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The health resort of Lanserhof Tegernsee has been at the top of my must-visit list for a few years now, ever since it opened its doors in 2014 and everyone I knew started raving about it.
Offering the world-famous FX Mayr programme in a dazzlingly minimalist building deep in the Bavarian countryside, the latest addition to the Lanserhof stable is the brand’s most high-tech outpost yet. Entering the building feels like walking into the future, and even though I have done the Mayr method before, the sleek and chic atmosphere of the place made it feel like a totally new experience.
The first step after dropping my bags in my room – sleek and minimalist with a balcony overlooking the staggering surrounding countryside – was a trip downstairs to see the doctors. Lanserhof prides itself on using the latest medical machinery to test every part of the body, noting down all vital statistics ranging from height and weight to a bioimpedance analysis that measures muscle mass and visceral fat. From this it creates a personalised program for the week, along with scheduling regular check-ups to make sure the program is working.
I went a couple of weeks before Christmas, arriving from London where the party season was already in full swing. I was coming down with something so it was the perfect opportunity to take refuge from excessive eating and drinking and give my body a reboot.
Just making the trip from tinsel-clad London into the frosty countryside was a tonic in itself. The air near Lake Tegernsee is like champagne, your hair shines after a shower, you feel like you can drink the bathwater, it’s so fresh and heavenly. I relinquished my clothes for bathrobes and slippers and committed to a week of fasting, consuming just broth, tea and water.
The Lanserhof system is focused on cleansing, detoxifying and rebooting the digestive system,. Studies have shown that human digestion works best in the morning between 7 and 9am, and barely works at all 12 hours later. With this in mind, the first and only meal of the day is breakfast, which, for those fasting, is clear broth. After that, the menu slims down to a range of delicious teas and filtered water, a prospect that does initially sound quite gruelling.
Indeed, the first few days were tough, not least because I was fighting off the flu. I felt weak and exhausted and endured the nagging headache that comes with weaning one’s body off its crutches of sugar and caffeine.
But by day four, I began to feel better, helped by the array of soothing treatments on offer throughout the week. I had lots of massages, the best being the hour-long lymphatic drainage. The electrolysis foot bath was deeply relaxing, too. The on-site osteopath was a particular revelation – he helped me with my jaw, easing the tension brought on by a stressful year and working with me on exercises I could continue to do at home.
Best of all was the outdoor saltwater pool. It felt unbelievably luxurious and nurturing to swim in warm, salty water, steam rising into the frosty air, the surrounding countryside a mass of evergreen trees and snow tipped hills. There was even underwater music playing to add to the experience.
One of Tegernsee’s pleasures is its scale – even when the spa is busy, it often feels like you have the space to yourself. It is a calm, futuristic bubble where everyone is given permission to leave their anxieties at the door and quietly, deeply relax. There is a programme of evening events, lectures discussing diet, fasting and exercises to help clients take the lessons they’ve learnt at the clinic back into their regular lives. As I was still battling with my cold, I made the most of the opportunity to get to bed early, which made waking up at 6am every morning was less a chore than a pleasure.
The combination of nature, age-old practices and cutting-edge medical technology is a potent force. By the end of the week, my skin was brighter, I felt lighter and I was leaping out of bed, full of energy. My final medical check-up showed I had lost some festive pounds, but the most important changes were in how I felt physically, mentally and emotionally.
Heading back to London, back to the Christmas madness, I felt more connected, more conscious of what and how I eat, reminded to take more pleasure in the simple things.
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