A nice relaxing holiday conjures up images of sunshine and warmth, a pool, the ocean, some nice food… However, some like to combine their holiday with activities and hobbies to provide themselves with an equally memorable but perhaps more healthy, rewarding break from the day to day stresses of life at home.
I’m a lucky boy. Some years ago I got to trade in my job in the UK to work in the beautiful surroundings of Fuerteventura for Azulfit, one of Europe’s leading yoga & Pilates retreat companies, who provide just that sort of experience. This was thanks in no small measure to the generosity and vision of an old friend and his partner (now wife) who founded this wonderful business 10 years ago.
Some of my friends think that this means I am sitting around in the sunshine, playing in the ocean and generally enjoying the good life. Now, while to a certain extent that may be true, my role here is certainly demanding and I work at least as many hours as I did back in the UK, often more. BUT, the key to the equation is that the work/life balance has undoubtedly been tipped in my favour.
Fuerteventura provides me with a playground that, while I am sure exists elsewhere in many places on earth, is unrivalled in my own personal experience. The weather, relaxed pace of life, the ocean, the scenery and the population of like-minded people from all over Europe and further afield who come here to enjoy all of these things and more provide a backdrop that lends itself to positivity and vitality. An active, healthy life is simply standard fare here and working for Azulfit reinforces that to me every day / week of the year. Corresponding with our guests who are looking for a healthy holiday experience as well as often a dramatic change in their lifestyle constantly reminds me that looking after ourselves physically and mentally is vitally important.
Before I left the UK I had recently and dramatically transformed my own life. I had gone through a long, sedentary phase with little concern for my physical health and wellbeing. The daily grind of corporate life, poor diet and numbing routine had left me in poor physical shape. When I finally reached the point whereby I felt action was required to reverse this situation, I took the plunge and with much trepidation, went online and contacted a personal trainer that was based in my local area.
At that time, I was in my mid 30’s but despite being previously fit at a younger age (more distance running and such like) I had never set foot in a gym in my life. I had no idea what to expect and I have no hesitation in admitting I was scared! The trainer I hired was Steve Hoyles. The leader of Azulfit’s Fit for Life retreats.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that Steve was overwhelmingly responsible for the transformation in my lifestyle.”
I went from not being able to run a few hundred meters without wheezing and resting along the way to completing my first triathlon (500m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) within 11 weeks of meeting him! Steve’s constant encouragement, engaging personality, undoubted excellent knowledge and advice not only in the programmes and exercises he set for me but also in terms of nutrition and diet led to a rapid development and improvement in both my physical and mental condition. Almost immediately I started to believe I could get fitter and stronger and I felt better about myself too. Additionally, this was not only during our sessions but also outside of the gym / park etc. as we became friends more so than just trainer & client.
I continued working with Steve for around 2 years. In that time, he stripped me down and built me back up once, and then during the next off-season for racing, a second time. I continued competing in triathlons, I cycled thousands of kilometres up and down the hills of the Peak District (now replaced with the roads and volcanoes of Fuerteventura). I did weekly park runs. I was swimming in my lunch hours out of the office (I have the ocean now and have always preferred it to a pool!) And I was going to the gym very very regularly. At times it hurt, at times it really did hurt even more.
“Steve was always unmoving in his determination and support to see me get to where I wanted to be.”
The most memorable example of this was when his lovely partner Rachel text him to say she thought she had gone into labour with their first son during a gym session Steve and I were doing. I immediately stopped and said “Wow, let’s go!” “Finish your set of shoulder presses!” was Steve’s response!
He, even more than me myself, always believed that I could improve further and further. It was a fantastic experience and the decision to contact him originally is one that I will always be grateful to myself for.
If I had not left the UK to come to Fuerteventura and Azulfit I have no doubt at all that I would still be training with Steve. However, as a result of the bond and friendship we created, last year I explored the possibility of combining my new healthy life and job in Fuerteventura with Steve’s expertise to provide a different kind of retreat from Azulfit’s regular programme of yoga, Pilates and meditation.
And so, more than anyone, I am absolutely thrilled that the thousands of people looking to Azulfit to provide them with the similar kind of change that I undertook and implemented can now benefit from not only the expertise of Azulfit’s incredible team of yoga & Pilates instructors, vegetarian & vegan chefs, masseuses & therapists and caring support staff but also from Steve’s additional knowledge and encouragement during our fabulous Fit for Life retreats.
The upcoming, latest edition the 7 – 14 October, will combine yoga, Pilates, meditation, circuit classes, gym visits, surfing, cycling and SUP boarding. There will be nutritional advice as well the normal outstanding, healthy food that we serve at our beautiful Surya retreat. Our team of therapists will be ever present to help rejuvenate tired bodies (or there is always the hot tub to soak in!).
If anyone is thinking that activity holidays are something of an anti-holiday experience I would certainly encourage you come and take advantage of a wealth of experience that our team and Steve can provide. And actually, the schedule is designed to provide guests with more than enough downtime to relax, recharge and enjoy the more traditional elements of a holiday – going to the beach, a couple of evening meals out with fellow guests and so on.
So I finish this just by saying that I am not only an employee of Azulfit and extremely proud of our product, staff and incredible transformations that we have helped to initiate in guests’ lives – such as training as yoga or Pilates instructors, training as nutritional advisors, losing weight, gaining fitness, finding their true selves both physically and spiritually, but as someone who has been through it and achieved what I thought was impossible.
We would love to welcome you to beautiful Fuerteventura soon to try for yourself!
Location: Surya Retreat, Fuerteventura
Date: 7 – 14 October 2017
Instructor(s): Steve Hoyles + Azulfit team
Imagine a holiday where you wake up to stretch and strengthen your body, enjoyed delicious nourishing brunches, surfed in the crystal clear oceans or explored the beautiful volcanic landscape on mountain bike, relaxed properly and actually came home rested, recovered, fitter and healthier. A holiday where nutritious and healthy food is cooked for you by a team of chefs. A holiday where you try new sports, enjoy a relaxing massage and unwind in the sunshine. That holiday exists!
Azulfit and Steve Hoyles are excited to offer a week long retreat combining traditional exercise and training with yoga, Pilates and meditation to improve both the body and the mind. We’ve teamed up to provide guests with a week-long health and fitness retreat like no other. Stand up paddle board in crystal clear oceans whilst tropical fish swim beneath you. Cycle up a volcano to see some of the most stunning vistas you can imagine. Restore with full body massage and relax in our beautiful hot tub. Enjoy circuits and fitness sessions with expert Steve Hoyles. This is the fitness holiday of a lifetime. Unforgettable instructors, Azulfit’s world famous hospitality on one of the most beautiful islands in the world.