Fort Lauderdale Florida, in all honesty never been on my bucket list of must travel locations. But then this trip happened.
I am sitting on my night flight back as I write this (my favourite time to write as hello no distractions of phone notifications!). I may be a glass of red down, but I am feeling pretty emotional about my time in Fort Lauderdale. I think its been one of my favourite trips to date. Its been epic, adventure filled and all in all a magical experience with the best group of girls.
Sometimes I feel like life goes past in such a blur, especially living in London. We are always running around, glued to our phones, slaves to our never ending to do lists and the London ‘buzz’. It’s so easy to get swept up and you stop appreciating the little things, the slow moments, the moments that give you all the #feels. I boarded the plane to Florida tense, on 100 miles an hour after what has been pretty much the most intense year of my life. Then Fort Lauderdale happened and brought me all the damn #feels, and I feel like it came at the exact right time. Maybe it was a sign, maybe that’s the wine talking who knows. But this trip was everything I needed and more.
I sometimes have to pinch myself at the opportunities this crazy online world has given me. Being able to explore this beautiful world is something I will never, never take for granted.
So rewind a little bit back to the beginning of this trip, like I mentioned it had never really been on my list. If someone said to me Florida the first thing that would cross my mind would have been Disney Land and that’s about it. Instead we were meet with huge expansive beaches, activities to our hearts content, the friendliest people I have ever meet, the ever aptly named sunshine state did exactly that. Brought us sunshine, sunsets and incredible food. Each day Florida surprised us. Oh you want to go see Alligators…sure. You want to kayak through scenery that looks out of Jurassic park……ok then. Paddleboarding, swimming, boat rides, snorkelling, diving. You name it Fort Lauderdale had it in bucket loads.
We stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Marriot Harbour Beach Resort & Spa which was an amazingly located hotel right on the beach. Our rooms looked out onto the ocean which was the most perfect way to wake up each day. The hotel had everything you would need – perfect location, multiple restaurants my favourite being 3030 Ocean….oh and they had a decent sized gym…basically everything a group of beach loving, always hungry very active girls needed. So thanks Marriot Harbour Beach Resort & Spa for the most wonderful stay. Literally felt like we were on an epic girls holiday every day.
If being active and exploring is your vibe then you have come to the right place. Below is all the activities we did on our trip. I would recommend them all!
Alligator trip aka embrace your inner David Attenborough up close and personal with these creatures. We got an airboat around the most expansive waters at the sawgrass recreation park and saw SO many alligators who came so close to the boats. Terrifying and so exciting in equal measure.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding at Park and Ocean around Taylor Birch Park – literally felt like I was in Jurassic park. It was insanely beautiful.
Scuba diving and Snorkelling with South Florida diving – lots of incredible places to explore underwater and we saw SO many fishes. Plus the views of Miami and Florida from the boat were insane….probably avoid if you get sea sickness. But an epic day out to embrace your inner #scubasteve
Lighthouse exploring at Pompano Beach – climb to the top and the views are so incredible. Plus the beach and water look like straight out of the Bahamas so I mean that’s another reason to get the boat there.
General exploring Las Olas Boulevard – get on the water taxis the views (and houses) are pretty mega.
Told you there’s a lot to do – and something tells me we only scratched the surface. Now you know me and my priorities. Let’s talk about food…my favourite subject. I love how much we as a group all LOVED food. Honestly never eaten so much in my life. The food was so SO good though. Fort Lauderdale does food WELL. So here are the places we ate and my recommendations:
Fresh First – first glance you would think standard café. But low and behold the most epic vegan, veggie, gluten free feasting you ever had. We loved it so much we went back again. Everything I ate was delicious. Firm favourite from the trip.
ETARU – amazing Japanese food. Owned by the co founder of Roka and honestly mind blowing.
Good Spirits Fifth & Fed delicious food, amazing outdoor seating in las Olas. Perfect for a slow very tasty lunch in the sunshine
Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel – more Japenese but oh my word…we had the 6 course tasting menu. They catered for veggie and vegans. The food was INCREDIBLE. The flavours amazing. Best miso sauce I have ever tried. Every dish was exquisite….honestly never been so full in my life.
As you can see our trip was filled with amazing food and all the adventures and activities. Plus all the beach wanders and swimming in the ocean. I leave Florida feeling so content and peaceful. This is partly down to the incredible trip (Kudos to Charlotte the wonder woman PR and great human who organised this adventure to an inch of its life!! Hats off to you). But also down to the group of girls I went with. Lottie, Cat, Kim, Phoebe and Sophie it was magical. It didn’t feel like a work trip, it felt like a holiday. We bonded, laughed till we cried, ate so much food we couldn’t move, swam in the ocean whilst the sun went down and sat on the beach into the evening talking about anything and everything. I needed this trip, I needed the ocean and most of all I needed these girls. I came to Florida one person and left feeling like a new human. With amazing lifelong friends and nothing but beautiful memories of Fort Lauderdale. Florida my friend you well and truly brought the sunshine to my life in every way possible.
Thanks to Visit Fort Lauderdale for having us and offering us such an amazing opportunity.
*This was a press trip courtesy of Fort Lauderdale. All opinions, words and images are my own. If you’d like to find out more about the wonderful Fort Lauderdale, visit their social channels here.
Travelling with one of my best friends and being able to call it work, what a dream. That pretty much sums up our flying visit to Barcelona with Roxy. Me and Lottie Murphy my forever favourite exploring buddy set off for a mini trip to Barcelona with one of the coolest brands to one of the best cities for a flying city trip.
