Spa Junkie on… an Extraordinary Active Holiday

The weeklong triathlon “holiday” is coming to an end, but will our covert reporter pass the paunch pinch test?

After four days of intense mountain biking,coastal runs and sea swims, it is time to for Spa Junkie to step on the scales…

Day 5 I have a light breakfast and pay a visit to the nutritionist, who takes mymeasurements and gives me a health check. I am impressed, and more than just alittle relieved, to discover from my pinch test that I’ve reduced my fat. Being constantly on the go has tightened me up around my torso andbuttocks. I have the faint outline of abs and more definition in my arms.

The results spur me on and I follow the appointment with a swim, even thoughthere are no supervised training sessions today, and a 6km run. If I had beentold three days ago that I would be voluntarily exercising, I would have archedan eyebrow. Despite my body’s aches, my energy levels are buoyant and I haven’tfelt this fit since I was a teen.  

I have a cooking class and learnvarious steaming and braising techniques, plus I am shown a Thermomix, ahigh-tech food processor that prepares and cooks food. I vow topurchase one immediately on my return home, and hope that it won’t end upnestling in the graveyard of my other health-crazed white goods, gadgets andgizmos.

Dinner is a low-fat, high-protein menu of seared tuna,quinoa, vegetables and beetroot purée.  I’m asleep before the moon hasfully risen.Day 6 It’s back to business with a tough mountain bike expedition into thestunning Akamas National Park – a 230sq km reserve of wild landscapes, deepgorges and beautiful sandy bays. The shift from cycling on road to roughterrain is surprisingly challenging and I find myself struggling up rockypaths. There is no room for complacency on this programme as we areconstantly being challenged.Back at the hotel, I briefly lounge by the pool to recover. While my body maynow ache in new places, I like how toned it looks and feels. I take a gentle swim in the pool then set out on an 8km coastal run. I enjoy itso much that I overshoot the finish.I have dinner at the hotel’s Pelagos restaurant, where I watch my sea bassbeing cooked on the lava-stone grill. I look at the breathtakingview of the Med just as the sun is setting and try to picture myself runningthrough Hyde Park on a bleak December morning. Tomorrow is my last dayand I vow to make the most of it.Day 7 I’m determined to end on a high note, ringing with intense effort andenthusiasm.  

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I have an energy-packed breakfast and set out on a 24km bikeride through the Akamas forest, which includes a stop for a swim in theturquoise waters of Aphrodite’s Bath – the spot where Adonis is said to havecaught Aphrodite unaware as she bathed naked. After a quick dip I’m backon the bike and climbing again until I reach a lovely picnic spot set up by thehotel, where I recharge my batteries with fruit and fresh muffins.

In the early afternoon, I relax by the infinity pool. I then throw myself into one last 8km coastal run followed by90 minutes of various endurance, strength and stability exercises in thehotel’s gym, which is fully stocked with the latest equipment. Having spent every fitness-filled moment outdoors, I feel confined by the four walls – and while the exercises aren’t toochallenging, I am longing to get back outside.

I head to Stella for my finalassessment, before bidding farewell to the team. I leave for the airport feeling fitter, and with asense of positivity and energy that I hope will endure.The bottom line:This was one of the very best fitness breaks I have done. Cyprus is the perfectdestination for triathlon-based regimes; the hilly escarpments, the warmand gentle sea and the long stretches of flat road combine to make it a fitnessfanatic’s dream.

Open-water swimming, and running and cycling in forestsand along coastal paths are unquestionably more invigorating than indoorworkouts. The environment actually encourages an active attitude. I feel like a new person. I havecertainly improved my cycling and swimming technique, I have discovered muscledefinition in entirely new places and I am filled with a renewed energy.

And not only this, I have also lost several inches of fat around mytorso, lower back and buttocks, and shed 5lb. Not bad for a week’s work. Aside from a retreat in Bali where I suffered a nasty bout of food poisoning, it’s the first time a holiday (as opposed to a spa trip) has resultedin such a great weight loss.

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