Ski and Spa Holiday: Bad Gastein, Austria

By Marina Aagaard, MFE. Photos: Henrik Elstrup and Marina Aagaard

Skiing Holiday in Austria? There are pros and cons. My skiing holiday this year went to Bad Gastein in Austria, my second time there. It is a very special city with lots of spas and a beautiful skiing area.

One advantage of skiing in Austria is that the national parks and mountains are very beautiful and when the weather is good, the skiing is super nice.

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A special advantage of going on a skiing Holiday to Bad Gastein is, that the city occasionally is having skiing and snowboard events and every year in the beginning of february the city is hosting the Red Bull Playstreets, a freestyle skiing event (for pros) in which the city’s historic centre is the centre of skiing on narrow ramps through and over the city. There is a very special atmosphere and some impressive stunts to look at.

The downside of going skiing in Austria is, that the weather and snow is of mixed quality. If you are lucky the sun is shining and the snow is super, however, in latter years, there has been a lot of wind, fog and grey days. Also warmer weather and less snow has resulted in the base pistes being closed.


1) Get ski fit – do ski specific fitness – before going; be ready (for slush or ice).

2) Buy a 5-days-within-7-days lift Card. If the weather gets bad and the lift stations close, you won’t have wasted 30-40 Euros that day. You can always buy extra lift days later if the sun keeps shining.

3) Have a plan for activities, if the weather is poor. Austria has a lot of great spas and public pools. In Bad Gastein there is a large spa; Felsentherme Gastein. Alternatively you can take a train trip to one of the cities close by.

Bad Gastein city
Bad Gastein, until 1996 Badgastein, is a historic old spa town, formerly a fashionable destination visited by royalty and celebrities from all over the World.

The city is known for its spa treatments and idyllic surroundings and there is a picturesque water fall in the middle of the city.


The water in the springs in the Gasteiner valley contains Radon, gas, which is said to have a healing effect on the body; Radon is absorbed by the skin and by inhalation and boosts the immune system. Spa visits in general soothes several chronic diseases. Wellness and spa treatments are offered several Places in town a.o. 2 km inside an old mine; Gasteiner Heilstollen (healing tunnel).


The city looks impressive from a distance with large majestic buildings from yesteryear. Unfortunately a lot of the buildings have been bought by foreign investors, who have left them to disintegrate, so now the city is a strange mix of beautiful, but worn out buildings and really ramschackle ditto, a ghost town look in places, and more modern, ugly buildings.


Still the town is quite popular among tourists (especially skiers and spa enthusiasts). There are many large hotels with spas, e.g. the grand old Hotel Elisabeth Park, which boasts a pool, spa, beauty salon and a tiny fitness centre.

The city has several cozy and nice restaurants as well as bars, the famous Silver Bullet bar, coffee shops, discos and a casino. Furthermore there is a large super market and several shops.


Recommended restaurants a.o.:
Wirtshaus Jägerhäusl, a very cozy restaurant with traditional Austrian food and a friendly staff in Tiroler clothes.
Prälatur in Hotel Elisabeth Park. A small à la carte restaurant with a nice atmosphere, they serve Austrian specialties as well as international dishes.
Restaurant Wildbad in Hotel Salzburger Hof, offering international dishes and fine wines and exquisite meat.

Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_salat   Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_salmon_IMG_8211Bad_Gastein_Wildbad_steak_fitness_wellness_world

Wildbad (above), stylish setting, very nice food and a gourmet buffet. A popular place, so you have to book in advance.

Location and journey
Bad Gastein lies in the Gasteinertal in the Salzburg region in the middle of Austria and in the Northern part of the Hohe Tauern National Park; a very beautiful mountain area.

You can fly to Salzburg or Innsbruck and take a bus or go by car.
In Europe you can go there by bus or by car, which is fairly easy.


Bad Gastein is a part of the Ski Amadé area with  860 km pistes.
With the lift Card you have access to other skiing areas (you have to drive there) e.g. in St. Johann im Pongau, Wagrain and Flachau, Schladming and Maria Alm.

From Bad Gastein in Gasteinertal you have access to five Towns/skiing areas with 202 km pistes; Bad Gastein, Bad Hof Gastein, Dorfgastein, Grossarl and Sportgastein, the latter can be reached by bus or car (1600-2700 m a.s.l., open until late April).

