Cuba Retreat Testimonial | Paulina Grochala

Cuba has been on the top top top of my list for travels for as long as I can remember. There's so many drawing factors - the time travel-y feel as the country is basically frozen in the 1960s, the stunning landscapes, the kind hearted, wonderful locals... and the mojitos, obvs. ;)

me fountain posin' with Sunday Somewhere sunnies (part of our goodie bags)

me fountain posin' with Sunday Somewhere sunnies (part of our goodie bags)

There's an amazing company called Surf Yoga Beer based out of New York, created by Mantas Zvintas, that specializes in fitness retreats around the world - but they're not your usual kind of detox/yoga/massage/juice cleanse kind of retreat (which are great in their own way). SYB focuses on adventuring and truly living to the absolute fullest on these retreats, combining daily fitness with massive amounts of daytime exploring and incredible nights out drinking and dancing. I mean, damn, our days were jam packed and we all slept probably only 4 hours a night but it was the best long weekend in Cuba I could imagine! I've been on the email list for a long time, but my schedule hadn't allowed me to take any retreats with SYB... until I got the email about Cuba for end of March. I booked it the moment I saw it. #noragrets

Traveling to Cuba for us Americans only became possible on direct flights very recently, and I had been considering just going on my own because I had been dying to go for so long. It was such a relief at the time to get the email about the SYB trip to Cuba, because I wasn't completely sold on doing it alone. I love solo travel but sometimes I prefer being with a group/guide - not on a slow, guided tour that drives me a little crazy, but a group adventure and/or a learning experience.

kingsley! our cutest ever mama bear/trip co-leader

kingsley! our cutest ever mama bear/trip co-leader

Going forward though, now that I've been, I would totally go back to Cuba on my own. Seriously the people are some of the loveliest locals ever, and even though there's hardly any wifi capability, it is totally do-able on your own! But going for the first time with such an awesome group of people - and now all new NYC friends - was an unforgettable experience :) So! Lets get to it...

Day 1

I flew with some of the crew on Jetblue out of New York, and we met up with the other half of the group who had flown United once we got to Havana. Some of the people knew each other already, and all of them are regulars in Mantas' soulcycle classes (CAN'T WAIT to take my first class!), but even not knowing anyone and having only met Mantas once before in a yoga class, I felt warm and welcome right away. We all hopped on our bus for the weekend, (so much to say about this bus later) and headed to where we were staying - La Pradera, a 'health center' resort. I called it the wellness compound though, haha. It was just across the road from Castro's compound, so that just made sense. We all quickly got into workout gear to do a quick workout post flight and pre adventuring, jumped in the pool, and then got ready to head into Old Havana.

Havana Club rum as soon as we all get on the bus ;)

Havana Club rum as soon as we all get on the bus ;)

We had the best guide ever with us on this trip, Carl. He and I are both originally from the Tampa/St. Pete area of Florida, which has tons of Cuban influence. He ushered us around all the beautiful, winding streets of Old Havana, where we stopped into La Bodeguita del Medio for OG mojitos (birthplace of the mojito) before heading to dinner. NOW! For food - I mentioned on instagram that I'd heard a lot about there not being good food in Cuba, but I genuinely enjoyed every single meal. This restaurant was absolutely adorable and quaint and lovely and one of the best in Havana, very hard to get into (thank goodness for our reservation for 18 people).

immediate workout upon arriving

immediate workout upon arriving

After finishing up dinner and another few rounds of mojitos, we headed to Fabrica de Arte, another very hard place to get into. The line was winding around the block and I heard people saying they were waiting for over two hours. Again, we had reservations (that we were late for but ya know, Cuban time is different) but if you're heading here as part of your Cuba trip, I absolutely recommend a res or getting there super early to not have to wait quite so long. And Fabrica del Arte is a total must-do in Havana. Its this huge warehouse turned art museum/dance party/live music/everything you could want in a fabulous night out.

ready for our first Havana night with all our new Sunday Somewhere sunnies

ready for our first Havana night with all our new Sunday Somewhere sunnies

Of course, we were all pretty lit when it was time to go home - ie I don't remember this part at all. But you know that bus we had to take us around all weekend? There's a microphone on it for guides to use, and some of the group got ahold of it to sing karaoke of songs from Moulin Rouge. I died when I heard this story the next day, so freaking funny - and the fact that most of us didn't actually remember that, ha, INCLUDING Carl, our guide. The best part - Carl got a phone call from the CUBAN GOVERNMENT (scary phone call to get) to say that there was a "grave problem" (double scary). They told him about the singing on the bus and he literally had no idea what they were talking about, and only pieced it together later the next day when someone brought up the singing and we were all dying over the fact that almost no one remembered. Apparently our bus driver was very straight edge and reported us for singing the whole twenty minute ride home to our compound, hahaha.

