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fi tness holidays


The company adopts a nurturing, educational approach, rather than the shouting and bullying that people may associate with boot camps


Richards set up a partnership with


the 32-room Finca Eslava resort hotel in Antequera. The hotel provides the accommodation, restaurant facilities and access to a fully-equipped gym, exercise and group cycling studios, as well as its spa, 25m indoor pool and outdoor leisure pool and gardens. Richards and his team provide the fi tness programming and the wellness know-how. Senior co-ordinator to a team of


three full-time and three part-time multi-lingual personal fi tness and lifestyle instructors and guides, Richards is the fi rst point of contact for clients, who are predominantly English and Irish. He assesses their levels of health and fi tness – such as CV fi tness, strength and fl exibility – and then designs bespoke exercise programmes and offers lifestyle advice during their stay. To complement this service, he


brings in expertise from a number of specially selected, locally-based professionals who provide cognitive therapy, physiotherapy, sports massage, nutritional advice, pilates and yoga classes and rock climbing – as well as bringing to the table in-depth knowledge of the surrounding area.


keeping it simple Once the client has been assessed, Richards says he tries to keep the exercise programme simple and avoids baffling the client with science or fitness fads – unless, of course, he’s dealing with an experienced exerciser who’s looking to up their game. “The boot camp system allows people to work together for social and motivational support, even though people work at their own set pace towards their own goals,” he explains. “From day one, we fi t a heart monitor


to each client and show them how to use it. This helps us keep an eye on the appropriate exercise intensity for the individual and helps them learn about themselves through effective methods of exercise. Once a comfortable routine has been set, we aim to increase the client’s levels of fl exibility, strength and stamina throughout their stay, and educate them at meal times and during their walks and bike rides to help them plan their own goals for the future.”


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outdoor fitness Just one hour’s drive from Malaga airport, with a 90-minute drive taking you to the city of Seville in one direction or Granada in another, sightseeing excursions can add flavour to the weekly itinerary. In fact, Richards encourages his clients to explore the surrounding area by incorporating early morning city walks through Antequera, hiking tours that wind through the limestone structures of El Torcal Nature Park and bike rides through Europe’s largest flamingo reserve into the activity programme. Alternative activities include horse


riding, quad biking, rock climbing and yoga retreats, as well as visits to a wolf conservation park in the mountains or the Finca las Navillas adventure park, with its zip wires and rope bridge.


“Some people have a real aversion to the gym environment, which is often linked to their perceived body image,” Richards explains. “A mixed timetable helps them understand that there are many other ways to keep fit and healthy.” The diversity of activities on offer


encourages people to stick to the programme and allows them to step out of their comfort zone to develop their physical confi dence, says Richards:


“Most people are keen to work hard, to realise the benefi ts of potential lifestyle change, and are exhilarated when they


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try things that they previously thought were impossible – learning to ride a bike, for example, or taking the plunge with a zip ride across a mountain gorge.” Plans are afoot to further develop


the outdoor element, basing people in purpose-built log cabins that overlook the spectacular mountains and rivers in the adventure park. Richards says, from this location, the programme could include hiking, biking and fi tness training with sandbags and kettlebells.


structured approach Catering for an average of six to nine clients a day, Richards says most people find out about RFH Fitness through word of mouth or via the company website, which was updated earlier this year. “Some people come to us because they need help with breaking bad habits, such as smoking, excessive drinking or eating disorders. Some need a break from a stressful work environment and a kickstart into a better fitness habit, while others use us as a training camp to prepare for elite sports events. “Although I’m a very structured


person and like people to arrive in time for communal meals and activities, we don’t use a shouting and bullying boot camp mentality here, as people would fi nd that completely intimidating. We concentrate on a nurturing, educational approach to help people develop their


july 2010 © cybertrek 2010


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