Fit & Fly Girl Retreat Experience

 

Jennifer K from UT has been a member since 2013. Health and wellness is important to her and she strives to be healthy so she can be the best mother for her children and active companion to her husband. Jennifer’s favorite activities are beach volleyball, swimming and attending gym classes such as HIGH (cardio dance class to Pop Hits Music), Step Interval, Power Pump (weights class to music) and of course Sunday strolls with her family.

 

Tell us about your trip to Tulum.

Outside of Shambala Petit Hotel, we went on 3 excursions: Coba Ruins and a cenote swim, a float down the Sian Ka’an and a bike ride to the Tulum Ruins. Each was unique and a wonderful part of history. I really enjoyed biking from our hotel to the Tulum Ruins. They are majestic temples and remains of the Mayan civilization, set on the coast and on the only hill in the area.

Perhaps my favorite thing of all though was swimming and scuba diving in cenotes, which are unique to this part of the world. On Monday our entire group got to hike down a spiral staircase which opened up into an amazing dome-covered cenote. It was lit with a light from within and the water was crystal clear and so refreshing. It was an incredible experience.

On Tuesday, I had 2 dives scheduled which were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The first was casa cenote. We saw 2 or 3 loggerhead turtles, the ‘neighborhood’ crocodile in the water and picturesque scenes under the water with filtered light shining through caverns we were swimming through. The second dive was Calavera which means “skull.” We were the only scuba divers on that dive. This dive was so unique because I had never experienced haloclines before—it’s when fresh water mixes with salt water from the ocean, but is separated into distinct levels because of their densities (kind of like oil and water). The deeper down you went, it actually got warmer in spots! To top it off, after climbing the ladder and taking off our scuba tanks, we remained at the entrance of the cenote to do back flips! This was WAY out of my comfort zone, but I knew my husband and kids would be impressed so I challenged myself to do it (in front of the camera of course). I felt pretty cool, at least for an instant.

 

Tell us about your Fit and Fly Girl experience.

I loved it! It was such a great idea to have a women’s group small enough to bond with and who had the same desire of fitness and wellness. It was a well-balanced schedule with workouts, free time, meals and excursions. The Jungle gym was a unique experience for working out. Our trainer Katie was so amazing and the most well-rounded & diversified trainer I’ve ever experienced in my life. She pushed us to the best of our abilities and we felt amazing (and sore) after each workout! I will be forever grateful for this retreat.

 

 

What was it like to be away for a week to focus on yourself and fitness and being around likeminded women?

It was exactly what I needed. I try to handle a lot so I can say I’m tough and a capable woman. I’ve kind of lost my life & sacrificed my wants for the service of my family if that makes sense. I feel free and liberated if I can even go pee by myself once during the day! Right now they need me most and my things may need to be put on hold.

The last morning of the Tulum trip before heading to the airport, I walked out to the ocean to dip my feet in one last time. As I stared at the gentle waves, I watched as a large pelican swooped down to fly just above the cresting wave. I studied it, wondering if this was a method she was using to search or hunt for fish or something. The more I watched, the more I started to believe that she was doing this for fun and out of pure enjoyment. She was gliding daringly close to the water parallel to the shore with her wings outstretched like a plane, but it did not appear whatsoever that she was on a mission to find something or do anything out of necessity. Then, it hit me! I can be just like this pelican! I can find ways to glide along the water and deserve ‘me’ time just like this pelican, but when needed all I have to do is dip my head in the water and scoop up fish or attend to my responsibilities. I can still be there for my children, but it’s important for me to look up and take brief ‘gliding’ breaks every so often. To just put my head down and go to work and stay in the water the entire time is mentally unhealthy, despite my desire to be a good mom and give everything to my children. It’s important to look up and glide so I can get the breath of fresh air and in the end be a more effective, refreshed, patient and happy mother.

So for me, one that doesn’t take a lot of time for myself these days, it was a liberating and refreshing mental wellness retreat as well as a kick-butt fitness outing. I loved being able to work out several times a day and not have to worry about children or prepare or clean up one meal! To socialize with other women was empowering and special and completely different than taking a trip alone with my spouse.

 

Tell us about the new experiences you were exposed to.

All these experiences were new to me: cenotes, Mayan ruins and of course, the Jungle Gym. It was built completely in the sand and incorporated just about everything one could imagine to push the human body to normal or new extremes. We did a lot of circuit training or HIIT intervals and the weights made from wood just set this place apart.

I also loved the fresh foods prepared with SO much flavor and beautiful presentation. I even LOVED the local fish they served and I’m usually not a fish lover.

 

 What did you learn about yourself?

I’m stronger than I thought I was and proud of how far I’ve come. Strong in every sense, not just in its physical definition. It’s very clear that most women in this world don’t have 5 kids by age 35. I’m a strange outlier in society. I consider it the hardest & most exhausting job I’ve ever had and I don’t get to punch out after an 8-hour shift. The retreat helped me feel empowered and strong. As I was flipping tires, doing burpees, doing ball slams or jumping over giant logs during workouts, it gave me a feeling that made me want to shout, “I can do anything!” I felt as good as I did, if not much better than I did 10 years ago before I started having children. It was such a sense of accomplishment that I was handling everything the trainer threw at us. I reflected on everything I have been through. So yes, every time the sweat dripped off my nose I felt like shouting, “I am a strong mom, I am a strong woman and I can do anything!”

I learned to not get down on myself or compare myself to other time periods of my life. Whatever I had trained to do up until now was sufficient and the best I can do.

Taking time out to do a retreat was probably the only way I could step outside myself and my normal surroundings to finally appreciate and see just how strong I already am.

 

How did you feel after the retreat? Was it different from your “pre-retreat” experience?

I felt very fulfilled and changed. It was a long enough retreat for me to get my “me” time fulfilled, and yet start to miss my role as wife and mother back at home. It was almost a spiritual enlightenment time for me as well. It helped me refocus on the most important things in life.  It sent me back a better and more focused mother, ready to give my best self to my family and to the hobbies and interests I wish to pursue.

 

Describe your experience in 3 words.

ANSWER TO PRAYERS       or         DREAM COME TRUE

 

Tell us anything else you’d like to share about your experience.

I truly feel I was chosen as one of the winning contestants because of my story and perhaps also because I help represent much of the world as a mother simply trying to have energy and keep active. Trying to incorporate fitness with the responsibilities of life whether you’re a mother or not, is challenging and has to be prioritized in your life.

The changes that happen to your body after having a child can leave you feeling so discouraged, and I’ve been there 4 times. After the twins & then my 5th child recently I wondered if the day would ever come to be able to fit back in to non-maternity pants or normal clothes.  Besides obvious physical changes, you’re left with hormones in disarray. Desire to exercise may even be diminished. I’ve still not lost all my baby weight yet, but I can at least recognize now how far I’ve come. And isn’t that what’s most important? Be grateful for the baby steps. And honestly, slowly fitting back into the Fabletics clothes has been such a mental boost of encouragement. The clothes are so fun and have helped me get to the gym on days I didn’t want to go or be seen in public by anyone. I wear them with pride now and realize health and fitness will always be a journey, not just a destination or end goal weight. Lift your head up, and just try to remember to smile in the process. Thanks Fabletics for all you’ve given me… it is so much more than just a trip to Mexico!