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How to Turn Your Hostel or Home into a Luxury Health Retreat!

Here are the series of events that occurred yesterday, each of which illustrates how you, too, can turn your low-budget hostel or everyday home into a luxurious health retreat for a few days or a week!

1pm: I arrive in a delicious hostel in Granada after a seven-hour bus ride from Madrid. I feel like utter trash: too many deep-fried or starchy tapas, not enough exercise or sleep, and too much bouncing from host to host, bus to bus, and place to place. Achy, puffy, stiff, and exhausted was I.

Principle 1: Identify when you desperately need a health retreat, because if you don’t address this need head-on, you will feel awful indefinitely!

2pm: I consider going for a run, but it seems downright dangerous in a hilly, cobblestoned city that I don’t know. I think to myself: “Maybe I should splurge on a Health Retreat or Yoga Center here in Southern Spain so I’ll be surrounded by health-minded people and thus dragged along in a river of good living practices!”

I search the internet for such places and find ten: all of which cost over $150 a day, or even $2,000 for a week! That’s nuts.

Principle 2: Real-life Health Retreats are really, really expensive. (I know of a few in Massachusetts and India for which you can exchange a few hours of labor a day for free participation and accommodation, but I couldn’t seem to find those in this country!)

3pm: Something needed to be done for my aching bones and flabby muscles. I strapped on my workout gear, took the stairs to the rooftop terrace of the hostel (did I mention it’s an amazing hostel?) and began some serious stretching, sit-ups, push-ups, and yoga, as best I could. I started to feel a little better! But it still didn’t address my woeful cardiovascular situation.

Principle 3: The road to health begins with just beginning, somehow, somewhere!

3:30pm: Suddenly I hear a voice ask: “Have you just been to do the running?” I look up to see a towering German man, freshly checked-in to the hostel.

“No, no,” I stutter, “I wanted to run but–“

“Ah, I see,” he said, “You did not do the running, so now you are doing the gymnastic instead.”

“Something like that,” I sighed. “I really wanted to go running, though.”

“Well then let’s go!” said the man, who then promptly introduced himself as Phillip, dashed into his dorm, and returned five minutes later wearing an aerodynamic black spandex suit, declaring, “The thing with the running is to GO, not to think. That way it happens instead of not happens!”

And thus, just like that, we embarked on a fantastic 35-minute run through gorgeous Granada, taking in the sights, chatting, and giving some much-needed oxygen to our hearts.

Principle 4: You actually don’t need to be in an official Health Retreat to find like-minded people who desire exercise and healthy living! Just keep putting out there that you are searching for them.

5pm: Phillip and I returned to the hostel rooftop terrace for stretching, calisthenics, and yoga. My entire being felt SO much better from the run! A bevy of Canadian, Japanese, and British tourists sat, staring at us.

“Man,” said one girl, “I haven’t exercised in months. I probably should.”

“Hey,” said another, “Remember in that other hostel where we met that woman who had just come from India and led us all in free Yoga classes? That was awesome!”

Principle 5: With a little effort, a whole flock of hostel residents (or locals from your town) could be mobilized into exercise fun! The desire exists within.

10am the Next Day: I felt so majorly much better after the previous day’s run, stretching, healthy dinner, and snuggling in for an early bedtime! A revelation blossomed: anywhere can be a Health Retreat with a willpower-fueled, focused mindset!

Principle 6: Repeat the mantra: “I am in a Health Retreat this week!” as you arrange your schedule for exercise, your meals for wholesomeness, and your evening activities for quality rest.

11am: It becomes evident that part of the reason I’d been feeling so ragged was because I hadn’t gotten my much needed solo “Me Time” in weeks, as I’d been staying in the homes of others. Hence, I carved out a big heap of time away from sightseeing to do the solitary things that rejuvenate me… such as writing these articles!

Principle 7: A big part of Health Retreats is solitary meditation and time away from whatever your personal “Rat Race” may be, so allow yourself this time, and don’t worry about being seen as anti-social or freakish by others! This is YOUR retreat, dammit!

1pm: I realize that I am feeling better, while simultaneously saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars! Ergo, this would suggest I could splurge on a few “a la carte” pieces of an actual Health Retreat, such as local one-hour Yoga classes, or entrance for a day to a swimming pool or gym down the street! To be honest, I’m likely too cheap to even indulge in these, but the principle remains.

Principle 7: Congratulations! By creating your own personal Health Retreat in your hostel or home, you have just saved a boatload of money! Feel free to spend some of it on activities or items that improve your sense of well-being. Listen to thy body, heart, and soul for the sustenance it needs. Good luck!

Photo Note: How beautiful is Granada, Spain?! I am extending my stay here, big-time!


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Matt | YearAroundTheWorld

Thursday 29th of April 2010

Great post! I'd like to recommend "The Prison Workout" for both muscle and heart. Perfect for traveling, do it every night and you'll feel like a million bucks. Quick, and you don't need a lot of space.

Google it for details.


Tuesday 27th of April 2010

Oh, I know of Kripalu. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip!


Monday 26th of April 2010

"The thing with the running is to GO, not to think. That way it happens instead of not happens!"

This is going to be my new tagline, Lillie. :) I hope you're well. We miss you at CHS... and it sounds like you're coming home soon. You going to come visit us? And are you really teaching summer school?

Lillie M.

Monday 26th of April 2010


Thanks so much for reading and for your comment! My favorite work-exchange retreat is the Kripalu Yoga Center in Western Massachusetts. One used to be able to do the Seva exchange program there for just a week at a time, but I think you now need to commit a month. Free or not free, it's a great place and you should check it out if you need a little healin'! Keep those comments coming and be well.

- Lillie


Monday 26th of April 2010

Hello! I've been reading along for a few weeks and I'm enjoying the vicarious travel. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

Where in MA were the health retreats that you can exchange work for participation? I'm guessing around Boston?

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