A few of us ended the night in the pool, drinking Chardonnay from the snack bar and talking about everything. Immediate connections, immediate friendships made that night. <3  I lost my room key card, of course, and my new friend Casey tried using his key to open my room for me - it freaking worked. Oh, Cuba. So secure.

Day 2

This is my favorite day of the trip. Oh man, what a day and what a night!

tree pose-ing with Mantas Baños de San Juan

tree pose-ing with Mantas Baños de San Juan

We headed out into the countryside for a full day of adventures, my favorite kind - involving lots of swimming! I'm such a water baby, I loooove being in/near/around water. First stop of the day was this gorgeous lake where we got to play for a while, absolutely loved it. Next stop was Las Terrazas, an eco-village and UNESCO site. We visited an artists home, had another splendid meal at the first ever vegetarian restaurant (yay!) in Cuba called El Romero, and had coffee at a lovely little outdoor cafe.

Up next was tons of playtime at Baños del San Juan, a series of little natural pools and waterfalls. So beautiful. The water was pretty cold but it didn't stop me from spending all my time in it.

After our full day of water adventures we headed to a mountaintop for sunset yoga and meditation. God, what a view. What a practice. I don't have many words for this besides being so overwhelmed with gratitude for it that I cried my only little tear of the trip on the ride home, but with a smile. To be surrounded by such natural beauty and such incredible souls, to take those moments to just breathe it in and feel it fully, oh man... I hope everyone in the world can experience such serenity.

living to the fullest out here

living to the fullest out here

pure bliss with my silly friends (and a local)

pure bliss with my silly friends (and a local)

Once we got home and showered and changed into our fanciest outfits of the trip, it was time for the evening events - dinner and drinks and dancing. We had a beautiful dinner at El Litoral, keeping the mojitos flowing. Afterwards Carl took us out to an awesome outdoor club called 1830 on the waterfront with live music, dancing, and a view of an illuminated castle/fort-ish thing across the water. SO FUN, favorite dancing spot of the trip for sure! We even got our curfew extended because we were all having too good of a time to leave, haha.

we took some epic pics thanks to Ken

we took some epic pics thanks to Ken

Day 3

I was successfully dragged out of bed by the boys for morning bootcamp workout (on only a few hours of sleep), which was a great foundation for the rest of the day. After grabbing breakfast with the crew in our compound, we headed out for another full day of beautiful moments and places to discover. First up was exploring the studio and home of muralist Jose Fuster. He's been called the Picasso of Cuba and his work is absolutely beautiful, highly worth a visit if you're going to Cuba.

enjoying the view of the art from above

enjoying the view of the art from above

looking through Hemingway's home

looking through Hemingway's home

Afterwards we got in our (non party but still party) bus and headed out to Ernest Hemingway's home. For me this was an absolutely do not miss spot, and it did not disappoint. His Cuban home is all my home dreams come true; airy, spacious, elegant, simple, with books EVERYwhere. His grounds include his home, a writing tower (fave), his pool area where he and his wife hosted skinny dipping parties, and his big boat is chilling by the pool. Oh, and a little bar area off to the side where we started drinking some cocktails again. The bartender let me bartend with him which was so fun, and there was a great local band playing and singing. We started the dance party, per usual, and the energy and joy was so off the charts even our straight laced bus driver was having a blast.

Last daytime stop was the beach - can't miss the beach on an island! The wind and waves were a little crazy but the water was beautiful. After romping around for a while we all ordered a beach lunch and more drinks - the pina coladas on this beach were actually the very best I've ever tried - and ended up meeting a magician, who performed for us.

