The Best Expert-Led Fitness Holidays

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, February 26, 2014

With March almost upon us, thoughts are again turning to the summer holiday season. For those of us who have long since abandoned January 1 resolutions to get back in shape, now's the time to invest in a get-fit holiday that should bring those seemingly distant fitness goals within reach.

While it's a given that any worthwhile luxury hotel or resort will have a well-equipped gym and competent personal trainer on site, a small number of properties offer exercise programmes led by world-class athletes who are established authorities within their field. If you book one of these breaks be prepared to work: there may not be the same focus on creature comforts as in a traditional spa or "wellness" retreat, but the luxury here is having privileged access and hands-on tuition from sportsmen and women of exceptional, proven ability. Whether swimming with an Olympian on a private island or exercising with Naomi Campbell’s trainer in Sardinia, these sessions are designed to achieve fast results. Expect the going to be tough, but the location to provide some consolation.

All-over fitness in Sardinia
Tom Ford, Naomi Campbell and Sting are a toned and limber lot, which should serve as a strong endorsement for the Matt Roberts Fitness Retreat – the eponymous personal trainer counts all three as clients. Held in Sardinia’s Forte Village resort from May 25-31, this week-long break will see Matt and his team lead five hours of strenuous exercise classes each day. Luckily rest and recovery time is included in the programme too – multiple massages and spa visits are scheduled during the week and the trainer has worked with the resort’s chefs to create a menu varied and nutritious enough to fuel his clients through this demanding retreat.

The retreat costs from €4,515 (£3,730) per person.

Triathlon training in Thailand
Thailand’s Thanyapura fitness retreat takes sports seriously. Set on a 27-hectare site in northern Phuket, its Olympic-level facilities draw exercise fanatics and world-class athletes alike. Particularly challenging, Thanyapura’s triathlon packages exhaust every part of the body with runs along picturesque but humid hillsides, intensive swims with subsequent video analysis, spinning sessions and more. The programme is overseen by permanent staff member Jurgen Zack from Germany, who is an eight-time Ironman winner. The Ironman triathlon incorporates a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and marathon, so this is a trainer who has proved his worth time and again.

A seven-night “Performance” triathlon package costs from THB59,760 (about £1,100) and includes meals, private triathlon coaching, various exercise sessions, yoga and massages.

Best of British athleticism in St Lucia

The “WellFit” sports programme at St Lucian resort the BodyHoliday welcomes a succession of exceptional athletes as coaches this summer. The inaugural week-long session is led by England rugby player Alex Goode, with further mentors including British Olympic gold medallist rowers Katherine Grainger, Anna Watkins and Ben Hunt-Davies. In addition to high-intensity “beach camp” sessions, activities might include sailing on hobbie cats, kayaking and abseiling down waterfalls in the surrounding rainforest. Ensuring participants remain motivated, the attending sportsmen and women will give talks on sports nutrition and fitness and recount their achievements during Q&A sessions.

The WellFit series runs from July 6 to August 31; over the course of the programme, Kuoni offers seven nights all-inclusive at the resort from £2,008 per person.

Swim with an Olympian in the Caribbean

Most swimmers keen to improve their technique this summer would likely agree that a private island in St Vincent and the Grenadines would be an agreeable place to do it, so the four-day swimming workshops being held in the rustic Palm Island resort this May are enticing right from the off. The clincher, however, is that they’re led by gold medal-winning Olympian Becky Adlington. As well as receiving extensive swimming tutoring, participants will take part in complementary land-based exercises and have individual consultations and technique analyses with Adlington. It’s a relatively laid back and supportive affair but those with a competitive streak can end the programme by participating in a one-mile open water swim. (You can read Telegraph Travel journalist Teresa Machan's review of the experience here .)

The next workshop takes place from May 4-7; Virgin Holidays offers a seven-night all-inclusive package from £1,899 per person, including flights.

Private training in a place that suits

A personal trainer to models, actors and various wealthy clients from the Middle East, London-based Dan Roberts takes a flexible approach to fitness breaks, accompanying customers to a destination of their choice and developing a tailored programme specifically for their needs. A sample itinerary could see a group of up to 10 arrange exclusive use of the lavish Chateau Saint-Tropez, completing up to eight hours of exercise a day under the direction of Roberts and his team and dining on special menus designed to restore and enhance participants’ physiques. There’s an emphasis on long-term results here too, with Roberts nurturing and mentoring his charges during one-to-one sessions with an aim to changing long-standing behavioural patterns and encouraging a fundamental shift towards healthier living.

Available through Quintessentially Travel, one week at the Chateau Saint-Tropez would cost €116,000; flights extra.; 0845 269 1152.

Remodelled in the Maldives
Typically located in the Bulgari Hotel in London - where his programmes achieve impressive results - James Duigan leads his first Bodyism retreat overseas this year. The Bodyism programme aims to provide its proponents with a long, lean, healthy body and is endorsed by Elle Macpherson, Rosie Huntington-Whitely and David Gandy among others. From April 14 to May 10, Duigan will oversee a Bodyism programme at One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives. As well as advising on diet and training, he will create bespoke meal plans for guests and tailor their exercise programmes throughout the course of their stay.

Carrier offers seven nights at Reethi Rah from £2,565 per person, including half board and resort transfers.