Today is a brand new day and although I still haven’t had the best nights sleep, like a phoenix rising from the flames I am determined to make this a much more positive day.
I hobble out of bed – honestly it’s like every muscle in my body is screaming at me not to put them through it again – open the shutters and look out at the beautiful, misty fields and feel, as cheesy as it sounds, glad to be alive.
Juice today is carrot, orange, celery and ginger, just the thing to kickstart the system and fuel the body for a morning 5k hike. I’ve made the tough decision not to run this morning, usually I would jump at the chance to sneak one in but after two nights of barely any sleep, I take the sensible option and instead enjoy a fast hike, with the hope that this will pace my day a bit better.
Best decision ever!
Myself and two other guests set off at a pace that is just enough to get us out of breath and raise our heartbeats, but means we can still enjoy a good old girly natter – us ladies love to chat! The air is fresh and damp, the sky is a stunning shade of sky blue pink and it’s truly inspiring to be out when it feels as though the entire rest of the world is still fast asleep in their beds (which they probably were, it is Sunday after all).
Ah life is brilliant! My mind feels clear, I’m in good company and my body, although hurting with every teeny tiny movement I make, feels stronger and, dare I say it, tighter and more toned. Hmmm maybe all that hard work was worth it after all!
We’re back in plenty of time before breakfast, so rather than sit down and put our feet up, we of course squeeze in another little sesh. And boy are we in for a treat…
It’s time for Chardet’s Samba class!
Samba is a Brazilian dance of African origin and if you’ve ever watched Strictly Come Dancing you’ll know it’s all about a fast succession of steps, plenty of hip action and oodles of sass! I’m up for trying anything and this sounded like fun, but I was pretty sure I’d end up looking silly; I’m not exactly known for my dancing. I mean I can do the Birdie Song, I can pretty much handle the Macarena and I’ve got the ‘mum dance’ down to a tee, but anything requiring fluid steps, sultry wiggles and, well, rhythm, and I’m about as graceful as Ed Balls, Judy Murray and Ann Widdecombe combined (sorry another Strictly reference, I really LOVE that program!). But do you know what? It’s not about me looking silly, it’s about giving something new a try, having fun, laughing at myself and if it means I’m exercising at the same time, well that is just perfect.
All of us loved that class, and it was exactly what we needed to help boost morale. We sashayed, shimmied, and swung our hips as though no one was watching and I’m not ashamed to admit to trying to channel my inner exotic south american dancer, dressed in bright coloured feathers and sparkles, strutting my stuff at carnival. Thankfully there is no video evidence of my rather inaccurate imaginings, so we’ll all just pretend that that’s exactly how I looked…OK?
Just look at our smiling faces 🙂 And if you’re wondering what we’re doing, we’re posing with our samba ‘butterfly’ arms, although as one guest pointed out, I think we were perhaps a bit more moth-like! Let’s just say, it’s a work in progress.
Breakfast was poached eggs, always a winner, and then a bit of a break before a rather cheeky combo of Pilates mixed with Brazilian Booty Burn. I can confirm my booty got burnt, as did my thighs, my calves, my abs…in fact every little bit of me that didn’t already hurt was on fire by the end of this session. It was proper hardcore, but hey a toned butt doesn’t just happen by itself, right?! Anyone who’d have looked in on us when we were doing that sesh would’ve been in for a right old shock/treat. There was a lot of squatting, thrusting and downright dirty moves, but all in the name of developing a derrière that would make even Kim Kardashian green with envy.
Booty’s well and truly burnt, it was time to gear ourselves up for team circuits – yay I love a bit of competition! Yep, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about myself during this Target fitness retreat, it’s that I thrive on competition. But in a healthy way. Not in a ‘I’m going to have a major sulk and throw the Monopoly board up in the air kind of way’ (um yeah I kind of, might’ve been that child), but more of a ‘let’s work together as a team and smash the other team into oblivion kind of way’.