It is a nice area for beginners and intermediate skiers, who wants long outings and there are 24 km Black pistes for advanced skiers.

By the lift station Stubnerkogel there are two popular attractions, a panorama point and a suspension bridge.


Location: Bad Gastein is 1002 m a.s.l.
Highest skiing: 2686 m a.s.l.
Lowest skiing: 835 m a.s.l.
Lifts: 48
Cross county skiing tracks: 35 km
Number of pistes: ?
Piste kilometers: 202 km

Black:  24 km
Red:  118 km
Blue: 60 km
Green: 0 km

Ski rental: Yes
Ski school: Yes
Accomodation: Lots of hotels, hostels and Apartments.
Dining: Several restaurants.
After skiing: Yes. Many places.
Fitness: Yes. In hotels.
Wellness: Yes. Several places and thermal baths.
WIFI: Yes, most places
Facilities: Shopping/shops, bars, coffee shops, thermal baths, casino.
Activities: Skiing, snowpark, ice climbing, sled tours, ice skating, paragliding, golf, tennis, hiking, wellness.



You can find more information:

Gastein Ski, Mountains & Spa – the Monte Carlo of the Alps

Gasteiner Heilstollen Bad Gastein

Super Shape in 7 Minutes: The New 7-Minute Workout

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Time-efficient bodyweight circuit training? Here is the New 7-Minute Workout.
Some time ago the “The 7-Minute Workout” was making headlines in fitness media around the World. As circuit training is excellent for allround fitness, fatburning and weight loss and on the Top 20 Fitness trends 2015 list here is a new improved 7-Minute Workout for variety.

The original 7-Minute workout is in reality just one example of a circuit training workout and was provided by the authors of the ACSM article: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Bodyweight about HICT, High-Intensity Circuit Training.

The 7-Minute Workout is an excellent way of exercising both at home, in the gym and on the road; travel fitness.

However, in fact this workout as well as similar circuit and interval programs are rather:
The 14 Minute Workout, The 21 Minute Workout (20 min. minimum recommended in the ACSM article) or The 28 Minute Workout, when you do a warm-up (which you should) and add extra rounds of the exercise series (which you normally do in circuit training). Even so circuit training is very time-efficient training.


The HICT Circuit training concept is great, however, the original “7-Minute Workout” model as demonstrated in most media including the ACSM Journal could be better I think: The model has more isometric exercises, less functional exercises and a less than ideal sequence.

Recently I was asked to be the ‘workout expert’ on a 7-Minute Workout video, which I accepted as I was allowed to make a New Workout with some small adjustments:

  • To minimize premature fatigue; a slighty changed exercise order.
  • To preserve intensity and functionality; wall squat replaced by box squat.
  • To protect the shoulders and balance the workout; chair dips replaced by back extension (as there were 3 triceps exercises and 0 back exercises).
  • To avoid confusion; reverse plank instead of side plank (do you change side half way or do left side, round 1, and right side, round 2 (= 14 min. workout)?

To remain faithful to the original concept the structure, most original exercises including the isometric exercises are still in. Personally I would leave isometric core exercises for after a circuit workout, as I would like even more intensity, but maybe maybe next time.

Link to Danish video with the new 7-Minute workout. Exerciser: Coach Filip Hansen.

The New 7-Minute Workout

Every exercise is performed for 30 seconds; 12×30=6 min. + extra seconds for change.

  1. Jumping jacks
  2. Push-ups
  3. Squat
  4. Ab curl
  5. Step up (cardio version with leg change every step)
  6. Back extension
  7. Lunge
  8. T-push-up (push-up with turn right and left)
  9. Kneelift (jog on the spot, tempo with high kneelifts)
  10. Reverse plank
  11. Box squat (squat, buttocks touch (preferably low box) box lightly)
  12. Plank

The_New_7- Minute_Workout_Circuit_training_Marina_Aagaard

Training tips

  • Warm up for 7-10 minutes; easy jogging, low impact dancing or similar.
  • Repeat the sequence 2-3 times for extra effect.
  • Cool down for 3-5 minutes; walking or similar.
  • Safety: Use sturdy chair or box for stepping. Feet safely centered on the top.
  • Technique: Keep the correct posture and technique in spite of tempo and quick changes; Watch your knees, back and wrists; the workout should feel intense and challenging, not painful.

Happy workout.


Aagaard (2014). Circuit training Programs and Posters.

ACSM: High-Intensity Circuit Training Using Bodyweight.

5 Tips for Smarter Workouts: Avoid Injuries Due To New Years Resolutions!

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

On the 1st of January you are full of good intentions and New Years resolutions, which often revolve around getting into better shape … however a 0-100 mph start after a relaxed Christmas (season) often results in physical and mental overload and injury come February. There are smarter ways to do it.

It is a classic mistake to do too much, when you start exercising. No matter if it is running, spinning, strength training or other forms, and whether you are a trained exerciser getting back after a holiday break og injury or you are a total beginner, who wants to get into shape right NOW e.g. because of New Years Resolutions.

Here is a handful of free personal training tips for 1) avoiding overdoing it and injuring yourself and 2) getting better and faster results.


5 Tips for Better Workouts This Year

1. Start and increase effort gradually. Increase volume (weight, distance) by max. 2,5-10 % per week. Not a lot, but you have to give your body a chance to adapt.

2. Train regularly and stick to it – no matter what. If possible Work out 3-4 times (up to 6 times) per week. However, less is o.k. when starting out and 1-2 times a week is a lot better than nothing and fine for maintaining fitness, if you are pressed for time.
The most important thing is stick with your healthy and rewarding new habit.

3. Enjoy variety, mix and match cardio, strength, neuromotor and mobility exercises in your programme. It is more fun and an all-round good shape improves performance in all sports and function in everyday life.

4. Train smart; e.g. get help to design a time-efficient functional training program.
Far too many people Waste precious time with poor programs and exercises; avoid that and get better results faster.

5. Listen to your body; during the workout and afterwards. It is o.k. if it feels hard and challenging, but pain or irritation is a warning signal. Go for a feeling of ‘smiling’ and ‘ease of movements’, it is a better and more fun way of working out.

In the days after you should feel more energetic. If you feel tired and moody, it may be a sign of over-training and the training program should be re-designed.

Note: DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness, which is often felt in your muscles 2-4 days after hard, different or eccentric training, is normal and only natural (a good sign of you body recovering after beneficial training).

Enjoy your workout – at home, at the gym or on the travel.

Happy New Year 2015 to You and Your Loved Ones

Dear fitness and wellness fellow fan, blog follower and reader,

Now, by the end of this year 2014, I am happy, that this is a fitness blog. Throughout the year there have been lots of positive news of even more good things, which exercise and healthy living does to your body and mind: Within the World of fitness and wellness (and food) there is almost always enlivening things to blog about.

For bloggers in other areas it must have been tough; this has been a year with far too many horrible disasters (by nature or man), more wars, episodes of violence and crisis of all kinds.
I wish more people would behave responsibly, respectfully and lovingly towards other human beings and our Nature … and I wish it will be a more peaceful 2015.

Strand_morgen_Henrik_Elstrup This year my hubby and I have taken up dedicated photography again. Here a shot of the local beach the other morning. An “okay” photo by my man, Henrik Elstrup.

To you and your loved ones from me and my loves ones: A Hearty Greeting for a Great New Years Eve and New Years Morning – and new year – filled with optimism and energy for the new year 2015.


A Truly Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year 2015

Marina Aagaard

Fitness and Wellness Travel: Adriatic and Aegean Cruise

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Today cruise ships leaving Venice for the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean Sea have sailed close by the city centre for the very last time. The waves from the daily passings of cruise ships have accelerated the erosion of Venice, so per 31.12.2014 it is over. Now the giants of the sea have to find another way out …


Cruising in the Adriatic and Aegean Sea
A cruise with late summer sun, relaxation, indoor and outdoor workouts as well as nature and cultural experiences of the most exhilarating kind. That is fitness and wellness … and at a bargain price if the cruise is with the popular (and disaster stricken) Costa company.


Day 1: Welcome onboard in Venice, Italy
If you go on a cruise leaving from Venice, go there a couple of days beforehand to see more of the city.

