How I fell into the retreat business

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People have been asking, so here is my story:

Some years back, while living and working in Hong Kong, I got an unexpected and exciting request from the editor-in-chief of AsiaSpa Magazine: To go on (and subsequently write an article about) a Pilates retreat in Asia. “We are yoga’d out”, she said, “we need something fresh and different.” Full of energy I began my research, picturing myself doing teasers and leg-kicks against a jungle backdrop with a group of like-minded Pilates lovers. Where would I choose to go? Bali, Thailand, maybe somewhere more unusual like Laos or Cambodia? I was so excited! Soon, it turned out that I was going… nowhere. There were no Pilates retreats in Asia! There was no shortage of Yoga retreats or Pilates retreats in Arizona and Mexico, but it seemed my passion profession had yet to conquer Asia.
Maybe it were my pragmatic German roots (well, if it doesn’t exist then I’ll just have do it myself) or (more likely) my passion for ‘doing things’ in general, but barely 6 months after my failed attempt to go on a retreat, I was leading one. I had started Pilates Retreat Asia. Little did I know what a great journey and life changing experience lay ahead.

Having fun at the beach in Thailand in-between classes.

 
Today, 4 years and 7 retreats later I have trouble shutting up when anyone asks about the ‘retreat experience’. I have learned and grown and seen so much. There is the travel, mixed with the physical and the human experience. There is a whole spiritual side to being on a retreat which I (as a down-to-earth Pilates instructor) had never expected and which I would never want to let go. It has elevated my own practice and teaching to a point where I truly feel and embody Pilates as a lifestyle. From the beginning on I have always combined Pilates with a second form of body movement, from Yoga and Fletcher Pilates, over Rolfing, to functional fitness training. This gives everybody a great holistic experience and opens the body and mind. I admit, I, myself, used to say: I came to Pilates because I didn’t like Yoga. This has all changed and the retreats have played a huge role in this. You are open to change. You are open to learn something new. You start seeing the similarities and better understand the differences. This experience is guaranteed for anybody – the participants and the instructors. I have yet to meet a client who didn’t come out of a retreat week with some new way of seeing things. From “I always thought Pilates was only for really fit people”, over “if you would have told me I’d be doing a handstand 7 days ago.” to “I didn’t think a week without alcohol could be so much fun.” I have heard it all. A retreat changes things, even if it’s just to get you out of your grind for a week. Having a second teacher help steer the ship has been a fantastic and mind-saving experience and I truly admire people who lead a retreat on their own. It’s great fun, but man… it’s hard work as well. But more about the ‘not so glossy’ side of the business another time…

Kamalaya2013_PilatesRetreat_020
That’s me, teaching an anatomy workshop during our “Fit & Well Retreat 2013”

In the meantime, if you have questions about retreats feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment here. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer them in an upcoming article.
Take care and keep your minds open,
Greetings from Turkey,
Mareile

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