I love Barcelona, always have…for me it is such a perfect weekend away destination. Ideal mix between beach and city. Amazing food, great selection of food, beautiful architecture. Easy to get too…oh I forgot to mention great wine. I mean do I need to go on?!
So you can see why when Roxy invited me and my girl Lottie to head to Barcelona for a weekend of yoga, exploring and partying at Primavera sound I jumped at the chance.
I have worked with Roxy before and went to Boardmasters with them last year, I love this brand and the vibe they have. The encompass cool surfer girl chic perfectly, when I think of Roxy, I think effortlessly cool beach babes. I think of the ocean, I think of adventure. Some of my favourite things ever are hiking and the sea…and just generally embracing my Dora the Explorer mode. So you can see why I love Roxy and what they represent. However Roxy is so much more than surfing and the ocean. They do pretty epic activewear ranging from yoga to running…most of their leggings are designed so you can go straight in the ocean after. Boom. Their swimwear ranges from more sporty chic to pretty and delicate to simple and stylish. In fact theirs probably a Roxy bikini or swimsuit to suit everyones styles. On our trip we were very lucky to be able to wear Roxy sportswear for Yoga, swimwear for the paddle boarding and then their fashion clothing for the festival. Yup you heard it, Roxy do normal clothes as well….news to me as well. Both me and Lottie were surprised at how nice their day to day clothing was, still on the casual cool vibe, think denim jackets, mum jeans, linen shorts, cute little t-shirts and pretty dresses. Cali style meets surfer beach babe. I got a cute little white off the shoulder beach dress to wear in the evening to the festival which I teamed with a denim jacket…and Lottie nabbed the coolest little sandals which we couldn’t believe were Roxy. I also picked up a pair of striped linen shorts which had a Zara and Mango vibe about them.
So one of the main reasons for our visit was Primavera Sound the music festival in Barcelona. Now I have done my fair share of festivals in the past, and I am definitely over the muddy UK, camping scene (sorry Glasto regulars). But a day festival in Barcelona I am DOWN. Now Primavera festival wasn’t like many other festivals…I think the fact it was in Barcelona, automatically it was just cooler (how many times have I said cool already jeez). It had a chilled friendly vibe, no crazy drunkness no scabby portaloos. No this was urban edgy architecture, on the beach, amazing street food and great music. The street food area was huge and served everything including veggie and vegan delights…down to Pizza and burgers and Acai bowls. No you know I love me some food so for this was automatic win.
The music was great, we watched Lorde and Artic Monkeys (who were both insane) in the warm Barcelona evening air. I would 100% go back to Primavera. It had everything I would want in a festival and better still, no camping and the next day you can wake up go for breakfast in Barcelona then head to the beach. Beats a UK festival in my books.
I mentioned it was a flying visit and although the whole trip revolved around the festival we also had a private gig on the Roxy stores roof on the beach on the first night, woke up and did beach yoga and paddle boarding with all the Roxy girls. Not only that but me and Lottie snuck in a glass of wine at a little local restaurant on the first night and a quick explore and then late lunch at Flax and Kale which I had been meaning to go to since forever. If you are after a healthy delicious meal Flax and Kale needs to be on your list. Breakfast lunch or dinner…all insane. So a pretty incredible trip…with one of my fave girls. Thank you Roxy for being the most wonderful hosts, the whole trip was so relaxed, chilled and yet we packed so much in. I loved exploring Barcelona, dancing all night to Artic Monkeys and doing yoga on the beach. All one of my best friend with me. Pinch me already right.
I recently went to Italy with Our Retreat on a beautiful week of Pilates and Yoga hosted by the brilliant Lottie Murphy and Emily Spriggs, this new location marked a new chapter for not only Our Retreat but for myself as well.
The last few years I have watched Our Retreat grow and evolve, from it’s first ever Ibiza retreat to now hosting many retreats around the world based in the UK, Italy and of course Ibiza. As Our Retreat has grown and evolved so have I, it almost feels like we have grown up together. Our Retreat feels like family.
No matter where I am in my life, what stage and what I need from a retreat Our Retreat always provides. What I have loved about watching this retreat business grow and learn is how each retreat I have been on just get better and better.
This year was the first year in Italy for them and I was so happy to be invited along by Our Retreat to experience it. The hosts were Pilates teacher (and one of my closest friends and mega babe) Lottie Murphy, then Yoga teacher and Barre Instructor Emily Spriggs. The combination of Lottie and Emily styles of trainings and personalities just WORKS. I loved the combination of Pilates, Yoga and Barre. My body felt lengthened, stretched, and muscles were worked and engaged I didn’t even know I had.
If I am honest I was worried about not having a strict gym routine over the last few months as I have been travelling a huge deal. But what I loved about this retreat is how amazing I felt…no gym, no equipment really just my body and some fantastic teachers. For me Pilates and Yoga is a lot about the teachers and Lottie and Emily work so well together and their teaching styles support and compliment each other so well. If anyone wants to try Pilates, yoga or Barre these ladies should be on your radar. Better yet, why not go on a retreat hosted by them ey?
A few more things which made this retreat so wonderful were, the location and villa, the company and of course the food. I adore Italy, so there was no question in my mind that it would be a dreamy retreat location. I had never explored Sardinia either and it was stunning – very different from any other bit of Italy I have been too. Much greener and almost jurassic park looking…sadly we didn’t have the best weather so didn’t explore the beaches as much as we would of liked. The other Italy retreats they did boat trips and paddle boarding….which looked like my idea of heaven. But even in the rain Sardinia I loved you.
The villa was also perfect, big spacious and homely. From the moment everyone arrived it was like a weight was lifted from everyone, I felt like my whole body relaxed. The villa itself immediately felt like home, yes it was modern, spacious and beautiful but also had a lot of traditional Italian decor and vibes…which I think made us all relax and switch off.
