Barre on the beach – my idea of heaven – by Sally Parsons – Barreworks Richmond London

Barre on the beach – my idea of heaven – by Sally Parsons


Six months after attending the 2018 Barreworks retreat I was asked to write about my time spent in Kefalonia in late September. What do I remember fondly about it? Could a retreat with one of the toughest Barre Studios in the UK also be relaxing?

The truth is, it was a very relaxing week. There is something about not having to make any decisions about what you are going to to do or eat that is makes everything simple and calm. There was a timetable for each day of the retreat. Half of the days started with a delicious, healthy breakfast followed by a moderate hike through a network of pathways, fragrant with pine and rosemary. I enjoyed the hikes immensely and it was lovely to chat while walking with the other retreat guests.

Other mornings featured the option to run, walk, cycle or swim before breakfast. I enjoyed a cycle on a mountain bike on the very quiet morning roads around Fiskardo so much I did it twice. These days featured a mid morning Barreworks class which were held on the sea facing terraces of the hotel. A far more beautiful view than the studio’s mirrors! I particularly enjoyed the fusion classes in this setting, it was so easy to hold poses and deep breathe while watching the waves.

Next was lunch, usually outside under the shade of an olive tree. All meals were served communally and prepared by a magician of a chef, Alan, who is part of the HHH company that ran the retreat in conjunction with Barreworks. There was plenty of food and it was very, very delicious and clean; no sugar, salt, dairy or gluten. Caffeine and alcohol was off limits too but exotic juices, herbal teas and turmeric lemonade helped make this less difficult than I was expecting.

The early afternoons were usually free time to relax. I particularly loved walking down to the beach neighbouring the Emelisse hotel and swimming in the sea, still warm from the Summer. There were gorgeous rock shelves surrounding the bay to lay on and dry off in the milder Autumnal sun. A couple of the afternoons we had massages scheduled which were included in the retreat, the hotel’s Elemis spa had two therapists, both excellent and thorough. Bliss!

As the afternoons drew to a close and the heat came out of the day we roused ourselves for an evening exercise session. Sometimes it was a Barreworks workout followed by a Just Stretch class and sometimes it was a circuit training session run by Henlu, an experienced personal trainer who was full of encouragement. I enjoyed mixing up my usual Barreworks routine with these sessions and the Swiss ball class was particularly good. These circuit sessions were held on the hotel’s tennis court and once again the Barreworks sessions were on the terraces where we could enjoy the last of the evening sun.

After showering we would reconvene for dinner and enjoy Alan’s creations. There were some stunning fish dinners and memorably a pizza night. The final night’s dinner also included celebratory champagne and a ‘healthy’ chocolate cake. We felt we had earned it.

Another treat during the week was the boat trip on a very glamorous speedboat to beautiful Ithaca for a walk, a delicious picnic lunch and some sunbathing and swimming. We also had the bonus of a cooking demonstration from Alan which was most useful and informative as by then we were all inspired to eat healthier.

I hope to be able to retreat again with Barreworks. I will look forward to eating well, exercising
actively, swimming in the sea, feeling healthy, relaxed and having a lovely, spoiling feeling of extending the summer just a little bit longer.

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