Sun holidays are great and all, but have you ever felt a bit… bored? There’s only so much lying around a gal can do. When Amanda Cochrane detailed her recent wellness retreat to the French Alps in the May issue of IMAGE Magazine, it got us thinking. Where else can we combine a holiday with health and fitness?
As it turns out, wellness retreats are hugely popular and widely available – both in Ireland and abroad. Some involve little more than yoga and walking, while others include outdoor HIIT sessions, hiking and snorkeling. Below are just some of the fitness retreats Europe has to offer. Grab your gym buddy and get booking.
Founded by Operation Transformation presenter Kathryn Thomas, this Irish retreat offers fitness, life coaching and nutrition advice. They focus on getting you fitter, renewing your confidence and inspiring long-term lifestyle changes. A typical day begins at 7am with stretches and light jogging. Every fitness level is catered for – so don’t worry about not being ‘good enough’. Other activities include core workouts, calorie-burning team games, an afternoon hike, boxing classes, yoga, and kayaking. Nutrition meals and snacks will be provided, all of which are wheat free, sugar-free and dairy free to ensure complete detoxification. You can choose how long you’d like to take part – with both weekend and seven-day long retreats on offer.
Photo: Instagram @pureresultsbootcamp
Founded by two internationally recognised wellness entrepreneurs, The Wave offers three wellness retreats along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. With two in Cork and one in Donegal, they each promise a carefully crafted luxury adventure. Choose between three and six night’s accommodation and enjoy local cuisine as prepared by the head chef. Taking Donegal as an example, activities include yoga, circuit training and a beach run, as well as a three-hour hike. Time is allocated every day for personal space, giving you time to relax and clear your mind. Personal training is also available as an optional add-on for anyone who wants it.
Photo: Facebook @thewaveretreats
This one’s perfect for those who aren’t interested in strenuous exercise. The centre is situated in the West of Ireland, a short distance from the sea, Croagh Patrick and the heritage town of Westport. The retreat focuses on holistic activities, such as yoga, meditation, guided walks and massage. Organisers say it’s an ideal retreat to clear your body of toxins (and even to quit smoking). There is no TV, radio or newspapers, giving people a chance to focus on self-care. The meals are vegan and incorporate juice-fasting, wheatgrass, and lots of fruit and vegetables. The decor in the bedrooms is subtle and calming to encourage a peaceful night’s sleep.
Photo: Facebook @cloonahealthretreat
Widely known as a party island, Ibiza is also home to one of Europe’s most relaxing, wellness retreats. The Mind Body Retreats villa is located among spacious, secluded gardens with century-old pine trees offering shade from the Spanish sun. Men and women with a passion for fitness can enjoy yoga, swimming, paddle boarding and hiking, to name but a few available activities. Depending on which month you book, there’ll be different activities organised by various instructors. For example, a summer fitness retreat led by Chris Peden takes place at the end of June, including HIIT workouts, boxing, and twice-daily yoga. For a full list of upcoming retreats, visit the villa’s website here. Brunch and dinner are dished up daily by the on-site chef, catering for all dietary requirements. As the villa is a mere stone’s throw from the seaside, all food is fresh and nutritious.
Photo: Instagram @mindbodyretreats
This location is perfect for anyone who fancies a fitness retreat without the rigid structure of group activities. Le Méridien is a five-star hotel right on the beach. Speaking from experience, we can confirm the scenery alone will make you feel Zen. Go for a run along the many sandy beaches on the hotel’s doorstep, or take a dip in one of the gorgeous pools. There’s also an on-site fitness centre with a complete range of equipment, from free weights to treadmills and elliptical trainers. When it’s time to wind-down, treat yourself to a massage in the spa, or nestle into a cushioned chair on the patio, overlooking the waves.
Photo: Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel website
Located in the East Aegean Sea, Samos can be described as an outdoor gym – something the Greek Fitness Camp makes great use of. Their philosophy is that activity, healthy eating, stress relief and plenty of rest will lead to a healthy mind and strong body. Everyone is given an initial detailed body assessment and personalised nutrition plan. You’ll be taught how to create your favourite recipes while learning how local, fresh food is produced. Activities are varied, including sea kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, aqua aerobics, pilates and yoga. Whether you’re there to lose weight or just to improve your overall fitness, this retreat in the beautiful Greek islands is perfect.
Our minds need exercise just as much as our bodies do, and practicing meditation and mindfulness daily can improve our happiness, sleep and concentration levels. The Creacon Wellness centre in Wexford offers daily classes and weekend retreats surrounding anxiety relief and mindfulness; dimensional breath work; and Zen oracle. Massage and reflexology experiences are also available, either in 15-minute tasters or full-length sessions. The on-site gardens are perfect for running and resistance training, while their indoor gym facilities are ideal if the weather is poor.
Photo: Instagram @creaconlodge
Photo: Matthew Kane, Unsplash