Wellness Retreats for Better Health by Pritikin

Pritikin Longevity Center, wellness retreat

Fresh from a design and decorating reboot, Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami-Dade County offers one and two-week, medically-based wellness retreats and programs with food and fitness as the focus. It should certainly be included on the short list for anyone looking for a weight loss-focused wellness retreat.  Story by Anne Dimon. Photos courtesy of Pritikin.  

As many of you may know, the name Pritikin has been around for decades. It was way back in the 1970s when California visionary Nathan Pritikin was ridiculed by the medical establishment for supporting the belief that a combo of exercise and good nutrition might be the best way to prevent, and even reverse, heart disease and other lifestyle-induced medical conditions. Of course, time and countless scientific studies have proven him to be correct, and 40 plus years later, the Pritikin philosophy endures.

With ”medically-based” the singular point of distinction, Pritikin’s one-week and longer all-inclusive programs, can be the perfect and sometimes much needed wellness retreat for those with weight related, heart disease, Diabetes 2 and high blood pressure issues- but there are also many who come for prevention and to make a lifestyle change for the better.

Several times a year, the Pritikin team offers a three-night Taste of Pritikin Weekend Health Retreat, which I was recently invited to experience. In keeping with the Wellness Tourism Association definition of Wellness Retreat as the Taste of Pritikin is fully scheduled from morning (beginning with a daily blood sugar check) to nighttime. The wellness retreat includes medical testing, educational lectures, cooking classes, one-on-one consultations with in-house physicians, and various fitness activities.

Located in an upscale resort setting, the Center is a self-contained environment with a designated dining room, a demo kitchen, a fully-loaded gym (staffed by certified exercise physiologists), yoga and aerobic studios, medical consultation rooms and a full-service spa.

Pritikin, Cooking Cove, cooking classes
The newly upgraded Cooking Cove where guests learn to prepare healthy dishes

Spacious and beautifully appointed guestrooms are located in separate villas spread around a golf course, and an easy walk from the main building. It’s a comforting environment for solo guests in particular. Spokesperson, Jennifer Weinberg tells me the Center attracts “a lot of single travelers who appreciate being with the like-minded on these life changing journeys.” I personally experienced the camaraderie that grows over the course of the program as everyone is taking part in the same activities and sharing personal stories over meals. When it comes to wellness vacations, the Wellness Tourism Association reports in a recent survey that the traveling “solo” trend is growing and here to stay.

Food as the Foundation of Wellness Living  

Healthy food options are a well-recognized “must have” for both wellness vacations and wellness retreats and when it comes to meals at Pritikin, the term “Pritikin diet” should be looked upon more as a “way of eating” rather than a restrictive diet.  For instance, the Pritikin Diet doesn’t count calories, but the program’s set menu – which changes daily – is strict.  There is no added salt, sugar or fats. But, the food is not only nutritious, it is varied, beautifully presented and there is plenty of it. You can even order seconds. I saw people ordering a second appetizer, a side order of baked potato, even a second helping of the chocolate mousse desert. Dining room staff is exceedingly accommodating.

Pritikin Longevity Center, wellness retreat
Updated Pritikin dining room where guests meet for most meals

Feeling “peckish” between meals? Baskets of fresh fruit and platters of prepared vegetables are set out in various spots throughout the Center and available for snacking. Which is actually encouraged. In her Mindful Eating Luncheon session, director of nutrition Kimberly Gomer, reminds the group to “have a little snack when you are a little hungry – apple, banana, veggies – before you get ravenous and make a poor decision.”

A supportive staff in a safe (away from temptation) environment plus take-home tools and the availability of ongoing support helps make it easier for participants to stick with the program.  I spoke with a guest by the name of Jeff and he told me that he started the program when he weighed in at over 400 pounds. He says he has lost 100 pounds over the last two years and is now working on the next 100.

Beyond the solo guests, Weinberg says, “We see mother/daughter duos, spouses, even family groups, so everyone in the home can understands the rationale behind the program.”  The average age is 40 to 65 but they do get younger guests. Twenty-four-year-old Sally is here with her mom. Sally told me she needs to loose 70 pounds, and her mother joined her so they could both learn how to eat healthier.  The average weight loss per quest over the duration of a three week program is 11 pounds.

With the Taste of Pritikin Weekend Health Retreat there is no medical consultation or testing but you do get several educational lectures a day, cooking classes, several fitness classes, a private session with a nutritionist, plus a body composition test that pinpoints areas to work on.

Maryana from Jacksonville, FL who also experienced the Taste of Pritikin summed up the program with this: “They look at the whole person and offer advice for good holistic living, and the way information is broken down in bites makes it easy to pick the pieces you need for your own life.”  For more info check out the Pritikin Longevity Center website. 

And if you are looking to find the “right fit” weight loss retreat for YOU, Pritikin is one of several weight-loss-focused wellness retreats on our radar. Here’s the complete list.