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Detox and retox: I tried 6 of Virgin Voyages' free fitness classes, and here's how it went

March 23, 2022
12 min read
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Editor’s note: Virgin Voyages provided TPG complimentary access to Valiant Lady during the vessel’s three-night inaugural sailing. The opinions expressed below are entirely from the author and weren’t subject to review by Virgin Voyages or any external entity.

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My triceps ache. My glutes burn. And my quads? I forgot they existed until I tried six of Virgin Voyages' complimentary fitness classes over the course of two days on my three-night cruise aboard new ship Valiant Lady.

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Why would I do this to myself, you ask? I've got eight cruises coming up in a four-month period, and I don't want my affinity for pizza and soft-serve to make me any fluffier than the pandemic already has.

Plus, Virgin is the only mega-ship cruise line that offers its workout sessions completely free, so it seemed like a solid opportunity to both offset my junk food intake and determine if the free classes are as good as the ones that levy an extra fee on other cruise lines' ships.

Spoiler: They aren't as good. They're better. Like, way better. The classes are creative, fun and take advantage of the ship's extensive outdoor workout areas (which don't exist on other vessels).

It's all part of Virgin's "detox and retox" philosophy, which pervades the entire ship. Intrigued? Here's my inside look at the line's unique wellness mantra, the six classes I tried and Valiant Lady's additional options for staying fit if classes just aren't your jam.

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What is "detox and retox" exactly?

Shake Weights at the VHS Workout class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

"Detox and retox" is the term for Virgin Voyages' philosophy of health and fitness mixed with the treats you deserve when you're on vacation.

For instance, you might choose to attend a wellness seminar (be warned: they're largely sales pitches) or partake in an early-morning workout, followed by a healthy smoothie, after a night of drinking, dancing and 1 a.m. pizza.

It's all about indulging, cleansing and repeating as needed -- but in a way that doesn't feel like it's infringing on the fun.

It might sound like a marketing gimmick, but it does make sense. In fact, the line is so invested in the idea that it has even hired a crew member called "The Balancer" -- Patrick on Valiant Lady -- to help passengers find ways to offset all their partying with wellness in a way that isn't a chore.

Classes I tried

Classes consist of a mix of stretching and relaxation, yoga, cardio, spin, body weight exercises and interval training. On my four-day cruise, sessions were available on days two and three, with the most popular classes offered more than once. All of them were taught by fitness instructor Solo, unless otherwise noted.

Growth and Guided Meditation

A Growth and Guided Meditation class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

I'm not a morning person, so this quiet, easy, stationary half-hour class on day two was a great way for me to ease into my day.

After dragging myself out of bed for the 7:30 a.m. start time, I showed up at the studio in the fitness center on Deck 15 and grabbed a yoga mat.

We began with some light stretching, followed by an invitation to sit cross-legged in silence while clearing our minds, controlling our breathing and focusing on the day's mantras.

This wasn't my favorite of the classes I took, mainly because the entrance to the buffet area is nearby, and I could hear people talking and music blaring, which made it difficult to concentrate on being present.

HIIT (Don't Quit)

The HIIT (Don't Quit) class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

At 8 a.m., immediately after meditation, I hoofed it to Deck 16's The Training Camp, where HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is held. There, Solo was waiting to divide us into groups of three for a 45-minute session that focused on completing a variety of exercises, each for 30 seconds.

Several stations were set up throughout the indoor space and the connecting outdoor workout area. Each station consisted of three exercises, ranging from battle ropes, kettlebell swings and crunches to rowing, box jumps and planks. After each person completed each of the three exercises at one station, the three-person group would move to the next one.

The class was challenging and kept my heart pumping. The outdoor portion of the workout was a nice added touch, but the chilly morning air was jarring, as were movements like slam balls and kicking a heavy bag -- especially after having just come from meditation.

What I didn't like about the experience was that it felt crowded, and we switched to boxing movements as a group before we were able to make it to all of the stations, meaning nobody was able to complete all of the exercises. Of the classes I tried, this was probably the second-most challenging, so it's a good bet if you're someone who works out frequently.

VHS Workout (Videos/Headbands/Simmons)

The VHS Workout class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

My absolute favorite class of the bunch was the VHS Workout. (In this case, VHS stands for "videos/headbands/Simmons," as in Richard Simmons). Held in The Manor, the ship's nightclub, at 11 a.m., it was the class I was most excited to try.

This one is, like, totally rad, serving as equal parts quirky, nostalgic fun; sweaty aerobic fitness; and sexual innuendo. Patrick ("The Balancer") and two other crew members lead a 50-minute aerobic workout set to ’80s music while wearing fluorescent tank tops, short shorts and sweatbands.

"You see those balls in the sky?" Patrick asked, while pointing to a set of disco balls suspended from the ceiling, encouraging us to stretch our arms higher above our heads. "Reach for them! Reach for the balls!" As you might expect, there was also a significant amount of hip thrusting involved.

Meanwhile, a cart full of Shake Weights adds to the throwback fun, as do the costumes worn by many passengers who attend. (Don't forget to pack your legwarmers and scrunchies.)

Because this is one of the most popular workouts on the ship's schedule, it fills up quickly. Be sure to reserve a spot early on.