We headed home to shower and get ready for our last beautiful Cuban night out. We had taken vintage cars home from 1830 the other night, but now it was time for a sunset cruise in vintage droptops. My car had a bottle of rum that we were sipping on during the drive, and I said "Are you even in Cuba if you're not taking a ride in a vintage car at sunset with a glass of Havana Club in your hand?" We took a quick stop at Hotel Nacional just to see, but I wish we could have had more time there - definitely next time! Next stop was El Floridita for daquiris, a total necessity, before heading to our last dinner. More mojitos and another delicious salad for me, and then to one last (more modern) club for dancing. I was pretty tired at this point so I didn't even drink anymore, but still had fun getting down one last time in Cuba! We ended the night with most of us hanging out at the snack bar as we weren't allowed to get into the pool following the previous night's pool rambunctiousness, ha.

pizza and vintage cars is a heavenly mix

pizza and vintage cars is a heavenly mix

The next day we were all heading back to New York, 18 new incredible friends and innumerable insane memories made. I couldn't be more pleased that I chose to go on this trip with Surf Yoga Beer and that I have all my new friends to workout AND party with at home now! If you're thinking about embarking on an adventure with SYB, don't hesitate. And if you're thinking of taking a trip to Cuba, I hope my anecdotes help with the planning and executing of a trip to such a special country!

xx

Photos: Ken Francis + my iphone and canon


READ PAULINA'S BLOG AND MORE ON HER WEBSITE THE 'BROOKLYN KITTEN' HERE.

Ski Yoga Beer Experience | Craig Jarvis

boardsbeers.jpg

ARRIVAL

Alarm goes off in the AM, the time has come to begin our journey. The smell of coffee fills the air as travel mugs are filled and breakfast is prepared. The gear is all accounted for. As we move the contents to the car for a long drive through the Rocky Mountains, we can’t help shouting out a loud “YEEEEEEEWW”. The Stoke is strong with us today. We are ready for our first SYB.

Boards, Bindings, Bags, Boots, Goggles, Helmets, Gloves, and various other trinkets populate the bags and the back of the XTERRA as we make the 4 -hour drive from Denver to Crested Butte. Clay’s phone gives off a loud chime as we roll into the valley. SYB crew is already posting pictures of the trip so far. We are beyond stoked to have joined in this retreat of epic proportions.

For many of us, the daily grind will eventually take its toll on the mind and body. Sending emails, making phone calls, and too many endless meetings can give anyone a case of cabin fever. That’s how I ended up in the heart of the Rocky Mountains with all these amazing humans. I think back on the moments of the past few months when I felt like if I had to put together one more design presentation or sales forecast my head would explode. Now, the only things on my mind are shredding some pow and immersing myself in this new culture and experience they’re all calling, S.Y.B. Obviously in this case we are talking about a variation of the original. SKI, Yoga, Beer in place of the original Surf. Yoga. Beer.

Anyway, In travelling to Crested Butte, I discovered that the SYB mindset and community is a contagious whirling tornado of positivity and magic. You will discover, You will connect, You will learn. It’s amazing how quickly an experience like this can take complete strangers, and magically turn them into family in only a matter of days. If you are having any bashfulness about a SYB trip, throw that out the window and dive headfirst into the bliss.

DISCOVER THE COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY

One of my first discoveries of the SYB community, was that it seemed almost every person attending was from a different part of the country. There were people from New York, Baltimore, Fort Collins, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. It was amazing how the leaders were so committed to the SYB vibes. No amount of space or land could keep these people away from each other or prevent the experiences they were about to have, from coming to fruition. It was the discovery of their commitment to each other that inspired me to embrace the SYB culture to the fullest. Eddie’s meals were amazing and cocktails, legendary! Family style with more than enough to go around, everyone was guaranteed to get their fill of the deliciousness. Erin’s Yoga teachings were something I really enjoyed. I would consider myself in the beginner category in yoga practice, but her knowledge and guidance made me feel right at home. Nothing too strenuous, but the sequences definitely activated the full body. From morning-meditation, to 108 sun salutations, to post snowboarding yoga session Erin had our backs!

DISCOVER THE NATURE

Whether you grew up in the mountains or on the beaches. It is healthy to take the time to appreciate the beauty of the nature around us. Sometimes the hustle and bustle of a city can get us wound up so tight that we forget how much beauty is around us. In this case, the Rocky Mountains. A favorite moment appreciating nature was during my final evening on the trip. Enjoying a tasty cocktail, compliments of Eddie, I was chatting in the jacuzzi with Kingsley when a fox creeped up from underneath the deck and stopped on a snow bank, not even 10 feet away. We both noticed, then the Fox and I played what felt like a 5-minute staring contest. Realistically it was probably about 30 seconds, but even in that short timeframe we felt a connection with the creature. It was refreshing to reconnect with nature in a way that a city could never provide.

