Healthy Options Holiday Retreat

After visiting the amazing Ocean Soul Retreat in Bali last year (read the review here), it's fair to say I caught the bug. Not the Bali belly bug (it's a real thing!), but the fitness/yoga/chill in the sun bug. I mean, let's face it, it's an easy bug to catch... and as it turns out, Healthy Options Holiday had the perfect cure...


Who couldn't be happy in this?!

Tucked away in the quiet fishing village of Vasiliki, Greece (they also have a second location in the nearby town Syvota), Healthy options aims to refresh your mind, body and spirit through a blend of Yoga, Pilates, Fitness and relaxation in tranquil, beautiful surroundings.

Local restaurants straight by the sea
Nestled on a coastline of rocky coves and sparkling blue seas, with beachfront accommodation and an array of activities on offer, but plenty of time to also rest by the pool and work on your tan, this was my definitely my kind of holiday....

The 'options' each day - check out that schedule!

The great thing about Healthy Options Holidays is that it is exactly that - healthy OPTIONS! Whilst there's a timetable full of classes, everything from Yoga, Swiss Ball and Pilates, to Run Circuits, Body Sculpt and Bike Rides, to Windsurfing, Paddle Boarding and SUP, you build your own schedule entirely around the activities you want to do. Never stuck for options, the hardest part was trying to fit them all in.... whilst of course leaving enough time to lie in the sun doing absolutely nothing!

Intrigued? You should be! Read on for my lowdown of everything on offer....

This is how I want to get up every day

Studio Classes

Body Sculpt - using medium to heavy dumbbells, this class was taken by the lovely Fitness Manager, Amy. Forget everything you thought about retreats only being for the purpose of 'zen', when Amy was in the room, she worked you hard, particularly in this Body Pump inspired strength class.

          
                                                                          Body Sculpting

Run Circuits - OK, I get it, running is definitely not something everyone wants to do on holiday. Infact, it's not something everyone wants to do full stop! But if you do, of course Healthy Options has the choice for that. Another one taken by Fitness Manager Amy, the 5-10k running styles classes are held early in the morning, giving you the chance to make the most of the beautiful seaside views before the sun makes it's strong appearance.

And flyyyyyyyyyyyyyy


Pilates - Pilates and I have a bit of a love hate relationship. In that, I love ab workouts in general, but far too often I have found myself lying in pilates trying to 'engage my pelvic floor' in various positions and, quite frankly, not really having a clue what I was doing! The solution? A top instructor - and this was most definitely provided at Healthy Options by the amazing Sasha. With two classes each day, one for beginners and one for intermediates, her sessions were by far the most popular on the retreat, but always had plenty space for everyone to join and - more importantly - be given that one to one tuition to ensure correct form. Suddenly, I know where my pelvic floor is!

Not doing much for that tree-hugging Yogi stereotype!

Yoga - Offering Hatha, Vinyasa and Nidra classes, in addition to mindfulness sessions and workshops, whilst the classes were slightly more beginner level to what I'm used to (aka there was certainly no flipping up into headstand mid flow!), it was actually quite nice to take things back to basics, really working on getting the correct groundings necessary to advance my practice further. With many of the attendees having never done yoga prior to retreat, to see their increase in flexibility and strength after only one week was incredible!

Meditation on the beach

Watersports

WINDSURFING - YUS!

Windsurfing - By FAR one of my highlights of the whole retreat! I mean, I could do yoga, pilates etc at home, but windsurfing on the river Thames doesn't have QUITE the same feel as the famous clear blue waters of Lefkada. Being provided with a two hour beginner lesson with Amy, she took us through everything from balancing on the board to changing direction in the wind.

Surfs up
What really surprised me was just how much concentration and mind involvement was required - the challenge was definitely more mental as opposed to physical. Nonetheless, as we all got to grips with the wind and how this impacts our positioning on the board, we were surfing up and down that beach in no time!

Yay!

Paddleboarding - For those not quite up for the full windsurfing challenge, but still eager to experience the  Ionian sea on a board, the paddleboarding option was the perfect alternative. With big bouncy boards giving greater stability on the water, this was a gentle, relaxing and beautiful way to start the day.

A bit of snorkelling sneaked in for fun

SUP Yoga - And, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, if you wanted to REALLY challenge yourself - give SUP Yoga a try! Actually a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, it really exposed my areas of weakness - yes, I might have the flexibility - but my balance.... shocking! Being on the incredibly unstable rocky water surface, I was forced to use all the tiny supporting muscles - the ones I would never work in the gym - to keep upright... which was a challenge in itself.

Just showing off :P 


Cycling

Whilst the bike shed is open and free to use throughout the duration of your stay (perfect for anyone wanting to explore the island a little further!), Healthy Options also ran organized rides to take you through some of the key must-see spots. Cycling through the olive gardens at a leisurely pace, stopping off to pick pomegranate, fig and grapes from the trees, it certainly felt a tad different to my usual daily cycle, battling through the fumes of central London on my daily commute.

If only every bike ride was like this


For those after a more hardcore ride, there was also the option of a pretty intense 20k hill cycle, leading up to beautiful views across the sea to the surrounding islands Ithaca and Kefalonia. (Naturally, I chose to have a longer more leisurely breakfast that morning. See, options!)

The Food

Salad, chicken, hummus, pitta, pool. Can it get any more perfect?

One of the most important parts of any holiday experience - THE FOOD! As far as I'm concerned, any retreat that forces me on a 100% vegan/gluten/caffeine/alcohol/fun free diet... just isn't a holiday!

Cocktails on arrival :-) 

 With Healthy Options, however, your meals aren't included as part of the retreat, meaning you have the option to go wherever you like, and indulge as little or as much as you like. The pool bar was perfect for serving up generous portions of healthy, fresh salads (vegetables just taste SO much better when your abroad).....


Just YUM!

During the evenings we would wander into the local village of Vasiliki and sample all the local water front restaurants, serving up traditional Greek dishes including incredible moussaka, souvlaki, and all the seafood under the sun. So much so that I had squid or octopus every single night.... it was just too good not to!


Squid

Octopus. My two dishes of the holiday. And I'm not even sorry.

Overall

With all of the above, combined with daily relaxation by the pool, massages, meditation and mindfulness sessions, Healthy Options truly had the perfect balance of fitness, fun, relaxation and regeneration. The instructors were incredible, the location beautiful, the organisation perfect - it's difficult to fault. Whilst I'd maybe expected a slightly more advanced practice, the strong yoga flows, focus on form, and general relaxation turned out to be exactly what my body had been crying out for.

Playing the game of danger yoga

Which brings to me the best thing about Healthy Options Holidays - its accessibility. With people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness abilities, males and females, young and old - it really is set up so that anyone and everyone can participate.... and have an incredible experience whilst doing so!

Thank you Healthy Options!

For more details on Healthy Options Holidays, and to discover dates and prices for 2018, visit their website on https://greece.healthy-options.co.uk . I'd highly recommend you take a look!



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