Healthy holidays

Cycling in Los Angeles and Puma Cheltenham Park Hotel, below
Cycling in Los Angeles and Puma Cheltenham Park Hotel, below
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From the fitness crazes of LA to a boot camp in Cheltenham, Lisa Haynes and Nel Staveley stay active.

Los Angeles

Hollywood celebrities are at the forefront of fitness fads, making LA the healthy choice for an urban wellness retreat.

It’s not even noon and shots are being passed around a sunny outdoor table in Abbot Kinney.

Before you pass judgement, I’m watching a mother and her kids sipping on mini tonics – Super Greens and Energy Boosters – for brunch at an organic cafe. There are 22 different super juices to choose from on the rainbow-bright menu.

It’s a typical LA scene in a city where healthy eating and working out are an everyday occurrence, rather than a passing detox fad.

Walking along Abbot Kinney boulevard – Venice’s boho chic district – I spot bold signs like ‘GMO FREE’ prominently displayed in restaurant windows, taking the organic movement up a notch.

Most wellness retreats may take the form of beach-side hideaways or exotic mountain escapes, but for a city break with a health kick, LA is shaping up to be your best bet.

Even the famous Hollywood sign provides the glamorous backdrop for many residents’ daily hike up the hills.

On my two-hour trek in the rugged scenery of Griffith Park, our guide tells me there are more than 50 miles of trails, fire roads and bridle paths to work up a sweat.

If navigating dust tracks in trainers isn’t your thing, cycle paths are becoming as popular as the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As I pedal along the Santa Monica bike route, fellow cyclists, roller-bladers and skate-boarders whizz past.

There’s something about the bright blue skies fringed with palm trees that motivates you to be active and healthy. Venice Beach isn’t packed with sun bathers, but groups playing volleyball, grown-ups catching frisbees, and surfers running with boards under arms towards the crashing waves.

Santa Monica is dubbed the ‘Wellness Capital’ of LA and it doesn’t take me long to see why as I sign up for an outdoor yoga session at Palisades Park. Turns out attempting sun salutations overlooking the Pacific Ocean is pretty damn Zen.

Afterwards I quench my thirst with a green juice containing kale, cucumber and spinach.

The juice culture has exploded in LA and there are places to pick up cold pressed concoctions on just about every street corner that laugh in the face of shop-bought smoothies.

For lunch raw food is big on the menu. I’m pleasantly surprised to discover that it is surprisingly tasty too at M.A.K.E. in Santa Monica Place Food Market.

Flagging a little, I order a Vitamin B12 shot in my arm at West Hollywood’s Earthbar Vibrance. Apparently Rihanna and Simon Cowell are both fans.

It gives me just enough energy to tackle SoulCycle, combining spin, weights and yoga for one intensive hour.

The candlelit room and pumping music make it feel as though I’m at some kind of disco cycle in the dark but I guess it eliminates the need for hiding a sweaty face behind oversized sunglasses. I’m hooked. – LH


According to Matt Kendrick, co-owner of MK Life Fit, who organise Body MOT boot camps at the Puma Cheltenham Park Hotel, we should all be living by the 80:20 rule.

“Be good 80 per cent of the time and have what you want 20 per cent,” he says. It’s a premise our grandparents’ generation understood, but one our increasingly faddy modern world has forgotten.

We’re so busy shunning all carbs or trying to master the steps of some new ridiculous dance craze, we forget nutrition and fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. Pure, non-processed food and regular, balanced, easy exercise will not only make you look better, you’ll feel better, healthier and more energized too.

Throughout the weekend, Matt and his team take me through various exercise classes, combining both cardio and resistance. Some classes are in the hotel’s gym using proper equipment, some are held outside and rely on nothing but our own body weight, and some are the more gentle, but very effective, Pilates.

They all share a few common themes though – a sense of teamwork and personal attention.

As another plus, the MK team also rewards my hard work with a full sports massage, and a menu tailored by their qualified chef. By the end of the weekend, I’m not even slightly overwhelmed by my lifestyle changes.

And sure enough, a few weeks on, I’m on 80 per cent homemade soup, 20 per cent soup from a shop; 80 per cent running with push-ups and lunges thrown in, 20 per cent just running.

I’m sure in an ideal world I’d change more. But in a time and cash-poor world, my energy levels and general sense of well-being are telling me it’s a very good start.

Getting there

British Airways ( is the only UK carrier to operate direct flights from London to Los Angeles on an A380 Superjumbo. Daily flights, from £542 return.

British Airways Holidays offers a seven night stay at Andaz West Hollywood with return flights on its A380, from £988 per person – based on two people sharing.

For more information on wellbeing in LA, visit

The Body MOT package costs £269 per person for the weekend, which takes place from Friday to Sunday and includes all meals, accommodation and activities. For more information, visit or call 0800 014 2630.

The Puma Body MOT is available on select weekends from January to April at Cheltenham Park Hotel, The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool, Redworth Hall Hotel in County Durham, Shrigley Hall Hotel in Cheshire, Billesley Manor Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon, Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire and The Imperial Hotel in Torquay.