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Heaven on Aussie Earth

This retreat has made the three R’s -recover, rejuvenate, recalibrate- into a high art

By David Patchell-Evans


Everyone needs a retreat from time to time to recover, rejuvenate, and recalibrate their lives. Particularly if you’re a really busy person who often feels there are not enough hours in the day, the three R’s as I call them, are pretty essential. I’ve discovered one of the best places on earth to reap those benefits, is Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat on the spectacular Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia. I just recently returned from my 6th trip there. I try to get there once a year.

Why would I travel all the way to Australia when I already travel 200,000 km a year on business? Quite simply, because there is no place like Gwinganna that I’ve ever experienced! I revel both in the physical beauty of the Gold Coast and the complete dedication that their staff has to my total well-being— physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Gwinganna will plan your retreat according to your own wishes, and believe me, they leave no stone unturned! You’ll need to stay at least for a few days (I spent six) to experience the full benefits—nothing short of a miraculous renewal of energy and zest for life.

What’s a typical day look like? Mine was divided into three parts. I would begin at 6 a.m.—I’m an earlier riser anyway, so it was no big deal for me to get up. It was really great to see the sun rise while doing a class in Tai Chi on a hillside where you can see 20 miles to the ocean—a gentle way to wake up my body and get me into the flow of my own energy.

Gwinganna divides all activities into three levels of intensity: soft, medium and hard. You can stick with the level of your choice or “graduate” to the next level if you wish. I have arthritis and because of that, I selected quite a few of the options around aquatic exercise. I also made use of Gwinganna’s wonderful guided hikes on their miles of trails. But it wasn’t just a hike, it was a learning experience because someone goes with you and explains all about the local plants, animals, and birds that you’ll see.

After breakfast, there are physical activities, such as fitness classes and various forms of yoga. My absolute favourite was a routine that involves drumming on balls. I had such fun with this that just the laughter alone that comes with this activity has a very healing effect.

Gwinganna has more types of spa treatments than anywhere else I know! Each day, I arranged for two or three treatments, and by “treatments” I don’t just mean massages. The team here is incredible and the experiences can be out of the ordinary. There are all kinds of programs that help you take a look at areas of your life you need to grow.

What is really cool is that after lunch (featuring foods grown in Gwinganna’s own orchards and fields), is “dream time”. Dream time is derived from a key part of Australia’s aboriginal culture. Basically it’s the idea that we dream ourselves into being—in other words, we allow ourselves to consider some things we’ve always wanted to do, or we look at the direction of our lives and assess where we’ve been and where we want to go. One of Gwinganna’s therapists put it this way, “I’m here to help you explore who you are, what you are, and most importantly why you are—the purpose of your life, what gives you energy, what inspires you.”

Now you might be thinking, “Do I really want to go all the way to Australia for a retreat?” There are two very good reasons why the answer to that question should be yes. The prices are comparable and the range of memorable experiences at Gwinganna is second to none! Sometimes it’s the sense of distance itself that really helps the “recover, rejuvenate, recalibrate” process kick in and remain with you for a very long time!


David Patchell-Evans is CEO, GoodLife Fitness, bestselling author of The Real Sexy, Smart and Strong davidpatchellevans.com

This article is taken from the March April 2012 edition of OptiMYz Magazine. OptiMYz is the official magazine of GoodLife Fitness!

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