Emma Douglas reviews a sporty wellbeing retreat in Mallorca and finds balance in the stunning foothills of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains through the magic of mindset, movement, and natural nutrition.
Radiating health and vitality, Jodie McGregor of ‘The Balanced Life’ is easy to spot in the arrival lounge of Palma airport. En-route to the market-town of Alaro, she shares her journey from professional horseriding to sports science, personal training, and nutrition, in order to bring the rewards of a healthy life to others. She has published her own recipe book and, as a passionate environmentalist, leads a plastic-free lifestyle. If Jodie strikes the ‘balance’ we’re aiming for, I’ll need to hang on for the ride!
Our rustic villa in the foothills of Mallorca’s Tramuntana mountains is both elegant and eclectic. Striking artwork and colourful fabrics bring spacious interiors to life. Lemon and pomegranate trees, cactus plants and fragrant flowers create a tropical feel to the gardens. Beyond the pool terrace, olive groves and farmlands roll across the valley and up towards mountainous ridges. Happily installed in my room, I inhale the scent of honeysuckle on the balcony and listen to chirruping birds, jangling sheep bells and a crowing cockerel that may have lost track of time in this wonderful place.
Before our first fitness session, Jodie takes each of our female group – all aged between 20s and 50s and from a range of professions – for a personal consultation. This is an opportunity to discuss (or confess) lifestyle habits and set realistic goals. Jodie prioritises 1-to-1 time with her guests and develops an excellent sense of individual needs during the retreat.
The pool terrace and gardens are soon transformed into a series of circuit stations with weights, resistance bands, TRX and Swiss balls. R&B music motivate’s us as we fire up glutes, fire out press-ups and strengthen our cores with the aptly named ‘death crawl’. Resident terriers Taffy and Minty keep a watchful eye on proceedings, while Jodie ensures that each of us is moving intelligently and effectively.
A follow up session of restorative yoga stretches on the lawn provides a welcome interlude, before sunset mojito ‘mocktails’ and our first delicious dinner. Talented retreat chef Caroline has collaborated with Jodie on a creative menu that provides diverse, natural nutrition. Stand-out dishes include a colourful macro-bowl of bean chili, roasted corn salsa and guacamole with flaxseed nachos, and pomegranate and cauliflower couscous with homemade falafel. Produce comes from the local market and herbs and fruit are picked fresh from the garden. Meals are light on dairy, meat and gluten but none of these is considered ‘the enemy’. Indeed, Jodie is the proud daughter of a Yorkshire dairy farmer who supplies the famous Wensleydale cheese. We are also reassured to hear that Jodie treats herself to cake – in moderation, of course. As retreat guests, we enjoy desserts including raw banoffee mouse and sugar-free brownies that one guest declares she’d happily order ‘down the pub’.
‘My highlight of the week is a stunning hike to the historical ruin of Castell d’Alaro, perched on a mountain that juts dramatically from the landscape. At the summit, we’re rewarded with a spectacular panoramic that stretches from Palma in the south to the Bay of Alcudia in the north.’
My highlight of the week is a stunning hike to the historical ruin of Castell d’Alaro, perched on a mountain that juts dramatically from the landscape. Transporting materials to build this fortress over a millenium ago seems quite a feat, given that climbing up with water and snacks is enough of a challenge. At the summit, we’re rewarded with a spectacular panoramic that stretches from Palma in the south to the Bay of Alcudia in the north.
The Balanced Life is about mindset as well as movement, and Jodie leads a helpful session in which we explore our values, inspirations, ambitions and perceived obstacles to achieving these. It’s a revealing experience and a good exercise in mindful life-planning. All this deep thinking needs a counter-balance, so we spend fireside evenings chatting and playing games. With only mint tea to fuel our creativity – The Balanced Life is an alcohol free zone – we embrace our inner thespians one night for some health-themed charades, interpreting everything from aubergines to action movies.
The penultimate day is for pampering, but this must be earned. After a personal training session spent honing my boxing skills, I head for a bath and then a blissful hour of reflexology. For true balance, this is followed by a holistic facial with rosewater and cannabis oil products. I sleep deeply that night, and spring out of bed at sunrise for our farewell session of vinyasa flow.
The Balanced Life seeks to bring people together to ‘feel good from the inside out’. This week’s varied movement programme, generous hospitality, mouth-watering menus and inspirational leadership from Jodie have more than guaranteed this feel-good factor. Delighted to be back on track with our healthy lifestyles, the group shares new goals and commits to supporting each other once home.
I’ve hung on for the ride and it’s been fabulous. Thanks to The Balanced Life, I’m now holding the reins and can take it from here.