The food (always the most important bit right): ok so we were in Italy…on a retreat and did I mention the chefs were two Italians and boy did they know foods and flavours! You already know the food is going to be insane right….but that doesn’t cover it. Not in the slightest. Honestly one of the best menus/food I have ever had on a retreat. The meals were fresh, locally sourced, delicious and SO much focus on flavour. The portions were great as well….something I am a big fan of as you guys know.
I don’t think I can even do the food justice but I will include some pictures which hopefully will do the talking for me. One of my favourite foodie moments was the cooking class where we learnt how to make pesto, Italian tomato sauce for bases such as pasta and pizza. And because we were in Italy…pizza of course. We may the most delicious pizzas I think I have ever had. Oh did I mention all the desserts? And the curry…and the breakfasts. Ok I loved it all, I can’t choose a favourite. Of course being a retreat it was all healthy, vegetarian (I think some/a lot vegan) but oh my goodness the flavours.
So that was a pretty whistle stop tour through the Our Retreat Sardian Retreat….I also learnt and took away a huge amount from the retreat and I thought I would share some of the key things.
Exercise for the enjoyment – Lottie and Emily made each session so enjoyable, I loved the classes and at no point did it feel like a chore. I fell in love with Pilates and Yoga all over again which is a testament to their teaching.
Yoga for my mind – I saw this so much, but after really focusing on my yoga the last few months I have seen such great improvements in my practise. But for me Yoga has never been about the moves its been about my mind. I am 100 miles an hour and yoga gives me the opportunity to switch off and calm down.
How I don’t need a gym/strict routine – sometimes panic if I don’t have a workout structure or routine. But this retreat showed me how enjoyable it can be to just go with the flow and step away from the routine.
Food for enjoyment and love of flavours – once again the food on the retreat was insane. I really stepped back and appreciated the food and flavours. The chefs passion for flavours and local produce really fed through in their cooking and its something that I took away with me.
I don’t need coffee as much as I think. I realise this every time I go away, I rely on coffee so much in London. It’s just so part of my routine and life I enjoy the taste and smell so much. But having breaks like the retreats gives me the opportunity to have breaks and a bit of time off. Also reminds me I don’t ‘NEED’ coffee, I just like it. Which is. a lot healthier way to view my coffee addiction haha.
Friendships As much as I love going to retreats by myself and fully recommend that. Being able to share this week in Sardinia with some of my closest friends made the whole experience so much more special. I am reminded again and again how important friendships are. Shoutout to my roomie Venetia Falconer for the late night life chats, for being my tea drinking buddy and all round queen. To Lottie for being an inspiration, a wonderful teacher and an all round great human. To them both for their support and friendship, for the laughs, memories, continuous chocolate snacking and matcha latte drinking. Friendships in your mid to late 20s are so dam special….I could write a whole blog on this but maybe another time (your eyes are probably tired already!)
Here’s to the next few chapters Our Retreat, here’s to growing, evolving and creating something unique. Here’s to the family you have formed, for helping change, support and impact peoples lives in such beautiful ways. I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Our Retreat and I can’t wait to see what the next few years have to offer.
To find out more about Our Retreat and the retreats they offer and trainers they partner with visit their website HERE, I have also done a few other reviews of previous retreats HERE and HERE. So you can get a vibe for the different retreats and what they offer. I have said this time and time again, everyone should experience a retreat, they change everything and I feel so damn lucky to be part of the Our Retreat journey.
I love Travelling, but I also love home comforts. I think the two battle each other in my mind a lot. The side of me that wants to be constantly exploring and on beaches. Then the other who loves being at home, with my routine a good cuppa, my own bed and my dressing gown.
I have always felt that for me home isn’t a particular place or building, it’s a feeling, I get the feeling with people a lot. Some people just feel like home, sometimes it’s a smell or food or particular object which gives me that sense of grounding and home. One of those things is a cup of tea. First thing I do every morning is make myself a cup of English breakfast tea I have been doing this what seems like my whole life. It’s a habit I picked up from my Mum who is the queen of tea, the woman drinks about 10 cups a day. That first sip of tea is the best feeling, I take my time and slowly wake up with my favourite mug in my hand. Then throughout the day I drink a variety of other beverages whether its coffee, green tea, peppermint tea, all different varieties and flavours. I go through phases and favourites. I just find a hot drink so comforting.
So that said I often will try and bring a bit of routine and homely comforts with me whilst I am away, it keeps me sane especially when I am living out of a suitcase. I thought I would share a few of these things and how they remind me of home and my routine.
Most importantly I always pack my own teabags…nothing worse than getting to a hotel or place you are staying and they don’t serve tea. Or the local shops don’t have any. I have been there a few times and decided it’s a risk not worth taking (dramatic but true). So problem solved…bring my own teabags. Not only is this great for drinking whilst away but also on airplanes I have my own teabags and my keepcup and just ask for hot water….always free and boom my airplane journey is 10x better. I always pack my Newby Tea teabags normally a selection of English Breakfast, green tea (they do so many flavours) mint and then a herbal one like Rooibos or berry. So wherever I am in the world I can still have my morning cuppa and instantly feel at home.
A good book so I can read before bed, I like a bedtime routine so again I often make myself a mint or camomile Newby tea, get my book out and sit in bed and read a while. I do this at home, and even more so when I am away.
My favourite PJs and comfy jumper so I can lounge around and be comfortable. Not quite my dressing gown but I just love my comfy clothes.
My beauty regime – I love my skincare regime sounds strange but there’s something soothing about each night having my cleansing and moisturising time. So I make sure it comes with me wherever.
