Why Is Everyone Going On Vacation To Workout?

Photos via Getty Images

A dumbell in one hand, a margarita in the other

Late last year, I was invited on a press trip to celebrate the launch of a new fitness initiative that a chain hotel had begun to offer. The itinerary included workout classes on the beach, yoga, temazcal (a purifying, sweat lodge-like experience led by a shaman), spa sessions, and health-conscious meals. I was intrigued, less so because of the property or beach destination (even though both were beautiful), and more because I was suddenly getting a chance to get away from the daily grind of New York City, where finding time to work out sometimes can be a challenge, and spend a few days focusing on myself both physically and spiritually. I wasn't wrong; as Eat, Pray, Love as this may sound, after a few days of beachside yoga, I found myself rejuvenated, like I'd just spent a month on a remote island with no cell service. I drank the wheatgrass Kool-Aid big time.

Months later, and suddenly all the buzzy instructors that I follow on social media were hosting days-long retreats in places in places as far-flung as Mexico, Bahamas, and Spain, as well as in local hideaways in the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard, and Colorado. Next, a fitness retreat account started following me on Instagram, and all my friends began posting pictures of themselves standing in Warrior I poses with a beach backdrop. (What is this, you ask? That's me doing my regular thing.) It was clear that people were now vacationing to... workout. 

"Fitness retreats are definitely a thing right now. People love to travel, but planning is challenging and knowing the right places to go to can be tricky," says Heather Andersen, founder and head instructor at New York Pilates, who hosts retreats in Tulum, Mexico, and New York. "On a retreat, we do all the work for you; all you have to do is show up, and I think that’s pretty appealing." Andersen's Tulum retreat, for example, includes 20 or 30 attendees and multiple instructors with three Pilates classes daily, morning beach runs, alignment workshops, meditation, activities like cenote swim sessions or sightseeing, and group lunches and dinners.

"We travel to places we know really well, so we can take people to the best local dining, sightseeing, and hangouts. On the last retreat, we spent a week in Tulum meeting new people, taking Pilates classes, running, going on adventures, and having lots of healthy greens, tacos, and drinks. It was equal part working out to hanging out which keeps the mind and the body happy," she says. "Instead of a heavy eat/drink vacay, we build in your fitness, improve your practice, and you go home refreshed with new experiences, a stronger self, and a perky bottom."

While there is a definite appeal in having a vacation that's all mapped out for you—and one that doesn't involve a stuffy itinerary or a predictable and sterile organized tour with 30-plus clueless tourists—according to Taryn Toomey, founder of the cult-status mindful workout The Class, fitness retreats are more about carving time for self-love. "From my experience with The Retreatment, people are looking for the type of vacation that will leave them feeling happier, healthier, and more fulfilled," she says. "We spend a lot of time ‘doing’ for others, and when it comes to time off, it’s nice to leave the kids, the job, and the responsibilities behind, and do the work of filling yourself back up.

Toomey's retreats range from the "more adventurous luxury camping experience to the indulgent delights of white sand beaches and sweeping views" in locations both local (Ojai, California, and Westerly, Rhode Island) and international (Dominican Republic), and include morning meditation, yoga, two hours of The Class daily, activities tailored to the locale (laying on the beach, hiking through the jungles, crystal healing workshops, boat ride excursions...), farm-to-table or seasonal cuisine, and dance parties that Toomey herself DJs. "We want students to feel far from their worries at home and yet close to the comforts of home. We have been lucky enough to find locations that stay true to their local roots but have been designed for the modern traveler," Toomey says.

Stacy Schwartz, founder and CEO of Ketanga Fitness Retreats, attributes the trend to the fact that fitness has become more of a "lifestyle than a standalone activity." She explains: "Athleisure apparel is the new everyday apparel, and meeting up with friends has shifted to meeting up for a class. So when it comes to travel, it makes sense that people want to maintain their lifestyle and interests and get to enjoy their favorite workouts while seeing new parts of the world—along with other people who feel the same." 

