The new generation of weight loss spas.
Photo: Photodisc/Thinkstock
Remember those old-school, horribly named "fat farms" of the 1950s through the 1970s? Not only was their name offensive—their science was junk too. They relied heavily on now-discredited weight loss methods, from ultra-low-calorie diets to extreme workouts. Thankfully, according to the travel experts at, today's versions of the weight loss vacation take much different approaches.
Geared to shed the fat-farm stigma and focus on a more holistic approach to health, today's spa vacations are now committed to wellness as well as weight loss. But, New York-based personal trainer Annette Lang wanted to investigate, how are these spas teaching guests behavioral changes that can be sustained after the spa vacation is over? "When you leave the controlled environment of the spa or camp," she asks, "and return to your lifestyle with the same stresses and challenges, can you maintain new habits?"

Get more healthy travel tips at

From a personal trainer standpoint, Lang has seen traditional health clubs evolve over the years, targeting the whole person and not just the fitness component. "Spas are no longer about busting your butt—unless you want to!—but allowing you to make the kind of experience you need as a person."

The Oaks at Ojai in Southern California, one of the original weight loss resorts of the 1970s, makes a point of how much the model has changed. They incorporate current terminology of the whole experience, embracing the entire person and teaching lifestyle changes that can be adhered to once back at home.

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


Next Story