A spa break designed for fitness fans
Product: www.ragdalehall.co.uk Price: £325.00 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
Whether you’re embarking on a Coach to 5k programme, or are a seasoned marathoner, there’s always something new to learn about running, and those of all abilities are welcome on Ragdale Hall’s special running retreat two-night breaks.
My course ran (in both senses) from Thursday to Saturday and was taught by fitness instructor (and passionate runner) Michelle Read. The group first met for a quick introduction and run around the hall so she could assess our various skills, and we later had a presentation about the sport – from the correct posture, to buying shoes and what to eat to fuel your hobby.
The following morning we were all given one-to-one treadmill time with Michelle, during which she was able to analyse our posture and gait, and answer any specific questions. Later on that day was a fearsome speedwork session, which reminded me of school sports day a little, with running back and forth between coloured cones, and sprinting around a tennis court at full pelt. It was great fun – despite no sack races being involved.
My trip only included this part of the retreat, but the other members went on to enjoy a special stretching session aimed at stiff post-running muscles, and a group long run on the Saturday morning.
While the running course was extremely helpful in starting my training routine for a half marathon (eek) I’m already hoping to book another break to explore more of the spa itself, which is incredible.
There’s so much to do – loads of fitness classes running all day and for relaxation or sweating alike. Many of them are unique to Ragdale and sound truly intriguing (Aroma Ball; Magical Musicals or Beaming, anyone?) so I’m going to make sure I go back to fit some of them in. I did manage to squeeze in a very sweaty spinning class before leaving, which I found intense but strangely enjoyable thanks to its friendly instructor.
Then there are the five pools – including a gorgeous dimly lit cave, which is shallow enough to float comfortably in even if you’re not a strong swimmer, and filled with soothing classical music. I spent so long in there letting my troubles float away that I came out with prune-like fingers! There are also several cosy steam rooms and saunas, plus a warm, tropical-style outdoor pool, which must be heaven on a cool winter’s night.
The break included one 40-minute treatment and I opted for a back, neck and scalp massage = the right decision. I am a sucker for a head massage, and my therapist used lovely coconut oil which left my hair soft for days.
That’s all without mentioning the food at Ragdale, which is incredible. All meals were included in my package and were uniformly lovely. Breakfast can be brought to your room or enjoyed later downstairs, and can be as healthy (or not) as you’d like. I had the ‘healthy start’ which involved a fresh smoothie and bircher muesli – I went for something light as I was still so full after a decadent three-course dinner the night before. Lunch was a tempting buffet of hot and cold dishes including a delicious poached salmon.
It’s the little touches that make Ragdale feel a cut above other spas – the fresh, soft towels rolled up beside the pools ready to be taken, the DVD library that can be borrowed for night-time viewings and the extremely helpful nature of the staff – nothing is too much trouble for them.
Just one small bugbear – you aren’t given any flip-flops or slippers to wear with your robe (although you can buy them) so another time I’d make sure to pack my own.
I have to say that I feel the package was incredibly good value, when it included one-to-one and group training, all meals, use of the spa throughout, overnight accommodation and all fitness classes. I’d definitely recommend giving it a go, or trying one of the other activity breaks, which include yoga, pilates and dance. Details for next year's running event are yet to be announced.
A two-night break at Ragdale Hall is priced from £325pp and includes a 50 minute (or two 25 minute) treatment, full use of the spa and facilites and all meals.