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Fitness maximus: Prepare for vacation glory

Perfect your gladiator physique with an exciting and unique holiday at the Rome Cavalieri Hilton.
/ Source: TODAY

Are you a fitness-minded traveler looking for a little adventure and a dose of history? Internet travel site globorati profiles a new vacation spot that lets you indulge your inner gladiator in the luxury of a hilltop resort:

Admit it. Ever since Russell Crowe flexed his mud-smeared muscles in Gladiator, you’ve lusted after — or have lusted for your man to sport — that gladiator physique. Well, fantasize no more. The Rome Cavalieri Hilton — a swanky hilltop resort known for gentrified activities like art hoarding and afternoon tea — has launched a new “gladiator training program” for its most sadistic fitness-minded guests. Two-hour mortal combat classes are taught by members of the Gruppo Storico Romano, an historical reenactment group that runs a “gladiator training” academy in the Eternal City.

“One can visit Rome many times and always be overwhelmed by the beauty and history,” said Eve Santiglia, director of marketing for the Cavalieri. “But to live the experience of ancient Rome as a gladiator is something no one’s offering. We wanted to provide guests with memories they can only make here.”

For 500 euros ($665.00) you and seven friends or family members — women included — can participate in the grueling gladiator course. Warrior wannabes assemble on the lush grounds of the hotel’s 15-acre private park and begin training with a spot of contextual history. Before moving onto combat, students recite the same foreboding Latin salute every gladiator gave upon entering the Colosseum: “Ave Cesare! Morituri te salutant” (“Hail Caesar! Those who are about to die salute you”).

Students with the right mettle then jump straight into battle technique using “authentic” replicas of gladiatorial weapons handcrafted at the gladiator academy. Acquit yourself well with a wooden sword, and you’ll graduate to an iron gladius or even a trident. Just don’t bother packing sneakers or sweatpants. You’ll be training in traditional attire — a feat of bravery in itself as you’ll be wearing nothing more than Roman sandals and a mini-dress tunic.

While the classes are designed to last two hours, the strength and endurance of the students will determine the length and rigor of the training. Those who complete the full training will be honored with a medal and the title “tiro” — or beginner gladiator — based on the curriculum of the Scuola Gladiatori Roma.

But the best reward awaits fledgling fighters at the Cavalieri’s Grand Spa, a state-of-the-art facility with marble-mosaic steam rooms and a hydro-massage pool. Newly-minted gladiators will be treated with a special four-handed massage administered by two therapists using avocado, vanilla, coconut or almond body oils.

After your aching muscles have been soothed, head up to the hotel’s rooftop garden for a celebratory cocktail. Here you can look down on the whole of Rome: the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, and your inspiration — the Colosseum. Cap off the celebration with a feast at La Pergola, the Cavalieri’s Michelin three-star roof garden restaurant — the only Michelin three-starred restaurant in Rome. As you indulge in a carpaccio of scallops on amaranth grain and black corn with ginger oil, remember the Roman Empire gave special treatment to its finest gladiators — you know, the ones who didn’t die.

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