Mountain Beach Fitness Retreats, Sardinia, Italy
Intensive fitness retreat in Maddalena Archipelago National Park
Mountain Beach Fitness Retreats offers four summer retreats on the beautiful rugged islands of Maddalena and Caprera in a stretch of turquoise water off the North coast of Sardinia. This is a super back to nature experience exploring uninhabited Caprera and it’s rocky landscape, pine forest and secluded coves while being physically challenged. There’s a jam-packed schedule of outdoor fitness that includes hiking, trail running, mountain biking, sea swimming, beach circuits and yoga. The small groups are led by company founders Emma Bodkin and Lottie Pridham, two British personal trainers based in Verbier, Switzerland. With Emma’s expertise in outdoor fitness and psychology, and Lottie’s background as a ski instructor and spinning teacher, you’re in expert hands.
Expert and individual attention from Emma and Lottie and the motivating yet laid back atmosphere they create. The spectacular wild scenery off the tourist trail.
The schedule is full-on so there is a lack of time when you are alone to simply sit and reflect.
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Each day offers a different itinerary of outdoor fitness led by the always cheerful Emma and Lottie. Every activity is accessible to all and can be modified to suit individual fitness levels. The timetable mixes high intensity workouts, active recovery activities and yoga with a smartly designed schedule that alternates different muscle groups to avoid aches or injury.
There are two or three high intensity sessions each day varying in length from thirty minutes to one hour. Emma and Lottie tend to split the group based on fitness levels and experience to offer much-needed tailored guidance for each person. Embracing natural movement is at the heart of what they do and the workouts forgo the use of traditional gym equipment and instead make the most of the outdoor environment whether that’s climbing over boulders or weight lifting rocks. Sessions include boxercise, core, strength and cardio circuits on the beach, trail running and hill sprints (there’s a walking option) and sea swimming intervals. One day is spent on mountain bikes (an electric bike can be used) cycling the hilly outer roads of both Maddelena and Caprera islands with stops for lunch, beaches and swimming.
Emma and Lottie’s ethos is all about keeping moving so most days come with two or three sessions of active recovery, normally hiking or swimming, between higher intensity workouts. Hikes across the rocky (and sometimes steep) terrain on Caprera take you to stunning viewpoints and photogenic (and often secluded) beaches while swimming in the crystal clear warm water is always a treat for tired muscles. Stretching is never forgotten and there’s sessions included throughout the day to reduce muscle tension.
Daily yoga (either first or last thing) is currently taught by Louise Coates, a yoga teacher and masseuse with a background as a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and a myriad of experience including work in A&E departments of the NHS and with professional athletes. Classes take place either on the villa’s stone jetty or at one the many local beaches with an option to be held inside during bad weather. In the morning it tends to be an energising vinyasa or power style (fast and flowing) while in the evening it is normally yin (holding poses for 5-6 minutes) or restorative (deep stretching). There is a big emphasis on stretching to complement the highly physical program and prevent injury. Meditation, breathing exercise or visualisation is included within each yoga session too. The additional mediation session held after a hike to a view point is a real highlight.
Louise Coates offers bespoke massages (either sports-massage or a more holistic approach) on request and at an additional cost. These take place at the villa on the stone jetty or inside if the weather is wet or windy.
Guests stay in a spacious seafront villa in a quiet corner of Maddalena island. Renovated in a classic and elegant style with white walls, it has a light and airy feel throughout. There are five bedrooms in total which have all been individually decorated to create a homely feel. Upstairs there’s one double with an ensuite and two sharing twin rooms, both with shared bathrooms, while downstairs there’s two doubles with a shared bathroom. The upstairs rooms come with a balcony or nearby terrace showcasing impressive sea views. Dark red floral Sardinian bedspreads, woven baskets, family photos and colourful floor tiles make it a welcoming atmosphere throughout.
Forget the makeup or fancy clothes, you’ll spend your week in lycra. Remember to pack numerous sets of quick-drying workout wear, a sports swimsuit and a travel towel. It’s a full-on (and tiring) week so you might consider extending your stay for a few days R&R on the beach at the end.
When to Go
Weather in June and September is extremely pleasant. Think warm and sunny (normally late twenties) with a small chance of the odd shower or storm if you’re unlucky. Emma and Lottie track the weather religiously and plan accordingly.
There are numerous dining spots but most meals are taken on the terrace at the back of the villa with an option to use the indoor dining table when the weather is bad. The delicious food is prepared by the friendly in-house chef with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients most of which is sourced from the market that morning; dishes are healthy, generally carb-free and avoid gluten and refined sugar.
Breakfast is a generous buffet of fresh fruit, homemade granola, chia pots, a daily changing (and always inventive) egg dish, as well as filter coffee and a wide selection of herbal teas. Lunch is a filling salad (either served at the villa or in tupperware on-the-go) with a protein option such as smoked salmon, chicken or a veggie frittata. Dinner is two courses with starters such as fresh squid or tomato gazpacho and mains including locally-caught sea bream with fennel and green beans or roasted cauliflower curry. Presentation is of the highest standard and the variety of dishes never fails to impress.
Alcohol isn’t provided and any dietary requirement can be tailored to.
Food produce is sourced from local suppliers and for the most part local markets. All equipment hire is from local businesses, supporting the community and local tourism. All waste is recycled appropriately and they are looking into how to provide fresh drinking water without plastic bottles for 2019 retreats.
La Maddalena, province of Olbia-Tempio, Sardinia, Italy
1.5 hours (including ferry crossing)