So this is a slightly controversial blog post because it's essentially promoting other people's businesses, and potentially steering people away from our retreats..............I know, stupid right? Well, no it's not stupid, because I got into this industry to help and support people and their goals, so what sort of hypocrite would I be if I told you that our fitness retreats were the best option for every single one of you out there?
Firstly let's start with the basics:
What is a "Fitness Retreat"?
Well, the term "Fitness Retreat" can be used for an extremely wide range of different offerings from detox and wellness retreats that you might find in a spa, all the way to intense beach bootcamps in Thailand, but in a general sense it is removing yourself from your natural environment and trusting a company or person to support and guide you to make positive changes to your health, wellbeing or body composition. There really is a retreat that suits every personality, every age group and most importantly every goal, so it's important that you choose the right service for you.
What are the different types of Fitness Retreats?
Detox Retreats: These seem to be everywhere at the moment, and can be done anywhere from a farm in the Surrey countryside, to a luxury resort in Bali or Thailand. They are usually done on an all inclusive basis and their primary objective is removing the toxins from your body and essentially flicking the re-boot switch through the consumption of green juices and light salads/fruits. Personally I hate the term "Detox" when used in conjunction with juices etc as there is no such thing as a juice, food, or product that can "Detox" your body - That's what your liver is for, however I do think that there can be some benefit to temporarily removing foods form your diet that put your digestive system under a lot of stress and allow your liver and body to "Detox" itself. I would say however that this is a very ineffective way of losing weight long term and any weight you lose during your retreat should be expected to make it's way back quite soon after returning home.
Wellness Retreats: These tend to focus on your "wellness" as a whole and will usually involve a mixture of holistic practices such as Yoga & Meditation, as well as some moderate physical exercise classes. Often they will offer different options of service to choose, such as a "Detox Package", or a "Weight Loss Package". Again, these could be hosted anywhere in the world, but will usually be at a nice all inclusive resort that you don't leave for the duration of your stay.
Bootcamp Retreats: Not for the faint hearted, these tend to be a week of gruelling exercise, and a restrictive eating regime to produce maximum result in minimum time. I have mixed feelings about this type of retreat as I do believe they have a place in the market for those that want a week of having the life beasted out of them, and if they are sold purely on that basis then great, but often they are marketed towards weight loss which i don't feel is responsible of them. Guests of course WILL experience weight loss during a week of intense exercise and severe calorie restriction, but this almost certainly WILL NOT be sustainable in the real world, and I can pretty much guarantee that the weight will come back with a vengeance a few weeks later. Now, I would note that some of these providers do offer ongoing support for weight loss clients etc which is great, and definitely the way forward for more of these companies.
Yoga Retreats: Do i need to explain this one? No? OK, well i'll just keep it brief. These again, can be based anywhere in the world, but essentially involve a week or so of Yoga, meditation, and (usually) a Vegan friendly diet. There are lots to choose from that all offer something different, but yeah, basically it's Yoga :)
Weight Loss Retreats: A mine field! There are some fantastic weight loss retreats out there in the market, and again these may be in Europe or somewhere further afield like Thailand or Bali. They range from being hosted at private Villas, to resorts of all standards, but the reason i use the term "mine field" is that there are a lot of people out there claiming to be running "weight loss retreats" that really aren't qualified to deal with individual cases, and give ongoing nutritional advice (and emotional support) after the retreat. Make sure you do your homework before handing over your hard earned cash. Do they have a qualified nutritionist attending? (nutritional advisor is not a nutritionist - ask for proof), also what kind of support do they give post-retreat (weight loss is a marathon not a sprint, don't assume you're going to so a retreat for a week and transform your life).
Active Retreats: Yay, It's our turn! OK, so firstly the term "Active Retreat" or as we like to call it "Active Escape" is also quite a broad one, and there are a few companies out there that all offer something slightly different. Some take a VERY relaxed approach to the nutrition side of it, and others are almost closer to a weight loss retreat. At New Horizon Escapes we offer a balanced approach to diet and exercise, whilst focussing on what we believe is the most important part - HAVING FUN! Let's face it, other than your job what have you ever done consistently that you didn't enjoy doing? Yeah exactly, so that's why fun is very important to us. We (and many other active retreats out there) offer a mix of most of the above retreats, with an added emphasis on outdoor activities and we do all of this in some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. For example, a typical day at our Koh Tao, Thailand escape is the following:
07:00 | 20 min HIIT session in the villa garden
08:00 | Big breakfast spread of fresh fruits, pancakes, eggs, bacon, oats, granola, natural yogurt and lots more!
09:30 | Half day rock climbing and abseiling
13:00 | Lunch at one of the islands fantastic restaurants
** FREE TIME **
16:30 | Power Yoga session in the villa garden
18:30 | Sunset drinks & dinner on the beach
That's just one day example, but we also take guests to train at local Muay Thai gym's, hike to breathtaking view points, go on speed boat tours, go for beach runs, Stand up paddle boarding and tons more! From our own research as well we've found a majority of "Active Retreat" providers also offer a very balanced approach to exercise and over all health. We aim to show people that health & fitness doesn't have to be boring, in fact you don't even need to step foot in a gym to be healthy, but on the flip side holidays don't have to be about being lazy and eating and drinking yourself to a new notch on the belt.
My final thought (Just like Jerry Springer!)
Retreats are about taking yourself out of the environment where you've become comfortable, and probably quite sedentary. It's also about getting away from anything in your life that is having a negative influence on your mental or physical health. The rest comes down to how you want to experience that week. Do you want a week of just relaxing by the pool, sipping juices and doing the occasional Yoga session? Do you want a week of heart pounding exercise that leaves you weak at the knees? Do you want a week of help and support to get you to the next level of your weigh loss journey? Or maybe you just want a week of awesome activities, fitness, and sun. Whatever you want, there's a retreat out there for you. So go find it!