She launched Ketanga, a travel agency that specializes in organizing fitness-based vacation packages—ranging from boxing and salsa dancing in Puerto Rico to sports conditioning and surfing in Costa Rica to wine tasting and yoga in Sonoma County, California—after finding a gap in the travel world. "I was getting more and more into fitness, and I was looking for a vacation that would combine touring with being active and doing workouts. But I had a hard time finding anything that fit the bill beyond a yoga retreat, and I was really looking for something with higher intensity fitness like boxing or HIIT," she says. She decided to create her own trip to Europe and find ways to stay active herself. "I dropped into local studios, went on bike tours instead of bus tours, and made up workouts in local parks. When I came back, the idea of putting together more structured fitness retreats just seemed to fall into place. I wanted to build something that I would have signed for up as a participant if someone else had built it."

So far, Schwartz produced about 30 different retreats. In order to ensure each retreat is unique, she works with vetted instructors who have different fitness and wellness specialties. While the locations and types of fitness vary, the focus always remains on working out, participating in local adventures (zip lining, hiking through the rainforest, waterfall rappelling), and relaxation (having a cocktail by the pool, reading in a hammock, or going dancing at night). A typical day on a Ketanga Fitness Retreat could include a morning workout, local activity, a nutrition or mindful workshop, a sunset workout, and an evening activity.

The pro list in praise of fitness retreats is long, according to the experts, and doesn't just include getting more fit. "The advantages of fitness retreats include the access to the top industry leaders in a fully immersive and community centered environment. Attendees not only have very dedicated training from these experts but can connect with them one-on-one for questions, sessions, or just to intimately be a part of a dinnertime conversation," says Abby Morgan, director of brand marketing at FP Escapes, apparel brand Free People's new wellness retreat-focused travel organizer. With Instagram-perfect wellness retreats in picturesque locales like Nicaragua and Montana, FP Escapes "aim to nurture an intimate group of travelers in search of authentic experiences of culture and self." "Each trip is based on three aspects: move, gather, and connect," says Morgan. "Movement instructors are devoted to maintaining and teaching an active lifestyle and help to guide each traveler on their own personal practice. Free People’s Gather philosophy celebrates seasonal, vegetarian, and wheat-free fare with a focus on nutrient-rich ingredients and simple preparations. And lastly, the ability to connect a community of inspired travelers with the brightest minds in wellness, travel, and creativity."

In addition to the qualified instructors, Schwartz points to four more advantages of going on a fitness retreat: (1) "Group travel, in general, is a great way to vacation alone without being by yourself. And adding the niche of fitness means you will be with other people who have similar interests." (2) "Another reason is that you get a full vacation without coming home feeling bad about yourself from overindulging, which happens often! So people get to enjoy their vacation, do the things that they enjoy, and come home feeling great about themselves inside and out." (3) "It's also a great way to kick-start a new fitness/wellness routine or mix up your current one. Sometimes people come on a retreat because it is led by their favorite instructor, and sometimes people go because they want to try a new type of working out or mix it up by working with a new instructor. And finally: (4) "To treat yourself. We all spend so much time working in the office, but also in our relationships, and overall there is a lot of pressure on us every day. So I love when people decide that’s enough and it is time to do something for their own self-care."

Toomey agrees with that last point, adding that a retreat is great opportunity to look inward. "During The Retreatment, we work on getting to know all parts of oneself—thoughts, patterns, positive and negative stories—parts that may have you spinning or drowning. We do this through intensely challenging the body in a way that not only lengthens and leans the muscles but creates space for one to process through the body," says Toomey, whose regular workouts encourage people to physically let their frustrations out by screaming and are known to bring people to tears. "When you do this kind of work without the distraction of your everyday life, one is able to keep stripping the layers back, often getting to the root and healing from that space. One can return home with more tools, more patience, and overall, a healthier vessel."

Traveling solo is not a requirement if you wish to participate in a fitness retreat, by the way. The balance of activities and free times makes it just as easy to be alone and make new friends as it is to spend quality time with whoever came with you. "Do what feels right for you. Some people want to do this work with their closest friends and use it as a time to reconnect. Some want to come with their partner and work through things together. Others want this to be a solo journey," says Toomey. "There’s no right way to retreat. It just has to be right for you."

