Tucking into a piece of cake and cup of tea, I’m sure this detox holiday lark will be a breeze. But then I am in Gatwick North terminal and my break hasn’t yet begun.
Landing at Malaga, I meet the other eight detoxers and In:Spa team: Mel, slim nutritionist and group leader; Stan, fit-looking fitness instructor; Jo, smiley massage therapist and Emma, calm yoga teacher.
We’re whisked by coach to our luxury hillside hotel, Monasterio de Saint Martin, a converted monastery filled with antique furniture, fountain, clositers and vast pool lined with sunbeds.
Sadly, a quick sunbathe while sipping a glass of arrival bubbly isn’t for me. I’m swapping my usual holiday checklist – cocktails, sunlounger, palm trees – for one involving stomach crunches, 8am jogs, yoga and no alcohol, sugar, wheat or dairy. Eek.
Over a delicious salmon supper the team tell us what to expect from the week; I’m not looking forward to day four depression caused by toxins leaving our bodies. It turns out there’s no mobile phone coverage so this is a technology detox too, though I can get WiFi on the terrace. Phew, it’s hard enough giving up alcohol let alone Twitter.
It’s 8am, I’m wearing leggings and chanting ‘om’. I’m feeling stiff and hungry, but yoga teacher Emma quickly has us flowing through downward dogs, planks and triangle poses and before I know it it’s time for a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes and fresh beetroot and celery juice. So far, so detox.
Disaster strikes at my first circuit training session when it becomes apparent my Converse Allstar sneakers aren’t up to the challenge so I take a quick taxi ride to the nearest town and snap up a pair of Barbie-esque bright pink €43 trainers (the only ones available in my size). Stylish.
A pre-lunch diet talk by Mel is enlightening: forget fat, it’s sugar that’s the real enemy when it comes to anti-aging and weight gain. Post-lunch, I head to the open-sided poolside pavilion for Fitness Focus with Stan, 45 sweaty minutes of crunching and squeezing to tone up bums, tums and thighs.
Luckily I get to stretch my aching muscles in restoratative yoga where I discover goddess pose (back resting on a bolster and legs bent wide), which is so relaxing I’m reluctant to move. A massage in a fragrant, candle-lit treatment room is followed by supper, where I’m so sleepy I nearly nod off in my watermelon and chilli gazpacio soup.
Hike day! After a bleary-eyed 7am breakfast the group piles into a minivan which drops us off at a scenic spot on a hillside 20 minutes away. After an hour’s strenuous hike, with stops to drink in the view and much-needed water, we reach the peak then descend through a dry stone river bed carpeted in pink oleander flowers where we stop for a snack - an apple and energy ball, surely it’s time for a cocktail?
Feeling pretty proud of ourselves after four hours in the Spanish hills, we arrive back at base in time for lunch: salad, chicken, pea and broad bean salad and bean burgers.
I have a break in my schedule and take advantage of the sunloungers and pool, but all too soon it’s time for a nutrition consultation with Mel. We chat about my diet (too much chocolate and tea, not enough veg and water) and Mel recommends ways I can instantly improve things: no honey morning porridge, less snacking on sugar-laden fruit as I pass the fridge, cutting out after-supper cake. She also prescribed me Korean ginseng for mid-afternoon slumps when I reach for the biscuits.
Restorative yoga in the open-sided pavilion is the perfect end to the day. My aches and pains melt away as we flow through gentle downward dogs, planks, and triangles. In meditation I have a wonderful floaty feeling - maybe this detoxing is starting to work. Tonight my skin looks glowy, and I swear some crows feet have disappeared (largely down to the amount of water I'm drinking).
Apparently, today is the day most In:Spa guests slump and mutter things like “I wish I hadn't come", "I'd kill for a coffee" and simply "why?". I wake up late and grumpy with just 15 minutes to get ready for running – I’d kill for a cuppa.
Trainer Stan makes us warm up, then we set off at a gentle jog. It quickly becomes apparent some of us are better at running than others. The stragglers (including me) develop a more sensible plan to conquer the two-kilometre route: jog to one electricity pylon, walk to the next. This simple method gets us down the track in no time, though the way back, as the sun starts to climb, turns into walk three, run one.
