If the idea of traveling just to go workout is strange to you, I get it. I used to think that those types of retreats were for die-hard gym rats with restrictive meal plans, but then I went on W Hotels’ first ever FUEL fitness weekend in Punta Mita, Mexico and quickly changed my mind. With classes ranging from core training and boxing to mobility training and yoga we were able to choose how many classes we wanted to take a day, lounge by the pool and—since we were in Mexico—eat fish tacos and drink margaritas all we wanted. While there, I caught up with Jason Wimberly, founder of THE WALL, boxing trainer Ashley Guarrasi, Joe Holder, trainer to Bella Hadid, Strala Yoga founder Tara Stiles and Naomi Campbell and other mega models to see why they think everyone should give fitness retreats a try, even if they’re a little apprehensive.
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Why do you think fitness and wellness retreats are such a thing right now?
Ashley Guarrasi: People really want to travel and experience the “work hard play hard and be fit” lifestyle. Also, with the rise of bloggers and incorporating travel more and more, people want to be able to go on a retreat and stay fit while traveling.
Jason Wimberly: The promise of a few days to focus on your health and wellness is super enticing. Maintaining fitness goals and a healthy diet is incredibly daunting, so a weekend reset is a perfect way to refocus and re-motivate. As a trainer, I know my clients want to live their lives and have fun, and sometimes (lots of times) that includes a few cocktails and some french fries. You don’t need to just drink green juice and cut all the fun out of life. You can have your cake and eat it too, if you work hard enough for it.
Joe Holder: People have always enjoyed traveling, but now due to limited leisure time they probably want to do it with a purpose. Fitness and wellness is a form of leisure, no longer just a dry obligation, and the rise in retreats show this.
Tara Stiles: We all want to feel better and taking time away from our busy lives for vacation is a great start. Combining wellbeing with a holiday is next level and also a fun way to feel great during the holiday and simultaneously set up some lasting good new habits to take home. It’s like vacation 2.0.
For those who don’t know, what do you think people find appealing about them?
JW: It’s like a juice cleanse for your entire life, but even more glamorous and usually on an exotic location with superstar trainers. What’s not to love?
AG: I think people want to be able to stay fit and active while on vacation. Also the community of people and networking and meeting new people! I find people really love and want to also be around like-minded people while traveling.
JH: They provide an opportunity to try new activities in a new location within an infrastructure that has been created for you. The first thing to go when we are busy is taking care of yourself, so on a vacation it’s often the first thing a younger generation looks to get back.
TS: I think the sense of fun, community, working out together, and gaining new inspiration are exciting ideas for people.
As instructors, what do you hope to give vacationers in a fitness retreat like W FUEL Weekends?
TS: I hope to help people gain a sense of calm and ease they can practice anywhere. Really taking that vacation mindset into everyday life. Getting more done without all the stress and tension, moving away from no pain no gain, to living with ease is something that can really benefit people long after the plane lands back home.
AG: Fun with the fitness aspect! And for them to know that it’s okay to have balance and train hard and workout along with relaxing by the pool and enjoying the lifestyle. I also hope to give a sense of feeling included and being available as some people are intimidated by fitness or boxing specifically I find, so I want to make it more accessible.
JW: Fitness should be fun, so for me it’s about creating something that is one of the best parts of their day. No matter where I am teaching, I aim to deliver a full show and experience.
JH: Provide them with an opportunity to try new workouts, learn new moves, and become inspired to invest in their health more upon returning back home.
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What would you tell those who are apprehensive about fitness retreats to make them feel more comfortable or unafraid of actually booking?
JH: There’s really no drawback! It’s still a vacation with none of the issues you have to worry about typically — finding healthy food, a gym, etc. Just book and you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
AG: I would tell them that it’s an awesome way to get out of their comfort zone and meet new people, plus a great way to be fit and maintain that while traveling as well. You can experience a new place with the accessibility of trainers and amazing amenities to enjoy as well
JW: The only thing anyone should be apprehensive of is missing out on all the fun. Trust me in that there are definitely some fitness retreats that even I would be ok missing out on, but our FUEL Weekends are not one them. If you’re into feeling amazing, looking gorgeous, having a blast, getting a sun kissed tan and mingling with other healthy active young professional, then the only thing you need to do is join us on our next destination.
TS: I think there is a similar fear with walking into a yoga or fitness studio for the first time. There is a lot of unknowns. You want to have a good experience and you don’t know until you are in it. With a fitness retreat, it’s really all about you, enjoying yourself while working on improving how you are. I think taking the pressure off of being good at certain modalities of fitness and focusing on how you feel is something that can really change the whole mindset and experience for the better.