CONNECT WITH PEOPLE AND LEARN

Going on an adventure with complete strangers will coax someone to step outside of their comfort zone. Whether trying skiing for the first time since childhood or throwing backflips and 360’s off a jump Carl and Connor built with nothing but their hands, gear, and wits. There was always a sense of comradery amongst all of the group. You truly learn something new from everyone in attendance. Everyone connects and the whole crew is on the same page. As the days came and went I felt myself becoming closer and closer to these people and learning so much about everyone’s perspectives. The real magic of S.Y.B. is when the “down time” turns into BONDING TIME. S’mores with cave man dances by the fire pit and playing in the freshly fallen snow in the early hours of the morning were some of the most joyful moments of the trip. The final night I was there, we celebrated Erin’s birthday with a surprise post-dinner song and cake. Afterward, then commenced an awards ceremony where everyone was recognized for their various “Stoke Levels” and shared some fun experiences about the trip from each person’s vantage point. One final cherry to top off the entire trip. There’s no vibes, like the S.Y.B. vibes.

TAKEAWAY

Deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains I reconnected with some old friends, made several new ones, had a bonding moment with some of the local wildlife, and temporarily quenched my thirst for adventure. Mission accomplished. After having this experience, I have a new appreciation for taking the time to play in between the tough bouts of work. Work Hard. Play Hard. S.Y.B. for life. Until next time…

 

5 Things Honduras Offers That Will Make Your Travel Friends Mad-Jealous

 

ROATAN, HONDURAS (The Explorer’s Playground)

 

If you’re like me, a mention of Roatan conjures mental images of a fictional long-lost Byzantine Empire city, more than an actual modern paradise.

 

Luckily for us all however, this small exotic island is as real as can be, located in the Caribbean about 40 miles off the coast of Honduras, and is surrounded by the second largest coral reef in the world. Most activities on the island are based around their turquoise blue waters and expansive sea life, so while getting full-blown Nat Geo, what else is there to the Roatan Lifestyle? Well, a lot actually, and all guaranteed to make you an Instagram star both rn and on #FBF!

1. HUG A SLOTH

At Daniel Johnson’s Monkey & Sloth Hangout, all of your deepest sloth hugging dreams will come true. This animal sanctuary is located in French Cay and has several animals to interact with, including sloths, capuchin monkeys, scarlet macaws, and parrots!

Yep SYB Roatan will visit this sanctuary...

Yep SYB Roatan will visit this sanctuary...

2. HAVE A DRINK IN THE CARIBBEAN

We’ve all seen the swim-up bars that many resort pools provide, but this is the swim-up bar to end them all. Located at Little French Key, a private island resort, you’ll have the ability to swim in the pristine Caribbean waters, and then paddle up to refresh your cocktail when thirsty. The resort also features white sand beaches, restaurants, and an air of “blissful calmness” that can only be described as 😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

Yep SYB Roatan is going here... 

Yep SYB Roatan is going here... 

3. NIGHT SNORKELING

Roatan is known for their reefs, so you pretty much must simply go and explore! West Bay is the best location on the island for snorkeling, and some of the features include the infamous coral reefs, turtles, exotic fish, and rays. Last one in the water is a rotten egg!

Yep SYB Roatan will try this off our own private dock...

Yep SYB Roatan will try this off our own private dock...

4. DOLPHIN KISSES

Everyone loves a nice peck on the cheek from a loved one or friend, but you know what’s even better than that? A peck with a friggin’ porpoise, that’s what (you see what we did there)! The island offers several locations where you can snorkel and swim with these friendly creatures, so brush your teeth and pucker up!

SYB Roatan kissing booth...

SYB Roatan kissing booth...

5. SYB Sunset Catamaran Cruise

This one is more about the people that you are with that make it special, but of course it also helps that you're in paradise. Warm weather, healing sun rays, goofy good vibes, heart warming feelings, and memories to last for the rest of your life. 

SYB always makes Catamaran cruises epic...

SYB always makes Catamaran cruises epic...


25 Powerful Quotes On Failure That Will Inspire You to Succeed

Real talk: nobody’s perfect. We stumble. We fall. We make mistakes. It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we fail, but the biggest mistake of all is to not get back up—or worse, let our fear of failure keep us from trying something to begin with.

