When I had the original idea for a weekend retreat back in March, I had no idea how it would go, how stressful the planning would be or how perfect it could be. All I knew is that I wanted to plan a weekend away for clients and friends of Hope Fitness, which was both active and relaxing in equal measures.
I had an initial plan of the weekend but realised that I needed to arrange the accommodation first as this effected price, facilities and numbers. I spent more than a few hours researching the perfect accommodation - meticulously adding my finds to a spreadsheet.
I wanted to sleep 8-10 in a modern setting, in a good location with a hot tub and preferably a swimming pool, at the right price.
Unfortunately there was always a compromise, whether it had everything I needed but was too far away, or whether the location was perfect but the accommodation was cheap and less appealing.
I nearly gave up. But then, I was driving out to Kersey Mill one day for a kids party and as I was going through Hintlesham I noticed the sign for "The Suffolk Escapes". After a bit of googling I found that these were stunning log cabins located right here in Suffolk but the best bit was...they were about to open a barn conversion suitable for large groups. I quickly got on the phone to Andrew, owner of the Suffolk Escapes, and he invited me to go and take a look. When I arrived, Sheepyard barn was not yet completed but as soon as I saw it and chatted with Andrew about my ideas I knew I had actually stumbled across THE perfect accommodation. What I would save in travel would go towards an upgrade in the quality of accommodation. No compromise required. Booked!
The facilities at the barn were second to none, with its own indoor swimming pool, hot tub, spacious lounge and vast outside space. A space that would really lend itself to this type of weekend.
Once the accommodation was arranged, the rest of the weekend fell into place. Again I spent a good few hours trying to arrange a timetable for the weekend but I quickly realised that it would be far better to allow the group to lead the schedule, depending on how they felt on the day. The barn and surrounding area offered bike, walking and running routes, swimming and outdoor space weather-dependent. As a fitness instructor I could offer yoga, HIIT and circuits.
I wanted to make it clear this was not a fit camp or fit farm. The exercise and activity would perfectly balance with the rest and relaxation. It wasn't a place to come along and lose weight or eat lettuce. I planned the food accordingly. Fresh and wholesome home-cooked food, accompanied by a glass of wine or two.The barn also has its own wood-fired pizza oven, so pizzas were attempted on the Saturday evening. This wasn't hugely successful due to my control-freakishness, but I have learnt from this and next year they will be mega!
The weekend itself was perfect. From my original vision to the actual weekend, it couldn't have gone better. The stress of the organising and filling the places was quickly forgotten. The accommodation was perfect, the group dynamic was perfect, the amount of activity was perfect, the weather was perfect.
Friday - everyone arrived safely and dinner was served. We spent the evening chatting over a few glasses of wine and spent some time in the hot tub.
Saturday - lazy breakfast, followed by some Metafit on the outside terrace. Some chose to go out for a 5-6k run, while the others did some yoga. One or two of us tested out the fast lane swimming pool, not entirely in the way it should be used I hasten to add. After lunch we went for a 3 mile walk around Hintlesham and came back for tea and cake. The rest of the day and evening were spent relaxing.
Sunday - another lazy breakfast, followed by yoga, also on the outside terrace. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm, not at all bad for early October. Again, people did their own thing for the rest of the morning whether that was relaxing, swimming or running, it was entirely up to them. We then headed out on the bikes, taking in the beautiful scenery and tackling some fairly epic hills, route kindly prepared with love by Mr Hope!! We all appreciated how lucky we were to have this beautiful countryside right on our doorsteps. The bike turned out to be an 18 mile round trip, not all bad though as we stopped off for a delicious roast at the Kersey Bell on the way round. As yesterday, the rest of the day and evening were spent relaxing, enjoying our last evening at the barn.
Monday - after another lazy get up, all that was left to do was to pack up and leave. Some went straight to work, others had to visit family. Everyone felt refreshed and revitalised.
After a couple of days back into the daily grind, I asked the group for feedback and constructive criticism about the weekend as a whole. This is what they said...
"Don't think it could have been any better other than my bike!"
"Wouldn’t change a thing. Please ensure a repeat of the weather for next year."
"I honestly cannot think of anything I would want to change. It all just went along swimmingly and had such a laugh with you all. It was just the perfect weekend with perfect people and would totally love to do it again next year!"
"I completely agree with the other lovely ladies Angela and thank you so much.The whole experience was just so relaxed and easy but I feel like I've had a good weekend of exercise too; win win!"
"Absolutely loved it. Perfect balance and great mix of people. Food was lovely."
"For me the weekend was everything I'd hoped although I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of physical activity I managed, which was over what I expected from myself and I loved all of it. Whilst thinking of my highlights, I realise the list is too long to mention all of it but everything I loved was wrapped up with all the lovely people I got to share it with. Feeling very warm and fuzzy right now."
How amazing is that feedback, and not a single negative comment! This was going to be a one-off me but after receiving this feedback I had absolutely no choice but book to again for next year!
So here we are. The date is in the diary so if you would like to join us next year the details follow below. But be quick, possibly the highest compliment that has been paid to me is that I have had a 100% re-booking rate...and therefore places are considerably limited.
Hope Fitness Active Weekend Retreat
Friday 5th October to Monday 8th October 2018
£270pp (£50 deposit required to hold your place)
I do expect all the places to go quite quickly so they will be issued on a first come first serve basis. If you would like to go but the places have already gone or you are unable to make those dates then I am considering two other weekends; one in November 2018 and one in the spring 2019. Please register your interest for these below.