I think just having a few routines which I keep regular no matter where I am in the world just helps. Combining my love of travel and home comforts and routines. So no matter where I am in the world a bit of that home feeling comes with me.
This post is in collaboration with Newby Teas but all views are my own.
I want to share something with you guys, something I have been working on for the last few months. Something pretty big.
I have started my own sustainable swimwear company…called Stay Wild Swim. The UKs first premium swimwear company. Designed to flatter every body we take regenerated ocean plastic and turn it into stylish swimwear. Each piece has a purpose and a portion of our profits are going to the amazing charity Surfers Against Sewage. My co- founder Zanna Van Dijk and I have combined our passion and love for the ocean, our passion to make a difference and create pieces with purpose and a story to tell. This is probably the biggest thing I have ever done, I am nervous but so excited. Excited to share a brand I am so passionate about, something I believe in, something I have been able to form and create hand in hand with Zanna. Combining our strengths and ideas and loves.
Stay Wild Swim is definitely a passion project, we are doing it all ourselves. Learning each step of the way and we wanted to share the whole process.
Yoga and biking around Southern Italy, a good combination if ever I heard one right?!
I started my love affair with retreats a few years ago now. I went on my first retreat over 2 summers ago now, and I can honestly say that retreats are the best thing I have ever discovered. Each retreat for me has brought something different, there are no two same retreats. So yes they all come under the umbrella of a “retreat” but each retreat is a whole world and separate entity to itself.
I think my biggest and best life discoveries have been made on retreats. I have been in all different phases of my life on different retreats. From being in a very difficult place emotionally, physically, from running away from reality to post breakups I’ve been on a retreat in so many mindsets. I’ve also gone to retreats feeling in a good place mentally and in a happy positive place and each time I get just as much from them.
This is why I will always go on retreats, they are always wonderful. I think people often assume you have to be in a bad place to go on a retreat. Yes it’s a wonderful thing to go on a retreat when you need some time, or to think and reflect, or to just heal. But it’s also just as relevant to go if you just want to switch off, relax or chill out. Or maybe you want to focus on your fitness, or yoga or just fancy the idea of not having to cook a meal for a week (totally get that!).
So when KaliYoga approached me with a week in Italy doing yoga and bike riding around the Italian countryside I knew it was going to be pretty special. I’ve just had a few months focusing on my Pilates teaching exam and juggling a million things, so a break was exactly what I wanted and needed. I also have this love hate relationship with central London I’ve mentioned so many times. I live very centrally and it’s a bit intense. I’m a highly strung person by nature always going 100 miles an hour, and combining that with central London is a recipe for high stress levels, lack of sleep and general lack of mindfulness and “slowness” in my life. I’m not complaining and aware I’m very lucky. However that said every few months I feel a need to escape the city and reset myself. It’s like a little buzzer goes off in my brain which tells me I need to get away and take some time. Then I can come back re-energised in a healthier mindset.
Now I’ve rambled on about all sorts and I’m sure what you are really interested in is the retreat itself, what was it like. The vibe, the yoga, the food (always a priority). So I’ll get to it.
The retreat itself is a yoga and cycling week – KaliYoga do a variety of retreats but this for me was a great mix. Yoga for my mind, cycling because I get to explore Italy more and I love being active. It was also a vegetarian cuisine and no coffee (painful but necessary). Based in Puglia in southern Italy, this was an area of Italy I’d never actually visited. I would describe it as a lot greener and more rolling countryside than a lot of the other areas of Italy.
The retreat location was stunning, an open selection of buildings with traditional architecture of the area and a beautiful yoga Shala, outdoor pool, fields and greenery. It was open with plenty of areas to sit and relax privacy and relaxing is not an issue at this retreat. I loved the layout and all the little hidden areas to sit and watch the world go by. Our rooms were beautiful, open airy and spacious with stone walls and floors and stunning decor. Traditional yet modern and bright and airy. There were also shared little huts which had trullo roofs a traditional local feature. I personally felt like they looked like something out of Lord of the rings – they reminded me of hobbit houses!
So one of the main elements of the retreat was the yoga. Run by Tashi, who was hands down one of the best yoga teachers I’ve ever come across. And trust me I’ve been to my fair share of yoga classes. Each morning started with an optional meditation (not going to lie I couldn’t wake up for these). Followed by a 2 hour yoga session with Tashi, then the evening there was another hour and a half session. So a lot of damn yoga! Now what I loved about Tashi was how the yoga made sense to me, I understood why we were doing each move and the building blocks we were putting in place. Each day I felt a shift and a change in my practise. I felt my body adapt and learn, I felt stronger and more flexible day by day. Honestly each day the improvement I saw was insane. We started slow and the building blocks were put into place, then each day we added elements and the practise evolved and grew. I’ve always loved yoga but never felt like I could ever do “self practise”. I will do yoga if I am in a class or a retreat but that’s it. However I feel like Tashi gave us the tools and routine/moves to realistically fit it in our lives. I feel confident enough to roll my mat out in the morning and just move, move because it feels good and my body thanks me for it. I’ve never seen yoga in that way before but I feel like my perception changed so much this week. Not only did I adore Tashi and her teaching but it was also so relaxed and there was a sense of humour and fun about they way she taught. It wasn’t super serious or strict, it was relatable, understandable, you can tell there was a joy in Tashi’s teaching. So thank you Tashi for being a wonderful human and shedding a new perspective on yoga for me.