And, if you are worried that a fitness retreat must also mean an alcohol-free one, let me assure you that all experts I've talked to said they believe in balance and that alcohol is allowed on their retreats. "It’s pretty hard to go to Mexico and not have a marg," says Andersen. "We believe in a work hard, play hard mindset, and that’s how we vacation, too." They instead focus on proper nutrition. All of the retreats offer clean and healthy food options that fuel the workout heavy days, but are not without the flavor of local and seasonal cuisine. While Toomey offers the option to do The Layer, her anti-inflammatory and Ayurvedic cleanse, for an added health bonus, Ketanga and FP Escapes host nutrition workshops to provide guests with tools and knowledge to make healthier choices post-return. "We’ve had a chef or nutritionist accompany each trip to closely curate the menu with local, organic produce and design the menu," says Morgan. "We also do nutrition workshops that involve everything from learning how to prepare an Ayurvedic lunch to learning about superfoods and teach how to bring these new wellness habits back into your busy everyday schedule once you’re back home."

So go on, pack your bags, and take a shot of that spiked wheatgrass Kool-Aid while you're at it.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

"I am honored to share this bonding experience with my own daughter"

In a heart-warming Instagram photo, Serena Williams shares the history of hair braiding and the importance of the tradition. The tennis player shared a photo of herself braiding her daughter Olympia Ohanian's hair and spoke about how "honored" she was to be able to "add another generation" to the tradition of the practice.

The photo shows Williams attentively braiding her daughter's hair while Olympia smiles, obviously loving the experience. Williams noted that hair braiding was created by the Himba people in Namibia, Africa, and that "we have been braiding our hair for centuries." "In many African tribes braided hairstyles were a unique way to identify each tribe," she continued.

Williams pointed out that braiding is a bonding experience. "People would often take the time to socialize," she wrote. "It began with the elders braiding their children, then the children would watch and learn from them. The tradition of bonding was carried on for generations, and quickly made its way across the world."

Williams closed her post with a sweet message about her daughter, saying that she's "honored to share this bonding experience" with her.

See the post, below.

Courtesy of Adidas

The Stan Smiths are a must-have

Adidas just shared its capsule of sneakers paying tribute to Keith Haring, and TBH I can already feel my wallet emptying (and they're not even on sale yet). The new collection features three shoe silhouettes, all including the late artist's iconic imagery as embroidered designs.

The standout style of the collection is the Rivalry hi-top; with bright blue and orange stripes and piping along the edges, Haring's stars and cartoon bodies, in black thread, pop right off. If you're looking for something less over-the-top, the quirky white Nizza Hi RF sneakers show a snake wrapping around the back of the shoe and chasing one of Haring's cartoon bodies toward the toe. There's also a minimal embroidered design on the toe of a classic Stan Smith pair. Look a little more closely at the tongue though, and you'll notice the traditional image has been swapped with a caricature of Haring himself.

Peep the three silhouettes, below, and set your calendar for the official drop at the end of the month.

Adidas, Rivalry Hi Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Nizza Hi RF Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

Adidas, Stan Smith Keith Haring Shoes, $120, available at Adidas starting at 10am EST on June 30.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Hopefully this one will be typo-free

In an Instagram Live on Thursday, Taylor Swift announced that she would be creating a collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney inspired by her upcoming Lover album. Although she kept it vague, we can only assume that the two are working on a collection of luxe merch.

Swift noted in the announcement that she has been friends with McCartney "for a really long time," and that the designer already heard the new album. "I respect what she creates, how she creates it," Swift continued. "There's so much whimsy and imagination and romance to the clothing that she designs." Swift has been wearing McCartney's designs "a lot recently," so maybe we should have seen the collab coming.

One eagle-eyed fan pointed out that Swift wore Stella McCartney rainbow-hued shoes during her Wango Tango set. If the collab is anything like these shoes, you can bet I'll be copping it as quick as I can.

