Written by M Iuredisi, CNN For CNN Written by Alyson Bennett, CNN Written by Alyson Bennett, CNN
When ducks fall in love, why do they get married? Apparently, it depends on the weather.
Ducks are deeply embedded in the weather cycle; their hormones vary dramatically from spring and summer months to late fall, when temperatures begin to drop, and occasionally up until winter, when the caterpillars that form the major food source, locusts, take over.
Birds using agricultural land as a water source. Credit: Aufneimche.com
Located near the shores of Lake Thun in Switzerland, the wooded mainstay has become a nesting spot for birds in winter, when the nearby lake is at its lowest, providing valuable food for both swans and ducks. “It’s a real indoor on the move,” says physiotherapist Olivier Rutay.
A fitness studio run by Rutay, L’Auberge Petrus, has one of the highest training floors on the planet. Located inside a 17th-century chalet, this triple-height exercise studio looks out across the cold water. And the temperatures are far too high to stay in the building if you’re not in season — no reflection, here.
“Our ski slope in St. Moritz is even colder,” Rutay explains. “So in here we are able to keep it below zero, even though we have a heating system which keeps it in the low 80s Fahrenheit. When the water is down, it’s still all too hot inside, but the birds can stay.”
Ducks use the wooded mainstay as a nesting spot for birds in winter. Credit: Aufneimche.com
The building is three times the size of a normal gym, with as many as 100 members around at a time — many who are from local villages. The structure was built by local craftsmen using local materials, and Rutay worked alongside them to translate the structure into a luxurious private home.
This isn’t just a water-based and indoor running center — it is also a residential space with bathrooms, a cozy kitchen, a bar with wood-burning stove, a library (inspired by a former public library) and a beautiful living area. Staff are on hand to offer different forms of exercise to the users, some as warm as 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The average temperature inside of the building is at least 20 degrees lower than outside. Credit: Aufneimche.com
The swimming pool inside the cellar is one of the largest in the Alps, with enough depth to accommodate over 80 people. It can be programmed to provide two layers of water to suit different weight classes. Members with suits to tend to can also use the sauna.
“A man came in, and we had a nice moment when he said, ‘You know, I don’t feel bad about my weight or my legs,’” Rutay recalls with a smile. “So then, we tried to satisfy him.”
The sound of waves can be heard in the gym. Credit: Aufneimche.com
Nestled on a remote spot in Switzerland, L’Auberge Petrus is a luxury property that is both charming and accessible. Few outside of the indoor gym have ever come in to see it — though this is because the location is hidden in the grounds of the chalet, tucked away behind a large and thick canopy of trees. When the weather warms up outside, more members come by to view the exquisite landscape.
Caterpillars gather in the chalet. Credit: Aufneimche.com
Some members choose to spend the day there enjoying their entire “break.” One woman has “light workouts” in the morning, then for lunch “the birds come out again and swim in the lake, and then they go to dinner,” Rutay says. “And then they go to bed at 9 o’clock.”
Though no members have gone on a winter birding mission yet, the prospects are exciting. The chalet houses a seed distillery which has been producing its own honey which is often honeycomb type, thanks to the corn used to feed the chickens.
“We have several land managers who are specialists in ducks,” Rutay says. “They come, and they bring them out. And sometimes, they bring in a few vultures. Or beavers. It depends on the duck, really. And they are very friendly. It