Forty: Thats the number of fitness class options I had on a recent Sunday at Miamis Canyon Ranch Hotel and Spa. And thats the light day. On Wednesday, there were 59 offerings, ranging from an early morning beach walk to rock wall climbing, three kinds of yoga, and something called stick fusion that combines kickboxing with a padded foam stick to work the entire body. There were also workshops on healthy eating, inner beauty, self-awareness, and understanding Chinese herbs. But heres the biggest surprise: The classes were included in the price of the room.
Until Canyon Ranch opened its Miami location in 2008, the only way to truly experience the legendary wellness center was to participate in an immersive program of planned meals and activities at the centers locations in Arizona or Massachusetts. At the Miami property, the company took a more freewheeling approach: Although fitness is included, spa treatments and meals are all à la carte. The resort even serves alcohol, a first for Canyon Ranch. What it didnt change was the staffs scope of knowledge. Not only do the fitness instructors know their stuff, but waiters can rattle off every ingredient in your lunch entrée without batting an eye.
I chose to begin my first day with a supervised run on the beach. Although there was just one participant, me, the session wasnt canceled, which was a good sign. Id expected something fairly pedestrian, an hour of jogging along the water, perhaps with an occasional form tip. Instead, what I got was a brief but thorough interview on my running routine and goals that resulted in a complacency-blasting workout of sprint intervals mixed with all-too-short recovery jogs. Afterward, we spent 20 minutes in the gym, bypassing traditional stretching in favor of a foam roller to stave off stiffness.
Other classes, including spin cycling and a treadmill class that mixed in strength training, were equally inspiring, challenging, and fun. The fitness center itself, still gleaming after more than two years of use, offers views of the Atlantic from floor-to-ceiling windows. There are also two outdoor fitness studios, two oceanfront pools, and a number of pocket gardens set with benches and planted with bright tropical blooms.
Although spa treatments are extra, resort guests are encouraged to use, at no charge, the Aquavana Thermal Suites, an array of hydrotherapies that include exotic experiences like an herb-scented, starlit laconium, a frigid igloo offering three kinds of cooling mist, and a foot spa, in addition to steam and sauna.
Canyon Ranch is renowned for making healthy food taste good, and it lived up to its billing, from the breakfast omelet that had just a smidge more fat than a bowl of cereal to a Key lime pie that somehow weighed in at less than 300 calories. Even the cocktails, handcrafted from organic ingredients and liquor, were fresh and deliciously sippable.
The David Rockwell-designed hotel occupies the former Carrillon resort, a mid-century modern jewel set on the north end of Miami Beach. Oversized suites have full kitchens, sleek contemporary furnishings, and large bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, stone floors, jewel toned glass mosaics, and, of course, scales. Doubles from $295; www.canyonranch.com.