Swift detailed in her Instagram Live that the album Lover would be all about romance, which makes McCartney and her feminine designs perfect for the collaboration. We just hope that this collection doesn't have any typos, like some of Swift's "ME!" merch did.

Asset 7
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

And spreads the message that "we all got crowns"

Late on Thursday, Taylor Swift dropped a new single, "You Need To Calm Down," and announced her forthcoming studio album, Lover, out this August. Following her lead single "ME!" Swift continues to spread her message of self-love and call out haters—particularly the homophobic ones—in this latest song.

Swift "ended homophobic locals," as one fan put it on Twitter, with one particular lyric: "'Cause shade never made anybody less gay."

Along with the song, Swift shared a lyric video via YouTube which made her sentiments even clearer. With her lyric, "Why are you made?/ When you could be glad?" she spelled "glad" as "GLAAD," referencing the queer media advocacy organization.

Swift sings of homophobic protestors in the second verse: "Sunshine on the street at the parade/ But you would rather be in the dark ages/ Makin' that sign must've taken all night." In the pre-chorus, she adds, "You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/ And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate."

Swift additionally comments on women being pitted against each other—"We see you over there on the internet comparing all the girls who are killin' it"—asserting that "we all got crowns." There's nothing trolls can do to rain on her parade anymore.

One fan pointed out the possible symbolism of the crown lyric. In "Call It What You Want," track 14 on Reputation, she sings "They took the crown but it's alright." Now on "You Need To Calm Down," track 14 of Lover, she sings that there's not just one crown—we all have them.

Some fans are pointing to the double meaning of the track title. If I had a dollar for every time someone said those words to me in a totally condescending way, I'd probably be richer than her! What woman hasn't been told to calm down about an entirely not-calm situation or while expressing their distaste?

During Swift's live stream for the release of the song, she also announced a fashion collaboration with designer Stella McCartney, a peek of which we got during the singer's WangoTango performance.

Lover is set for August 23 release.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

"I was like, 'Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what?'"

The day I meet Jim Jarmusch, the sun hangs so bright and hot and yellow and solid in the sky that it's hard to believe that it will actually set at night. It's one of those New York June days that suggests we might be in permanent daylight; it's got a completely different feeling than the crepuscular atmosphere of Jarmusch's latest film, The Dead Don't Die, which takes place in a small town in what feels like one long twilight, maybe the last one.

But for today, Jarmusch and I are sitting at a table in a sun-filled restaurant, though we're in the shade. We're in a part of the city that used to be very punk rock, and is now very NYU, yet being there with Jarmusch, who looks so at home, like he's holding court in the booth (it helps that Larry Fessenden, an old friend of Jarmusch's and a writer/director/producer/actor, who appears in The Dead Don't Die, happens by the table to say hi), makes the area feel a little punk rock again, even with all the sun.

The Dead Don't Die is a very punk rock zombie movie, by which I mean: It's not very scary, but it is very cool, and even when it's sneering, it's a little bit tender. Starring Bill Murray, Adam Driver, and Chloë Sevigny as a trio of small-town cops who fight back against a nascent zombie apocalypse caused by fracking, the film is cast with a who's who of Jarmusch regulars, like Steve Buscemi, Tilda Swinton, Iggy Pop, and Fessenden, to name a few; but it also features younger stars like Caleb Landry Jones, Selena Gomez, and Luka Sabbat—and there's a real earworm of a theme song, courtesy of Sturgill Simpson.

Below, I speak with Jarmusch about the movie, being a dilettante, and why he only reads his negative reviews—which is definitely one of the most punk rock things I've ever heard.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/ Getty Images

This was filmed on a pretty condensed shooting schedule, right?
It was a very rough schedule. A very difficult one, actually.

We only had seven weeks to shoot, and we had to shoot Adam Driver out in three weeks because he had to be delivered to Star Wars, and the financing of the film was incredibly grueling and took a long time, so we were pushed so far that we had about one month of prep, and then three weeks with Adam. And then all these different actors coming in and out; I don't know how Carter and Josh, the two producers, organized it all. And then we'd shoot 15-hour days, and halfway through, I had walking pneumonia; I had two coats; it was 95 out; I was shaking. You know, just weird stuff like that. But it's all okay because we had such great people—our crew—everybody. And then, the visual effects were very taxing and complicated.

