Mountain Beach Fitness Retreats, Switzerland
Intensive fitness retreats in the Swiss Alps
This 7-night holiday runs for 5 weeks each summer from June to September. There’s also a ski week in winter.
Shared rooms from £1850 per person, single occupancy rooms from £2600 per person. Prices include accommodation, all meals and activities.
6 – 14
Best for: Those who love being pushed to achieve their maximum and the exhilaration that comes with hours of outdoor activity. There’s a performance week for the super-fit, while the rest are regular weeks that can be tailored to all levels of fitness.
Not for: Those looking for lots of quiet time to themselves.
In a nutshell: Mountain Beach Fitness run an intensive fitness week in the picturesque ski resort of Verbier in the magnificent Swiss Valleys six times a year - five during the summer months and one during winter. City life seems a million miles away as you hike for miles and miles across the mountain ranges, picnic by alpine lakes and work out in meadows looking over snow covered peaks. Try paddle boarding and a variety of exercise classes as well as daily yoga, eat nutritious beautifully prepared food and in the evenings collapse and soothe aching muscles in cozy chalet accommodation.
Experiencing the Alps in the summer months, the chance to hike across exquisite snow capped mountain peaks, being exposed to the elements and feeling a million miles from anything. We also loved the miniature selection of organic ila toiletries (shampoo, conditioner bath and shower gel) we found on our beds on arrival.
The weather is not entirely predictable in this area of the world, even in Summer, so you can’t bank on sunny days – when you have them they are glorious, but you could equally have one or two cold and rainy days. Pack appropriately, and bear in mind that often it is easier to exercise in fresher temperatures. Emma and Lottie meticulously check the forecast and adapted the schedule accordingly.
Every day brings a different, thoroughly action packed timetable with 4-5 activities a day led by the ever energetic Emma and Lottie, both qualified personal trainers who alternate the classes according to their areas of expertise.
Structured functional fitness underpins the ethos here, using your whole body, and the natural environment is used as a playground for workouts - so you’ll be doing burpees and bodyweight circuits at 2600m overlooking snow capped peaks, for example, truly immersed in nature and nourished by fresh clean mountain air. Activities range from HIIT circuits and TRX in the meadows or chalet garden, spin classes in the studio, paddle boarding on the lake, Pars Cours Vita in the forest (an obstacle course with 14 stations at each of which you practice a different exercise) and animal flow (ground based training which stretches and awakens muscles you never knew you had). Different weeks are suited to different levels; for example, the performance week is focused for fit individuals wanting altitude training and structured innovative sessions, while the regular weeks can accommodate all levels in small group sizes. Nothing is compulsory and there is a pre arrival consultation to ensure individual goals are met.
Each day there is an excursion of some sort - usually a hike from one to six hours in length, or sometimes a visit to nearby Champex Lac, a little village coiled around a crystal clear alpine lake, where you might run, do circuits, try paddle boarding and for the more hardy, jump in for an icy dip! One day is given to a long hike. Some activities are optional and cost extra - for example, paragliding can be organised on request. Each day has been consciously designed to compliment the next, from endurance hikes coupled with restorative yoga to fasted pre-breakfast HIIT sessions and core workouts. The day is structured so on average there are 4 sessions daily, your body will be kept guessing. There is something for everyone at every level.
Yoga takes place every day except one, and different styles of yoga are used to compliment the different fitness activities. On some mornings you practice vinyasa flow or ashtanga yoga first thing in a nearby studio - on others you eat breakfast before heading out on excursions and do a deeply restorative hatha or yin class in the evening. Teachers are handpicked from the Verbier studio and teach various styles. On our visit, Rachel May Clark was highly professional with the most soothing and meditative of voices.
On one of the evenings the private chef gives you a cookery lesson in the chalet, teaching how to make nutritious seedy soda bread as well as some sweeter treats. There are also health talks on stress, the gut, sleep and other wellbeing subjects on some of the weeks - ask ahead about these.
