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Choosing Where To Host Your Fitness Retreat

Photos by Tommy Hatwell and Amanda White.
Freewave surf academy hosting a yoga class on their fitness retreat in the garden of a house

A strong trend in the fitness industry is hosting fitness retreats abroad.  Some may see it as an easy way to make a lot of money and travel for free. You might not realise how much work goes into executing a successful retreat, which can be very tricky when the location is in another country.  Perhaps something local would be easier and less stressful to arrange.  How can you decide if hosting a fitness retreat is a venture you should try?

First, consider who your target clients are for this retreat.  Will your current client base be keen or will you need to advertise to a wider circle?  How old will they be? How much disposable income do they have?  Where do they live? This may influence whether you want to host something local or abroad.

Things To Consider When Hosting a Fitness Retreat

Once you have an idea of who your ideal attendee is, consider what they will want. 

  • Will they want to be close to home so they can be with their kids by bedtime? 
  • Will they want free wifi? 
  • Is sharing rooms with a communal bathroom an option?
  • Does alcohol need to be always accessible? 
  • Will they want to attend lectures about nutrition and mindfulness or would they rather have a 3 hour bootcamp session before lunch? 
  • How long do they want to be at a retreat for? 
Three women walking along a dirt path towards the beach

Google Forms or Survey Monkey are great ways to survey potential attendees to get a feel for what they are after in terms of accommodation, length of trip, location, and pricing.

With this info, you can consider location and pricing.  Something local will be easier to visit, arrange, and staff.  It might be more appealing to clients with families or other commitments that keep their diaries full.  You may be able to bring your own supplies, such as equipment and food, with you rather than source from locals at a mark-up. 

Local venues will probably be cheaper too for both you and your clients (which might increase your net profit).  However, if you live near a large airport, going abroad is an option too.  Find a place with low cost airline service and multiple flights a day to your potential destination will make it an easy sale.

Your Retreat Team

I spoke to a few people who organise retreats, such as the duo behind Restore and Reform, and they all say having capable staff is the number one thing for a successful retreat.  Whether your venue is local or abroad, ensure that smiling and helpful folks are always available to advise your clients and find supplies you may need last minute. 

Two surfers standing at the end of the drive of the house where a fitness retreat is being hosted

Make sure the retreat team are able to think on their feet and have good customer service skills. Provide them with as much as information as you can so they are able to answer questions quickly without having to find you first.  If you invite an independent instructor along to offer a different discipline (such as yoga or Pilates), make your expectations of their contribution during the retreat clear from the start. 

Do they need to help with meals and laundry or only teach their one hour class on the last day?  Are they allowed to advertise their classes to your guests?  Schedule a small break each day for everyone (yourself included) as retreats can be intense for organisers to be one step ahead of the daily schedule.  This allows everyone to recharge before helping attendees again.

Things To Do Post Retreat

Once the retreat is over, be sure to cost out the return on your investment and survey clients for their feedback.  Keep track of all the hours spent researching venues, costing flights, and answering query emails.  How much time do you put into advertising and collecting fees?  How many staff did you bring with you and how long was each working day? 

group of people sat on sofas in a living room looking at feedback from a surf lesson on the tv

The first retreat might not have a huge profit but once you have a venue and activity program sorted, you will be able to spend less time each year organising the details.  The answers to your post-retreat survey will help you make small adjustments to the plans for your next retreat.

Summary

There are a lot of other things besides net profit to consider when organising and hosting a fitness retreat locally or abroad.  Perhaps you need a trip to the sunshine to recharge, or you think your clients will benefit more from one week solely dedicated to their personal health rather than life’s distractions.  Consider your ultimate goal and then make sure it fits with what your clients want for a successful retreat, either near home or abroad.  


By Mollie Millington, The Happiness Personal Trainer (www.ptmollie.com) @ptmollie

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Photos by Tommy Hatwell and Amanda White.

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