How did that all work together? Because there's more than one decapitated head.
Yeah, it's a mixture. First of all, we mixed prosthetics with makeup with masks for some of the zombie stuff, but all of those effects with the decapitations, we had to just imagine. So we had to choreograph everything and then only imagine kind of what it would be like, which was, for me, very abstract because I'm not very versed in visual effects. You know, you had to really kind of trust your instincts, because Adam Driver's chopping away with a machete with no blade.

It could've been a machete, it could've been a lightsaber, who knows? So, to what degree is this a sequel of Paterson with Adam Driver's character's last name being Peterson?
Well, I just do these things to amuse myself while writing, you know? Bill Murray in Broken Flowers was named Don Johnson, and in this, I gave him the name Cliff Robertson. Tilda Swinton's character is Zelda Winston. Rosie Perez is named Posie Juarez. You know, I'm just kind of amusing myself.

And Peterson, Paterson. While we were filming Paterson I was always teasing Adam that the next one, we would make was gonna be a sequel about a psychopathic murderous bus driver named Peterson. Tag line: "Get the fuck off my bus!" Or "Next Stop Hell!" You know, stuff like that. It's just to make them... I love trying to make Adam Driver laugh, because he has a very odd and wonderful sense of humor, but it's on the dry side, so I'm always joking around with him between work to try and see what makes him laugh.

But yeah, there's no sequel of any kind, and I don't think that way, and I don't plan, and I don't see my films from the past ever again. I just look toward the next thing.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features

What was the original concept for this? When did you start coalescing all of these different elements into knowing that you wanted it to be your next film?
Some years ago after Only Lovers Left Alive, Tilda kept teasing me, calling me, saying, "When do we do the zombies? When are we doing the zombies?" And in between I made Paterson and Gimme Danger, but then after those I started writing the zombie one, and my original conception was: I wanna make a film that's really funny and silly like Coffee and Cigarettes, where people talk about whatever nonsense I want them to, and I want to get actors I love, you know? So I thought, okay, if I make a zombie film, I can have a structure where different groups are cordoned off against the zombies, and the zombie attacks will be intermittent and not very long, so I'll have long lags where they're just stuck there, like in the house of The Night of the Living Dead, where they can talk about any kind of nonsense. So that was my first idea, and then when I started writing it, for some reason, I wanted to have a small town, Centerville, and I just followed my intuition, and it became this, I don't really know why beyond that.

What is it about small towns that make them the perfect setting for existential terror?
They're insular. They're kind of… everyone kind of knows each other. It's controllable by the characters. It's believable that everyone kind of know each other. I don't know. I'm not very good at analyzing that. And also, this is not a horror film because horror films use devices that are necessary to frighten people, like suspense, and then you get scared. We have no interest whatsoever in that. This is more of a metaphorical zombie film, but I would not call it a horror movie. It's a comedy with zombies with a kind of sad ending. Beyond that, I don't know what it is.

And horror nerds may not like it if they're expecting creepy, creepy, scary thing! They're not gonna get it. They're not gonna get that delivered to them.

What's interesting about it is seeing who fights back against this existential dread. Or, like, Chloë Sevigny's character, Mindy, doesn't fight, she is on her own separate trip, avoiding the end till she embraces it.
It's a character film. It's not even a plot film, really, although critics say that about all my films. But Chloë… it's a complicated thing, because when I first called Chloë, I told her... I wrote her a letter, and then she said, "Yeah, yeah I'd like to do this." And I said, obviously, this is not a feminist character. She's reactive. She's our sort of "Scream Queen." She screams like six times. But Chloë is the master of reaction, and I love watching her react.

She definitely feels like a stand-in for what a normal person would feel during these absurdist experiences, which is nice to have. It's not necessarily that you need a relatable character in a movie like this, but...
Yeah, but she's an empathetic human that's in a job with some authority, but in a small town where that means taking care of whatever, you know, as a police officer, pretty minimal [stuff]. There's not a lot of rampant crime or anything going on… or anything at all, really.