Oftentimes, life’s greatest successes happen just a few steps beyond our perceived defeats. (I mean, where would we be today if Thomas Edison hadn’t attempted to create a light bulb 10,000 times before figuring it out?) The key is in recognizing that challenges offer the best opportunities for growth, and that failure isn’t fatal—it’s feedback. Learn from it. Embrace it. Use it as motivation to guide you to your best self.

Here are 25 of our favorite quotes on failure—that will inspire you to succeed.

 

  1. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” — Robert F. Kennedy

  2. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” — Michael Jordan

  3. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” — Samuel Beckett

  4. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou

  5. “If you're not failing 50% of the time, you're not setting big enough goals. So fall down. Fall down hard. Then stand right back up and show yourself exactly what you’re capable of.” — Kingsley Delacato

  6. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

  7. “Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel

  8. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison

  9. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho

  10. “Get comfortable with failure. We should all fail. I look forward to the adrenaline rush of failing. Failure is where growth begins.” — Mantas Zvinas

  11. “I can’t give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” — Herbert Bayard Swoope

  12. “Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.” — Truman Capote

  13. “Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali

  14. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” — Johnny Cash

  15. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

  16. “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

  17. “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” — H.G. Wells

  18. “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — Henry Ford

  19. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” — Napoelon Hill

  20. “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” — John Green

  21. “It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” — Bill Gates

  22. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” — Abraham Lincoln

  23. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J.K. Rowling

  24. “Failure is enriching. It’s also important to accept that you’ll make mistakes—it’s how you build your expertise. The trick is to learn a positive lesson from all of life’s negative moments.” — Alain Ducasse

  25. “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” — Dale Carnegie


She's the beauty in the middle.

She's the beauty in the middle.

A beach bum at heart, Kirsten is a writer and editor living, working and playing in NYC. You can find her on Instagram @kirstenjoan.

Cuba is Calling

cuban-flag-fixed.jpg

Going on vacation…in Cuba?!?!

While this notion once was seemingly impossible to consider—because that was the case until a short while ago—it’s now easier than ever to plan a tropical retreat to this mystical island just miles south of Key West. Made possible by the Obama administration in 2016, the trade embargo between Cuba and the U.S. was “eased up” allowing Americans to procure goods and to visit, now making it a highly sought after travel destination for Americans. But is the attraction simply because we weren’t allowed to step on the soil before? Or, perhaps, it’s because it offers an experience so unique, we didn’t even know what we were missing!

Either way it’s perceived, adventure awaits us all. 

So while trade is becoming more normalized to get some goods more easily in the states, one of the most unique aspects of personally setting foot in the country is that the nearly 50 years of isolation has made Cuba feel more like a time machine than a tropical island. In fact, it’s the largest and least commercialized island in the Caribbean. This has only added to Cuba’s charm, described by many that it feels like a living museum with time seeming to stop the moment you touch the ground. Nearly all of the buildings were built prior to 1958 and most of the cars on the streets are models from the 1950s, which CNN captured the essence beautifully as part of a Chanel fashion show a few seasons back (2016). This is because Fidel Castro banned car imports, leaving the locals with the task of coming up with different ways to preserve the vehicles they had at the time. When you walk around, you are consumed by an era most of us never experienced—and suddenly can’t get enough.

Unlike America, there is a shockingly refreshing lack of consumerism throughout the island. There are no chain businesses at all—except those for the military personnel located at Guantanamo Bay—so all of the shops and restaurants one may encounter are eclectic and family owned. So instead of the streets being lined with posters and billboards advertising the latest item on the McDonald’s dollar menu, they’re filled with beautiful murals and eclectic tile designs. And music. Tons and tons of vibrant music fills the air!

To that degree, there is no one type of Cuban music, as the sound has been influenced by a myriad of different regions across the globe. From Africa to Europe, and you can walk into almost any bar across the island and hear salsa, rumba, jazz, merengue—or a mixture of them all. One of the most famous and original acts to capture the essence of the Cuban sound is The Buena Vista Social Club, which for generations spread its intoxicatingly groovy sounds internationally, and thus has influenced bands across all genres, including Major Lazer who most recently became one of the first contemporary artists to perform a free concert in 2016 for more than 400,000 Cubans in Havana’s infamous Tribuna Antiimperialista – something never before possible. 

