As I melt into the seat of the plane on my way back to Adelaide, knowing I may never pull my stiff muscles up from it, I’m pretty damn proud of myself. As someone who professionally eats and drinks for a living, I’m not a ‘wellness retreat’ kind of gal. But hey, it’s never too late to start being the best you, right?
I’ve just undertaken 5 days of intense fitness fabulousness, that has planted the seeds to new beginnings. And I hope I have the stamina to water those inspirational seeds of the future me, so they can blossom into a more balanced version of myself. It will have to wait for me to take a long hot bath and a nap first though, because I’ve never been this exhausted.
I’ve just been at the Aleenta Barre retreat on the Gold Coast.
Barre is a combination of ballet techniques, yoga flows and pilates moves, which are used together in a routine to create an all over low impact body workout, which is safe on joints. But if you thought that’s what the retreat would be all about, you’d be mistaken.
Twenty women (mostly from Adelaide where Aleenta Barre originated), escaped from their lives and responsibilities, moved out of their comfort zones and into a mega mansion on the water in Surfers Paradise.
It could have been a house on The Bachelor. Except in this version, we all wore activewear, and had the option to give a rose to ourselves each night and press on with the challenge, or retreat into our shells, leaving as the same person we entered the house as.
The schedule was gruelling. Early starts, and activity after activity left us tired, but brimming with achievements. Barre was only one of the many parts of the retreat, with a range of fantastic experiences lined up in the program.
We kayaked 8km at sunrise, down the serene channels which wrap around the gorgeous inlets of Surfers Paradise. We spread out on a deserted beach in the sunshine and took a yoga class, before stretching out on the sand to relax. We rock climbed higher than we ever thought possible and made new friends while we worked in teams to spot for each other. We walked for kilometers. We did mat Pilates, Barre classes, more Yoga and learned breathing exercises. We relaxed in the spa, sauna and a few brave women even dove into the icy pool. We battled our demons, did a park run, drank great coffee, snuck bacon into our otherwise healthy diets, and tried acro-yoga (while feeling like Fringe acrobats). We even spent a delightful hour laying on cushions, and snuggled into blankets, in the ballroom of the house, meditating and listening to a musical genius called Sebastian play piano by candlelight. The songs of Amélie will never be the same again. Such an enchanting experience.
There was a boot camp, beach walks, hiking at Burleigh Headland, and more coffee stops. There was also plenty of time for us to reflect on our own goals, what was holding us back, and how to move forward.
The retreat focused on improving ourselves, both physically and mentally, and whether we knew it or not, we all needed that wholistic approach.
It also allowed us to relax in ways you don’t normally dwell on, with every meal and snack catered for. Not having to think about our food was a fabulous break from real life. We enjoyed a range of delicious and healthy dishes, and even had the opportunity to learn to make our own – with Bliss Ball making on the agenda, and roll your own sushi featured on one of the nights. And we never went hungry. Quite the opposite in fact. We were fuelled for success.
The trip really had the most insane schedule, but it just worked, by and large thanks to the two fantastic facilitators on the retreat, Alecia and Tahra. The dynamic due spent the 5 days building everyone else up, supporting each of the women individually, and ensuring everyone was comfortable and didn’t do anything they didn’t want to. It didn’t matter if you were painfully shy, not a people person, outgoing, sporty, old or young. Everyone had their moments, and everyone arrived as one person, and left as an improved version of themselves.
Alecia and Tahra also managed to create a family, even with the limited length of the trip. 20 women who entered the house in isolation, not knowing anyone else, left with hugs and tears and promises of future catch ups. It was really quite a transformation unlike anything l’ve seen before.
Everyone also left achieving feats they never thought possible, after trying activities they’d never experienced before. You certainly didn’t have to be a fitness junkie to survive this, and enjoy it.
I may never have gone on a wellness retreat before, but this certainly won’t be my last time.