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Make fitness your focus at these travel destinations

Yoga in Spain is a healthful vacation option.

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By KAREN BRADBURY | Stars and Stripes | Published: October 9, 2020

Looking for a vacation devoted to physically challenging pursuits? Use your precious time off gaining proficiency in the sport or discipline of your choice under expert guidance. Here is just a smattering of some sporty undertakings that could make for a fitness-oriented holiday.

Skiing: The Austrian Alps make a majestic setting in which all family members can strap on skis and take their maiden descents down gentle downhill slopes, working their way toward steeper runs as they gradually gain confidence. Siegi Tours out of Sankt Veit in Pongau treats all their guests like family and has been a longstanding favorite destination of U.S. military members in Europe, and their Ski Amade home base has the slopes to accommodate all skill levels. In accordance with all applicable COVID-related regulations, the company plans to offer packages over the 2020-21 winter season. For example, the Siegi Tours “Learn to Ski Holiday Week Package” includes six days in a partner hotel in St. Veit/Alpendorf, ski or snowboard instruction at their school, evening entertainment, fun nights at the Rustica Stadl and shuttle service to and from the lifts begins at 627 euros ($735) per adult participant. Expert skiers might prefer one of its Ski Safari Holiday packages, with challenging daily ski tours led by a certified instructor over moguls and off-piste powder trails across this vast resort linking up 15 villages and 270 ski lifts. Online: siegitours.com/ski-safari-holiday

Ice climbing: The Champsaur Valley in the southern French Alps attracts climbers from all corners with its wealth of frozen waterfalls. The tour company Undiscovered Mountains offers a tailor-made Ice Climbing Weekend in the Alps course introducing complete beginners to this challenging sport from December through March. Newcomers learn the basics of ice safety and security and essential ice climbing techniques. A program inclusive of a four-night stay with half board in a guest house, two full days of climbing under the guidance of a certified mountain guide in a small group setting, and all technical and safety equipment starts at 1001 euros. Online: tinyurl.com/ybvw5afw

Yoga: Spain was one of the first European countries to embrace yoga as a discipline, so for asanas, sun salutations and downward dogs, make way to a retreat in on the Spanish island of Ibiza. Uncrowded beaches, minimalist landscapes and a hippie vibe make this sun-drenched Mediterranean island a natural choice to practice poses from sunup to sunset. Yoga packages are offered throughout most months of the year. Rejuvenate mind, body and soul with Be Yogi’s seven-day “Wild Spirit of Ibiza” yoga retreat in Benirras, San Juan, where skill levels from beginner to advanced can take advantage of not only Yin and Restorative yoga classes under expert instruction but a mud scrub, visits to the famed Hippie Market and Tanit Cave of the goddesses, dancing to the beat of drums on the beach at sunset and more. A package with accommodation at a finca (farm), meals and excursions comes in at around 1,200 euros ($1,407). Online: beyogi-ibiza.com

Fitness reboot: Wildfitness, a UK-based company, offers retreats in Norfolk, England, the Spanish island of Menorca, and Crete, Greece. Its life coaches bring a range of skills from bushcraft to martial arts. In the works for 2021 is an experience in the mountain hamlet of Milia in western Crete, where an old farmhouse serves as the base for a week of hiking through gorges and peaks, swimming in turquoise waters and gazing at the stars. Accommodation, organic meals prepared by local chefs, outings to some of the island’s most gorgeous beaches, daily group sessions, games, educational workshops and a massage start at 2,200 UK pounds ($2,843) single occupancy. Online: wildfitness.com

Weight loss: Le Sireneuse, an award-winning luxury oasis in Positano overlooking the stunning Amalfi coast, is the setting for a program combining weight loss with toning and overall fitness. The Dolce Vitality package offers trekking, yoga, stretching, strength training and meditation. In tandem with a vegan diet, a week will be all it takes to cleanse and refocus. Personal trainers offer individual fitness sessions, and post-workout massages soothe strained muscles. The exclusive program takes place just twice a year, in early spring and late fall, seasons mercifully lacking in hordes of vacationers. A typical day might include a hike through lemon groves, breath work and a spa treatment, followed by a nutritious meal provided by a Michelin-starred chef. The entire resort is given to program participants, and the sense of shared accomplishment nurtured within the group setting makes up a major part of the retreat’s appeal. Online: dolcevitality.it