Life in Dubai is rarely dull.
Many residents of the desert metropolis live by a work hard, play hard mantra, which basically means long shifts at work are usually followed by longer evenings out. As a sports journalist often working evenings and weekends, I am no exception to this rule.
While the expat lifestyle is a lot of fun in the short-term, overindulgent brunches and a lack of regular exercise (due to a combination of searing summer temperatures, the office and many other distractions) can quickly take its toll on one’s health.
After two years of dedication to this fun but ultimately counterproductive lifestyle, I decided it was time for a change.
When I signed up for my Chōsen adventure in Bali, I was hoping for some fun in the sun that would ideally whip me back into shape. A quick fix, if you will.
What I didn’t realise was that in addition to an improved physical condition, I would return feeling mentally refreshed and for the first time in two years, totally relaxed.
So how was it possible to gain more energy after such a rigorous week of exercise?
Simple. Our seven days on the magnificent estate were carefully curated by the Chōsen team to rejuvenate participants from the inside out. This all started with Josh, the man responsible for our food.
The Australian, self-styled Purveyor of Happiness ensured that only fresh, organic, locally-sourced foods entered our bodies and the difference this made to productivity levels during the day was palpable from the first meal.
Martin, a 45-year-old fitness machine from Germany who worked in Singapore, commented that the sweet potato chips (made only with coconut oil and Himalayan salt) were ‘like crack for healthy people’. I cannot say that I disagree with him (or would want to).
Each day we rose early, gulped down some delicious cold-press coffee or a Ninja Shake (a delicious concoction including raw vegetable protein, cacao, almonds, banana, coconut water and power greens) before heading out for our first exercise of the day.
Any lingering tiredness was soon replaced by a surge of energy from one our morning adventures which included surfing, rappelling down magnificent waterfalls or a beach workout. Having never surfed before, my skills (or lack thereof) made for plenty of amusement. However, I can confirm there is no feeling in the world quite like catching your first proper wave. A truly unique experience that I will never forget.
Josh and his team would then meet us back at the estate with a hearty but healthy breakfast, followed by some down time with lunch and relaxing afternoon activity, before twilight yoga and dinner to finish the day.
Mindfulness is a way to de-stress and improve general well-being through meditation. Mindfulness teacher and University of Massachusetts professor Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it as “much ado about nothing.” It’s the antithesis of everything society tells us about relentlessly moving towards success. Find out what you need to know about #mindfulness on our blog. (Link in profile)
Chōsen founders John and Robin were inspiring hosts and encouraged the group to undertake a digital detox during our stay. Most participants were from corporate backgrounds and subsequently spent most of their daily lives staring at computer screens and smartphones.
For one blissful week this time usually spent wired in to electronic devices was replaced by great conversation, hanging out together around the pool or simply kicking back with a turmeric & apple tonic. Undertaking new activities together created a special bond between us which was undoubtedly one of the standout features of the week.
Alongside my slightly wobbly surfing technique, another invaluable lesson I took back to Dubai was to be more present.
In a world where modern technology enables us to access work emails and social media at our fingertips, it was a welcome break to not think about events that are happening tomorrow or the next week.
While it is unrealistic to completely switch off from technology outside of work hours back in the real world, I have been able to strike a better balance back in Dubai. By taking yoga classes I now make time for a small, but important few moments of introspection each week.
With John and Robin providing the laughs alongside Josh’s nourishing food, Talayna Fortunato was the one who ensured we returned home in peak physical condition.
Talayna is a professional CrossFit athlete and qualified physio therapist, so we knew we were in good hands even if she pushed us too hard! Fortunately, “T” had carefully tailored the workouts to ensure that all abilities were catered for, which meant that we were pushed to a level that was both rewarding and enjoyable.
So is it only corporate expats that would enjoy Chōsen Experiences?
Absolutely not. The group of participants for each month is carefully-selected to bring together a wide cross-section of people from international backgrounds, whose common goals are to experience something new and lead a healthier lifestyle.
My experience featured a fascinating mix of people ranging from a French jewelry designer and a gym-owner from Hong Kong to an American engineer living in Singapore and a yoga instructor from the Netherlands.
My Chōsen experience was without doubt one of the best decisions I have ever made and as the mercury rises to 45° back at the office in Dubai, I can safely say am already planning my next trip.
For more information on Chōsen Experiences and to check out their other locations around the world visit their website, click here.