My first Fitness Retreat
Staring into the pink morning sky and feeling the mist of the ocean on my face, I thought to myself:
‘How can I capture this moment and share this story?’
How do you gather up conversations, emotions and experiences into a neat little package for display?
Is it even possible?
I was laying on a yoga mat on the beach in Mexico, and I was crying. My tears were of gratitude – for the eight women who came on this adventure with me, and for the Mexican people who welcomed us with open, and loving arms.
These were the first tears for me this week, and it was the last morning of a seven-day fitness retreat I had created in Playa Del Carmen. I began on day one with the intention of sharing my love of this beautiful place, and combining it with my passion for physical activity and healthy lifestyle.
It ended up being so much more.
I had witnessed tears in the days before; be it through a breakthrough, a deep discussion, or the expression of joy that comes with the sense of accomplishment. In those moments, I had felt a profound honor that these women, my new friends - had chosen to share their experience with me. At some point in 2017, they had all made the decision – for themselves – to come to Mexico, and step into 2018 in a new and exciting way.
I had set up the week exactly how I could imagine my ideal vacation:
1. Luxury accommodations in the heart of Playa Del Carmen. (I love this place!)
2. A carefully curated menu to ensure a balance between necessary fuel + healthy indulgence.
3. Activities and Fitness a la carte to provide both a challenge and a sense of adventure.
I also tried to encourage journaling by handing out some intention-setting stickers, knowing first hand how effective this can be in manifesting the things that we want.
What happened beyond this was outside of my control.
“Outside of my comfort zone.”
Danielle was the first to arrive on Day 1 at 8:30am. A recently-relocated-to California girl, I instantly loved her vibe. Within the first hour of our morning together, she repeated something from our phone conversation the week before:
“This is way outside of my comfort zone,” she said to me. At this time, neither of us knew what would happen in the days to come, and it ended up becoming the mantra of our trip.
With each passing day, another woman confessed that she was indeed pushing her beyond her previously assigned limits.
A highlight for me was watching Betsy, (a new confidante and motherly figure who, at age 59 - decided she was going to “say yes to everything this year”) jump on a paddle board for the very first time.
I experienced pure joy witnessing new friends overcome fears of heights, trepidations of the ocean, and silent insecurities about “not being able to keep up.” That’s why I was crying.
More than Memories
Yes, we got outside of our comfort zones, and it was awesome.
Every single one of us, at some point, said it. Those tangible things we will (I hope) most certainly remember.
Today, February 2, 2018 - it’s been exactly a week since we said goodbye to each other, and I’ve had some time to reflect on the ‘less-tangible’ meanings of this retreat.
I recognise that I cannot define each individual’s decision to come to Mexico. I cannot describe what it meant to each of them, as this has a very personal meaning; however I can surmise that perhaps it was an unexpected need to dig a little deeper than the intention of “Fitness and Healthy Lifestyle.”
And with this, I can only hope that the lessons we take with us will carry forward into our daily lives, as a result of pushing outside of what feels safe.
· Remembering to be present in each moment.
o Floating on a paddle board in paradise, noticing and counting each shade of blue in the ocean, can translate into a moment of pause to notice the first blooms of spring.
· Practicing Gratitude.
o Being grateful for our ‘first world’ lives, could carry over into a shift from material desire to an energy focused on giving.
· Self Love
o The result of having 8 women around you screaming: “you can do it!” will remind you that you are capable, even if you don’t want to believe it.
Again, this is why I was crying.
My Own Lesson
Retreat number one was bound to be full of learning opportunities, and indeed that concrete list exists. (Thankfully it’s relatively small given it was a first attempt,) but beyond that, I must reflect on the personal growth that presented itself this week.
I’m calling it “Take your own advice.”
As a fitness professional, I encouraged the squad to go into their workouts prepared with what they want to accomplish. So on day 5, when I walked into the gym for some ‘me time’ and realized I hadn’t prepared anything (and I never really do…) I decided to scribble a workout into the notes section of my phone.
It changed everything.
At no point did I consider “that’s enough time” on the treadmill – because I hadn’t reached the pre-determined time yet.
At no point did I say to myself “two rounds is good” when going through my strength and conditioning set, because I had decided I would do three rounds of each.
And I really kicked my own ass.
It’s amazing how once we open the door to new experiences, new friends, new learning opportunities, and new chances to get into our magic – that they just keep on coming.
In this time of so much cultural change, I almost feel a daily shift.
The power of women supporting each other is difficult to capture and put on paper, but for this, I will not shed a tear. I will do this retreat again, and attempt to capture this magic over and over, but I will never forget the crazy eight who took a chance and believed in me, for my very first time.