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

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Arts and Entertainment
film
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
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

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style