The health retreat where you can have a glass of vino Welcome to the "balance break"
The average health retreat oversees a restricted food intake, obligatory yoga sessions and definitely no caffeine or alcohol! But a new retreat is catering to a more … relaxed market. Paper Tiger has opened the door for attendees to enjoy (gasp!) a glass of wine in the evening, sightseeing and free time during the day, and a variety of activities on offer including surfing, paddleboarding and hiking.
“They’re activities that people would want to do on holiday anyway,” says co-founder Casey Beros, “It’s not about detoxing and drinking endless green juices – there’s plenty of places to do that,” she says. “We do a heap of exercise with surfing, yoga, Pilates, boxing and Barre, some personal development and writing exercises – because we never take the time to sit down and do that – go on safari and explore tea plantations, have a cocktail or two here and there, as well as lots of pampering of course. That’s why they’re called Balance Breaks – there’s a little bit of everything you would want on a holiday.”
Welcome to the evolution of the health retreat, where you dictate your activities, but have a healthy, somewhat loose, framework in which to do it. Paper Tiger runs health retreats in Sri Lanka, which Beros calls “the new Bali”. Her business partner and co-founder, Jenna Kruiskamp, runs the “boxilates” sessions on the beach of a morning. Nothing like a bit of boxing blended with Pilates to get the blood pumping when you wake up on holiday!
Above: boxing on the beach
“We’re so used to instant gratification and being able to get what we want when we want it, especially people who live in big cities,” says Kruiskamp. “Most of us find it really hard to go and lie on a beach for a week, we want more out of our breaks. Active and adventure holidays are really the perfect fit, and there’s nothing better than seeing people leave us well rested, glowing with good health and ready to tackle the world again.”
- Workout for free with Paper Tiger on Bodypass
Sarah Hendriks, a café owner from Bondi recently joined Paper Tiger on one of their ‘Balance Breaks’ in Sri Lanka.
“I have not felt that reset and refreshed since I started my business five years ago,” says Hendriks. “It was seriously the perfect balance of everything – mindful, relaxing, physical and adventurous. Everyone left that week recharged and with a spring in their step and it was so different to what I expected from a ‘health retreat’.”
“We eat really well because we do a heap of exercise, so need loads of energy,” says Beros “We cater for vegetarians and gluten-free to pretty much everything in between. Our go-to breaky is a vegetable omelette with coconut sambal, and fresh fruit with muesli and buffalo curd. Lunch and dinner are brown or red rice, salads, beautiful curries and grilled fish or chicken. There’s always dessert on offer too – we can’t go past the passionfruit sago.”
They head out to a restaurant like Cape Weligama for cocktails and even encourage guests to go to a restaurant for dinner “We give everyone some cash for tuk tuks (the local mode of transport) so they can go wherever they like,” says Beros.
If you’re in a beautiful country like Sri Lanka, the last thing you’d want to do is stay confined to a health retreat, which has been the industry standard.
“We offer a little sightseeing to a couple of our favourite spots but there’s a heap of free time built in on purpose,” says Beros, “We do a half day safari to Uda Walawe National Park and check out Handunugoda Tea Plantation. Depending on what the guests feel like doing we might also check out Dondra Head Light House or a local temple, as well as the spice markets.”
Above: on the tea tour
But can you have a glass of wine with dinner?
“A couple of times over the course of the week, yes, which most people seem to be pretty happy with! We’ll usually have a little beach party one night, cocktails another – it’s all about balance so learning to have a couple and that be enough, and also that you don’t need a drink every night to wind down – which is often our go-to tool when it comes to de-stressing after a busy day.”
A typical day
Every day is a little bit different, but typically we’ll get up between 6am and 7am and get stuck into some Boxilates on the beach or an early yoga class before breakfast. Then we’ll move into 1:1 consultations, and people might go off and explore if they’re not needed on site for appointments – or we’ll hit the beach with the SUPs or go for a surf lesson.
After lunch we’ll spend the afternoon doing a cooking demo, or writing exercises, or having massages and pool time before another class which could be a Barre class, Yin yoga or matwork Pilates depending on what we’ve done that morning. People might go and hit the markets to pick up all the beautiful spices they’ve just learnt to use!
In the evenings we’ll get together for a drink on the beach, settle into some dinner and play games or watch a movie in the yoga shala, then usually we get a fairly early night so we can be up early the next day.
No doubt we’ll be seeing more of these “balance breaks” popping up as alternatives to a strict health retreat, to recharge and re-energise.
- Workout for free with Paper Tiger on Bodypass
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