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Venice is one of the most amazing cities of the world; narrow alleyways – no cars in Venice – and beautiful squares, palaces and churches and exciting shops with glass, masks, clothes and everything for interior decoration.
And there is water, lots of water, in a web of canals with 400 little and large bridges.

web_Venice_bridge_of_sighs      web_Venice_canal_and_poles


According to the ‘Costa Today the daily programme’ found on the bed in the cabin:

3.00pm Welcome onboard meeting in Urbino theatre, deck 3,4 og 5
4.30pm All onboard!
5.00pm Costa sail for Bari

Dinner is arranged in two seatings, first seating is 1900 hours, the other is 2130 hours.
For health-conscious travellers there is only one option; eat early: 7pm (1900 hours).
The food is very good (better than other ships of the same class) and with attention to details. Only thing: How can you not serve tiramisu as dessert on an Italian ship?!

There is also a buffet restaurant, but it is an area to avoid (unless you have many and hungry children). It was chaotic, crowded and unpleasant to watch overloaded plates and excessive food waste. Also the selection of food was limited and less healthy than at other similar buffet restaurants.

After dinner there is plenty of entertainment if you are in the mood:

08.55pm Fashion show
09.45pm Magic show in Urbino theatre
11.00pm Costa Magica Party
10.45pm Special Latino
12.00am Disco Candy

The entertainment and shows change every day, however the times and general activities are the same.

Day 2: Bari, Italy

Every day there is a multitude of activities onboard the ship from around 8-8.30am, fitness, dance and sport led by instructors. Also quizzes and displays.
However, there is no doubt: A cruise should be about getting ashore and seeing the amazing sights. You can take part in a trip organized by the cruise company, but they may be expensive or you can go on your own with one of the many sightseeing busses lining up on the pier, when the cruise ships arrive.

12.30pm Arrival Bari
06.00pm All onboard
06.30pm Costa Magica sails for Katakolon

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Bari is often on the cruise ship itineraries. A cozy old (300 BC) port and university city – and an important economic centre of southern Italy.
There are ca. 1 mio. inhabitants in Bari metropolitan area (ca. 650.000 in Bari).

Some important sights are Basilica di Sant Nicola (1087), Bari Cathedral (1034) and Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle (1131).


The city has many small coffee shops, both old and modern. However, there is not that much to see, and if the weather is (very) bad, as on this trip, you may want to return to the ship sooner rather than later.


On a day like this there is an opportunity for more time on board the ship. Costa Magica has a large and popular fitness centre. The style is old-school with carpet. There is, however, lots of machines, free weights and all sorts of extra equipment like step benches, balls, BOSU’s etc.

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As a special and very nice feature there is a wellness centre with free admittance; steam room, sauna and jacuzzi indoors and outdoors. Super for recovery.

Day 3: Katakolon, Greece At sea

Katakolon is a small port on the west coast of Greece. It is not the destination of the cruise ships, though: The destination is the nearby legendary Olympia (ca. 1000 BC), where the Olympic Games started (776 BC). A must-see.

However not this time around … a major disappointment. Due to the weather, it was a bit windy, the captain was afraid to send the passengers into the small port by small life boats. At the cruise ship, though, it did not feel anywhere near critical conditions, so there was a gloomy air among a few of the passengers as the ship sailed past Katakolon … there was another day at sea.
Not that there was not a lot to do on the ship, but …

Day 4: Piraeus (Athens), Greece

7.00am Arrival Piraeus (Athens)
2.30pm All onboard!
3.00pm Costa Magica sails for Izmir

Greece has been in rough weather lately, politically and economically, so the greek are not too optimistic. As a tourist on a quick visit, though, you cannot but be awestricken by the impressive Greek temples and monuments of ancient times.

The trip of the day leaves the (Athens) port of Piraeus and goes to the city centre, Athens (2000 BC), today a modern metropolis with approx. 6 mio. inhabitants.

Greece_Athens_Graffiti    Greece_Athens_Acropolis_Shopping

The most famous sight is the area of Acropolis, a citadel situated on a hill top. The entire area is full of temples and buildings, the most important and well-known being the Parthenon temple (as seen of millions of tourist photos).


web_Greece_Athens_Acropolis_Marina    web_Greece_Athens_Acropolis_Temple

Still underway with restoration with cranes and scaffolding; no amazing photo opportunity this time.

