I've always said that if I win the lottery, my first step will be to check into a "fat farm" to tone up and trim down before facing the world as a winner. You don't have to win the lottery to do that, and you don't have to go into seclusion in the wilds of Arizona. Smart Workout in New York City gives you that fitness spa experience amidst the excitement of Midtown Manhattan. And it does so at an affordable price.
Smart Workout's Fitness Vacation includes hotel accommodations, meals for a 1200 calorie diet, workouts and active social/tour outings. They offer two-night, three-night and seven-night packages. You pay for your own transportation to New York City. The packages are all-inclusive, with no additional expense after arrival. There is a single supplement if you don't want to share a room. Prices as of April, 2012 were from $1100 for a two-night mini, $1200 for a weekend, $1600 for the 3-night vacation and $3600 for the 7-night vacation.
Smart Workout is located at 124 East 40th Street, New York City. It is just a couple of blocks from Grand Central Terminal for easy arrival via train, subway, or airport shuttle. The hotel accommodations are one block away at The Court - St. Giles Hotel.
As a tourist, this is a great location for strolling and enjoying shopping, sightseeing, or going to the theater. Times Square and the theater district are a short walk away. Smart Workout incorporates these sights and attractions into their Fitness Vacation. The fitness vacation program handles a maximum of six guests at a time.
The Smart Workout gym is in a space on two upper floors. It's a much more intimate gym than the industrial-sized ones I'm used to at home. There are both male and female clients. I enjoyed doing workouts there, although the room could get hot at times.
What You Do in Your Fitness Vacation
Your schedule is fully programmed throughout the Fitness Vacation. My goal was to be exposed to a wider variety of exercises and workouts. It's been four years since I regularly went to a gym to do anything other than walking. I recently developed knee arthritis and I needed to both protect my knee from high impact activities and to exercise more muscles for a better balance of activity.
All meals are provided, starting with lunch the first day. On a full day, you arrive for breakfast with the other vacationers and see how a 400-calorie meal can be served in three to four courses. As you digest your meal, a Smart Workout staff member shares an educational session about diet or fitness.
Workouts: After the meal, you enjoy two to three 45-minute workout sessions led by Smart Workout's expert instructors. These include cardio, strength, and flexibility-based workouts. All of the classes are in small groups of 10 or fewer people. I enjoyed being able to join in classes I had never tried, such as Zumba, Pilates Reformer, TRX Suspension, Wave and the Helix machine. There are additional workout blocks after lunch and after dinner.
I modified many of the workouts myself to do lower-impact moves. I didn't ask the instructors to do that for me. In general, they demonstrated and led the full-impact moves. The instructors were all very personable, and are AFAA certified.
Active Fun: After a lunch cooking demonstration, we put on pedometers and went out to enjoy New York City on foot. Our group outing was to the Discovery Museum on Times Square, where we spent an hour touring the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. Other destinations may include the Metropolitan Museum or the American Museum of Natural History. Vacationers learn that they can burn calories while touring -- that fitness isn't all about sweat.
Smart Restaurant Dining: On most days you will also dine at a great New York City restaurant while still staying within a 1200-calorie diet. Smart Workout works with restaurants to enjoy their cuisine and dining experience. For one dinner, we split 3-pound lobsters and enjoyed great salads and a dessert. The dining was delicious and felt decadent.
Evening on the Town: Our first evening, after the limo ride to dine on lobster, we went for a salsa lesson and then enjoyed bowling. Other groups will take in a theater show.
Spa: The 3-night and 7-night packages include a spa session at the Great Jones Spa. If not included in your package, you can book a massage through Smart Workout or use their steam shower.
Results from the Fitness Vacation
I attended their very first shake-out of the fitness vacation schedule, along with other fitness reporters. I was very pleased with the hotel. The room was large and spacious, a big change from the cramped NYC hotel rooms I've stayed in before. My only complaint is that they don't have an in-room coffeemaker. But there are coffee shops just steps away, including a Starbucks right across the street from Smart Workout.
I was worried about the effect of doing six hours of exercise per day, but I wasn't overly stiff and sore at the end of the vacation. A few aches, yes. I felt a big difference in my body shape after the three days of workouts. Back home, my physical therapist said I was ready to graduate from physical therapy for my knee.
I definitely met my goal of being exposed to a wider variety of exercise. Returning home, I signed up for a Zumba class and am looking into reactivating my gym membership.
I enjoyed the food throughout the vacation. Each meal was served in three to five courses, so you had a variety of food in small portions. Snacks were also provided. Each meal had a full calorie/nutrition sheet so you could log what you ate. I was already on a 1200-calorie diet when I attended, so I didn't experience a big change in food volume.
The diet education aimed to show you different ways to stay within your calorie and nutrition goals through different modes of getting meals: restaurant dining, buying ready-made food, heating-and-eating, and cooking. One lunch session was a cooking lesson, with recipes provided.
I liked the tips for buying ready-made food, although that probably works better in NYC than it does at home in suburbia.
We enjoyed restaurant meals for two dinners. It was fun to dine out in New York City rather than being confined to spa food.
Bottom Line on the Smart Workout Fitness Vacation
I achieved my personal goals for the vacation. I sampled a wide range of workouts and was able to decide what I should do when I returned home. The toning and calorie burn over the course of only three days made a big difference in the way my body looked, encouraging me to keep going when I went home.
The hotel, meals, and location were all above my expectations. I go to New York City about once a year and I could see booking a fitness vacation with Smart Workout before or after my business meeting days.
If you want to start a new active lifestyle, or if you are stuck in your fitness and weight loss goals, this could be a great way to get going while enjoying New York City.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.