Hmmm OK so maybe I do really like winning…
Anyway, the six of us were split into two teams, which had already been worked out by David, the trainer. So, there was none of this being picked last in PE lark, it was all evenly balanced and fair. Having come up with team names; my team being ‘Sister Stretchers’, because we figured we might need one at the end of it, and the other team being ‘Grandes Fundos’, meaning big bottoms – rather apt after that booty burn sesh, we glanced apprehensively around at the evil looking course laid out in front of us.
We’re talking tyre flips, shuttle sprints, stacked tyre jumps, weighted ball toss and to top it all off, whichever team scores the least amount of points per round, they have to do a set of burpees, which increases each time they lose a round. Right, so we have deffo got to win this ‘Sister Stretchers’, cos I really hate burpees!!!
It was tough (I think you’re probs getting the picture now that EVERYTHING was tough, or maybe I’m just a wimp…), but what spurred us all on, what made it fun, albeit painful, out of breath, sweaty fun, was the support of fellow team mates shouting and encouraging us to go the fastest we could, to be the strongest we could be and to be the best we could be. Oh OK, the threat of those burpees may have been a big factor too!
I had two favourite rounds in team circuits; one, which I’ll call ‘dizzy dash’ and the tug of war. ‘Dizzy dash’, as the name would suggest is all about getting dizzy and then running. I’m sure a fair few of you have probably played the drunken version of this before, but this, being a healthy fitness retreat, it was obviously 100% alcohol free. Each team member takes it in turns to stand with their forehead positioned over a pole and then must twist around the pole 10 times. They then have to run, whilst dizzily flailing around, grab a cone and bring it back before the next person goes. I’ve done plenty of drinking games in my time, so, without sounding too big headed, this wasn’t too difficult for me. It was so, so funny watching people, myself included, falling around all over the place, and the best bit is that because you’re having so much fun you don’t even realise you’re working out!
Finally, it was time for the tug of war, something I don’t think I have done since school sports days. My team picked me to go at the back, so I dug my heels in deep and leaned back as far as I could.
And guess what?
Turns out I’m really, really good at it! Who knew? I mean, it’s hardly a skill that’s going to get me far in life, but I am totally adding it to my CV 😉 I think I took everybody by surprise, because the strength that I had somehow managed to muster, even through my lack of sleep, seemed to have literally come from nowhere and helped secure ‘Sister Stretchers’ the winning title.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday I was pretty much all set to pack it all in, admit defeat and go home, yet here I am today enjoying, yes you really did read that right, enjoying exercise. Something had clicked in me and I finally felt as though I deserved to be here, that I was fit enough to be here and that I was a strong and healthy force to be reckoned with.
I had arrived!
The afternoon saw the last round of boxing, cue my mime artiste pad work style (see Day 3’s post), and yesssssss finally it’s time for a spa treatment – HOORAY! I opted for a deep tissue sports massage; my muscles definitely felt as though they deserved a bit of a treat, and it was one of the best massages I have ever had. Just the right amount of pressure combined with just the right amount of relaxed chitchat (anyone else feel unsure about whether to make polite convo or not?) meant I left the room feeling light, re-energised, and pretty much pain free. Man, I think I could actually do this whole fitness retreat again…
On second thoughts!
As we sat around the table for our final dinner together, I felt so proud of not just myself, but of all of us, for having made it through the past four days. All of us had participated, to the best of our abilities, in every single activity and that is a very telling testament to how well Target run their retreats. They certainly went above and beyond my expectations of what I considered a fitness retreat to be like. The fitness plans were varied, adaptable to different levels and were mixed up with just the right amount of downtime. All of the trainers were approachable, incredibly knowledgeable, supportive and great company too. Ellie, the chef, was our saviour, producing food that was so ridiculously tasty I’m still mystified as to how it can possibly be so healthy; I’m still working on trying to convince my husband that we could do with an ‘Ellie’ on a daily basis. And as for the other guests, my fitness family, it was such a pleasure to have experienced this physical, emotional and at times spiritual journey with them.
Today ended with a candle lit meditative yoga session; if this didn’t fast track me to the land of nod, nothing would.
Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to count some sheep.
Remember to check back and see what happened on the last morning…
(Missed Day 3? Don’t worry, you can read it here!)