So next up is the cycling – as it was a yoga and cycling week right. So two of the days there were 5 hour bike rides. Which I LOVED. These days were so much fun, you got to explore Puglia and see so much more this way. The first day was intense, lots of hills and my legs and butt got a hella workout. The second ride was less intense, down to the beach where we had lunch by the sea. Then through a beautiful nature park. The tour guide was amazing and his joy and love of Italy was infectious. And we stopped for Gelato which was obviously a highlight. And there was vegan dairy free dark chocolate which blew my mind. So yes everything about these bike rides were perfect. And you got a great tan whilst doing it – winning.
Right the moment you’ve been waiting for – the food!!! I feel like the chef on this week deserves a stand up round of applause. She was insane!! The food was veggie and mainly vegan, she often picked the ingredients that day and was very into seasonal cooking and flavours. The food was defiantly fine dining in style and presentation and I was so damn impressed. Breakfasts were buffet style like porridge, fruit and yoghurt and granola, bircher muesli, avocado and homemade seed bread. Then lunches were big salads and veggie lasagne, stuffed peppers, tarts etc. Then dinner was always a three course extravaganza, each course beautiful, balanced and delicious. Special shout out to the desserts which were 10/10 especially the raw Nutella cup which was mindblowing. The portions weren’t huge but I didn’t feel hugely hungry and I have a hella appetite. But there was also a fruit bowl and always snacks in the fridge like energy balls etc if you got hungry.
On the Wednesday they let us have a day to ourselves exploring the local town. And let us loose for dinner on a local restaurant. We were in Italy so we all got pasta and wine….OBVIOUSLY. And it was bloomin delightful. It was so nice to be able to explore the local area which doesn’t often happen often on retreats. So a nice mixture of culture in out week which was warmly welcomed.
So what did a regular schedule look like for a yoga day (minus the 5 hour bike ride!) as many people who have asked me about retreats want to know what a standard retreat day looks like. Also its good to remember that all of the retreat activities were optional, you can do as much or as little as you want.
8am optional meditation
30 2 hour yoga session
Freetime and treatments
2 ish lunchtime
Freetime and treatments
Then in terms of days they alternated between yoga, treatment focused day, bike riding day, optional exploring the local area day (they arrange taxis for you to the towns) bike riding then yoga chill day. So it was a good mix – and went so quick. Literally felt like I blinked and it was over.
So another special element of Kali Yoga which I have to mention was the wide variety of treatments they offered on the retreat. There was everything from variety of massages – hot stone, auervedic massage, healing hands massage treatment and many many more. The treatments really made the retreat the variety was amazing, I have never seen such a wide variety offered on a retreat before. I got the healing hands massage, it was so different from any other treatment I had ever got. I was expecting a nice little standard style massage. But she really focused in on areas she felt ‘blockages’. I didn’t give her any background on me and my body or anything. And it was strange she seemed to just gravitate towards areas where I have had/am having issues. Then after she sat down and talked me through what she felt from doing the massage. And not going to lie it was freakily accurate, and everyone else said the same. She just seemed to get everyone’s issues, just through giving us a massage – strange right! But from what I gathered from everyone on the retreat is that every treatment they did the loved. Retreats give us the chance to actually do things for ourselves, like it’s the perfect place to be selfish. How often in our day to day life do we spend a few hours just on us and our bodies? I know I don’t, there’s always some to do list to tick off and some urgent email to reply too. Retreat life takes us out of our crazy bubbles and allows us to take some time for ourselves. Something I know I don’t do enough of.
KaliYoga gave me everything I needed from a retreat, the most beautiful location, insane food and one of the best yoga teachers I think I have ever had. I came on the retreat needing a break and some time out to reenergise myself. So this week for me was exactly that, reset, reenergise and relax. And that’s exactly what it did. I am writing this on the plane back to London, and I feel decidedly calmer and more grounded then when I left London. That’s what a week of Italian sunshine yoga and no coffee will do to you.
So thank you KaliYoga for having me….they have also kindly offered any readers a 10% discount on the retreat. You just have to quote my name when emailing them :)
For more information about the retreats, the dates and Kali Yoga in general visit their website HERE
What is it about new shoes and new kit that makes you just want to get out and workout? Well that’s been me, I fell head over heels in love with my new Nike Reacts…I mean just look at them. They are still the bounciest trainer ever, literally marshmallows on my feet. I have laced up my new trainers a lot recently – even shocked myself and ran twice last week. By myself? Hello motivation. Maybe it’s the marshmallows….always helps when your bouncing through your run right?
I also have been travelling a lot recently, making it hard to go to the gym regularly and have a routine with classes which I like to do in London. So it kinda throws my fitness routine out of the window. So the best way for me to keep fit is to pack my trainers and go on a run everywhere I go. I actually love running when I am away as it offers me a new opportunity to explore a new area, you see so much of a new country/city if you just lace up your trainers and go on a little explore. So latest goal – always pack trainers when I am travelling so I can run wherever I am in the world.
So if you guys remember from my last running blog post ‘Running For Me and My New Running Goals’ had a few long term ‘forever’ running goals. But my specific goal was to run 10k to celebrate my 4 years of running, which began with Nike in Paris. So I booked a 10k running event and (forced) my housemate into signing up as well.
In the run up to the 10k I started upping my distances so instead of 4-5k runs weekly. I started running twice a week. One shorter 5-6k run then a longer run around 7-8k. I never thought that I was a regular ‘7k’ runner. But I realised a lot of it was actually in my mind. It sounded long so I thought I couldn’t do it, but when I ran for the love of running then I hit 8k easily.
