Picture this: You're lying on a warm, sandy beach, listening to the waves roll in as you sip on a cold drink and read a good book. Paradise, right? But what if this were only a break from a different sort of paradise -- one that involved yoga, massage, healthy cooking classes, beach boot camps, zip line tours and surfing lessons? Would you think you had died and gone to heaven? I know I would! This is essentially my dream vacation in a nutshell, and it can be a reality when you schedule a trip to the Boutique Coaching Resort in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, where partners and co-founders host what essentially amounts to fitness camps for women (and men, kids and families, too!).
I was so intrigued by the idea, that I had to learn more. Gem Yates, one of the two founders and coaches, was kind enough to share what makes the resort so special.
The history of a boutique fitness resort
GirlsGoneSporty (GGS): Can you tell me a little about you & your company's history?
Gem Yates (GY): We like to consider ourselves "Health Geeks." Jen is a Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer and I am a Chef and Nutrition Coach. Having always been physically active, Jen and I decided that the best way to ensure that our future was going to be fit and healthy was to "geek up," learn as much as we could about fitness and nutrition and then incorporate everything we learned into our daily lives. This joint venture honestly does not seem like a company or indeed a"job" but more of a way to share our knowledge and passion with anyone who is willing to listen. We wake up every morning knowing that we are working to be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be and that is an amazing feeling that we want others to experience, too.
With advances in medicine, people are now living longer but most of them do not have the quality of life they would like. The driving force behind our message is that everything you do to improve or maintain your body's systems (through good nutrition and an exercise program) will directly affect your quality of life in the years to come. I still want to be surfing in my seventies, so I take care of myself today!
GGS: How did you get started and why did you decided to open a boutique in Costa Rica?
GY: It was actually surfing that brought me to Costa Rica in 2007 when I co-founded and ran a boutique surf resort. I love coaching people to surf, running retreats and meeting new people, but I found that limiting myself to one sport left me unfulfilled. I wanted to become more well-rounded, not only in my own personal surfing fitness, but I wanted to be able to offer our guests more. That's about when I met Jen.
We actually met at Jen's husband's Italian restaurant in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. Jen has the most adorable twins and I asked her if she got her muscular arms from carrying them around all day, and from there, we just got to chatting. By the end of the conversation, we had agreed to "trade" surf lessons for personal training. At each session, we'd end up talking for hours, sharing what we knew about fitness and nutrition with each other. Then, we had the idea to culminate all of our knowledge to form My Coaching Hotline.
GGS: What makes your resort different from other resorts? How can someone benefit by visiting you?
GY: It's in Costa Rica, for one! Costa Rica really is the perfect classroom. Many people think of getting fit as slogging away in an air conditioned gym, wearing lycra and feeling self-conscious. We like to get outdoors and have fun and that's how we stay fit. The tropical beaches, beautiful waterfall hikes and abundance of water sports just add to our "conventional" methods of working out so we never get bored and always stay motivated.
Having our retreats in Costa Rica, or the "Rich Coast," means we never get bored when it comes to good food, either. With fresh tropical fruit falling off the trees, tons of organic farms, and the Pacific Ocean full of fish to choose from, our plates are always full of nutrient-packed foods.
I have always been a great believer in the "Teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish" philosophy. When you come to the Resort, it's not just a week-long deal where you're then left to fend for yourself. During your time with us, you won't only learn all the necessary skills you'll need to carry on with your healthy lifestyle once you head home, but every My Coaching Hotline Resort Client receives continued support once they return home. As you progress and achieve your goals, your plan will need to change with you. We'll actually check in with you bi-weekly to see how you're adjusting to being back in the "Real World." I believe this is what really makes us different. Clients also have access to the My Coaching Hotline Database that's regularly updated with new routines, new recipes and new fun ways to stay healthy. By checking in and having easy access to new information, clients can continue to adjust their fitness and nutrition plans as their bodies change.
Hopefully, our clients will never find themselves asking "What was that recipe again?" or "Wow, I'm so bored of doing the same fitness routine. How can I mix it up?"
GGS: What's included with a resort trip, and are packages customizable?
GY: Yes, we are flexible. We want to ensure that you have an unforgettable vacation and that you have whatever support you need during your transition to a healthier life.
Generally, a weeklong package includes:
- Transfers to and from the airport
- 7 nights accomodation in a shared or private room or private apartment
- 5, 90-minute Food Coaching sessions with Gem
- 5, 90-minute Fitness Coaching sessions with Jen
- Personalized food and fitness plan
- Pilates session
- Mid-week massage with a qualified massage therapist
- All meals except for on Wednesday (the off-day)
- Access to the resort's ammenities like WiFi, swimming pool and beautiful gardens
- A complimentary off-day activity of your choice - zip line jungle canopy tour, horseback riding or take a surf lesson
Some things are out of our control, like specific tide times for the surf lessons or beach horseback rides, but if you would rather skip that to expand on your coaching time, then we fully support that.
GGS: Who is your target market?
