I’m a bit of a yoga buff. No, that’s not right……’buff’ may be over exaggerating my yogic abilities. Yoga ‘bunny,’ perhaps (only without all the bounce). A cat! Yeah, basically I’m a yoga ‘cat’. In between sleeping and eating I like to stretch to my hearts content and three classes a week not only help keep the mind-cobwebs away but manage to help me stay in relatively OK shape too.
So, yoga being my exercise of choice, I’m a sucker for an intensive retreat, having spent many ‘health’ holidays in downward dog whilst hungrily waiting for my next green juice to arrive. After seven days on a liquid diet with the odd colonic, I usually drift back to urban London life, half a stone lighter and glued to a pedestal of spiritual authority — until 5 days later when reality asks daily meditation to take a backseat….bills need to be paid, school-run’s need to be done,the weight jumps back on and I’m left feeling like I need another holiday.
Me, attempting crow….
This year, I decided to try something different: A fitness retreat recommended by two friends as being ‘a retreat where you can actually eat food,drink wine and come back toned’. Less hardcore yoga and more fitness-inclined, Elite Retreats a new kid on the Ibiza block, offering a holiday that doesn’t starve you, take away your coffee or try to suck out your insides. In a nutshell, it’s about having fun through fitness and healthy, hearty meals without all the ‘detox’ restrictions.
Founded by personal trainer, Tanya Pascall and Sports Massage therapist, Ele King, Elite Retreats is set in villa Can Verru – an idyllic Finca situated just outside St Joseph on the south side of the island. An enormous pool, canopied in bougainvillea, a yoga hut and a workout-teepee are set within expansive lands and decked out in traditional Ibizan style. Tanya is incredibly motivational and really walks the talk: performing every squat, crunch or curl alongside with you. Ele is a very talented sports massage therapist and managed to get rid of my neck knots in a way no massage has ever been able to release before. The Yoga and Pilates instructor, Rachel explains every move so clearly that I realised I’d been doing many postures incorrectly for years.
During the retreat, the villa’s kitchen is home to catering company ‘Feast’ who feed guests in the most conscious, ethically thought-out way. Where possible, every ingredient is locally sourced and grown on the island. The food may lack in gluten, refined sugar and stogy carbs however the menu (3 meals a day plus smoothies and snacks) are designed to leave you feeling full and incredibly satisfied. My favourite dish was salmon dusted in rose petal dukkha with ratatouille and crispy cauliflower. I hear that recipes from the retreat will soon be part of the website, so stay tuned because this is as delicious and creatively conceived as ‘health’ food gets.
Now, on to the exercise bit….And the point where Elite Retreats differs from others. The philosophy behind the holiday starts with letting guests create their own experience by doing as much or as little exercise as they wish. Everything is on offer to pick and choose between from core blast, circuit training, yoga, pilates, aqua aerobics and many more. This couldn’t have been more perfect for me because (as Murphy’s law would have it), I was feeling under the weather for most of the trip so I only went to 2 or 3 classes a day, lazily sleeping- in while everyone else hit the circuit at 7.30am. I was happy with my fill of classes but more fool me — the guests who took every class were the one’s wearing the sinewy limbs and rock hard abs at the end of the trip.
Set over four days, Elite Retreats is created to make you feel like you’ve had a proper holiday — and we all agreed that we felt like we’d been away for longer. If you’re a single person, it’s a terrific way to meet new people and bond through fitness (or over dinner) however I think the best way to experience it is with a group of your closest friends-toning up, lounging by the pool and sipping berry-banana smoothies.
If your idea of the perfect retreat is fasting, wind chimes and a great big waft of Nagchampa with your Namaste, then this retreat may not be your cup of tea. If you want fun, fitness, incredible food, and a body toned from tip- to- toe then Elite Retreats has been designed especially for you.
Elite Retreats single occupancy from £2200 and £1150 based on two people sharing, including accommodation, classes, massage and all meals. Beauty treatments and Clairvoyant readings are optional extras. Retreats run from May to October and bespoke group retreats can be booked for ten or more people.
A video of my time at the retreat is on its way….stay tuned!