So the day of the 10k event sadly life just happened, I was working in an office (I do consultancy one day a week in an agency in case you didn’t know!) and a big pitch was coming up and we were all working flat out and I couldn’t get out the office in time. I was gutted!!! But that’s the thing with life right, sometimes shit happens and your plans go out the window. So although I was gutted I decided that a 10k was still a 10k so the next day I went out and ran 10k. I didn’t get a medal (Sadly!) and I ran by myself with a podcast. But I loved the run, it flew by…I think my regular longer runs had prepped me well. I didn’t even get bored at any point (short attention span when running!) think my desert island disc podcast helped a lot.
Its never been about medals and ‘events’ for me. I wanted to run 10k for me, to celebrate my four year running anniversary so that’s exactly what I did. Just instead of the planned event I just ran 10k on my own grounds.
For me my goal was to run the 10k and do the whole thing with a positive mindset, I want to enjoy the run. And I did, so I would say I achieved that goal I set myself.
Here’s to a life long running relationship, here’s to running being my go to stress reliever, my free therapist, my big life decision maker, the thing that’s probably helped me with my relationship with my body the most. Running hasn’t always been fun, some runs I literally hate after about 10 mins. Sometimes I go for weeks without running and its hard to get back on the wagon. It’s like any relationship, it takes work, some days are great and the feeling after a great run is euphoric and then other days its pretty crappy and you fall off the wagon. But you work at it regularly and you get through the bumps right?
So I may not of done a ‘running event’, but I still hit my personal target of running 10k, which I was pretty pleased about. I upped my regular running distance, I stepped out of my comfort zone.
Now what’s next? I think I will keep running regularly but its been nice to challenge myself and push myself. Maybe a half marathon? Maybe just run 10k regularly, Who knows? But I don’t think running is going anywhere for me. Here’s to another 4 years….
This post is in collaboration with Nike but all thoughts and views are my own. Shop my full outfit below. Photos by OllieB.
So if you have read my blog for a while or been following on ze social media you would of seen I had been doing my Pilates teacher qualification for what seems like forever. And last month I PASSED which I am pretty damn happy about. I feel like although it took what felt like an age, its something I am super proud of, I worked really hard for it and now I can say I am a qualified Pilates instructor.
Now why did I decide on Pilates I hear you ask? Well exercise and movement has always been such an integral part of my life. When I am active and moving I feel happier, more balanced. Its always been about that for me, sounds cliché I know but I feel like moving my body regularly keeps me sane, keeps me happy. When I first ‘discovered’ exercise it was a Pilates class at my local gym, I loved the class and lucked out on the teacher. I started going regularly and pretty much since then its always been part of my routine. Yes I discovered other classes, running, weights but Pilates has always been a staple, a non-negotiable for me. My body just feels better when I do regular Pilates, it helps me understand my body better, I work better and move better. This then transcends into my daily life – less injuries, I am more efficient in my workout. I just see it as my building block. Then I discovered reformer when I moved to London and that was it. It was love.
So now we know why I love Pilates, but why a teacher qualification I hear you ask? Well there are many elements. I left my full time 9-5 office job about 3 years ago now, I knew never wanted to go back to working in an office full time if I could help it. Easier said than done though right. So for me I have been adding many strings to my bow over the last few years, all these strings enabling me to create a life away from a traditional office job. I like having options, doing things I love, and my love for Pilates made Pilates teaching an obvious choice for me. I love blogging and the amazing opportunities it has given me. I have travelled the world, worked with some of my absolute favourite brands on campaigns I am SO proud of. It’s an amazing world and allows me to be creative and be my own boss which I am so SO grateful for. However it’s a career that’s very full on and sometimes exhausting, and right now I love it. But I may not want to run an Instagram and post my life online in 5 -10 years time. I don’t know where it will go and evolve too but I never want to rely on an app for my sole source of income and my only career path.
So as well as my consultancy and content creation I decided a natural path for me was to do a teaching qualification. I love Pilates, I love people and I am naturally someone who enjoys peoples company. So it kind of made sense for me, I also have a slightly romantic idea of quitting London life moving somewhere a bit further out with a garden, a dog and teaching Pilates and having a slower pace of life…..may all be a romantic dream but its nice to have the option.
Why Body Control? So I decided on doing a course, now where to do that course. I didn’t want to do a crappy course, no if I was going to do this I wanted to do it properly. I wanted where I did my course to be well thought of in the Pilates industry and known for its quality of teachers. After some research I found Body Control, which is one of the best known Pilates schools and teaching courses. And luckily for me right around the corner from my house. My best babe Lottie Murphy did her qualification there many moons ago and she is the best Pilates instructor, and so did my aunty who again is the most wonderful Pilates instructor so I knew I was in good hands. I wanted a course which would give me a solid foundation and understanding allowing me to feel confident in my teaching ability. Body Control Pilates is probably one of the most intense and more expensive courses out there. And believe me when I say it’s a BIG commitment. But its so well thought of I decided on them over some of the shorter less intense options.
I know a few of you wanted to know about the layout of the course and what it involved. So I thought I would break it down for you. Starting with what I loved about the course. I decided on the intensive option where you do a full week 7 days at Body Control, going through the foundation of Pilates, the moves, the teaching cycle and practise. There is another option to do a full weekend every few weeks over a longer period of time but I know what I am like and an intensive option worked better for my lifestyle. The intense week was the highlight of my course, it was intense there were so many workbooks and manuals. You learnt SO much and my brain literally ached at the end of each day. You also practised teaching in front of the rest of the course, what its like managing a group, correcting bodies – all new and pretty scary but exciting experiences.
Once the intensive course is over you have done the first stage, now the real work begins. There are essays, workbooks, lesson plans, anatomy and open book exams. That’s just the written work. Then there’s the supervised teaching. You have to do around 50 hours supervised teaching minimum.
