Sunday, August 13, 2017

Spa Hiking in Vermont

Many of us associate the word "spa" with pampering in the form of water treatments, facials, body wraps, hot stone massages and other pleasant, but sedentary, activities. What I love about the New Life Hiking Spa in Vermont -- and there's much to love -- is that its got my idea of pampering via fitness. Sure, they've got those typical spa treatments we've all come to expect. But I don't go to New Life for a body exfoliation -- though they offered a relaxing one using Chinese herbs, creams and oils. I went to indulge my joy in being fit. And New Life is the right place for fitness. Every day after breakfast they offer hikes for all levels: nature walks, intermediate treks from low-grade to more strenuous, and advanced hikes where you'll be scaling peaks. But the fitness starts before breakfast with a stretch class.

The hikes couldn't have been more idyllic. My friend and I chose an advanced intermediate hike every morning, not because we weren't fit enough for the advanced jaunt but because I don't like precipices nor navigating over scree or boulder fields, something that's always a possibility when summiting. On the intermediate journeys we tackled, we hiked through dense pine forests with the most energizing aromas, strolled beside crystal clear ponds and lakes, and enjoyed numerous scenic panoramas over the state's generous green spaces.

The afternoon was also fitness oriented, with different classes offered every hour, from 2PM through 5PM. Qi Gong, different sorts of yoga practices, outdoor fitness, and circuit training are just a few of the many offerings that change daily and are taught by a cadre of professional, personable and skilled trainers. (Characteristics of the hiking guides as well.) My favorite activities included the latter two classes. Rather than relying on machines (not fun for me), circuit training used Bosu balls for balance, mats to do a plank, sit ups or other exercises, and exercise bands of all sorts for strength training. In the outdoor fitness, we took advantage of the pleasant weather, heading to a spacious lawn for a fun boot camp of sorts. It included high-kneed skipping, tossing medicine-type balls, negotiating an agility ladder and engaging in some of the side-to-side motion typically used to train football players. We felt like children and that is what fitness should all be about.

The New Life Hiking Spa is only open part of the year, using the spaces at Killington's Cortina Inn and Resort. Expect an informal, a bit rustic and completely unpretentious environment. In other words, leave the glittery evening clothes and pearls at home. In speaking with the array of guests who have a wide range of ages, many have returned time and again sometimes for 11+ years, for many reasons, including the camaraderie and the hiking.  New Life has been around for almost 40 years. They obviously have the recipe for success. After all, one of the best ways to help people lose the weight they desire is to just get them moving in fun activities. I can't think of anything more fun than hiking in forest land.