And the music isn’t just a nighttime passion either, as the locals like to sit outside along the streets and play instruments, sing and dance pretty much daily. From a young age, the importance of music is engrained in their culture; Cuban students receive a large amount of musical education, approximately 3,600 hours of lessons throughout their 12 years of schooling. I mean, how can you not get your cha-cha on with that kind of training?!

All things considered, it’s easy to see how Cuba might have seemed like a world of its own, an unattainable destination. Yet now, Americans can finally go and appreciate this culture that was once oh-so-strictly off limits, never before a possibility, so now is the time to visit and experience everything this mysterious place has preserved for centuries. Oh, did I mention that there are no lethal animals or plants on the entire island? Consider it an added bonus, but nonetheless…adventure awaits!

JOIN US TO CUBA MARCH 23-26, 2017.

Knockout Pick-Up Lines

Don’t have a Valentine yet? Don’t sweat it! We pulled together our top one-liners to use on that babe you’ve been eyeing across the gym. While the flowers and chocolates aren’t guaranteed, the fun is. Go get ’em, tiger. You’re welcome.

 

 

  1. Hey baby, HIIT me up after class.

  2. Do you need a Band-Aid? Because you’re cut.

  3. Have you been to Shadowbox? Because you’re one hell of a knockout.

  4. Want to share a sweat towel?

  5. Boyfriend bike?! #rideordie

  6. Let us go on the treadmill for a long romantic walk.

  7. Let’s race. Loser plans our first date.

  8. I’d do tread 12.5 to get to you. #Barrys

  9. Let's do lunge. 

  10. Mantas' SoulCycle class isn't the only thing getting my heart rate up. 

  11. Are you looking for a thirst trap because I’ve got a six-pack right here.

  12. Have you been to MNDFL? Because you've been on my mind all day.

  13. Nice arms. Are you biceptual?

  14. There's nothing humble about my warrior. 

  15. Should we try Fhitting together? 

  16. I know a fun activity that burns 500 calories in 45min...  

  17. I’m gonna have my whey with you tonight!

  18. Hey I just met you and this is crazy. But tomorrow's chest day. So spot me maybe.

  19. I'm gonna get you like Akin's class at noon on Monday. 

  20. Am I too flexy for my shirt?

  21. Do you believe in love at 1st squat?

  22. Mile High [whisper: Run] Club?

  23. You should probably leave. You’re making the other guys look bad.

  24. Me without you is like Y7 without hip-hop. 

  25. My trainer said I have to come over and talk to you for five minutes as part of my routine.

  26. Is that a Fitbit in your pocket or are you just excited to walk over to me?

Dominical Retreat Testimonial | Kirsten Robinson

It’s a Friday in January at 5:30pm—and instead of sitting at my desk in Manhattan, wrapping up work—I’m on a boat. A pretty big sailboat, off the Western coast of Costa Rica, surrounded by 18 laughing people I didn’t know five days earlier, but who are now like family. We’re watching dolphins jumping out of the water against the backdrop of one of the most epic sunsets I’ve ever seen—pinks and oranges that painters can only dream of. I’m also pink—the sun here’s no joke. And I can’t remember the last time I brushed my hair—nor do I care. Biting into a giant shrimp, I overhear:

Is this real life? I just can’t believe that I’m here right now, doing all of this. It’s surreal!”

Yes, this is real life—and life is good. It’s an amazing start to 2017.

 

In 2016, parts of life weren’t so good, and that’s how I ended up on this boat. Have you ever had days where you wake up thinking, “How did I get here? This was not how things were supposed to turn out.” Or, moments where you look in the mirror and really don’t like what you see? Felt totally lost? Whether you know why you’re unhappy, or just feel stagnant, you recognize that you need change.   

 

In traveling to Dominical, I discovered there’s no better way to get started than by diving headfirst into an unknown adventure. You not only learn a lot about yourself—you learn a lot about the people jumping in next to you. In my case, they were my fellow Surf Yoga Beer adventurers. While I can’t tell you how to spend your PTO days, I can tell you that if it’s by going on a trip with SYB, it’ll be the best decision you’ve made in a long time.

