The motto here at 38 degrees North, Ibiza, is “Reset your co-ordinates”. This all sounds a little technical, I thought, Ive never been handy with a compass. Having trained at maximum capacity at the start of 2014 to pose naked for Women’s Health magazine’s ‘Body Issue’, promoting Strong not Skinny, http://www.amandabyram.com/files/press/women_health_sep_2014.pdf I needed to take a step back, and let my body rest, by way of a summer of (healthy) indulgences. I had upped my portions, and exercised less. But now, it was time to get the little push i needed to get back to my “naked shape”, by shedding a small layer and to feel full of energy again. It was all in the hands of the gang here in Ibiza. Yep, I know, Ibiza and health don’t normally go hand in hand. Take for example some lads on my flight, who were here for one night only. “Party til you drop”, they claimed. Boogaloo til you puke i thought. I imagine that somewhere the next day, they were face down in a world of pain, regretting their decision. The truth is that Ibiza is about SO much more than the club scene. In fact for me, its everything BUT the club scene. The Island is truly spectacular, both it’s scenery and it’s genuine (not in a hippy way) spiritual vibe. So where better to open up a fitness retreat that offers programs such as: Optimal Fitness, Optimal Weight Loss, Luxury Yoga Retreats, SUP and Soul (that’s Stand up Paddle boarding for those of us who aren’t in the water sports know) Stress Management Retreats, Detox Retreats and even Deep Sleep Retreats (probably welcomed by the boys on my flights) Whatever you need, 38 Degrees North has a plan for you, and it works. Here’s the run (sprint) down on how my week at Optimal Fitness went. DAY 1 Monday The calm before the storm. Up at at em, early in the morning to be weighed and measured. EEK. I chat with James, Team Leader and font of all knowledge, the male component behind 38ªN. I tell him my reasons for being here and I get weighed in. Ding Ding, let the match commence. 65Kilos. The hotel Aquas De Ibiza where 38 Degrees North operates out of, is absolutely beautiful. It’s 5 star, so you do feel that even though you are here to sweat it out, you are still dabbling in a luxury holiday. The rooms are large, the spa is blissful (for the deep tissue massage you’ll need by day 4) The staff here are all dressed in angelic floaty white clothing, which matches their friendly, floaty personalities. Time to meet my fellow retreaters. 10 fabulous and motivated women and one fabulous and motivated man, David. Poor thing. We have much respect for him by the end of the week, as he gracefully listened to us chicks chatting chick chat, incessantly. Our levels of fitness varied, which is in fact one of the brilliant things about this place. Those with lesser fitness levels were always cheered on and motivated by everyone else. One team, one dream. To get fitter. Nature calls here in Ibiza, not literally, I mean training outdoors. It is part of the 38 Degrees selling point. Most people spend their lives sitting at desks. So to get out and exercise with such a beautiful backdrop, helps you to forget the pain. First up was a fitness test. I made it to level 9 on the bleep test. One minute for each of the following Press ups – 25 full 13 and on my knees. Burpees 29. Crunches 31. Time for beach circuits. Enter Faye. The pocket rocket Middlesborough Lara croft. With a gentle Northern accent, the woman means business. She is silent, but deadly. Her energy pushed us all to get through circuits of tough weights and sporty paraphernalia against the most amazing backdrop. A breakfast buffet (be careful of your choices here, it is a free for all!) I had boiled eggs, veggies and avocado to replenish my body. Post brekkie, a stunning coastal hike – 2.5 hrs long but worth every step. Led by James, we got the lowdown on the area. Lunch at a beachside cafe was our reward. Grilled salmon and veg for me, then back to hotel with 2 hours to kill in the beautiful spa before Pilates. Stretch and unwind after a busy first day. Dinner at Passion Cafe – a wonderfully healthy restaurant. Opt for raw detox salad, buddha bowl or raw pizza. With a sliver of a moon over the ocean, it was bedtime by 1030. Not very Ibiza of us at all. Day 2 Tuesday Another early rise (you’ll get used to this) My whole body aches. Everywhere. Pain in parts I didn’t know existed. This is good though, it’s called DOMS – you know something is working! The day starts with an 8 am coastal run, led by the female component behind 38 Degrees, James’ wife – the raven haired beauty that is, Kelly. She teaches us how to run properly, not something I had ever considered before, but it makes a huge difference. One of the things I LOVE about 38 Degrees is that they focus on technique and form, which is ESSENTIAL to proper training and results. Incorrect form will inevitably lead to injury, which in turn slows us down and stops us training, catch 22. We run through the local area, which is stunning and watching the sun split over the marina takes your mind off the 8am heat. Stretch- post run is equally important, and Kelly talks you through the correct way to do that. Looking at her, you want to know exactly what she does. With her beautiful physique, she leads by example. Back to the hotel in time for 8.45 Swiss ball with Faye and a dynamic stretch, all before a 10am breakfast. 