It’s been exactly 3 weeks since my hubby and I escaped to the magical island of Maderia on our first ever fitness retreat and I can’t wait to share the truly incredible experience with you!
Since visiting Vietnam last Summer, Maderia was on my ‘bucket list’ of countries to run in. Why you might ask? The stunning natural beauty that the island has to offer… I wanted to witness it for myself in all its glory and I can assure you that it certainly didn’t disappoint. My Uncle used to take regular golfing holidays to Madeira and I knew that it was an island geared towards the ‘active’ person! With the destination in mind, I went off to research research research!
As you’ll probably know, I love Instagram and this was my first ‘go to’ place to seek out a fitness retreat! With health and fitness at the top of the ‘marathon training’ agenda, stumbling upon Fitness at 58 degrees Insta page got me! Offering fitness retreats in stunning locations, for all fitness levels sold it to me immediately! From the booking process to the flight home, every last detail was immaculately executed!
If you are considering a motivational fitness retreat, here are my top 5 reasons why it is a MUST:
- Kick start your fitness regime! If you are struggling with motivation, or your exercise regime is rather haphazard, this is a sure way to help you get back on track. From sunrise HIIT to spinning, mountain climbing to hill-sprinting, there is plenty to get ‘stuck into.’ Although I workout almost every day, my husband hadn’t done any exercise for over a year, so we agreed this might be a good way of him starting a fitness regime.
- Train with a Team GB athlete! One of the reasons for choosing Fitness at 58 Degrees, for a retreat, was the fact that Sam Cairns was to be our fitness instructor. His expertise and wealth of knowledge and sheer passion for training massively inspired me and as a well-respected, elite athlete, I trusted that he would really put us through our paces.
- Find your limits and challenge them! From seeing the initial training schedule for the 4 days, I knew this would be a real test of my fitness levels and it sure was (more about that later).
- De-stress and detox! Living in a world that’s so demanding, it’s a rarity that we get to switch off and allow the mind to relax. Escaping and focusing on fitness activities aids those happy endorphins to be released and to forget about day to day life!
- Meet new friends! Until we arrived at the hotel, we had no idea how many people would be on the retreat, but with 8 places in total, it was the perfect number of people to get to know and really be able to bond with. Team work makes the dream work!
What can you expect from a fitness retreat with Fitness at 58 degrees?
The claim made on the website “we provide unforgettable fitness experiences in unforgettable locations” genuinely cannot be challenged. I was overwhelmed by how magical Madeira really was.
Naturally, I was slightly apprehensive in the lead up to the retreat… ‘Will everyone be much fitter than me?’ ‘Will the fitness activities be too challenging?’ ‘Will it be like a military bootcamp?’ ‘Will it be a very strict schedule?’ ‘Will I be told what I have to eat and drink?’ These were just some of the questions that ran through my mind!
Here are a few answers to these questions…
Everyone on the retreat was physically fit and the majority worked out regularly. As promised, Sam catered for all fitness levels and differentiated the workouts to suit our individual needs. Sam was particularly mindful of my spinal disease (degenerative disc disease) and at times, he personalised some of the programmes when he saw I was struggling.
We were given the daily schedule at the start of the retreat and the variety of activities was amazing. We participated in sunrise HIIT classes, strength training sessions, abs blast classes, spinning, running, hill sprints, power walking and mountain climbing to the highest point in Madeira, Pico Ruivo. Sam had balanced everything perfectly so that we were able to enjoy free time to explore the island or just chill by the pool.
I’ll be very honest, this was by far one of the most physically challenging experiences of my life. Trekking to the top of the mountain was incredible but very tough. We noticed the air thinning as we climbed in altitude and the concentration levels required to ensure we didn’t slip, left us exhausted, but the euphoria and sense of achievement once we had reached the top melted away our woes!
It hurt. Yes. It REALLY hurt. and then… spinning and strength conditioning a few hours later. How you squeal? Incredible leadership and unlimited positivity from Sam meant that we just got on with it and we had great fun laughing at each others ‘John Wayne’ walks! We were in it together and motivated and encouraged one another, even when we were crawling to dinner!
Sam shared a wealth of nutritional advice with us and didn’t ever dictate what we could or couldn’t eat. The most valuable part of this for myself was that I ate 3 massive meals and still managed to lose 4lbs by the time I returned home. We ate lots of fresh salads, grilled meat and roasted vegetables, oh and did I mention the 12 bowls of ice cream haha! The key lesson learnt here was that if the furnace is hot enough, it will burn all the fuel and more!
As part of the ‘all inclusive’ retreat package, we were able to experience the full beauty of the island. The excursions included a visit to the world famous skywalk – Cabe Giaro – where the panoramic views were seriously breathtaking. We also took the Funchal cable car and explored the beautiful traditional gardens.
The whole experience far exceeded any of my expectations. If you have the opportunity, a luxury fitness retreat with Fitness at 58 Degrees really is not to be missed and I’m already planning on booking next year’s retreat to stunning Santorini.
As always, any questions, just shout.