Day 5: Izmir, Turkey

8.00am Arrival Izmir
2.00pm All onboard!
2.30pm Costa Magica sails for Dubrovnik


Destination of the day is Izmir (eller Smirne) a city with 3 mio. inhabitants and the second city of Turkey a.o. due to its status as a busy port.
The city was founded around 1000 BC and it is clear, when you walk around the city, that through the ages it has been under several rulers with different agendas.

web_Turkey_Izmir_Bell_Tower    web_Turkey_Izmir_mosque


You should take a guided tour (maybe with a sightseeing bus) of the city. And if there is time there is also a popular Archeological and Etnographical Museum. Many tourists however head straight for the very large bazar area with exciting shops and coffee shops. Or the extensive beach promenade with restaurants and bars and a large park with running and bike trails and a (weird) outdoor fitness area.

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Day 6: At sea

Sailing from Izmir to Dubrovnik takes time, so there is a full day at sea.
And even if the daily weather report from the captain throughout the trip has been “rough sea”, there was nothing to be afraid of. Even impressive waves do not ‘stir’ the colossal cruise ships; you (3000+ passengers) hardly feel a thing.

Day 7: Dubrovnik, Croatia

A Adriatic Sea cruise highlight is Dubrovnik (Ragusa), one of the most beautiful cities of the Adriatic Riviera and one of the Worlds 10 best preserved medieval walled cities, since 1979 on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.
Unfortunately the city suffered during the Balkan wars in the 1990’s, but has been carefully restored.

During the last few years Dubrovnik has been known for its ‘role’ in the tv-series Game of Thrones, in which it is called King’s Landing.

Croatia_Dubrovnik_citadel web_Croatia_Dubrovnik_stairs web_Croatia_Dubrovnik_square web_Croatia_Dubrovnik_small_harbour web_Croatia_Dubrovnik_port

The city centre is surrounded by a huge city wall, that you can walk on. This is highly recommended and the trip lasts at least around two hours including photo stops.

You should also walk around the entire city, as there are many beautiful squares and buildings as well as shops and og cafés.


A minus, when visiting Dubrovnik, is the enormous amount of tourists (ahmmm). Even out of season several cruise ships visit every day, which means that it can be difficult to get around and to get a full view of many of the beautiful buildings.
In spite of this Dubrovnik is a truly unique city, which is well worth visiting.


Day 8: Venice, Italy

9.00am Arrival Venice

Back in Venice.
Arrividerci the captain writes in the Daily programme!

Disembarkation is o.k., but could have goon smoother and faster. There is a wait for checking out and leaving the ship. Finally after a couple of hours you are back on the cruise terminal pier.

There you have three options, if you are bound for the airport. You can take the monorail or you can take a taxi or bus. Or you can take a water bus all the way through Canal Grande and to the airport (where you have a 7 min. walk to the terminal) – this is a fantastic chance to have a last slow (1½-2 hour), wonderful Venice sightseeing tour (photo: A water bus station).


December Health: Body and Mind Balance Training

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

Stay calm and in a balanced state of mind (and body) during Christmas time. Take it easy. Enjoy all of the days leading up to Christmas. And give your body healthy ‘Christmas’ treats every day:

Fitness Christmas Calender Tip # 2

Stand on one leg now. Stand for 30-60 sec. (max. 120 sec.) on each leg.

Work on your balance, while you are waiting for the bus or standing in line at the food mart (lift one foot discreetly) or while you are watching Christmas shows/films on tv.

Christmas decoration

Avoid mental and boidily ‘instability’.

You want more? An extra challenge, while balancing on one leg?

1. Look up and down, as if nodding “yes, yes”.
2. Look to the right and left, as if shaking your head “no, no”.

Easier version: Hold onto something initially. More difficult: Move the free leg.

Stability training is essential trining for keeping the body in balance and restoring balance in challenging situations. Get ‘stable’ for health and performance.

December Health: Fitness Christmas Calender and the Happiest Exercise

Dear blog reader,

NOW it is officially Christmas time (not october or november …) ♥ The First of December, first day of the Christmas month ♥ A time for happy hearts ♥ Enjoy these days and get into a joyous Christmas mood ♥ Joy is a ‘present’, not (just) the eadibles or the presents ♥

Fitness Christmas Calender Tip # 1

Smile :-)

  1. Smile right now – a big smile: Be grateful for every (Christmas) day.
  2. Smile and the World smiles with you.
  3. It is true: Perform the exercise ‘smile’ and you will automatically be happier.

Christmas Calender Candle Merry December photo Marina Aagaard Henrik Elstrup

Have a truly happy Christmas month ♥