Hannah MacInnes reviews this intensive fitness retreat in the Swiss Alps and finds great core workouts, gorgeous hikes, wild lake swimming and happiness
I was hugely looking forward to my Mountain Beach Fitness holiday in Verbier, but quite nervous about the idea of so much organized activity. I love my exercise but the prospect of endless group classes worried me. I needn’t have worried – in reality my week was not only bearable but huge fun – largely thanks to the boundless energy and cheerful infectious enthusiasm of personal trainers Lottie and Emma, who run the company.
They made us push ourselves hard but always kept morale and spirits high. We were joined each day by three or four Verbier residents which also boosted the energy – the vibe being very much ‘the more the merrier’. There were five of us staying in the chalet, all women (though men are welcome) and all different ages from two girls of 23 to a mother aged around 50. Emma and Lottie were hugely careful to make sure our ages and level of fitness were always accommodated, splitting us into groups if required.
I loved the variety of activity and surprised myself by how much I enjoyed everything – even the core workouts and circuits. They involved a number of different workouts for the whole body, from press-ups and boxing to using the kettlebell and TRX. The fact that we mainly did these outside in the fresh air – in a meadow with views out over the mountains, for instance, or by the clear, calm lake, made them infinitely more enjoyable.
Indeed being surrounded by such breathtaking beauty – from the exquisite snow capped mountain peaks to the clearest lakes – also made me feel stronger, and at the end of every day as I flopped down at long last, cheeks flushed with colour from a combination of exertion, wind and sun, I always had a strong feeling of achievement. The comfortable chalet made a good haven to return to – my room was on the lower level but still had a great view of the mountains from its little window.
‘The Lac Louvie hike was a real highlight for me – arriving after a 4 hour walk, munching our picnic beside the mountain cabin, filling bottles from the spring, sun shining, legs aching, skin glowing from the wind’
We did daily yoga to balance things out a bit, I enjoyed the evening yoga classes in particular – they provided a golden hour to relax and stretch exhausted muscles, and felt hugely rewarding and thoroughly well deserved.
The Lac Louvie hike was a real highlight for me. Arriving after four and a half hours of walking, we whipped off our clothes and plunging into the icy blue green waters of the glacial lake, so clear the reflection of the few clouds was perfectly mirrored in the water. Then, munching our picnic beside the mountain cabin, filling bottles from the spring, sun shining, legs aching, skin glowing from the wind – lunch has barely ever felt so well deserved.
The healthy food was a highlight for sure, though be warned there’s not much here to satisfy a sweet tooth if you have one (like me). The wonderful, ever so slightly eccentric and humble chef Katie served up a wonderful chocolate beetroot cake and cookies on occasion and we’d occasionally round off a meal with one of her exquisite cacao energy balls.
I came home with some sore body parts, a feeling of total rejuvenation and a lingering sense of self-satisfaction, and would absolutely do this trip again – though give me a little while to recover my muscles and get my breath back!. Value for money is pretty good, especially considering how expensive everything in Switzerland is. Everything is included, including four or five activities a day and a generous breakfast. I missed the crisp clean mountain air as soon as I touched down in Heathrow.