Azul Fit Retreat (Part 2)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

At the end of September, I spent a few days at Azul Fit, a rural fitness retreat on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura.  Check out how the first part of my stay was before continuing on with today's post recapping my last 2 days.

Day 4
One of the delicious breakfasts
I went off on a solo 3.8 mile run while the rest of the guests attended the second meditation with Frauke.  With a looming half marathon, I thought it would be best to get more miles in.  It seemed to be very freeing, as many said they had a release of tears during the class, but could not explain why. Nicola was back to teach another Pilates class, but this time we made use of small ball.  The ball was only half inflated, and really helped focus the muscle groups you were working hard by keeping up the muscle engagement.  It is a luxury to have 1.5 hours to work on each move without rushing through the class.   After class, we had breakfast with Nicola and she was available to answer any questions with had about Pilates- the founder, the theory behind it, anatomy, etc.  She brought some books with her that we were able to look at while we talked about Joseph Pilates.  After I finish eating, I decided to head to pool for dip in the chilly water (I am such a wuss!) and then I laid by the pool for about a half hour.

The next thing on the agenda was a nutrition workshop with Jo Dombernowsky.  She follows Ayurvedic principles and sets all the menus at the retreat.  Her recipes aim to be simple, with less than 5 ingredients.  Jo also likes to incorporate whole grains in her cooking and use fresh local produce.  Over 2 hours, we learned a bit about how each person will fall into the vata, pitta, or kapha doshas (or an overlap of the two).  We took a short quiz to be sorted into our doshas, and I found out I am a Vata-Pitta.  Armed with this information, I can now start choosing foods that compliment by body rather than take it out of balance.    
Vegetarian dinner

The entire time I was at Azul Fit, I never that the sugar rush or energy crash.  I didn't feel bloated and enjoyed the sourdough bread at every meal, and rice with dinner.  After completing Whole30, I thought I would need to stay off grains and rice forever. But armed with this new philosophy, I can start choosing foods that work better with my doshas. When I start to have certain symptoms, I will know my doshas are out of alignment and I need to work on re-centering myself.

After the nutrition workshop, we have a few hours to ourselves so a few of us walked to pick up food from a shop on the main road. As it is a Monday, a few of the local restaurants are closed.  We kept it simple with a quick stop to the grocers where I pick up a Spanish version of Laughing Cow cheese, Coke Zero, and fresh roll-all for €2.39 (and completely against much of what I just learned in the nutrition workshop).  Sabine and I have a little picnic at the villa in sun.  We also do a mini photo shoot to capture our happier selves in the gorgeous oasis.  

Next on the agenda was the first yoga class of the week, taught by Valentina.  She is from Italy and very passionate about her yoga, which shines through in the 1.5 hour class, as well as the question and answer session afterward.  She started yoga 10 years ago while involved in Muay Thai but has since given that up. She started and ended the class with chanting as she played a Bina organ, which is something I have never experienced before.  I was sitting towards the front of the class and seemed to feel a pulsating energy during the chants, which was pretty cool!  I am not sure if it was from out group or Valentina herself.  Perhaps it was a bringing together of spirit and focus.

After class, everyone was very relaxed.  We had a free evening and we changed out of our activewear and started towards the main road for dinner at a local restaurant, El Horno.  The menu had so many choices, and the prices were very reasonable.  We shared some wine and starters, and then everyone had a large main dish.  Some people, myself included, got dessert as well.  Sabine and I split a mojito gelato and a local dessert that is a cream base with biscuit crumble.  I can't remember what it was called but it was delicious!  With bellies full of good food and minds and hearts full of great conversation, we made our way back to the villa.

Day 5
Sweatie selfie!
I was incredibly sad it was my last day.  I felt like I had only experienced the tip of the iceberg in terms of recharging and refocusing my body and mind but knew I need to get back to work.  I started off the day with a run accompanied by Gina, Dirk and Karen (I recruited them last night after dinner). The sun was barely up when we started off at 7.30am but they were keen to head out. They enjoyed the open landscape of running through a dessert and said it was good to get some cardio in.  There was a nice cool breeze on the way back which was refreshing.  We got back to villa with 20 minutes to spare before our yoga class with Valentina.  Our class focused on our lower body and hips, which was just what I needed after my run and before travelling all day.

My final meal was another gorgeous meal prepared by Jo herself.  I was going to miss all the fresh food and second helpings, as I don't have time for that at home.  Unfortunately, I had to stop eating so I could have time to shower and finish packing.

Frauke and Lisa gave me a warm send off (as if we have known each other for years) as Gillian put my case in the car.  We had another lovely chat on the long drive to the airport.  This time I paid more attention to the changing landscape and the different types of buildings along the drive.  I discovered a big cichlid tank in the airport before security and Gillian told me about the outdoor patio beyond security for a few last minutes of warm sunshine. The airport also offered 30 minutes free wifi, which I took advantage of before boarding my plane.

Overall impressions
Everyone who works for Azul Fit, or is associated with them, loves their job and believes in what Azul Fit offers.  The retreat certainly does restore calm and balance, as well as introduce you to new friends with similar interests from around the world.  The rural location allows you to switch off from a metropolitan hustle and just let go.  A few people developed sniffles during their stay and I believe it was from letting go of their normal day-to-day stress.


The lounge, photo courtesy of Azul Fit
You can do, or not do, anything you like during your stay.  The team is able to find you additional excursions should you wish.  Or if you'd rather sleep in and skip a Pilates class, that is ok too.  I plan on returning next year with my husband and his bike.  He won't be signed up for the classes but can enjoy the rural setting, volcanic landscapes (he is a geographer), and the amazing food.

In terms of weather for late September, the days started out sunny but the clouds tended to roll in by midday.  Not sure if this was due to the change in seasons or just a bit of bad luck.  The overall temperature was warm, but not oppressively hot, this time of year. The evenings were a bit chilly (long sleeves and long trousers required for someone who is always cold like me) but I slept without socks which is a big deal!

Azul Fit is a holiday that you can mould into your own depending on what helps you switch off and relax.  They have all of the tools to help you do it (physically, mentally, nutritionally), you simply have to choose which will work best and let it all go.  

Check back in a few days and I will have a link to a photo album so you can take a peek at what the world of Azul Fit looks like.  You can also visit their website for photos of accommodation options.

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