The Big Stretch review
Life coaching in UK, Spain & New Zealand
The Quick Read: This brilliant creative coaching company set up by psychologist Rosie Walford has helped people to find meaningful work, to extricate themselves from negative relationships into better situations, accept a seat in the House of Lords and move from London to Malawi. Choose one-on-one stretch days with Rosie in London or on Waiheke Island in New Zealand, book private coaching with Rosie or another Stretch coach via email and Skype (an initial chat is free), or take an intensive week-long immersion on a life coaching holiday in Spain.
More about the life coaching holidays in Spain: If you choose the mountain week in Spain, after a spot of yoga-inspired stretching and a decent breakfast, you spend most mornings on a shaded terrace, workshopping your big life questions as others are working on theirs. By lunchtime you’re out in the mountains, walking to digest what you have learnt and reflecting with nature-based exercises that help your subconscious resolve the unresolved. Dinners are jovial, and the group spirits rise and rise as everyone remembers who they are at their best. Your base is a simple yet magnificent stone house on the edge of a white village high in the Alpujarras, Casa Ana. Every room is private with valley views; all you hear is bird song and the river below. You walk out on Moorish tracks between fig orchards, mulberries, and springs.
More on the life coaching in London and New Zealand: If you choose an individual Stretch on Waiheke Island, you start with expansive thinking exercises on a deck overlooking the sea. Epic picnic lunch is on a tranquil beach, and the afternoon’s work is in native forest. In London you’ll meet at a park café, then move out amongst big old trees.
Food & drink: In Spain the meals feature a lot of vegetables and fruits from the owner’s garden and local farmers, while other produce is locally sourced, including fresh fish from the Mediterranean. It’s a menu for the tastebuds rather than the waistline – a typical starter might be chestnut and sherry soup; a main course fillet of pork with almond and honey sauce; a dessert poached figs stuffed with pistachios and dark chocolate. Yum. Picnics on Individual Stretches in New Zealand are also thoroughly gourmet; in London, Rosie chooses a decent café.
Fellow guests: The Big Stretch attracts intelligent, professional, self-aware people usually in their 30s, 40s and 50s looking to make a real change in their lives, including leaders in all sorts of fields and business people. Most come from the UK and europe, and everyone comes alone.
More on Rosie Walford: Rosie trained in creative problem-solving at the Creative Education Foundation in New York, in coaching at Zenergy in New Zealand, and in Ecopsychology in Scotland and Spain. She has a background in advertising, teaches on leadership and social innovation worldwide, and is a photojournalist who draws on every creative tool she’s experienced, from meditation to medicine men as necessary, to get you thinking and seeing afresh.
More about the life coaching methods: The Big Stretch uses a coaching framework that cuts through limiting beliefs and the rational side of us that might ordinarily say ‘no’ to visions of major positive change. At the same time, the creative process opens up a space for new perspectives and clarity about your future direction. Confidence is rekindled from the source, and practical next steps are planned.
You’re encouraged to stretch beyond your ‘comfort zone’, rediscover what you feel passionate about, and to articulate the needs of the world which stir your compassion (often a great pointer to meaningful work) . There’s a certain tough-love provocation to release entrenched habits which won’t serve you in the long term. One man buried his under a rock, and walked away.
Other than when you choose coaching by phone, The Big Stretch coaching is uniquely combined with ecopsychology. Natural surroundings definitely help us to access our intuition, recognise our place within a wider worldview, and to resonate with the essential values at our core which guide sound choices in life.
Whatever aspect of life you’re revolutionising, it’s put in context amongst your relationships, health, money and work. You condense things down to one particularly important and enticing ambition (your Big Stretch) – and that’s just halfway– you then get to work on the how – inventing practical ideas to overcome obstacles, and building the self-trust to make it your reality. All of which means the process can be emotional, and reveal some unexpected new pathways ahead.
The follow up: Vitally, The Big Stretch in any form is seen as the beginning of a journey, not an end in itself, so you’re provided with all the tools you need to carry things forward – on return from a stretch holiday, for example, you build up a list of ‘easy wins’ to kickstart change, and plan the harder things that need to be worked on over a longer period of time. You’re even coached in how to articulate what you’ve learnt to others, helping you keep up the commitment and momentum in your daily life and gather support from those around you. If you work individually with Rosie, you can space your sessions to mobilise and guide you through every stage of your shift.
Making a difference: If you’re keen to make a difference to the wider world, The Big Stretch is particularly good at helping you pinpoint what difference you want to make to whom. You explore what type of organisation within the expanding impact sector will draw on your natural talents, experience and acumen to best effect.
What’s queenly: The Big Stretch coaches know what they are doing: they hold a very safe and strong container for deep exploration – and it’s amazing how diverse the results can be – we’ve met people who have left being able to stand up to a bully, rethink a working partnership and create a better balance of work and play.
What’s lowly: Rosie spends half her life in New Zealand so can’t do all the coaching herself – but she does hand-pick and train her fellow coaches carefully.
Sample costs: You can start your one-to-one coaching with a free discussion, then it’s £360 a month for two detailed sessions, structured assignments and unlimited e-mail support between. Big Stretch individual London days cost £1400. Big Stretch holidays cost from £2350 per person for a week in Spain.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
© Queen of Retreats
Luxury ayurveda & good food on Mauritius