Fitness Vacations, With a Twist

More Americans are using their vacations to get healthy

By Sid Kirchheimer
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario,MD

Vacations, that well-deserved time off to escape the everyday stresses of life, used to mean heading to some tropical paradise for much-needed R&R -- rum and relaxation.

But these days, even advertisements for that most decadent recess -- a Caribbean cruise -- show nary an endless buffet or semi-drunk passenger snoozing in a plastic lounge chair. Instead, the trip to Cozumel includes on-board rock climbing, ice skating, and aerobics classes to pump the heart rate along with excitement. And once there, the Mayan ruins have been rewritten to include Mom in a spinning class.

These days, the hot getaway trend is health vacations -- with Pilates replacing pina coladas and doctors serving as tour guides.

"It makes sense, because as baby boomers get older, they want to take better care of themselves," says Harley Mayersohn, spokesman for Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, the granddaddy of health spas since opening in 1979. "We're talking about a demographic that includes some 50 million Americans, and since the average age of our visitor is 46, we're right in that sweet spot."

No Shortage of Customers

Business is booming.

One reason is because it's these health-conscious, stress-ridden boomers who take nearly half of all vacations, according to Mike Pina, of the Travel Industry Association of America, a trade group representing hotels, airlines, and other vacation providers.