Having spent the summer mainly on planes and in cars, travelling the world checking out some of the best health retreats out there I am, ironically, feeling the need to stretch my legs. My week-long stay at Kamalaya on Koh Samui presents the ideal opportunity for this, renowned as it is for its excellent facilities and treatments . I’ve been jogging and doing a bit of yoga at home but really want to kick start my fitness with an intensive week of personal training.
First of all, the gym is gorgeous. Even before I arrived, people who’d been there kept telling me I’d love it. With panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand, dotted with many smaller islands, there can be nowhere better to be on a running machine. But actually, it’s my upper body strength and core I want to work on, having spent a lifetime doing lower body work (riding, running, skiing).
My fitness assessment is with Robin who first discusses my health and fitness in detail before heading to a mat to see how I move. It’s easily the most thorough fitness assessment I’ve ever had and mostly it’s good news. The lower back muscles are firing and the core is working. But the hamstrings – oh dear. Apparently they’re not just tight, they’re ‘super-tight’. Better book a Super Stretch session for later in the week!
Each day I am trained by a different instructor*, which I enjoy since it adds variety to my workouts. They are all well-briefed on what I’ve done and what I want to achieve so I feel no loss of continuity. There are plenty of toys to use in the gym but they’re also good at devising exercises to make me use my own body weight, meaning I can do these exercises anywhere. Knowing I want to run more, they concentrate on my stability and single-limb movements.
On day three I have that Super Stretch with Khun Klack and, boy, does it feel effective. So much so that I cancel my second Thai massage and opt for another session two days later. You, as the guest, simply lie on a thick mat while your trainer stretches out your muscles – it is painful but worth it, especially when your hamstrings are as tight as mine.
Aside from my PT sessions I also try a variety of yoga classes, though I honestly think I am too inflexible to really benefit from Yin Yoga, a slow, stretching form of practice in which you hold deep and intense stretch poses for up to five minutes at a time. Luckily there is also restorative and Hatha yoga to ease my tense muscles.
So, at the end of the six days the results are in and here is what I achieved:
- 1kg of muscle gained
- 2cm lost around my waist
A good result considering I did not watch what I ate and didn’t feel I was trying very hard.
*Guests can request to keep the same trainer throughout their stay