Trying to put into words the feeling I get towards the end of our week long retreat is very much something I struggle with, but here goes. 


Usually about day 5 of our retreat, as we finish our 5th module (usually on “Be Do Have” (the best way to goal set), I see the proverbial penny drop. It usually only takes three days or so for most, of experiencing how they should feel in their day to day habitual living back home, that they realise there’s more to life than being stuck on the hamster wheel of life, working, sleeping poorly, eating nutrient poor food, no energy, feeling bloated… 


Essentially just Existing. 


Seeing 8 guests arrive with grey, lifeless exteriors, low energy levels and shoulders with the weight and burden of life is quite the norm.  Equally seeing them leave with colour back on their faces, averaging 4 inches lost on waist and hips, 5Ibs weight loss and a new lust for life with the coping mechanisms to handle anything life dares throw their way. 


I am currently on the flight back from Lanzarote having just completed our third retreat. It’s quite normal on arrival, to see them trudge into the villa for the first time with rounded shoulders and stride out proud, feeling like a new person. In fact, it’s something I try to show them through the magic of Paul Condron, our Documentarian, who captures the experience for us. He takes a group before and after photo as the guests arrive and depart. The contrast as you can see below is nothing short of spectacular. 





Our guests are mainly made up of busy professionals, Retirees, Business owners and people who realise that they need to reset and figure out what direction they would like to take their lives to next. 


We had the pleasure of welcoming Mary Coughlan onto our retreat this time. Mary and I go way back and she rang me up one day and asked if she could join us in between gigs. Knowing the larger than life character she is, I knew the value she would add in the shape of laughs and personality that everyone warms to and enjoys. Boy did she add that in abundance. We all have never laughed so much, the best tonic. 


When people are tired and are facing the last class of the day, it’s great to have a pick me up kinda personality around the place to put a smile on their faces.  


Our retreat days consisted of morning yoga at 7.30am around sun rise, helping everyone start the day in a relaxed state. This is an incredibly powerful trick. Now obviously not everyone can afford to bring a yoga teacher into their home each morning, but giving the guests the tools in there Morning Rituals module helps them start the day the right way, every day. 


We enjoy breakfast together each morning consisting of high protein, high fibre, plenty of good fats and omega 3’s to fire up brain cells and fire up metabolisms. This can consist of Chia porridge, different styles of egg, pancakes, topped off with freshly brewed coffee and ready for our morning activity or excursion. 


In this case, we explored a dormant volcano. We went on a cliff walk with stunning views. We went kayaking to the golden sands of Papagayo beach where we snorkelled into caves and said hello to a mini octopus. We Supped (stand up paddle boarding) on the lagoon of La Santa resort up the north of the island. We visited the local markets on Sunday morning for some Spanish culture and present buying for loved ones. 


These life experiences are powerful in themselves, as they are all opportunities to bond, laugh, enjoy and relax.  It’s fascinating to watch 8 complete strangers come together over the 7 days and leave as a close family, having lived together in close quarters for the duration of the retreat.


Having said close quarters, to put it into context, the villa sleeps 18, it has two large living rooms,  a putting green, a large swimming pool, a giant Jacuzzi, a huge balcony with four couches, three hammocks in the garden, 10 Sun loungers, an outdoor banquet table that seats 20 and a garden you can disappear into when you want some peace and quiet, Oh did I mention the two kitchens and games rooms with pool, fuse ball and table tennis tables? 

We return back to the villa for a delicious and freshly prepared lunch by our Maitre D Marguerite.  A lady of many talents who is a hugely talented artist who also doubles as my mother in law. Our lunches can consist of surf and turf with Salad, homemade burgers or stuffed peppers.


Our afternoons tend to be lazy and relaxed. You have the option of having a sports massage with our masseuse Jim Radcliffe in the villa to add his midas touch to our clients relaxation process. Alternatively, you can chill in a hammock, relax in the giant hot tub or grab a tan on a sun lounger, either way, the time Is yours to read a book, snooze or have the fat chats. (chatting about everything and anything) Marguerite is a pro at these 😉


The combination of down time and adventures out of the villa is a perfect balance.


I take a circuit class each evening as the heat goes out of the sun at around 6pm for 30 minutes. A variety of training modalities keeps the classes varied. We have circuit classes each day.

After class we warm down in the pool and get ready for another delicious meal that guests can hardly believe will help get them leaner, tighter and pulling in the belt a couple of notches by the end of the week. For example, this could be steak and sweet potato wedges or curry with basmati rice.


After dinner, we take a cup of coffee or herbal tea up to the living room upstairs in the villa, where I take the modules each evening.  I cover “Morning rituals” to help you start the day the right way. “The Complete Nutrition System” to help you reach optimal health through sustainable eating. The “How To Control Your Mindset” module to stop self sabotage and control your mind to help you cope and keep moving forward towards optimal health. We cover “Stress Management” modules to identify your major stressors and how to expect them, deal with them and prevent them long term. Our final module is our “Be Do Have” module, which is my version of goal setting done the right way. A completely new and different angle to goal setting.


We give all our guests every opportunity to come to the conclusion that they are able to make the necessary changes in their lives by implementing these strategies, to fulfil their life long dreams and to arm them with the tools to make life what it should be, an enjoyable, enriched experience.


By the end of the week on the retreat, they are relaxed, de stressed and invigorated and the re-set button has been well and truly pushed


The difference is palpable and there for all to see in their results. We take measurements and weight at the beginning of the week and the morning before they leave. Our biggest loser on this retreat lost 8Ibs and 3.5 inches off his waist. Pretty cool huh?


Now, we could lose more weight on the scales by restricting calories more and not letting them experience the nutritious, delicious food they feast on during the week. They eat chocolate most days and get dessert every evening after dinner. The point is, they need to see that it’s not all about quick weight loss, but long sustainable lifestyle changes and results built over time and consistency through nourishing your body and giving it what it craves while taking the toxins out.


Simple when you know how. 😉


To be able to facilitate and witness this type of change in people is really quite incredible.


Something I get a great thrill out of.




In all honesty, some people take on board the strategies and implement them successfully into their lives. Some people won’t.


Some of the guests will have completely changed their lives and navigated their lives in the new direction they truly desire, with the new skills they’ve learned. Others unfortunately will get dragged back into the hamster wheel and be in exactly the same position 6 months down the track that they were in when they arrived.


But that’s life…


It’s yours and only yours, to drive in the direction you want.


No blaming others,


No excuses,


You are your responsibility..


You might just need the knowledge and a nudge in the right direction to get you there.


Yours in fitness

Damian Hall


Ps Apply for our November retreat here  http://retreat.completepersonaltraining.ie/

Dalkey Fitpro

South Dublin





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