When we think of the Bahamas, most of us picture a relaxing vacation spent soaking up the sun surrounded by blue water and white sand beaches spanning a forever distance in every direction. But, what if you could enjoy an island paradise while also getting fitter, stronger and healthier with a Caribbean wellness retreat? Welcome to Wellness Week in the breathtaking Bahamas.
A Caribbean Wellness Retreat
Our Caribbean wellness retreat was based in the beautiful capital of the Bahamas, Nassau, on the 21-mile (33-kilometre) long island of New Providence. It is the 11th largest island in the Bahamas. The main harbour, which is a popular cruise ship destination, is protected by Paradise Island, the neighbouring sister island. Cable Beach and Nassau are the two major resort areas of this island and the Nassau airport is the busiest airport of the islands.
Getting to the Bahamas is easier than one might think. Direct flights into Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau from most major cities in the world run every day. Nassau is about a 3 hour flight from New York and a 7 hour flight from Los Angeles. I took a direct flight from San Francisco into Nassau.
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Wellness Week at Breezes Resort in Nassau is a new initiative and partnership with Crunch in NYC, and various fitness and wellness professionals, that will take place on the property once a year. This all-inclusive resort hosts the week-long Bahamas retreat which includes the usual accommodations and meals along with daily fitness classes, wellness talks and special healthy cooking classes.
We started the week with a Sunset Salutations class on the beach the first day we arrived which was the most perfect way to drop in, and after dinner we enjoyed our first of many for the week Silent Disco Dance Parties.
The Crunch team, based in New York City, consisted of four certified trainers who specialise in various forms of movement, meditation, yoga and wellness. Crunch is a gym that believes in making serious exercise fun by fusing fitness and entertainment and pioneering a philosophy of ‘No Judgments.’ Crunch serves a fitness community for all types of people, with all types of goals, exercising all different ways; working it out at the same place together.
Today, they are renowned for creating one-of-a-kind group fitness classes and unique programming for their wildly diverse members. Headquartered in New York City, Crunch serves over 1,200,000 members with over 250 gyms worldwide in 24 states, Puerto Rico and 4 countries. Crunch is rapidly expanding across the U.S. and around the globe.
This team was accompanied by the Breezes chef who shared healthy cooking demonstrations with us, and Dr. Rachel Goldman, Ph.D, FTOS who is a licensed psychologist specializing in health and wellness, including health behavior change, weight management, eating behaviors, and stress reduction. She is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and has a private practice in NYC. She has been quoted and featured in several health-related articles, including NBC News, CNN, USA Today, US News & World Report, and Shape magazine.
Each day was carefully scripted with a handful of various invitations for a variety of movement and wellness. A typical day included an early morning (7:30am) beach yoga or meditation class, followed by a healthy breakfast and then the option for additional class before lunch. I opted to attend Dr. Rachel’s wellness workshops with themes about mindful eating, breath work, positive thinking and self-love, positive body image, etc.
We enjoyed a beautiful creative break in the middle of each day with a private healthy cooking demonstration by the Breezes chef who shared his island-inspired recipes with a healthy twist. I loved learning how easy it could be to take some of these Bahama flavours home with me and incorporate into my own healthy cooking. It was also nice to have the chef to ourselves to ask questions and learn tricks of the trade.
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A Fitness-Focused Bahamas Retreat
My favourite part of this Wellness Week was the innovative classes, a trademark of Crunch. Along with the usual TRX, Pilates, and Yoga, we experienced a Rainbow Meditation on the beach that I will always remember where Michael guided us through a chakra-inspired class and we had the beautiful backdrop of the cool island breeze and the beach sounds all around us. We participated in various dance classes: “Cor-E-Ography & Bahama Boogie,” Buti, Ballroom Basics and a class called Caribbean Rhythms which utilized musical influences from Soca, Calypso and Reggae and taught us a new energy flowing movement inspired by this music and it was a great was to exercise while having fun.
I also loved the twists on traditional classes, we enjoyed a Happy Hour Hatha class and a Hair of the Down Dog Yoga class, both of which were rooted in the traditional practices of Hatha and Vinyasa yoga but with a playful and approachable twist that made each class accessible to all guests, and reminded those of us who practice regularly to lighten up and be a forever student.
Probably the most fun class was the Pound class. This class is a modern-day fusion of movement and music. Utilising two Ripstix which feel like weighted drumsticks, this fat-burning class guides students along with synchronised full body movements where you drum and beat the sticks together and on the ground to set music. It was a challenge of keeping up and also challenging to stay in sync with the routine. This class was hosted pool side.
In addition to the Wellness Week program we enjoyed daily beach dance parties, live entertainment each night, a staff and guest talent show and plenty of beach and pool volleyball and other water sports like stand up paddle boarding and kayaking offered by the resort. It was a big week full of incredible options and a new definition to “all-inclusive” for me. I left feeling relaxed and blissed out at the same time.
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A Healthy Retreat Menu
I was grateful for the daily healthy cooking demonstrations provided for this week because they gave us good reason to focus on eating healthy in an otherwise vacation-mode setting. The program includes a robust meal program of incredibly abundant buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were plenty of options for all types of eaters and I had no trouble finding many healthy options for my vegetarian diet.
In addition to three buffets daily, light snacks and juices were available throughout the day. One day I took the local bus into downtown Nassau and feasted on fresh tropical fruits while shopping in the famous straw market. If you are a fish eater, there are plenty of local restaurants right on the beach with fresh-out-of-the-water specialties that everyone was raving about too.
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The Wellness Week Experience
This week was a beautiful first visit to the Bahamas complete with a blissed out feeling that I not only enjoyed the island paradise to the fullest as a moment of pause, but that I did something really good for my mind, body and spirit at the same time. To arrive in paradise, surround yourself with an incredibly motivational team, participate in various movement experiences and enjoy yourself in the magnificence of the Bahamas is a dream come true.
The Wellness Week was an amazing all-inclusive experience. Each guest participating in the Wellness Week received a goodie bag when they arrived, we each took notes during the cooking demonstrations and left with healthy recipes to try, and I more flexibility and stretched body as an extra.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Crunch and Breezes Resort for this retreat. All the opinions, words and images are authentically our own.
Pat Russo is a Mystic, Muse, and Spiritual Teacher guiding women into their hearts with a journey of softening. She is a published poet, a lover of hearts, and a forever student.
Feeling the impossibility of choosing between her two favorite cities, she considers San Francisco and Paris home.