthy Feet
Courtesy of Blake Brody

We caught on to Blake Brody’s simple, functional in-studio footwear (from $100) back in 2012, excited to find an alternative to going barefoot or wearing socks in Pilates, yoga and other studio classes. Now the brand has taken to the streets with a chic line of ballet flats (from $275) that prioritizes the good of your feet.

Designed in partnership with podiatrist Louis Galli, who tends to the Rockettes, the shoes have full support in the back (something many ballet flats lack completely), which allows the entire foot to hit the pavement versus just the heel. Raised curves in the sole provide stability, which in turn promotes overall body alignment while striding along. Vegan, antimicrobial and moisture-wicking, the flats come in a variety of styles including a spring-friendly nude or sapphire lizard print (pictured above) and a neoprene version for rainy days. Bottom line? Sometimes it’s nice to have a shoe that works for you, not against you. blakebrody.com.

April 16, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Fitness Find: Studio K in L.A.
Courtesy of Studio K

Movement is the basis of any workout worth mobilizing for. But the type of movement—and what it can deliver—is what makes the difference. Studio K, a fitness center in L.A.’s Pacific Palisades neighborhood, is focused on helping you move better, anchoring its philosophy to so-called K Stations—cable-based Technogym Kinesis systems built into the walls (pictured above). The apparatuses facilitate natural, full-body movements; an extensive range of motion; and numerous exercises that combine into one fluid cardio and strength workout.

“It has a mystery at first,” says Susan Howard, general manager and master K Trainer, of the burgeoning but still novel method. “[But] as you learn its efficiencies and functionalities in movements through the resistance training, you see its endless options and adaptations to help build core stability, strength, power, speed, balance and flexibility all in one cardiovascular workout.”

Zeroing in on three key components—functional movement, efficiency and transformative results—Studio K offers personal- and group-training options. And while the sleek space plays up the facility’s proximity to the ocean (a tranquil photo of the beach covers one wall, the overall color palette calls to mind sand), the challenging workouts require focus and the desire to make a real connection with your body every day.

“Our physical movement patterns effect how we feel, work, play and enjoy our lives,” says Howard. “K Training is designed to be functionally intuitive and strengthen one’s ability to perform better in the daily activities of life.” 17351 W. Sunset Blvd.; 310-454-1048; studioktraining.com.

April 09, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Fitness Find: A Wellness Program in Puglia
Courtesy of Borgo Egnazia

Whether your goal is to start a healthier routine or continue one, there are few more motivating places to do it than the coast of Puglia, Italy—home of the recently debuted wellness program FU’RE at Borgo Egnazia hotel and resort.

FU’RE, which means “outside” in the local Apulian dialect, stays true to its name, taking full advantage of Borgo Egnazia’s grounds and focusing the six-day retreats (available in either high or low intensity) on local traditions, ingredients and ways of being. Classes consist of no more than seven guests and cover traditional fitness territory (yoga, resistance training, cardio) and more unorthodox choices (music therapy, juggling, table tennis, dance, saltwater flotation sessions in the VAIR Spa’s Roman baths). Certified personal trainers and professionals in areas like bodywork and naturotherapy are in charge; analyses of body composition and daily calorie intake can also be woven in.

Of course no Italian venture is complete without delicious food. Resident dietician Agostino Grassi meets with participants and develops menus featuring local vegetables and traditional pasta dishes. With that to look forward to after, say, boot-camp training overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the allure is clear.

“Borgo Egnazia is the perfect setting for a fitness-and-spa program: wild, various scenarios, mild weather, generous and a relaxing environment that stimulates your body and mind,” says owner Aldo Melpignano, who, while admitting that weight loss isn’t the main focus of FU’RE, shed six pounds the last time he participated. “[It] is a great kick-start if you want to rebalance your life or simply take some time for yourself.” Six-day program starts at $1,800 (excluding accommodations); rooms start at $290; Savelletri di Fasano; 39-080/225-5000; borgoegnazia.com.

January 21, 2014
By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

The Ultimate Workout: Learning to Breathe Better
Courtesy of WILLSPACE

Taking a breath might seem like the simplest thing in the world to do, but according to Dr. Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and breathing expert, 98 percent of us do it wrong—a statistic she is determined to change with her comprehensive Breathe classes at the private West Village gym Willspace.

“Breathing is the single most important thing you do,” says Vranich, who has finessed the inhalations and exhalations of everyone from convicts to corporate types. “Oxygen is cell fuel. People are running on fumes, then wondering why they are so fatigued.”

The drills are intense and specific, concentrating on two-part belly breaths that work the body’s midsection. (Shallow breathers tend to inhale from their upper body, forgetting about the underused diaphragm and surrounding core muscles.) While active meditation is included—and the studio is dim and comfortable—the work is serious. During our session, Vranich (pictured above, left) didn't allow us to lose focus during the surprisingly fatiguing drills, prompting us to power through as we would any challenging exercise routine.

The influx of oxygen might leave you a bit tingly (some people cry in response, others laugh), but by the end of the class we were more cognizant of what our lungs were doing and breathing effortlessly—freer, looser. Vranich has seen enhanced breathing improve anxiety, sleep, GI issues, energy levels and athletic performance. And while a certain amount of discipline is needed to change old habits, much of the transformation has to do with simply knowing your body—and that is as basic as it gets.

“It’s not about finding another doctor, another medication or just living with discomfort,” she says. “I want people to feel empowered and delighted that they can heal.” Call for class schedules; 254 W. Tenth St.; 212-929-1800; willspace.com.

November 22, 2013
By Sasha Levine | Fitness

Fitness Find: Muay Thai Martial Arts in Thailand
Orient-Express Hotels Ltd.

If you’re in search of a travel workout that doubles as a memorable cultural experience, the new Thai boxing lessons offered at Napasai, an Orient-Express resort on Koh Samui island in Thailand, deliver.

Set amid the tropical forest, the hotel’s newly minted outdoor Thai boxing ring allows guests to try the national tradition with instruction from local professionals ($50 an hour). Characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet, the centuries-old martial art, also known as “the art of eight limbs,” is a full-body workout, increasing stamina, strength and flexibility. But it’s not just the physical benefits that make Muay Thai an excellent workout.

“During the lesson you learn how to control your body, your moves and also your temper,” says general manager Stephan Post. “People who do Thai boxing over a long period of time tell me they feel more balanced, self-confident and handle confrontation in a controlled manner.”

Feeling inspired? The hotel offers a post-workout excursion to a Thai boxing stadium, where you can watch the real thing in action. Rooms start at $230; 65/10 Baan Tai, Maenam; 800-237-1236; napasai.com.

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