There comes a stage in any person’s life where the idea of spending yet another weekend, beer in hand, just becomes a little too much to handle. Even the strongest amongst us have to concede defeat every once in a while! There is nothing wrong with actively seeking out a little down time, which provides brief respite to our battered immune systems and allows us to treat ourselves (and our livers) to a little rest. Australia is the perfect place to do this with active people everywhere, prancing about making the most of the sunshine by getting that blood pumping or indulging in leisure activities that avoid those all-too-tempting beer gardens.
We, BBM have outlined some of the best healthy and wholesome activities that you can enjoy across the nation that will leave you invigorated and motivated rather than jaded come Monday morning…
If asked, the majority of us would no doubt solemnly nod our heads in agreement that yes, we could do with losing a bit of weight! And this is in addition to the need to tone up and improve our really rather pathetic upper body strength. Well my friends, we might just have the perfect excuse to this modern day conundrum that plagues the scores of inactive plebeians we are all little guilty of being – rock climbing. As the sport continues to grow in popularity, it is easy to find fantastic indoor climbing centres all across the country where for a minimal entry fee you can climb all day stopping only to enjoy a spot of sustenance in the on-site healthy cafes where baristas and chefs make it their sole-mission to provide top-quality caffeinated beverages and nutritious, locally sourced food.
City Summit is one such centre in Malaga, close to Perth CBD. If you are completely new to the activity you should first try your hand at an Introduction to Climbing course where you will learn the basics of belaying and bouldering so that you can be handed your harness and set loose on their series of walls sans supervision. City Summit also offers ClimbFit classes, which focus on helping you to improve your climbing fitness whilst honing your technique.
The two-hour, instructor led classes are a complete body workout and at the end the friendly (and inevitably muscley…potentially beardy), instructor will provide you with feedback on a list of areas that you need to work on. Classes will set you back just $30 this includes harness hire ($7), Chalk bag Hire ($3) and Shoe Hire ($8). If come the end of your class you still have some excess energy and want to avoid aching muscles the next day, climbers yoga classes are held daily costing $12. Combine the two and snap up an all day climbing and yoga pass for the bargain price of just $28. https://www.citysummit.com.au/
Where Else Can I Climb?
There are great climbing centres popping up all over the shop and below is a list of some of the best. Remember though that should you want to combine your love of climbing with a penchant for being in the sunshine, you should remember to keep an eye out for organised trips to the many great outdoor climbing sites dotted all across the nation’s mountainous landscape.
The Hangout, Bayswater – https://thehangout.com.au/
ClimbFit, St Leonards – https://www.climbfit.com.au/
The Ledge Climbing Centre, University of Sydney – https://www.susf.com.au/page/the_ledge.html
Hardrock, Nanawading – https://www.hardrock.com.au/
Cliff Hanger, Altona North – https://www.cliffhanger.com.au/
Urban Climb, West End – https://www.urbanclimb.com.au/
Rock Sports, Fortitude Valley – https://www.rocksports.com.au/
Escape To An Ashram
Sometimes the unrelenting stimulation of big city life just becomes too much and you find yourself longing for a little peace and tranquillity. If you take your relaxation seriously and fancy getting in touch with your spiritual side then an ashram could be just the kind of mystical journey you should embark on.
At Mangrove Creek, NSW they take the meaning of the word “retreat” really rather seriously. For those of you who haven’t felt the need to look this relatively common word up in the dictionary in the last few years it means ‘to take a step back’ and here at Mangrove Creek, that’s exactly what they will help you to do. Allowing you to leave behind the stresses and strains of the daily grind in a peaceful place of seclusion and shelter.
This spiritual yoga retreat is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and it has been teaching and accepting guests for nigh on 40 years. You can book in for one day to one month and should you wish to make your sojourn into spirituality more of a long-term voyage – there are a range of volunteer and long stay options on offer to those who are truly committed to realigning those flamin’ chakras once and for all!
The ashram is located one and a half hours north of Sydney in a quiet country valley on natural bushland. There are extensive grounds and gardens with lots of lovely little nooks and crannies to settle yourself down in to read, meditate or sunbathe. The aim of the retreat is to explore and practice methods that when put into practice will help you to live a healthy balanced life. https://www.satyananda.net/mangrove-nsw
Further north in Queensland’s Mission Beach you will find the haven of tranquillity that is the Sanctuary Retreat. This centre offers a variety of different types of retreat ranging from Ashtanga yoga to meditation, food and yoga to massage and the list goes on! You are sure to find a retreat that appeals to your various different tastes and aims. Sanctuary Retreat should be at the top of the lists of those serious yogi’s amongst you – teachers from all across the globe converge on this secluded rainforest retreat throughout the year especially to teach their particular brand of yoga to their loyal pupils in their modern studios. https://www.sanctuaryretreat.com.au/
Across the nation in Western Australia in Dunsborough, two and a half hours south of Perth, is Samudra – a yoga and raw food centre offering up a range of yoga and sustainable living weekends. On-site facilities include two state-of-the-art yoga studios, a vegetarian café (specialising in raw delicacies), an eco-clothing store and a wellness centre. When it comes to yoga you have a choice of Hatha, Ashtanga, Mysore, Yin and rejuvenating classes and weekend yoga retreat prices start at $395. In addition to offering typical holistic treatments like massage and acupuncture Samudra offers Ayurvedic treatments which are said to increase energy and mobility, improve digestion, counter depression and restore balance of internal systems, mind and emotions. Sounds like bliss to us and so wonderfully far away from the meaningless water cooler gossip and unhealthy food and drink that most likely dominates your life back home. https://www.samudra.com.au/
If what you are after is the perfect blend of exercise, nutritious cuisine, health education, relaxation and sheer spa-based indulgence then The Golden Door Health Retreat could be just the destination for you. The retreat is tucked away in the breathtakingly beautiful surroundings of NSW’s Hunter Valley so perhaps, time-permitting, you can begin your trip by exploring the vineyards and cheese delicatessen’s of one of the world’s most highly regarded wine regions before checking in and chilling out.
