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01 July 2020
What Happens On A Fitness Retreat? 5 Common Myths Busted
There’s a certain stream of images that the words “fitness retreat” conjure up. But what really happens when you go on a holiday built around fitness? We asked someone who's been.
There’s a certain stream of images that the words “fitness retreat” conjure up. Doing high knees in the scorching sun while some super-stacked army type blows a whistle and shouts at you to move faster. Knocking back green smoothies or carrot juices. Vegan everything for dinner, and a total booze ban. Even to biggest fitness junkie, the idea of it all can seem intimidating.

When Emily Powell, a first-class flight attendant accustomed to travelling the world and staying in plush hotels, booked onto a Workout Away fitness holiday to Portugal, she wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. In fact, she loved it so much, she’s just booked to join their Mykonos trip in September. She spilled the secrets of what really happens on a fitness holiday – and it’s not quite what you’d imagine.

Myth: You’ve got to be super-fit

First things first, let’s dismiss the most pernicious myth of them all: that you’ve got to be a super-fit, super-chiselled gym bunny to even consider attending this sort of thing. But while former dancer Emily says that she loves training, that wasn’t the case for everyone who attended: “It was a real mix of people. The instructors on these trips always give options in their classes so you can train at the level that’s right for you. It’s an environment that’s totally free from judgement.”

Myth: It’ll be all high-octane HIIT classes

Which brings us nicely onto the next point… don’t think that it’ll be all high-octane HIIT workouts. Instead, most fitness holidays are built around a broad range of activities: “I really didn’t like the idea of going to a bootcamp or to a yoga retreat and doing the same thing for a whole week – I wanted something in the middle. With Workout Away, mornings started with a sunrise class, which is a mix of yoga and Pilates. Then there would be some free time, a long breakfast, maybe a HIIT class or a core-blast session, then an afternoon spent doing something active – paddle-boarding or clifftop cycling, for example.” In the UK, afternoon activities include things like coast path hiking too.

Myth: It’s more of a workout than a holiday

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong again. As much as they’re a get-up-and-go kind of holiday, they’re just that… a holiday: “There’s lots of free time built in between sessions so you can just take some time to recharge and do your own thing. There’s no pressure to do anything. If you want to opt out of classes and lay by the pool for the afternoon that’s fine, not a word will be said about it.” As for Emily, she’s got high standards: “I love luxury travel, so the Workout Away trip to Portugal was perfect for me – it’s a bit of me-time in a luxurious hotel, with beautiful food and some workouts thrown in.”

Myth: You’ll have to eat healthy everything

For the most part, you can expect a few days of hearty, nourishing meals. With most fitness holidays, you’ll find that your meals are included in the cost of your trip, with menus specially designed around the trip; Workout Away’s trip to Portugal will include incredible seafood, while their South Coast holiday, held in the UK, features lots of fresh seasonal foods. Free evenings or lunchtimes will often include a visit to a local restaurant, where it’s up to you what you choose: “If you want a glass of wine or a G&T, you have one. If you want to order fries, dig in.” Which, to be honest, is all we needed to hear.

Myth: You’ll lose a ton of weight

At the end of the day, there’s only so much that can change in the space of a week so it’s less about losing weight and more about gaining confidence and enjoying new experiences: “It’s not about turning up and shedding 100lbs overnight, it’s about the whole package – doing some workouts, eating some food, pushing yourself to try new things. Going stand-up paddle boarding at 4am was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and just not something I would ever have done before.”


Fancy a post-lockdown staycation? Workout Away’s August + September 2020 UK fitness holidays, starting from £399, are now taking bookings – find out more here. Find Emily on Instagram.

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