The chalet has a sauna and hot tub to use, and you can lounge on the balcony and soak up some vitamin D. There’s also an outdoor pool in Verbier a short walk away that can be used in free time. The team encourage the chalet to be a digital free area in communal spaces, and guests can volunteer for them to guard their phones if they wish.
You can pre-book a range of in house massages, from aromatherapy to deep tissue, with hand picked experienced therapists. These are from CHF 100 per hour. You could also have beauty treatments or even get your hair done at The Chapel hairdresser in your free time.
Bedrooms: Accommodation for the guests (staff live off site) is in one typically Swiss and chic alpine chalet, all wooden panelled and floored with four double bedrooms, two on the lower ground floor (just below ground level) and two on the second. Outside you are surrounded by charming flower strewn chalets and on all sides the snow covered peaks of the Mountains in the distance. It really is beautiful 'Heidi' territory.
All rooms are cosy with underfloor heating, their own bathrooms, minimal wooden furniture and simple but comfortable beds, two twins and two doubles. Each room has wardrobe space and some have a view. Every day the delightful Emily comes to clean, making the beds and cleaning the bathrooms - a lovely spoiling touch.
Other spaces: There is free time each day to zone out and take time for yourself. The chalets are a short walk from the quintessentially Swiss village or an even shorter walk from the mountains where you can find your own sanctuary.
Take your most comfy clothes and cosy socks – it’s beautifully warm in the chalet but after the long exercise filled days it’s lovely to snuggle into your favourite hoodie. Tiger balm is also not a bad plan to warm your muscles at the end of each day. Take the beautiful train ride to Verbier which takes in the stunning sites around Lausanne and Lake Geneva. This is a regular and efficient service and takes under 2.5 hrs.
When to Go
The summer retreats enable you to benefit from Verbier’s warm and sunny (if sometimes unreliable) climate, with a south facing plateau that attracts sun year-round, not to mention the super fresh mountain air. The winter retreat in January offers the perfect opportunity to ski off the Christmas turkey while the slopes are quiet.
You eat in the wooden chalet, usually inside at a large dining table, or on the outdoor veranda, which soaks up the sun on hotter days. On excursion days you can pile your tupperware high with a selection of salads and take that with you.
The private chef makes delicious creations to nourish you throughout, including endless warm loaves of freshly baked spelt or seedy soda bread, energy balls that taste like the finest chocolate truffles and the occasional healthy but tasty cake.
Breakfast includes scrumptious healthy home made granola with fresh fruit and natural yoghurt, as well as wonderful home made cashew butter and a fruity smoothie shot containing protein powder. Eggs are served a different way each day with nutritious freshly baked bread/toast.
Lunch is usually a buffet selection of fabulous healthy vegetarian salads with frittatas, soup or baked polenta, while dinner (which you usually eat at 7pm) consists of wonderfully flavoured and beautifully presented starters and mains – often with a Middle Eastern or Moroccan twist – such as chicken with saffron honey and a hazelnut crust served with marinated mushrooms, gingery carrot salad and courgetti with sundried tomatoes and feta. Fish, meat or a vegetable curry are plated up and guests then helped themselves from a selection of deliciously seasoned vegetables. Alcohol is not included or encouraged.
Mountain Beach Fitness Retreats discourages the use of plastic and provides guests with their own reusable water bottles as a gift. The team minimise waste and use recycled yoga mats and bamboo, eco-friendly plates for picnics rather than tupperware. They use all local producers and the fruit, veg and eggs for meals are from a local in the village.
They treat their staff as members of a family, and give back to the local community as much as possible by promoting wellbeing for young people – Emma has taught fitness and relaxation to the children at the local school – and by offering drop-in days to local residents who want to experience a day of fun and fitness (this is capped per day but is not normally more than 3 or 4 max).
Transfer time: 2.5 hour by car or by train, from train station: 10 minutes