The spa, which is the only purpose built health retreat in Australia, features 75 stylish one, two and three bed villas each enjoying views of the surrounding vineyards across to the Brokenback Mountain Range which dominates the skyline in the distance. Whatever treatment you could possibly want, you can try here. In fact, the treatment list is such a wonder to behold that you will no doubt find yourself parting with quite the substantial sum in true demonstration of your commitment to achieving total and utter relaxation. Treatments range from simple yet indulgent 50-minute facials (starting at $110), sessions of Reiki (£145) or the slightly more unusual Watsu treatment – a specialty aquatic body workout treatment which takes place in your own private heated pool ($200 for 50 mins). Combining the therapeutic benefits of shiatsu with warm water creates a treatment like no other where your therapist will support your body in the warm water and relax your spine in ways not humanly possible on plain old dry land. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!
Allow me to divulge what a typical day at Elysia Health Retreat would look like…Awake around 6am, partake in some gentle tai chi before enjoying a guided walk around the manicured grounds or joining in with some fun-sounding deep-water running in the retreat’s indoor pool. Next you will be treated to a healthy breakfast of fruit and homemade muesli before attending your first stretching class of the day. Refresh with some morning tea before setting off on your daily activities – be that a yoga class or a spa treatment. Enjoy a healthy lunch before heading off to your next activity. The evening meal is followed closely by the start of the nightly entertainment so you can choose to enjoy the festivities or simply grab an early night. Prices start from $1,200 for three nights.
It has long been thought that creative self-expression is an immensely healthy way to spend your time and if you can combine that with a little nudity – then what the hey – we’re game!
Art Shed in Brisbane is one such place that encourages you to express yourself through the medium of art at one of Director, Dr Manny’s classes, which take place every Wednesday evening and regularly attract between 40-70 keen artistes. You had better hope those life models aren’t shy sorts! The two-hour long classes feature three models per session and will set you back just $10 but you will need to remember to bring your own materials. https://www.artshedbrisbane.com.au/life-drawing.html
On Monday nights you can find great value life drawing classes held at Hawthorn Artists Society in Melbourne. You can sign up to a regular class and five sessions each lasting two hours will only set you back $22. https://hawthornartistsociety.org/studio-programme/
Sydney Art School has locations all around the city in Epping, Hornsby, Baulkham Hills and Mosman and if you are looking for a creative outlet that allows you to unleash your inner Da Vinci, then there will be a class to suit you. Options include simple drawing or painting classes, life drawing (if you aren’t afraid to blush), silver-smithing and photography. If you fancy trying your hand at something a little different, then the school also offers Art Therapy classes which are based upon the idea that the creative process of art is healing and life-affirming. In the classes you will be encouraged to use various materials and techniques to express yourself. There are courses of different lengths to sign up for so you can guarantee that you will make yourself a few new friends along the way. https://www.sydneyartschool.com.au/
Something A Little Different
Fancy laughing your way to fitness? If so, why not try your hand at this popular yet slightly unusual trend taking Australia by storm – laughter yoga. The outdoor classes, taken by Kylie Willows, combine a healthy dose of fresh air with rhythmic clapping, yogic breathing and simulated laughter to bring out those hearty laughs lurking in the depths. Although you will no doubt feel a little foolish to start off with, after a few nervous giggles you’ll be guffawing and chortling along with the best of them. They say that ‘laughter is the best medicine’ well Laughter Yoga allows you to put that age-old adage to the test whilst ridding yourself of stress. Classes are held in North Sydney, Hornsby and Bondi and there is no set fee – you are simply invited to donate what you can. www.sydneylaughter.com.au
Anti-gravity yoga – Inspired by aerial circus art and Vinyasa yoga, anti-gravity yoga involves using silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling to help participants contort themselves into various tricky, in fact seemingly impossible, yoga poses. Classes are held around Australia, mostly in boutique gyms. You can try Vibes Fitness in Fitzroy, Melbourne or Flight School, Brisbane. Classes at Vibes will cost you $25. https://www.vibesfitness.com.au/
We know that hula-hooping is something that you associate with little kids but add some weights to the hula hoop and you have an automatic way to achieve abs that would make Shakira prickle with envy. Celebs from Beyoncé to Michelle Obama swear by it and when you hear that it is proven to burn as many calories per minute as step aerobics as well as improving balance and posture whilst strengthening your core and toning and shaping your abs – it just seems like a no-brainer. Team all of these health benefits with banging dance music and friendly classmates and you soon see why people across the country are giving it a whirl. Just don’t expect to meet too many fellas in your class. https://fithoop.com.au/
If you have been to the circus and fancy seeing what it feels like to fly by trying your hand at the trapeze then you should attend a class or two at Circus Arts in Sydney. Located at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, the school claims to be the “original and best flying trapeze company” in the city. There is a weekly timetable of flying trapeze sessions to suit all ages and abilities. One class will set you back $55 but you can buy packages which prove better value. There are also classes to be found in Byron Bay, Ballina and Brisbane. https://circusarts.com.au/sydney/