A Weekend-Away Keeps A Doctor Away!
“And now we get to those tree snags on all fours. And watch out – some of them are wobbly, but so is life, that’s why we are training outdoors and not in a gym, get used to it”…
We are nearly half way through our morning HIIT training with Kathryn Freeland, one of London’s top personal trainers, in the private woodlands of Green Farm Fitness, a boutique wellbeing retreat in Kent. I am here, alongside other 6 (all female) guests, for a group wellness weekend of exercise, relaxation & great food.
The retreat is only 40 min away from London’s Kings Cross (thanks God for high-speed trains!), yet in my thoughts I couldn’t be further away from the busy city. The refreshing, clean air of the woods, pleasant sunny weather and a fairly intense (but not impossibly difficult) workout is helping me to switch off completely from everything left behind in my daily life.
Training with Kathryn is not only highly effective, but also fun; she keeps cheering us up as we go through our 1.5h morning training sessions which offer a good mixture of cardio and strength exercises. We power-walk, run or skip past blooming bluebells from one specially created exercise station to another, using wood logs, amongst other things, as exercise equipment. The natural environment definitely makes high intensity training far more pleasant, and time flies faster.
On both afternoons Kathryn led open-air sessions with a good mix of yoga and pilates. I love direct contact with the earth and the grass – feels so much more natural than a yoga studio setting! It felt great stretching those calf muscles, hips and hamstrings after the morning run. We were finishing each afternoon class with my favourite yoga pose – Shavasana, which on both days came with the bonus of passive sun tanning, as we were delving into the full relaxation lying in a star-like pose on the ground.
It wasn’t just the afternoon Shavasanas that helped us all relax. A newly installed hot tub overlooking the green fields, a sauna and a pond which serves as a natural plunge pool added a Spa feel to the retreat, and were a great addition to the relaxation part of the programme. Massage treatments were also on offer (at extra cost) which each of us has signed up for, and enjoyed profoundly.
Read, go for a stroll, hike (including an organised one on the second day of the retreat), take a nap, have a cuppa, chat to your fellow retreaters or the owners of the retreat; go for a bike ride, or just stretch on a deck chair and do nothing… but preferably don’t check your mobile every 15 minutes, just allow yourself to switch off for a very little while. That’s what I had been trying to do.
The house of Green Farm Fitness deserves a special appraisal. This beautiful Grade 2 listed privately-owned country home has been recently restored, whilst originally it was a Kentish Hall House built 600 years ago (around the time that Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field – a good history refresher, everyone). On the first day Martyn, who owns this home together with his wife MaryAnn (the two retreat hosts) gave us a presentation and a house tour, pointing out at various original features of the building. The place is full of character, warmth and homey, welcoming feel. The living room with its Inglenook fireplace, the dining room with its beautiful beams, the boot room with its well (still in use today) are just some examples of the special features of the house. Each room has its individual design, whilst the living room and the conservatory are perfect places to just relax, read a book, and unwind.
What I love about wellness retreats is that, not only do you not have to worry about cooking, you also get fed with delicious, nutritious, nourishing, locally sourced foods, catering for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. At Green Farm Fitness we were fed really well: warm home-made bread, delicious Kathryn’s signature smoothie, nutritious duck eggs, yummy salads (loved the one with beetroot), nourishing soups (the sweet potato one was gone in no time!), stews and guilt-free puddings, with majority of ingredients coming from the owners’ farm or nearby organic shops. That would be my type of ideal diet.
Due to small group size, retreat hosts are able to pay a lot of attention to each guest; arrival and departure check-in talks with Kathryn allowed for each guest to be more focused in terms of what they were hoping to achieve from the retreat, including tailored take-away fitness tips for each guest from Kathryn.
Green Farm Fitness is an ideal place for those who are looking for a wellness weekend away from the city with the focus on fitness & Spa activities; don’t want it to be too hard core, and want to have enough things to do to feel like they are doing something useful for their body & mind; yet at the same time allowing themselves to have a good rest and relaxation. It offers a great mix of activities to cater for various needs. May be that’s why Green Farm Fitness has had guests returning 5 times!