GY: A My Coaching Hotline Client is anyone who is interested in making a positive change in his or her life. Your reason for contacting us may be that you're just confused by the overwhelming number of product choices on the market and you're unsure of what's the best way to eat for your long-term health. It could be that you have a wedding to attend in six months and you want to drop two dress sizes. It could be that you're a sports person and you need guidance in your nutrition so that you can get the edge on your performance. It could be that you're overweight and need a basic skill set and some support on what to do to shed those extra pounds... or, you could be unhealthily underweight, but can’t seem to figure out why. Whatever the reason, we can help you so your body functions more efficiently and you start to feel better about yourself and your future.
GGS: Is it a women's only retreat, or is it open to couples and families?
GY: Our main demographic is women in their 30s and 40s; however, we do get our fair share of men, couples and families coming to stay with us, too. The great thing about fitness is that it doesn't matter what age, gender or nationality you are, there is always something you can do to improve your fitness - and it's never to late to start!
GGS: How does someone sign up?
GY: There are five ways you can get involved - so you really have no excuses!
- Jen and I offer personal food and fitness coaching in person. When we coach in person, it's usually in Costa Rica, but we have been known to travel to other destinations on retreats. Families or groups of friends who like to be active together have asked us to accompany them on vacations so that they can have a personal chef and trainer on hand. Having every nutritional need planned and prepared for while also getting fit and having fun is my idea of an unbeatable vacation!
- Jen and I offer personal food and fitness coaching online. The online coaching program is all done via video chat and email. We take a full history, interview and chat with our clients to tailor-make a plan for them. This enables us to work together so that their goals are realistic and they are able to adhere to the the program with relative ease given their life circumstances. Then we check in bi-weekly to monitor progress, discuss any areas for change and eventually develop a "maintenance" program so they can continue on with their new improved healthy lifestyle.
- We offer one-on-one or group fitness classes in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. We usually have the same core group of diehard ex-pats that come out for our sessions, but people on vacation visiting the area often join in, too. Anyone is welcome to join in at anytime, we just want to get people excited about living a healthier life. We also offer one-on-one or group cookery classes for people who want to incorporate healthy nutrition into their lives, but need guidance to get started. These classes teach basic cooking techniques as well as lots of healthy recipes -- Yum!
- As advertised on our website, we offer a combination of all of the above in a vacation "package" here in Costa Rica. This is most popular with singles, but we also have couples (some even on their Honeymoon - now that's dedication!) and families. For this option, all you need to organize is your flight. We make sure that every detail is taken care of for you the moment you step off the plane. Our driver picks you up and brings you to the Resort where you can stay in various accommodations to fit your budget. The week is then structured so that you get to experience our food and fitness coaching program as well as the beauty of the Costa Rican beaches and jungles - all while being incredibly healthy.
- We have just introduced a Pledge system into our arsenal of motivational tools. We've found that making people accountable for their health is extremely important, so we offer our clients the opportunity to bet against themselves by "donating" money to our chosen local Costa Rican Charities. After an initial assessment, a measurable goal-based target is set within a specific time frame for each client to complete (e.g: To lose two-percent of their total body fat in six months). The client then "donates" an amount of their choosing to My Coaching Hotline. If at the end of the period they have reached their goal, then 50-percent of the sum is given to the local charity of their choosing. Of course they have all the continued help and support all our clients receive to make sure as much money goes to the charities as possible - we want them to succeed!
A day at the resort
GGS: Can you share what a day at the resort "looks like"?
GY: Of course!
We start each day with a 30 minute sunrise beach walk (or jog, for those who are more advanced). The beaches are empty early in the day and the temperature is perfect at 6:00 am.
Back at the resort, Breakfast is served at 6:30. Each meal is planned with special care and attention to our hormonal needs at that particular time of day. Breakfast is therefore a metabolism-boosting drink, accompanied by a meal. What each client eats will depend on their specific food plan, after having completed a full nutrition assessment prior to arriving at the resort.
Next we partake in our activity for the day. This could be a circuit class, Pilates, surfing, a waterfall hike. Whatever it is, we get out and get active!
After a shower and a relax in a hammock or swim in the pool, it's time for lunch, which is always delicious and nutritious! Some days we return to the Resort to have lunch, while other days we will take a packed lunch/picnic with us.
In the afternoon, it's time for your Nutrition Class.
- Cookery Class - where you will learn various cooking techniques, as well as lots of healthy recipes.
- Kitchen Makeover - how to get organized at home in your own kitchen so your new healthy regimine is quick and easy.
- Menu Planning - techniques to prepare for each week on your food plan, so you never find yourself stuck on what to eat.
- Macronutrient Class - learn what foods contain which nutrients, how they impact our bodies and our health and how you can incorporate them into your diet
- and much more...
Sunsets are always magical over the Pacific so this time is reserved for "free time."
Dinner varies depending on what you did in your Nutrition Class that day. If we learned new recipes in a cooking class, then we eat the fruits of our labor. If not, then we have the chance to either sample cuisine from one of the local restaurants or enjoy a dinner lovingly prepared for by Gem. Whatever option is provided, it's guaranteed to be a great meal with some great new friends!