1130 and we are back kickboxing with ‘Faye Croft’. Turns out she is a two time British KickBox champ!! So not only do you know these moves are authentic, you also know you should never mess with her. She made us sweat from head to toe, literally, sweat pouring from our legs! Time for lunch, and strangely I’m not even that hungry. Not something I’m used to! Lunch is at the hotel restaurant today, Alabasto. There is a menu that James and Kelly have created with the hotel, The Retreat Menu. Mostly healthy (but not necessarily all low calorie) you still need to be diligent if weight loss is your goal. Seabass and veg, with no oil/salt for me. Perfect. Ballet class next, David the only man opts out with Bolshoi grace. Ballet is the latest craze in fitness, and it works. Pirouette and plié your way to a tight butt. Jeebers. I’ve been sweating consistently all day! Coastal run, swiss ball, kickboxing and ballet OH MY. Time for bed. DAY 3 Wednesday Woke up well rested with a bit of a lie in today. I have opted to try a juice only diet for a couple of days, to see if I can hack it. I juice cleanse a few times a year, but this intensity of training will test me. 9am Pilates – perfectly positioned in the weekly itinerary with plenty of gentle stretching. Another thing that’s great here at 38 degrees is how much thought has gone into each class, it’s timing and the positing of each class in the itinerary. It’s been carefully planned with military precision. Juice # 1 is fruit based for an energy kick, the perfect way to start a 2 hour mountain bike outing. We collect our bikes and helmets and set off through the windy roads, led by James like papa duck, while mama duck Kelly sticks to the back, to make sure all their ducklings in a safe in a row.. We cycle up some steep hills, and beautiful settings. I’m not a cyclist, so I find this tougher than the other activities, but a great workout nonetheless. Lunch is at a great restaurant at the beach for lunch, which of course i had to avoid, and sucked on my second juice of the day instead. Back home and BOOTCAMP with Rob. A circuit of Kettles/Rope slams/Hill sprits/Mountain climbers and TABATA is not for the faint hearted, or the juicers. I was cream crackered. (a cream cracker would have been welcome) Next a DEEP STRETCH WITH FAYE. Bliss. My energy levels were low, so an early night for me, ready for what tomorrow brings. DAY4 Thursday A stunning coastal run at 8am, which encompassed the true natural rugged beauty of Ibiza, watching the sun rise while running can be hazardous, but worth it! No rest for the wicked, we take to the outdoors again and straight into beach circuits at 8:45 with Faye . This feels so tough – we are all feeling the pain from the week kick in. My calves are so sore I can barely walk down the stairs to the circuit area! My brekkie was just juice, but a very welcome one. 11am kickboxing, and I am admittedly feeling weak, so I leave class and head to see Pablo for a deep tissue massage. After that and another juice, I’m ready for 3pm TRX circuits on the beach with James. This is some serious stuff. No pain no gain though, but I called it a day here. This juicing and exercise combo is too much for me to handle, I decide to have grilled veggies for dinner and all is well with the world. DAY 5 Friday Today starts with a sunrise yoga session on the Rooftop. What a way to start your day! Stretch, meditate and taking it all in from above. Bliss. Not for long though as 9am took us to self defence class with the tough kick ass Mirav www.defense-tactics.com. This is one little Israeli firecracker you do NOT want to mess with. She teaches us how to protect ourselves in volatile, hostile and deadly situations. We are scared, but now prepared. We all leave with a Certificate, but more importantly the knowledge of how to kick someones ass in a dark alley. A Strength training class follows, now that we are all hardened, then circuits with Faye. Deadlifts, squat and Leg raises followed by a beach lunch, followed by Stand up paddle boarding. I am the first to fall in, but the water is so warm and beautiful that i take the ego knock on the chin. SUP is great for upper body and core strength, not to mention a wicked tan! Our final class of the week is a brilliant cardio dance/kick box with Faye, Her pro moves make you feel like you’re kickboxing at a rave. A massive cheer for our last class leaves us all feeling a bit sad… A true indicator that we have all had an amazing week. DAY 6 Saturday This is it, the moment we have all been secretly dreading. THE FITNESS TEST! This is our indicator as to how far we have come this week. I get from Level 9 to 10 on the bleep test! YES! My push ups improved from 29 to 32 Burpees, 31 to 64 crunches, 25 to 40 push ups. I have lost 3 kilos and 1.5% bodyfat. The layer I wanted to shed, left behind in a pile of sand and sweat! High fives all round. EVERYONE has increased their fitness levels. So I have officially reset my co-ordinates and have been given me the kickstart I needed to get back to “naked shape”. 38 Degrees North is not a military bootcamp. But it IS run with military precision. The activities are perfectly timed and paced out, so you have just enough time in between so as not to get bored. You even forget you are hungry, and as a regular snacker, this is unusual for me. You don’t HAVE to partake in all of the activities, but the team spirit and the team themselves really make you want to be a part of everything. Mon/Wed/Friday are long endurance. Tuesday and Thursday packed with high intensity. One thing is for sure, if you want to up your fitness levels, increase stamina, shed a few lbs while still enjoying the local fresh food, bond with new friends, and get yourself a tan while doing so then 38 Degrees North Optimal Fitness is the holiday for you. My only complaint? That I can’t stay longer. Notes: Food. Because 38 Degrees North is set in a 5 star hotel the temptation is all around you. That’s why the Retreat menu is in the restaurant. So make sure you pay attention! The food on the retreat menu is healthy, but not super low in calories, this is not a place that is strict on portions do just be diligent if you want to shed lbs. Remember, that’s not what this particular course is geared towards. You will eat out a few nights and there is temptation, so just be clever. Just make sure everything you order comes grilled/steamed/sauceless. If you want to push it another level get juicing. Energy levels will wane. Your body, your call. Fitness Levels Fear? Don’t worry! I am pretty fit, and found it hard. Others were not fit at all, and still managed to get through classes. One class may be easier for you than another. You are not pushed but you WANT to partake, simply because the group environment is so damn lovely. You would miss out otherwise.