When the class ends, you can head to the adjacent bar for free infused water. Be careful, though: they'll try to entice you with ginger shots and smoothies, both of which cost extra.

Roll Out and Recover

Although I don't usually feel sore until a day or two after intense physical exertion, I was thankful for a chance to break down some of the lactic acid that was surely building up.

During this simple 30-minute evening session, Solo led a small group through using foam rollers to soften the muscles in our feet, calves, glutes, quads, traps, upper back, triceps and biceps.

It's not a particularly flashy endeavor, but it sure did help me to recover.

Spin-Out

The Spin-Out class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

I have only done two spin classes my entire life. The first was years ago, and I hated it. After Spin-Out, my first class of day three, I remember why.

It has now been 48 hours since I climbed onto the bike, and I'm still having trouble transitioning between sitting and standing positions without feeling like I've been hit by a truck.

That's not to say it was a bad workout. In fact, quite the contrary. I don't know much about spin classes, so I can't say how it compares to what you might get from a Peloton session, a SoulCycle class or a workout at your local gym, but for me it was the most intense fitness experience I tried on board.

My legs throbbed, and my heart raced -- and that was on the lowest setting. Using this assignment as an excuse, I stopped after only 20 minutes of the 45-minute class, which only went for 30 to allow for a cooldown. I had to snap some photos, you know (wink, wink).

On-the-Upswing Bungee Class

The On-the-Upswing Bungee class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Of the classes, I found On-the-Upswing to be the most exclusive. During my sailing, it was offered twice. However, there are only seven spots in each one, so it was limited to 14 people out of the roughly 1,300 who were on board.

Besides being the most difficult to get into, it was also the most awkward. I had never done a bungee class before, and I struggled to get my apparatus to the right height in time for each of the movements. That led to me constantly lagging a full set of reps behind the rest of the class. Solo tried to help, but ultimately, I felt rushed and out of synch.

Although it was fun, I didn't feel like I got a good workout, which tells me I was doing something wrong. With such a small class size, I would have liked more instruction in terms of proper form.

Other fitness and wellness options

Technogym cardio machines on Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady. The setup on Valiant Lady is identical. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

I initially signed up for early-morning Cleansing Breathing on the third day, followed immediately by Invigorating Vinyasa Flow Yoga. (Both were held in the fitness center's studio, but there is also an outdoor yoga area called The Crow's Nest.) I will sheepishly admit that I bailed on both at the last minute, opting for an extra couple hours of sleep instead.

I also registered for three seminars: acupuncture, nutrition and exercise, and posture. I canceled when I realized they were more focused on selling me products and services than actually teaching me anything.

But organized classes aren't the only way to detox on Valiant Lady. Deck 15's onboard gym is equipped with Technogym ellipticals and treadmills, as well as free weights and weight machines. The studio, where meditation, yoga and bungee sessions are held, is where you'll find yoga mats and foam rollers.

Craving an alfresco sweat sesh? Stationary outdoor gym equipment is set up around the pool on Deck 15 (think a Muscle Beach jungle gym-style setup) and on Deck 16, just outside of The Training Camp used for HIIT classes. Equipment includes pommels, pushup bars, heavy bags, a boxing ring and benches for sit-ups. Head to the sports court on Deck 16 if you'd like to join in a game of pickup basketball.

Outdoor workout equipment on Deck 16 of Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

One deck up is The Runway, a jogging track that's ideal if you want a run with a view.

If you'd rather rejuvenate your body with a spa treatment, Valiant Lady hosts them for a fee at the Redemption Spa on Deck 5. The facility is home to a thermal suite area, too. You'll get free access if you book a spa treatment that's 90 minutes or longer. Otherwise, you can purchase a day pass.

A fruit parfait bento box from The Galley food hall on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

And what good is all the fitness and relaxation without healthy meals? I was ecstatic to find that the ship provides grab-and-go meals like bento boxes, fruits and veggies, and salads in Deck 15's The Galley food hall. For me, it's much easier to stick to healthy eating habits when healthy items aren't directly next to fried or sugary options on a standard buffet (which Virgin's ships have skipped in favor of a more food court-style setup).

Good to know

The Deck 17 jogging track on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady. (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Here are some things to consider if you're thinking about getting your workout on while you sail:

Sign up in advance, as some classes are super limited in both number of times offered on each sailing and number of people allowed in the class. I recommend registering soon after boarding so you don't miss out. In that vein, if you can't make it, be sure to cancel so someone else can snag your spot.

Classes often end earlier than the posted times to allow for stretching and cooldown. It also allows Solo, who runs most of the classes himself, to change locations if necessary and set up for the next workout when he's teaching back-to-back sessions.

If you plan to participate in the VHS Workout class and want to go all out, pack an '80s-themed outfit. The more neon, the better.

One thing that really bothered me about the classes is that we were never asked to wipe down our equipment after use. Frankly, that would have been gross pre-pandemic, but it's even more unthinkable now. There are sanitizing wipe dispensers stationed throughout the main fitness center, but they were often empty, and there aren't any dispensers in the studio at all. If you feel compelled, as I did, to clean your stuff after you use it, ask the instructor, or simply hunt down a wipe yourself.

Featured image by The VHS Workout class on Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases