Two top destinations guaranteed to jumpstart your fitness regimen and get results
R4.0, Four Seasons Westlake Village
It’s not just the weight you’ll lose that makes this program worth the sweat.
When you’re in need of serious motivation to exercise, eat healthier, even lose weight, where do you turn? If you’re up for the challenge, you’ll book a spot at the R4.0 program at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, CA. The four-day program, which runs Thursdays through Sundays, is a spin-off from its week-long sister program at the Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, CA.
The program starts with a comprehensive fitness testing in conjunction with the California Health & Longevity Institute. It has several components, including a VO2 metabolic testing on a treadmill (which will, among other things, tell you how hard you should be training in your workouts), body composition analysis, and weight and body measurements.
The heart of the program then revolves around exercise—roughly eight hours a day if you choose. The goal? Log 30,000 daily steps (or roughly 15 miles). If that sounds like a feat, it is, considering that studies show the average individual takes only 5,000 to 6,700 steps a day.
That’s why you’re given a detailed 30-day prep program before R4.0 starts, during which you gradually increase your physical activity. You’re also instructed to wean yourself off alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, diet drinks, artificial sweeteners and sugar.
Each morning starts with a three- to four-hour hike, in different locations to offer variation in intensity, scenery and terrain. In the afternoon, you rotate through various fitness classes, including yoga, all of which are optional. Your reward? An in-room massage all four days, which was the reason I didn’t feel any soreness.
The food is vegetarian (some of the best I’ve ever had) with breakfast, lunch and dinner served in a zen-like greenhouse. Two daily snacks round out the meals. Portions are carefully controlled, and calorie counts are given with every meal. Adjustments can be made (you just eat larger portions), which is critical if you’re doing the program for the physical challenge versus weight loss. One afternoon also features an information-packed cooking demonstration by the program’s chef, where you’re given a booklet of recipes.
You also learn about healthy living in short discussions led by the staff each night so you’re armed with information you can use in the real world. Topics include reading food labels, keeping a food journal and controlling portions. You can then retreat to your room for a well-deserved night of sleep.
While you will lose weight if that’s your goal, what you’ll gain includes a boost in confidence and a renewed commitment to your health—perhaps the ultimate payoff. —Karen Asp
Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, San Diego
With a bucolic setting, an organic garden, and more fitness offerings than you can imagine, Cal-a-Vie is one of the nation’s premier destination spas. And, it might just change your life.
It’s the first morning at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa just outside San Diego, and I can’t help but flash back to my days at summer camp. But this is hardly the proverbial campground with a mess hall, rustic cabins, a morning bell. Instead, it’s the most glamorous, grown-up version imaginable, with a bucolic campus evocative of Provence: lavender fields, a wooden bridge, a labyrinth, a 400-year-old chapel culled from France and rebuilt brick-by-brick, and individual suites lined with cerused oak floors, French antique armoires, Louis XIV-style chairs, Frette linens and oversized tubs.
Owned by husband-and-wife duo John and Terri Havens, the property underwent a renovation a few years ago, and most recently debuted a pool, an organic garden and a 1,500-square-foot boutique. Even after a brisk, 5 a.m. hike that winds through the canyons of San Diego, and first fitness class (for me, it’s spinning), I’ve quickly decided if there’s a place to get in shape, or take time for reflection, this is it. And, I’ve already made some like-minded friends (moms, retirees, veterans who have been returning year after year and accomplished athletes) during a mid-morning snack between classes. Next up, is high-intensity “barre works” using a ballet barre, fitness circles and medicine balls for sculpting and toning, followed by guided meditation in the chapel.
After lunch (spa cuisine meticulously prepared adhering to any dietary restrictions and mindful of calorie count), it’s time to check into the spa with treatments ranging from Thai massage to reflexology. Later, at dinner, I review the day with my new friends and discover this isn’t just a spa, it’s a mind-and-body mecca meant to motivate even the harshest skeptics. And, now, I’m ready to take on Day Two. —Jennie Nunn
ACTIVE STYLE NOTE
In line with Eileen Fisher’s commitment to socially responsible manufacturing and sustainability, the new Urban Life Collection features easy, elegant pieces—organic cotton, alpaca, recycled nylon, and more—in soft fabrics and simple shapes that are inspired by athletic wear. Perfect to throw on after a workout or basically anywhere. That’s the beauty of this collection. eileenfisher.com
Made from 100 percent natural felted wool from happy sheep who roam the gentle hills of Himmerland, Denmark, these may be some of the comfiest shoes ever. The inner sole is plush and the exterior is crafted in bright, beautiful colors: red, orange, purple, teal and more. Perfect to keep your tootsies warm after a workout. Though intended as slippers, we wear ours outdoors, too, because we never want to take them off! glerupsusa.com —Rona Berg