It is pretty rare that I feel compelled to share an experience with you all, but this is one such occasion. When I first started speaking to Target Human Performance last year about their fitness retreats, I thought they were a good idea as I struggled to get out from behind my desk and that it would make a welcome break for me. I booked one with some excitement a few months ago but as the date drew nearer for me to go, I have to admit I panicked about the impact of me not being behind my desk and how much busier I would be when I got back. The week before I went in May was the climax for me- I was probably the most stressed I have ever been. The better things go in business the busier I become and the more responsibility I shoulder. I love what I do but knowing there is a limit to every person’s endurance no matter how dedicated- I packed my little case and headed for London Gatwick.
I arrived my usual positive self but a little jaded. Considering this was a fitness holiday and not just a jolly, I had one of the most incredibly positive weeks! So many small things aligned on this trip to make it very worthwhile:
1) Fitness. This is such a huge passion of mine but I frustratingly do not get to indulge like I used to when I was in employment. I was probably a good ten pounds lighter and I would estimate 5% body fat more toned. My physical appearance bothers me when I don’t train but it is so much more than that. The mental stimulation associated with exercise cannot be beaten for me. When I arrived I was three weeks post London Marathon so had concentrated my efforts on running. I hadn’t been in a gym yet all of 2016. Most of their sessions take place outdoors and involve the typical HIIT (high intensity interval training) that I love. Hard work over short periods of time. Think- dragging a tyre round, burpees, squats, pushups and many other body weight exercises. These are interspersed with boxing, stretching, running and posture training. The day always started with an early morning hike and ended with yoga-esk cool down. It was challenging at times but that’s why I was there and you could go at your own pace if you wanted. James and David delivered the sessions and tailored it to each attendee’s objectives. For example, I struggle with a sore neck frequently because of long hours at a computer and the posture classes taught me something that I can take back to the U.K.
2) Location. They have teamed up with Almond House in Spain to provide the setting for their Spanish retreat and what a choice! It is a villa/ rustic house in the middle of nowhere. So quiet you can hear a pin drop (over the sound of me working out) anytime night or day. I find it hard to put in words just the feeling of tranquillity that I managed to achieve while here. Its run by an English couple Paul and Jules who are just lovely. They share their home with four dogs, six cats and a few horses. You have to be an animal lover really but they are only in the communal parts. My bedroom was ensuite with its own private terrace and bursting with charm. The surrounding areas made the perfect setting for our hikes, challenging terrain and not another house for miles. They also do normal accommodation when the fitness retreats aren’t on so you can still benefit from the place if you needed a break. The sun shone all week which is a definite bonus!
3) The schedule. The say started at 07.30am with healthy juice. And typically followed a set schedule. Hike, breakfast, rest for 90 mins, HIIT type work out, one or two more classes, lunch, afternoon class and stretching, rest for 90 mins and 8pm dinner. Fortunately for me there was enough time to schedules calls to the UK for the business and to keep on top of my emails. However, if you were able to relax in this time there were plenty of rooms and a secluded pool to do so. I felt the balance between rest, keeping in touch with back home and working out was just right.
4) Company. I attended the retreat solo but the group is up to six so you still feel the benefit of almost personal training. They were all busy professionals mostly execs who like me were looking to escape. I was the youngest of the group but not the fittest I am ashamed to say. There were varying levels of ability but not determination. Everyone there was serious about fitness and I felt a competitive edge helped me to keep going. We did take advantage of the local wine on offer a few evenings and we became quite a close group by the end- many colourful game of cards was played and anecdote exchanged.
5) Food. Now usually I wouldn’t add a section on this but it could have formed its own blog it was THAT good. All home-made with passion they managed the near impossible of making even soup seem interesting and all healthy options super tasty. Let me just clarify- the pics don’t even do it justice!
My experience really was a brilliant one, the retreats run throughout the summer and can be found here.I know they are growing and will soon be adding more venue and dates. Thanks so much to THP and Almond House for forcing me to take a break, I feel fitter more relaxed and ready once more to plough on as an entrepreneur with renewed vigour!