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What Are the Best Fitness Retreats in America?

Down! One. (Photo: Mike Powell/Getty Images)
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It used to be that people would go on vacation to relax, drink cocktails from coconut shells, and sit by the beach with a trashy paperback. But more and more now, people are shelling out big bucks to travel to posh resorts and get their butts kicked exercising every day. These four fitness retreats allow you to enjoy excruciatingly intense workouts in luxury, under the watchful eye of world-class trainers, and—most importantly—massage therapists.

Red Mountain Resort

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(Photo: Courtesy of Red Mountain Resort)

St. George, Utah
Known for its outdoor adventure program in the 7,000-acre Snow Canyon State Park in Southwestern Utah, Red Mountain Resort is also an intensive fitness retreat. Its trainers will assess your strength, cardiovascular conditioning, and flexibility, then create your own personal workout regimen to improve anything from your power squat to your 5K time. Red Mountain also offers regular group fitness and cardio workshops, and water workouts in the lap pool. Before you’re led to one of the 82 rooms or 24 villa suites upon check-in, your concierge will help you with your fitness routine and schedule. Spa treatments are in a geodesic dome at the sprawling 82-acre resort’s center. Rates start at $170.

Canyon Ranch Health Resort

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(Photo: Courtesy of Canyon Ranch)

Tucson, Arizona
Canyon Ranch
calls the 60 members of its performance enhancement corps the “dream team,” and this five-star resort in the Santa Catalina foothills of Arizona isn’t using hyperbole. On-staff are four physicians, five exercise physiologists, and three nutritionists, all in addition to trainers. Canyon Ranch’s EXCELerate Program has been used by everyone from world-class professional athletes to Fortune 500 executives to celebrities hoping to improve overall health and energy by using principles established by the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida. As for the facilities, you can choose from four pools in the 80,000-square-foot spa and fitness complex, or use the nearby Saguaro National Park as an endless playground for biking, hiking, and running. All the meals are low-cal, and no alcohol is served. Rates start at $3,710 for three nights.

The Ranch at Live Oak

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(Photo: Courtesy of the Ranch at Live Oa)

Malibu, California
Nothing is subdued in Malibu, and the “luxury boot camp” at the Ranch at Live Oak is no different. Each day during your weeklong stay, which begins at 5:30 a.m., you attend mandatory group fitness routines that last four or five hours and include hiking, core and abdominal exercises, weightlifting, yoga, and massage therapy. Meals are all organic and vegetarian, prepared from produce grown on the on-property farm, and drinks are caffeine- and alcohol-free. The Ranch sits hidden on 120 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains and feels like a million miles from the outside world. The one-week rate is $6,500.

Lake Austin Spa Resort

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(Photo: Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Reso)

Austin, Texas
Established in 1997 on the site of a World War II-era fishing camp in the Texas Hill Country, this 19-acre resort property on the shores of Lake Austin is now considered one of America's top spa destinations. Although most guests are allured to its 40 guest rooms by the prospect of daily relaxation in one of the 30 treatment areas around its 25,000-square-foot health center, some hardy souls come to work out. Its Personal Instruction program includes a fitness assessment and body composition analysis, and a personal trainer to create workout sessions that include stability and balance, running, swimming (in one of the three pools), strength, and core conditioning. Rates start at $1,700 per person for three nights.