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Spas: Swiss Fit

Photo by Gianluca Colla

The neurocom is beeping and blinking as I jump, squat, reach, lean, and hop from one foot to the other. Feeling like John Glenn in a scene from The Right Stuff, I huff my way through exercises that require me to follow with my body the movement of a tiny dancing dot on a computer screen. I am told by my therapist at Lonhea—a new wellness retreat located in the Swiss Alpine village of Villars-sur-Ollon—that if I have a physical weakness, the NeuroCom will find it.

I arrived at Lonhea just hours earlier with visions of meditative walks through fields of wildflowers and massage therapies bookended by steam showers and hot-tub soaks. The center and its four adjoining chalets certainly seemed to support this notion, with wood-burning fireplaces and private terraces that were anything but clinical. But four hours of health analysis later, my heart rate, motor skills, and nutrition and fitness levels have all been measured, and the NeuroCom delivers the news: I have weak gluteal muscles and subpar balance with my eyes closed. The remedy? Two to three hours of physical training sessions each day, followed by consultations with the center’s founding physician, Dr. Michel Golay.

To be sure, Lonhea (a portmanteau of the words longevity and health) is more than a destination spa. Golay, a specialist in sports therapy and cardiovascular disease, developed the center’s program utilizing the Chinese two-brain system, which attributes wellness to the balance between the digestive and encephalic brains through a combination of proper nutrition, daily activity, and relaxation. Guest stays range from one to two weeks (priced from $11,300 to $21,430, all-inclusive), with each itinerary based on blood tests and assessments such as the NeuroCom sessions.A team of professionals—including chiropractors, nutritionists, physical trainers, and massage therapists—addresses everything from weight problems to premature aging, and the group continues to work with guests for up to four months after their visits.

My personalized itinerary dictates mornings spent sweating. To improve my balance and muscle deficiencies, my physical trainer, Jerome, gives me a series of exercises to be done with my eyes closed (very difficult),followed by another set to be done on one foot (even harder). When I am not in the gym, I am on the chiropractor’s table or practicing yoga. Throughout all of my sessions, I wear a heart rate monitor that loads data directly to Lonhea’s website, allowing Jerome and Golay to track my progress at any moment.

Lonhea’s rigorous approach to wellness does allow for some indulgences. At lunch, calorie counting is forbidden. Rather, Golay, who eats with his guests at a communal table, ensures meals are hearty, featuring ingredients from nearby farms—and even a pint of local beer or a glass of wine from the center’s cellar. My afternoons are spent with Coco, a masseuse who for an hour each day kneads my sore muscles back to life. Leisurely soaks in the hot tub are also part of my routine, but most refreshing are the daily walks that, as I had envisioned, pass through velvety fields surrounded by snow-covered peaks and glacial lakes.

Lonhea, +41.24.495.38.88, www.lonhea.com

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