So let me quickly explain about supervised teaching. There is a list of supervised teachers who are Body Control Pilates teachers, you can only do your teaching with this select list of BCP teachers. You go to their classes and teach certain moves per class, this varies on teacher by teacher sometimes you teach 2 moves to the class other times you teach whole sections. It very much varies by teacher. Now this is the bit I struggled with if I am honest. The London teachers had a big waiting list but I was lucky enough that my aunty is a supervised teacher. So I taught a lot at her classes. But life is busy and I found my weeks getting booked up and travelling a lot. So for me I did it chunks at a time then life got in the way and I would have to have a few months off teaching. It’s a huge commitment and you have to put the hours in, travel to teachers. This is the section that makes you a good teacher but I can’t lie to you and say it’s an easy journey. I think if you have a teacher near to you life is easier. But like all good things in life, they don’t come easy right.
Then you get your first sign off – this is when you are at a Body Control Pilates student day, which are day courses for students put on regularly. These are super helpful especially for the final exam to make sure you are doing things in the way BCP wants you too. You go along to these, teach and if the teacher running the day thinks you are ready for the exam you get your sign off. This can be when you have 25-50 teaching hours it varies. I got mine after 25 hours.
Then next up is the final exam – which is bloooomin scary I can’t lie to you. You hand in your 6 week lesson plan you design, once this is passed you book your exam. The exam itself you get told your section of the class you are teaching half an hour before. There are three of you doing your exam at once. So you all get a section each – opening, middle or closing. The moves are ones you have put in your lesson plan and can practise in your teaching. All sounds complicated but bear with me. I want to make sure this is as detailed as possible in case you do decide to do the course.
Then once you know your moves, you go in to the class and teach your section. The examiner is in the corner (with a clipboard looking very scary!). They are looking for you to show an understanding of the Pilates moves, how to explain the moves and their benefits. Teach them to a class and correct bodies. They want to see you have a understanding of bodies, and can correct peoples forms using verbal and tactile ques. This is all stuff you pick up when doing your supervised teaching. There is a lot to remember – as there is a specific ‘teaching cycle’ and order in which you teach. But this is all down to practise.
Then after the hour class you sit and wait for your results, they tell you on the day whether it’s a pass or referral and then you get feedback. So although it’s an intense experience you find out there and then.
I am so happy to of finally passed and do believe the course has given me a solid understanding and I believe I am ready to teach ‘real people’ ahah. I love Pilates and this course has only solidified that love and passion for Pilates and movement so for that I am thankful and excited for what Pilates teaching has in store for me.
Now I want to be honest with you – yes the course is probably the best known course with the best reputation out there. You will finish a quality teacher with a brilliant understanding of Pilates and bodies. However it is a huge commitment, and I wouldn’t want anyone to underestimate like I did how much of your time you need to commit to it. I went in thinking I could easily fit it in to my hectic lifestyle, if I am honest I didn’t have time or space for the course. I found it really hard to squeeze in my hours and had months off at a time when life just got in the way. Majority of the people on my course had quit their full time jobs to focus on getting this qualification. And I wish I had the luxury to do that, however I was working 3 days a week at the time and travelling a huge amount. The last few months I basically became a hermit juggling blogging, consultancy and Pilates teaching. But it was worth it, I am glad I stuck it out. I did consider packing it all in once or twice but I carried on as I knew it would be worth it and it was something I wanted to achieve.
Thanks to Body Control for being so flexible with me and my crazy schedule. They were super accommodating with me and I really appreciate their support towards the end. Yes the course is intense but they were great at the end helping me fit in my hours, teaching and exams. I worked with Body Control on this course and agreed to share my experience on my blog. I know a few of you actually booked the course through my first blog post which is amazing. I wanted to give a full breakdown of the course for any others interested in having a career change.
So what next ey? Well who knows, right now life is a bit crazy (I know I always say this but I have this habit of taking on a load of stuff at once). I want to teach and love the idea of maybe one or two regular classes a week somewhere its just fitting it in, maybe up this to more regular classes once things calm down. I would love to do some one on ones or a corporate class here and there. So if anyone is interested please do pop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org. I am excited to see where this journey takes me and start teaching.
I really hope this was helpful! Lots of love Natalie xx
For more information about the course, Body Control Pilates and the prices I will link their website HERE.
Paris is one of my favourite cities, every time I go there I fall in love all over again. My trip with Ernest Leoty was no different.
Ernest Leoty are Parisian couture sportswear, they are a fairly new brand. So new in fact I had never actually heard of them when I got the invite through. After doing a bit of research I fell in love with everything about this brand. They encompass everything I love about Paris – stylish, modern with beautiful history and french tradition interwoven with super chic designs.
The sportswear itself is extremely feminine and beautiful but with high tech/performance edge. Does anyone else read Women’s Health? If so you would of seen Maya Jama looking like an absolute dreamboat on the cover. Remember the blue corset short one piece with white piping? Ernest Leoty….told you their stuff is beautiful!! Ernest Leoty was a traditional corset maker, so now these modern sportswear pieces still use elements of his designs and sketches. The white piping and corset style tops which are in the range combine history and tradition and modern design. Now that makes for a chic brand am I right?
What I loved about this trip is how many new places in Paris I got to discover. So I thought I would share where we stayed, explored, did Pilates and ate (most importantly right!)
We stayed at Le Pigalle, now this hotel I would recommend to anyone doing a quick trip to Paris. The hotel is just so damn cool – I am sure me saying this confirms how uncool I am. But it was amazing – small and understated but every detail was perfect. It had a Hoxton hotel feel about it with a little bit of a Parisian cool edge. My room was perfect – views onto the stunning Parisian streets and architecture. Prints were hung all over the walls, a stunning record player, small but perfectly formed bar. It was probably the coolest hotel room I have ever stayed in. With the comfiest bed. Ever. I would 100% come back and stay here for a quick night in Paris or weekend away. In the morning myself and one of the other girls Danielle went on a run (nobody runs in Paris FYI we got such funny looks haha) but we ran past the Moulin Rouge and the most perfect Parisian bakeries.
After our run we had breakfast at Le Pigalle, and honestly I think it was the best damn croissant I have ever eaten – not flaky or airy, no think buttery squidgy croissant goodness with a side of salted butter – because when in Paris. We also got a coffee and a side of sliced avocado and mango with grated fresh ginger which is a game changer by the way. Avocado, mango and ginger – best flavour combination!!
So next up we put the sportswear to the test with a reformer Pilates class. Paris isn’t exactly known for its fitness and health scene. It’s not like London with a new boutique fitness studio on every corner. SO Reformation Pilates, is pretty much one of the only reformer pilates studios in the whole of Paris (I mean don’t quote me on that I may be wrong!). The studio itself was BEAUTIFUL, down the most stunning terrace and the studio itself was stylish, covered in plants (my dream). With all the Pilates equipment you could ever need. If you are in Paris and like Pilates, definitely go check it out.
OK OK the most important bit, the food.
So I have already told you all about the best croissant I have ever eaten (legit making me hungry writing this). But Paris for me is all about the food, now as someone who know longer eats meat and is trying to incorporate a more plant based lifestyle – I still eat fish and eggs but I try and have a few plant based days a week. Paris isn’t quite on the same hype as London. But damnnnnn the food is all so good. The bread and baked goods – I can’t even. So for me when I go to Paris its often planned purely around the food and where we are eating. I love nothing more than sitting in a beautiful little Parisian cafe with a load of locals. Glass of wine or coffee in hand, some nuts and olives maybe and some bread. Watching the world go by.
So the first night I got there we went to Chez Julian for dinner which was a very traditional little restaurant, which oozed with old school Paris glamour. Dark and candle lit you feel like you are in a time warp. The food is luxurious and rich – think caviar, tuna tartar, steak, creme brulee – these are the kind of things on the menu. I went for tuna tartare, with a main of sea bass in an almond crumb and whipped root vegetables with a side of fries. And some cocktails and it was divine.
Then the next day we had lunch at Clover Grill, a fairly new modern little restaurant in Paris which ‘everyone is talking about’. So the restaurant is very modern and simple in design, it has an open kitchen so you can see the chefs prepare all the meals which I loved! The meal itself was stunning, the care and effort put into every course was so evident and the flavours just blew me away. It had traditional french flavours and ingredients done in a modern and light way. The meals didn’t feel heavy or too rich which was nice for Paris. Best bit about the whole meal (if I had to pick) was the fresh warm gooey cookie that came with my coffee at the end. But it was all delicious again highly recommend . A few of the girls went as far as saying it was the best meal they had ever eaten. Which is high praise indeed!!
Last but not least I couldn’t not touch upon our trip to the libraries of Bibliotheque des Arts Decoratifs. The amazing ladies at Ernest Leoty had arranged a private room for us where we learnt about the history of corsets and Ernest Leoty himself. We got to look at the original corset sketches and designs and it was incredible to learn more behind the inspiration and brand.
It was such a fleeting visit but that’s whats so fantastic about Paris, hop on a eurostar from Kings Cross, a few hours later you are in Paris and what feels like a whole other world. It’s a pretty painless journey (easier to get to than my parents house in the UK!). Thanks Ernest Leoty and Scotts ideas for arranging such a wonderful trip and reminding me why I love Paris so damn much.
As I have grown older (and more mature one would hope!) I have realised more and more how much I value quiet time with my family and friends. Time which isn’t spent rushing around like a headless chicken. I think I used to think being busy meant I was succesful, being overworked and no time to switch off was just part of the ‘daily grind’ to getting where you wanted to be.
I have always had the annoying habit of taking on to much. To many jobs, to much work, saying yes to too many social occasions. I look at my diary and feel the need to fill it immediately. The idea of a day doing nothing used to fill me with a bit of panic. I worried it meant I was being unproductive…anyone else guilty of this?
I would say its only been the last year I have come to enjoy and on purpose give myself free time. Leaving myself days to switch off and chill out. Its become a necessity.
One of my favourite ways to switch off is with a cup of tea with family or friends. The kettle goes on, the phones go away and we sit there catching up on life. I recently did a post on my love of tea. How for me tea solves all of life’s problems – need to chat, going through a hard time, sad about something, girly catch up. You name it the kettle goes on.
So around holidays like Easter or Christmas when you come together with family and friends these catch ups always happen around a cup of tea!
When Newby teas approached me about working with them I jumped at the chance. They are a luxury tea brand who have the most delicious flavours and blends of tea. Each month they have sent me a selection box which is not only beautifully packaged (like works of art) but also introducing me to so many new flavours.
Their Easter selection box is going to be my go to for my tea catch ups…and current favourite flavour is the Jasmine Princess Green tea. Why I love this blend, well not only has it got a really subtle yet unique flavour. It’s quite floral but not in an overpowering way you know? I love green tea but some I find really strong, this one has a lovely balance. My new favourite green tea J
Here’s to many more great cups of tea and many more great conversations. If you love tea as much as me then I have a little present for you all. If you use the code ‘Natalie15’ on Newby Teas website (link here) you will get 15% off the entire store (full price) from March 16-19th.
This post is in collaboration with Newby Teas but all opinions are my own.