Credit : Frederick Elmes / Focus Features

A lot of people are going to be projecting tons of different meanings onto this film, like with all your films. To what level do you participate in that or pay attention to that? Or, once you're done making a film, is it just out there, and you just let people project onto it whatever they will?
I've always felt that anyone's interpretation of a film that I write and direct is probably more valid than my own. Because it's a funny thing, the beauty of films is going into a world—or a book or whatever—but going into a world that you don't know, and you are entering a world, and it takes you. And if you wrote it, and you were there filming it, and you're in the editing room every day for six months, the mix, and all that... I can never possibly see it. I like hearing what friends or people I know... I like Q and As after screenings because they have no agenda except their interest. I like that a lot, and I value that. I don't really like to read a lot of reviews unless they're really negative. I love the negative ones.

You do?
Yeah, because they must be very far from me in their perception of the world, and that is interesting to me. But I try not to read a lot...

I think you're probably the first person who I've ever spoken to who says they like to read the negative reviews.
I really like them. The worst one I ever got in my life, I laminated and used to carry in my wallet. It was a brief thing from a right-wing French [paper], maybe Le Figaro or something, of a film called Dead Man that we made, and they said—this is the English translation—"The French intelligence celebrates Jarmusch in the way death and blind parents would celebrate their retarded child. Jarmusch is 33 years old, the same age as Christ when he was crucified. We can only hope the same for his film career." I was like, Whoa! That is harsh! I'm keeping that one!

It gets personal.
But that was vicious. I was like, Did I sleep with this critic's girlfriend, or what? What happened? It was really... the knife was sharpened, you know.

That speaks to a very specific kind of agenda for sure.
A friend of mine Amos Poe, he's sort of a mentor of mine, a punk filmmaker, whatever, and when we were young when he made, in the late-'70s, one of his films—The Foreigner or Unmade Beds—the New York Times called it "the cinematic equivalent of kindergarten scribbling," and he put that on his posters and put "New York Times" and we were like punks, we were like, "Yes! Amos! That's great!"

I mean, it genuinely is a pretty great pull quote, and I think also a little bit oblivious to the charms of a kindergartener's scribbles and what the value is in that anyway.
Yeah, it was kind of accurate in a positive way, and they intended it as very negative.

In this film, there are so many actors who are veteran actors, but there are also a lot of younger actors. What do you like about the combination of that dynamic?
I just like the variety of sort of world perceptions—indicated in a very minor way when Bill Murray's character says, "I've known Hermit Bob since we were in junior high," and Adam's character says, "Oh, wow! That must've been like 50 years ago!" And Bill says, "Yeah. It was." But just the kind of difference of perception of age I find as I get older really interesting. And I'm very interested in young people, especially teenagers, because I think they form our sense of style, of music, of so many things, and yet they're kind of pushed around and treated badly and constantly told, "You don't know how the world really works! You're just a teenager!" But they gave us poetry. They gave us Mary Shelley and Rimbaud and chess masters, and all the great music comes a lot from teenagers. So I tried to keep a pulse, that's why the three teenagers, I would not let them turn into zombies. There are only four people [who don't get turned by zombies]: those three that are delinquents, and the Tom Waits character, who's already removed himself from the social order long before.

When the zombies become zombies, they all have one inciting thing that they're still pursuing in the real world. Do you have one thing that you think you would pursue if you were a zombie?
You know, it's hard because I'm a self-proclaimed dilettante. I'm interested in so many things, I don't know if I would be breaking into a bookstore, or if I would be in the alley outside of a movie theater, or if I would be trying to get into a guitar shop. I'm not sure. I have a lot of interests.

I mean there's a way in which it's a really tender portrayal of the human impulse to just seek out these things that they love.
It's not totally a critique; it's their vestigial memory of some things that they were drawn toward, whether it was power tools or oxycontin.

The Dead Don't Die is in theaters now.

Credit: Frederick Elmes/ Focus Features