You might all recall that over the summer we ran our #cocotarget competition, where we invited people to put their culinary skills to the test and come up with a healthy, creative and downright tasty recipe using Cocofina coconut products for the chance to win a 5 day Executive Fitness Retreat from Target Fitness Retreats.
The winner, Libby Horsley (you can follow her here @libbys_health_bites), came up with the ridiculously tasty Raw Coconut and Cacao Matcha Superfood Bars, which not only won her this incredible prize but also gave her the opportunity to showcase her recipe on our site.
But I didn’t want it to end there…I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss around fitness retreats actually is. They’re everywhere at the moment, so what better opportunity for me to join Libby and discover whether it’s all lettuce leaves and Lycra, kale and kickass and baobab and burpees.
Over the next few days I’m going to take you through my personal diary of how I got on during my first ever fitness retreat and give you a realistic account of how someone like me (an averagely fit, thirty something year old, occasional junk food lover) coped when I was well and truly thrown out of my comfort zone.
CAUTION – It ain’t gonna be pretty, I moan a lot and it might just make you want to go on a fitness retreat yourself!
(You’ve been warned!)
It’s Thursday morning.
The kids have been packed off to school, the husband’s been given his instructions (there’s a lot!) and I am nervously pacing round the bedroom staring at the mountain of Lycra piled on the floor. Today is the day I am going on the Target fitness retreat and I am literally bricking it!
I consider myself to be a relatively fit (ish) person. I walk loads, I run and when I can I like to fit in the odd session of HIIT, so I’m probably faring better than the average person. But I am proper nervous about this retreat.
- I’m the oldest person there and am that person that ruins all the photos!?!
- I can’t keep up with all the exercise?
- I make a complete and utter fool of myself?
- I cry?
- I give up?
- What if…what if…what if…?
Arghhhhh so many what ifs!!!
Right, girly hissy fit out the way, I try and ignore my tummy niggling worries and crack on with the packing, which is an immense task in itself.
Just look at it all! I didn’t even realise I owned that much Lyca; I certainly don’t exercise enough to justify it all, that’s for sure. OK, so what to pack…? One outfit a day, that’s one top, one pair of leggings, a hoodie. Hang on though, if there’s a break for lunch I can’t bear the thought of being sweaty and stinky through that, so OK start again. Two outfits a day, that’s two tops, two pairs of leggings…But woah what a sec, what if it rains? Hmmm better pack some spares…then there’s the evenings, I’ll need some ‘normal’ clothes. Right start again…
Let’s just shove the whole lot in!
Twenty minutes later, a stuffed suitcase, rucksack and handbag later and I’m finally packed. Phew, that was a workout right there!
Dressed in my Selfish Mother ‘Winging it’ top, cos let’s face it I am totally ‘winging it’, and my lucky superwoman pants, yeah OK maybe a step too far, I wave goodbye to my comfort zone and take a step into the unknown.
The retreat is situated on the outskirts of Glastonbury, in a little village called West Pennard, and it is proper picture perfect. From the abundant apple trees in the orchard, the authentic fresh, albeit ‘cowy’ country smell and the lush greenness that is literally everywhere you look, this place oozes health and wellness.
As for the farmhouse, it has been luxuriously styled with just the right amount of girly touches (cushions, soft furnishings, hot tubs, did I mention cushions?!) combined with just enough of a manly feel too (well there’s some massive TV screens, big sofas and a good WiFi connection – stereotyped, moi?!). The kitchen diner is perfect for socialising whilst also casting a sneaky glance over at what the chef is making for dinner, cos well it’s all about the food for me. Something’s gotta feed these thighs, ya know!
Actually whilst we’re on the subject of food, let’s talk about Ellie the chef. Ellie runs her own company, Sage and Honey, and she can work wonders with food. Her best trick? Turning fruit, vegetables, seeds in fact you name anything healthy and this culinary wizard can knock up the most delicious, most visually pleasing food I have seen in a long time. I’m not going to go into great detail here (look out for my post all about retreat food coming soon) but all I need tell you is that everyone could do with an Ellie in their life!
Oh, oh and before I forget, there’s a spa onsite too, with pool, treatment rooms, sauna, hot tubs, woohoo things are looking up, a spa is something I can definitely handle!
Anyway, you get the idea, the venue is perfection, but what about the other guests and the trainers, were my worries justified?
I don’t know about you lot but when I think about fitness retreats, I automatically think bootcamp and therefore big, bulky military style drill sergeants barking orders until you’re crying into mud. So, imagine my relief when I first clapped eyes on the Target trainers and saw that they were friendly and, well in the nicest possible way, they were normal. Yes, of course they were fit, it would be a mockery if they weren’t, but they were an achievable fit; a healthy fit, and they made me feel incredibly welcome and at ease from the moment I hopped out of my car.
There were 6 guests, including myself, all women, of varying ages, and after a few introductions and a quick tour of the building we were given our individual consultations. Basically we got a chance to talk to a trainer about how fit we already were/thought we were, what we were hoping to get out of the experience and any health niggles we might be concerned with. If I’m being completely honest, I hadn’t really given this much thought; I’ve got no health concerns that I’m aware of, I know I need to exercise a bit more and I know I have a tendency to eat rubbish when I’m time poor/tired/stressed/happy (yep I’m an emotional eater, what can I say?!), but I suppose for me it was a chance to try out a few different exercise styles, push myself to my limits, give myself a giant kick up the backside and if I was really lucky lose a few pounds and tighten and tone in the process.
The consultations were followed by a bit of mobility and stretch work using the dreaded (cue ominous music) foam rollers; instruments of torture that look like oversized mutant lego, which are used as rolling devices to help relieve muscles. I personally didn’t get on very well with these, but I have a sneaky suspicion it may have been down to the fact that my muscles are very well *cough* hidden. Time will tell, but I reckon this won’t be the last time I see these weapons of muscle destruction!
The highlight of today, other than arriving at such an amazing venue, was the fab sushi workshop that Ellie put on for us all. I’ll talk about it a bit more in my food post, but anything that involves being taught how to make food and then getting to eat it, is always going to score highly with me.
We were all in bed by 10pm that night, pretty early by my standards, but we were all exhausted; slightly concerned as we hadn’t actually done any exercise yet! Oh well, I’m sure it will do me some good to get a few sleep points in the bank, I have a feeling these next few days could be just a teensy, tiny bit knackering!