I take into account myself lively. I’m an avid runner; I do a HIIT elegance now and again; I try to stretch every morning. But I’m not a hiker—the maximum I’ve probable ever hiked was as much as an ex-boyfriend’s fifth-ground walk-up when his elevator broke. But now I’m on a plane journey home with my legs prolonged at a one hundred eighty-degree angle to relieve them of excruciating but enjoyable ache. I signed up for the inaugural Equinox Explore experience in Morocco, for which the luxury fitness club Equinox took a set of human beings to hike Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa (measured at 13,671 toes, a bit much less than 1/2 the dimensions of Mount Everest).

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The experience changed into a part of Equinox’s new tour-meets-health arm if you want to release formally in September. Since the very last tour was no longer to be taken gently, Equinox set me up with a club and private training main as much as it. To me, such high-grade sweat had formerly been the stuff of legend, instructed to me via a handful of friends who had surpassed my revenue and graduated from their sticky $10-a-month gym to the royal exercising grounds of Equinox. (A monthly club stages from $185 to $260 a month.) “Shove a eucalyptus towel on your face,” one buddy encouraged, accurately. “And use Kiehl’s merchandise!”While the pampering perks at Equinox were extra than sufficient to entice me in, the precision-minded education steadily made me sure I should overcome the mountain at its quit. My regimen turned into curated by way of Matt Delaney, the national supervisor of innovation at Equinox, who paired each experience attendee with a pinnacle-tier instructor for at least a month and a half. (For those trips Equinox will advise a participant train for 3 months minimum.) My teacher turned into Ian Engel, a sweet strongman with a lustrous bun who labored with me two times every week on electricity, balancing, and kettlebell squats. Sometimes he might position me at the VersaClimber, a dying system that mimicked the movement of hiking, which ended in my legs transferring like they had been injected with IVs of jet fuel.

Trip prep wasn’t pretty much education either. The element-orientated group despatched multiple emails leading up to the trip, inclusive of a questionnaire that asked me about my everyday habits, from consuming to eating regimen. The packing list—which I did now not be aware of and ought to have—became no comic story. I became to deliver a headlamp (I to begin with thought this turned into for analyzing, however, no—I quickly found out we’d be hiking in the dark). There was altitude medicine (CVS gave me my Retin-A prescription via a twist of fate) and sunblock (now very essential for Retin-A coupled with Moroccan solar). Thankfully I didn’t must fear approximately hiking boots or jackets: Arc’teryx furnished me with their contemporary wilderness-geared up equipment. From afar the experience idea sounds a piece insane—a concept that Equinox has leaned into before. (“Equinox made me do it,” reads considered one of their advert campaigns, overlaid on an image of a man easing into an ice bathtub or a girl rowing a dinghy in a dress.) Equinox Explorer is structured to draw a certain character with an extreme, almost Patrick Bateman–esque power. (It can be open to Equinox individuals and their assignment-seeking guests.) The software is the brainchild of its director, Leah Howe, who has an extensive resume that includes running for each famend travel business and event manufacturing groups like Van Wyck. The idea for Equinox Explore started out around 2015 but didn’t come into fruition till Equinox deliberate to launch its first hotel, with a view to open on July 15 at Hudson Yards. “It turned into a super compliment,” says Howe, considering both the lodge and the journey itineraries intend to fuse difficult-core muscle use with the neighborhood lifestyle of a vacation spot. But in contrast to the average wellness getaway, there might be no “serenity now” (or at the least now not as you know it). “Retreat is any other phrase for surrender,” says Howe. “Equinox doesn’t retreat, Equinox powers ahead.”

The health empire’s trip-or-die philosophy seeped into my mind even before I boarded the aircraft (I referred to as it “sucking down that #noxygen”). Knowing I changed into going to climb a large mountain lent me a brand new degree of strength of will. At nights I’d p.C. My jogging backpack so I ought to wake up at 6:30 at the dot and start the five.25-mile run to Equinox, whether or not or now not I turned into meeting my instructor. When I changed into there, I’d stretch, steam, and then get geared up for paintings. It was probably the quality of two months of my lifestyle. Knowing that I didn’t ought to awaken to run three miles around my block simplest to go back to my rental for a bath with water strain like a trickle of pee became a blessing. By the end of the 2-month Equinox club, my going for walks persistence had tremendously progressed, and the way to my trainer my palms had been jacked like Madonna in the course of her yogi-Kabbalah phase. Plus I changed into happier: Working out inside the morning gave me a rush of endorphins that espresso ought to never do.

Jittery with anticipation and this newfound energy, I boarded the aircraft to Marrakech excited to eventually take at the mountain that had prompted me during all these runs. We landed on a sunny May morning before riding to the picturesque Kasbah Bab Ourika, a hotel tucked inside the Atlas Mountains. There I met the smiling Charaf El Mansouri, a young U.S.-knowledgeable Morocco local who had formerly worked for Uber as an operations supervisor in London. His lower back returned to Morocco 12 months ago to start the personalized tour business enterprise Sunny Side Up, which partnered with Equinox on this experience. His employer has a millennial-minded bent that consists of yoga applications and the experiential parts of the ride, from meals to exploration. He’s additionally the cool Morocco plug: He knows everyone and exactly the way to get the job finished. Equinox will plan to have a person like Mansouri in every destination it chooses.

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