Courtesy Biggest Loser Resort
An ocean view from the Biggest Loser Resort in Malibu, Calif.
Fans of the popular NBC weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" will soon be able to find more places to vacation like a "loser."
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)
Fitness Ridge Worldwide, which currently operates two Biggest Loser-branded resorts in Malibu, Calif., and Ivins, Utah, announced last week that it plans to open several new resorts and bring the concept to existing hotels.
“Our goal is to put Biggest Loser Resorts all over the country,” said CEO Larry Bond. The company plans to expand to 2,500 rooms in the next three years starting with a new location in the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic region in early 2012. The Utah and California resorts have 140 rooms combined.
From destination spas such as Canyon Ranch to Outward Bound-style programs that challenge participants’ physical and emotional stamina, vacations focused on fitness are nothing new.
But the tie-in with the TV show is what lured 49-year-old Froydis Olsen from Oslo, Norway, to the Biggest Loser Resort in scenic Malibu this summer.
“I wanted to see how much I can push myself," she said. "I wanted to be pushed like the TV show and see how much I could endure."
Guests who stay at the Malibu resort for one week pay $2,295 for a double occupancy room. A private room for the week costs $2,695; a four-week stay can be as much as $10,000 depending on accommodations. (Prices at the Utah resort are a bit lower.)
Olsen and other guests spend six to seven hours each weekday in group exercises that include guided hikes, cardio, aerobics and aquatic classes. Saturday morning activities include fitness classes and a guided hike in the Malibu hills or on the beach. When they aren’t moving, guests are learning about nutrition and wellness from a team of trainers, counselors, life coaches, dieticians and chefs.
“I thought it would be a lot more pushing, that they’d get in your face,” said Olsen, who tacked on both a personal training session and a private hike session for an additional fee. “The trainers will push you, but it’s more positive and motivational.”
Olsen, who is spending five weeks at the resort this summer, arrived weighing 196 pounds. She lost 14 pounds during her first week and 22.5 pounds by the end of week four.
Paul Hernandez of Trinidad, who weighed in at 383 pounds and has a target weight of 240 pounds, had to secure a visa in order to spend 84 days at the Malibu resort. He thought the program’s 1,200 calorie a day meal program would be “all rice cakes and lettuce,” but has found the food to be quite acceptable.
Breakfast menus (300 calories) include egg dishes, granola parfaits, smoothies and muffins. Lunches (400 calories) range from sandwiches or burritos to soups and pizza. And dinners (500 calories) include chicken, salads, salmon and enchiladas.
“I’m not saying you’re full, but you leave the table satisfied,” Hernandez said. “And if you feel peckish, there are salads and snacks you can fill up on.”
Dixie Stanforth, a fitness expert from the University of Texas at Austin and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, said people searching for a weight-loss vacation should consider whether they can spend enough time and money to be there long enough to drive significant behavior changes.
“No program is going to work for everyone,” Stanforth said, “but unlike the show, you’re asking people to spend resources on themselves without any promise of reality-show induced fame or the social pressure of success in front of a national audience ... This might be an abrupt enough change that it would provide a serious jump start.”
Other stories you might like:
- Top 10 National Park lodges
- Glamping: the cure for the common camping trip
- A safari adventure -- in Ohio