High jinks in the Alps

If mountain air and lake views aren't enough, try zipping through the trees, says Lucy Fry

"I can't do it," I yell, quivering, across the massive gap that lies between me (standing on a platform some 50ft up a tree) and the twitching biceps of the French ski team's strength and conditioning coach, Pete McKnight. He yells something positive back, as he has done for the past few days, each time I've said "can't" or "won't". He's relentlessly encouraging, extremely knowledgeable and charming. What's more, for a precious six days, non-athletes such as me can get the benefit of his expertise on Adventures in the Alps' fitness week, which, he says, is "designed to give people a taster of different types of training in a beautiful environment, empowering them to take control of their own fitness programmes when they get home".

Variety, beauty and empowerment? Sounds perfect. So here I am, in the lake and mountains of Annecy in France. Perhaps better known for winter-sports resorts such as La Clusaz, Le Grand Bornand and Manigod, it's the ideal spring or summer base for active travellers – a 45-minute drive from Geneva and with some of the most majestic and varied scenery I've ever seen.

This afternoon's challenge is more mental than physical (granted, scrambling up netting and hauling up rope-ladders isn't quite as relaxing as sunbathing, but if you want that, the lake has several grass beaches). I'm attempting the Forest Rope Course at Parcours Adventure in Taillores (think Go-Ape on steroids) and still shivering at the thought of this leap, the "Tarzan" zip wire.

"Just jump!" McKnight's voice booms through the trees and, not wishing to disappoint, I appear, grinning, a few seconds later on the other side. I don't have time to congratulate myself – there's a longer zip-wire still to come – but after two hours of balancing and jumping (at all times safely harnessed in), I feel refreshed, as if emerging from a long and lovely meditation.

It's not the first time this week either. The same thing happened this morning when McKnight dragged a portable squat rack out of his van and set it up outside our beautiful chalet, Domaine du Paron, so I could practise my Olympic lifts with a tip-top coach while looking out over Lake Annecy from 1,200m. And yesterday, during a group run through the forest. And the day before, when hill sprints left me struggling for breath. It even happened on our first day's gentle cycle from Doussard to Annecy town.

I should be exhausted by now, but the Alpine air, astounding views and our thrice-daily locally sourced meals stave off fatigue. What little muscle soreness does arise is swiftly pummelled away by a visiting, local masseuse.

Fitness Week doesn't include anything higher than the Cliffhanger Course at Parc Adventure. However, Adventures in the Alps founder, Pip Watkins, will happily organise paragliding, white-water rafting or the chance to try your hand at Via Ferrata, a series of climbing routes, first developed by the Italian army in the First World War to aid the transit of troops across the Dolomites.

With such a huge amount going on I'm slightly surprised that the streets of Annecy aren't awash with buffed-up tourists. People are cottoning on though: Lake Annecy Ski Resorts claims an increase in spring and summer visitors over the past three years. Since Watkins established Adventures in the Alps three years ago, it was shifted from athletes' training camps to offering pilates, yoga and walking weeks as well as the tougher trail runs and Alpine cycling. With her convivial, can-do attitude, she's forever pushing the philosophy that exercise can and should be fun.

Even on McKnight's Fitness Week, there's still an opt-in, opt-out attitude. So, if you fancy the hot tub instead of hill sprints, nobody will judge you (not too much, anyway). The weather helps things along a lot – last year in more than 16 weeks of training camps not one full day was lost to rain – so activities can include anything from open-water swimming to canyoning, kayaking, mountain biking and running on a cinder track at Faverge. Perhaps "just jump" should be the company motto.

Travel Essentials

Getting there

Geneva is served by easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyJet.com) from Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Luton and Manchester; British Airways (0844 493 0787; ba.com) from Heathrow; Jet2 (0871 226 1737; jet2.com) from Leeds-Bradford; and Swiss (0845 601 0956; swiss.com) from London City and Heathrow.

Staying there

The next "Fitness and Adventure Week", is from 7-14 September (020-7193 7660; adventuresinthealps.com), for £1,000pp including six nights' full-board with personal training, spa use and local transport, but not flights.

More information

Lac-annecy.com; Lakeannecy-skiresorts.com

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried