A Place to Reconnect

Writer Stephanie Shiu | April 19, 2016

‘Wellness’ is bandied around a lot these days, an umbrella term referring to healthy lifestyle choices. With well-being high in demand, retreats promising to pave the path to a new you have cropped up everywhere, many with a promising aesthetic but not necessarily any substance. What sets Kamalaya apart from other resorts boasting chic architecture and luxurious treatments is its tangibly holistic approach to mind, body and spirit.

The latest Comprehensive Optimal Fitness programme launched in December 2015 does just that, incorporating not only one-on-one training, but also personal mentoring and nutrition consultation to address every part of the psyche. The aim is not only to improve fitness and whittle down the measurements taken upon arrival, but to improve well-being at the cellular level, introduce relaxation techniques and encourage living more mindfully. While the swaying palm trees and dreamy breeze are idyllic, it’s also a place people in dire need of an overhaul come to heal.

Most importantly it’s tailored just for you, so regardless of athletic ability, the programme is personalised to suit your needs. For example, due to limited time, Kamalaya was able to condense what should have been a seven-day programme into six, making it more intense than usual. There is also the option to do 10 days.

DAY 1

First things first – a nurse will record your weight, height and blood pressure before doing a Bioimpedance body composition analysis (BIA) to measure your body composition electronically. A normal distribution of tissue and fluid is associated with immunity and longevity, and an abnormal with disease and ageing. Providing more than just basal metabolic rate and body mass index, it also offers fascinating insight into cell integrity.

A wellness consultation with Amel, the expert who will be looking after me during the stay, takes place afterwards, and she addresses my lifestyle, health concerns and goals for the stay. The key indicators of cellular health is the phase angle measurement, which can be a predictor of disease, and body capacitance, indicating the amount of energy stored in the body and how effectively. For my age, my phase angle number is lower than desirable which is a bit of an eye opener. Perhaps I need this retreat more than I realised.

Next is the holistic fitness evaluation, in which lovely personal trainer Boy tests my flexibility, how many sit-ups and push-ups I can do in a minute, and my rate of recovery after a bike ride, so that a plan of action can be drawn up based on my objectives to tone up, lose fat and learn how to use some of the more ominous-looking gym equipment.

The first training session consisted of a treadmill warm-up, sit-ups with medicine ball, bicep curls, dumbbell rows, tricep extensions, and oblique work with resistance bands and core work using a Swiss ball. This ends with a stretch session and 30 minutes in the Far infrared sauna, which is said to ease aches and pains, reduce inflammation, stimulate circulation, metabolism, immunity and detoxification.  An electrolyte drink is given before and after slot to replenish lost minerals.

For those who find it a challenge to tear themselves away from their phones, the half-hour sauna stint is a good introduction to the Kamalaya pace of life – where televisions are non-existent and complimentary Wi-Fi is provided for only an hour each day to encourage guests to reconnect with themselves. Admittedly one of them, I am surprised how quickly I get used to enjoying my own company.  At the end of the exercise in patience, I am rewarded with a 90-minute Vital Essence Oil Massage, combining Asian energy principles and aromatherapy, grateful to be utterly spoilt.

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DAY 2

This morning’s personal training session begins with a cross trainer warm-up and dumbbell exercises using heavier weights, focusing on chest and shoulders. Immediately after is an hour-long reformer Pilates session to strengthen the core and learn to engage the right muscle groups, which requires slow and steady concentration.

A private afternoon yoga class takes place in an intimate sala with a serene pond as backdrop that is immediately soothing. The session with Ann sums up the programme’s approach to the careful balance of the physical, mental and spiritual, with the focus as much about breathing and letting go as perfecting postures. Ann’s passion shone through in this memorable session and she spoke highly of her supportive colleagues, who are equally invested in holistic health.

To wind down for the evening, the daily infrared sauna was followed by an Asian foot massage using pressure points to activate nerve reflexes and stimulate specific organs and tissues for a good night’s sleep. This was followed by a hand massage inspired by Korean acupuncture to open energy channels and release stress and old emotional patterns.  Another successful day – life at Kamalaya is too easy to get used to.

We all want human interaction and our sense of worth is measured in these terms