Feeling like a naughty schoolgirl I slack off circuit training and read by the pool. With muscles aching in arms and legs, it seems like the right thing to do - this is a holiday after all. I peel myself off the lounger to make it to my morning and evening yoga sessions though, which include chanting, handstands and goddess pose. I think I’m becoming addicted.
The highlight of today is an evening reiki session with therapist Jo, soon my body feels light as air and I’m getting lots of energy surges. Go to bed glad slump day is over.
I wake up fresh as a daisy and full of life, which is a good job as Emma puts us through our paces at an 8am pre-breakfast yoga session.
This morning’s cross training session is a revelation: I love boxing! The course includes a minute each of left hooks, right jabs, skipping, crunches and punches and pushups: doesn't sound much but boy can I feel it in my abs, arms and legs, infect pretty much everywhere.
A quick dip in the pool then lunch, which is a delicious raw lasagne whipped up by chef Hayley at Levity Project. By ingeniously mixing ingredients like massaged spinach, ground cashews and marinated courgettes, she creates delicious layers you’d never suspect weren't cooked. Empty plates are collected to a round of applause.
I request more boxing during my afternoon personal training session with Stan and he also puts together a 10-minute plan concentrating on the stomach (my problem area) for me to use at home.
Up at 7am for a four-hour hike. Eat a feast of a breakfast (scrambled eggs, tomatoes, quinoa porridge and fresh orange juice), then transfer to Casares, a hillside town 30 minutes away. Feel my legs muscles burning during the steep ascent to the peak (this is more like climbing than hiking!), but the OMG view of Andalucia at the top is worth it: rolling hills, patchwork fields and pretty Casares town perched on top of a rocky outcrop.
Hiking back through pine-scented forests spotting wild boar tracks in the sunshine, I’m so happy I forget all about my aching calves. Entering Casares town it seems like everywhere I look a Spanish person is sipping an espresso or eating an ice cream. Fortunately, none of us have any money, so we head instead to a ruined castle at the village peak before driving back to Monasterio for lunch.
An afternoon cookery talk by mega-healthy chefs Hayley and Sarah opens the lid on the ingredients they’ve been using, like spirulina, harrissa and energvita. They explain that they use food as close to its original form as possible (doughnuts are out, then) and why it’s better for us.
Get really into my end-of-day yoga lesson, particularly the bit where we have our legs straight up against the wall, put a beanbag over our eyes and Emma rubs soothing balm onto the back of our heads. Leave feeling totally Zen and have second helpings of delicious veggie curry at supper. Feel super skinny; the waistband on my jeans is slack and I can see my hipbones!
Last day and, amazingly, I’m up early for an 8am group run and actually enjoy it (although some of us still walk and chat on the way back!). Opt to lie in the sun by the pool instead of going to Fitness Focus (sorry, Stan, but this is my last day to work on my tan).
I achieve an unassisted headstand in yoga, the first time I’ve done this in my life and probably my highlight of the week.
It’s the last night so everyone is dressed up in gorgeous dresses and Mel cracks open a couple of bottles of bubbly before we sit down to a delicious dinner of swordfish and chocolate tart made from avocado and chocolate mousse topped with orange rind.
My first pudding in a week is heavenly and I have to stop myself from licking the plate. I go to bed late, full and happy and not looking forward to returning home to rain, fat-filled snacks and no exercise routine.
I feel slimmer (have dropped a dress size), fitter and, best of all, have loads of energy. In:Spa isn’t a bootcamp – you can slack off activities if you really want to and nobody is going to throw a bucket of cold water over you at 7am – but it is brilliant if you need to kick-start a healthy lifestyle or simply want to improve on what you’re already doing.
The fact you don’t do any cooking for a week is a holiday in itself and the group I met were a bunch of funny, like-minded women of varying ages (I’m told men do come along too, though usually with their partners) and several of them had been on six or more escapes, which says it all really.
From £2,195pp for seven nights including accommodation with all meals, transfers, group activities, nutritional consultation, personal training session and two massages; http://www.inspa.co.uk.
Next departure: 12 – 19 September 2012.
Here’s what happened when wine-loving, chocolate-eating travel writer Amanda Statham checked in for a week’s detox in sun-drenched SpainBy Amanda Statham | Yahoo! Travel – Tue, Aug 14, 2012 10:44 BST
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