 

Here’s why, featuring a magical place called Dominical, Costa Rica:

 

You Will Face a Fear (and Tell It to Buzz Off)

Once upon a time, 4-year-old me jumped into a pool with swimmies on her ankles and not on her arms. Cue water inversion, and a lifelong fear of drowning. The idea of learning to surf was terrifying, but in the spirit of testing myself, I had to try. And I’m still here. To my surprise, I even enjoyed myself. It helped to have a very legit local surfer named Eben on board (literally—he was pushing us). To be surrounded by the most beautiful, remote beaches. And with a group of fellow shark-bait cheering me on.

You Will Never Again Underestimate the Power of Teamwork

“Isolation” is a term that should be kept to exercise moves. It’s incredible what you can accomplish with the right support, partnerships and motivation—including catching that wave, or getting smashed by it and paddling out again; finishing that last set of reps when your arms are shaking; crawling through a barbed wire fence on your hike to a waterfall. Teammates provide the mental net you need when taking a leap. 

You Will Appreciate Your Body (for the Right Reasons)

Going on a “fitness adventure” led by someone with an 8-pack may seem counterintuitive to embracing strength over aesthetics, but Mantas is the best—seek mentorship from those who already embody where and what you want to be. Morning Bootcamp sessions that you’d cop out of on your own become invigorating and impossible to quit when you have the power of positivity jumping around you, encouraging you to push, push (what does he put in his coffee, anyway?). Scale a mountain? Do sprints up and down a driveway so steep, it should be illegal? Okay! With muscles screaming, I had more admiration for what my body could do for me than what I thought it was supposed to look like. Which leads me to…

You Will Realize No One Cares (in the Best Way)

What’s makeup? What’s a hairbrush? What’s soap? Oh, you have two left feet and are really bad at this salsa dancing lesson? No worries. The best part about bonding with complete strangers is the lack of preconceived notions. You don’t have to be what you’re expected to be. You can be who you are. No judgements. All kindness. It’s refreshing.

You Will Rediscover the Beauty Around You

Enormous, tropical trees stretching a canopy of green over your head. Verdant, rolling mountainsides. Hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower. Sand in your sheets, stuck to your toes. Sunshine turning ocean water to salt on your skin. Cold rain in a warm pool. The sound of cicadas lulling you to sleep at night. The taste of locally sourced, exquisitely cooked food. The easy smile of someone so relaxed, they can’t keep it from spreading across their face. A hug from a person you just met, but who already feels at home in your heart.

You Will Laugh (and Laugh, and Laugh)

Whoever said laughter isn’t contagious never tried multiplying 19 different personalities x 1 house x 6 days. Now add in a sprinkling of Eddie’s kickass cocktails, embarrassing stories, girls on deflating pool ducks, geographically-challenged boys, non-English speaking dancing teachers, 6am disco ball wakeups…I could go on. In a situation of unknowns, laughter was the constant sound—all day, every day.

(P.s. If you enjoy a kickass cocktail and healthy food, go to Salud. Vamos!)     

You Will Also Cry

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of Manhattan, suppressing feelings for another time. I.e., an evening in Costa Rica when you end up bawling after Ali, your resident yoga goddess, guides you through a meditation that would knock you flat with feels if you weren’t already laying on the ground. I was embarrassed by my uncontrollable tears until my roommate, Molly, walked around the corner also sniffling—and then we sat in silence with our arms hooked, soaking in each other’s company.

You Will Let Go

After the 2016 breakup that started me down this path, I asked a lot of people, “Let go? But how do you do it? How do you know?” No response was satisfactory. When I didn’t feel different, I felt defeated. I didn’t know I had let go until I sat down to write this post. I no longer felt the anger and sadness that had enveloped me for months. I still worry about the future—who doesn’t?—but there is more excitement where fear used to be. How? Maybe because there isn’t room. Open yourself up—to new adventures, new people, new opportunities. Open your heart up past what feels reasonable or comfortable, and you will be amazed by what comes rushing in to fill it: joy, hope, positive energy, laughter, growth, love. The things that have the power to transform you for the better are ultimately what drives the bad things out. Let them in, so you can let go.

You Will Fall in Love

In Dominical, I tested my limits, and surpassed them. I laughed and cried and judged myself for neither. I tried new things. I filled my camera roll with photos that will never compare to the real thing. I fell in love with 18 other people, and with a place. And, I fell back in love with myself.


A beach bum at heart, Kirsten is a writer and editor living and working in NYC. Check out her Instagram

 

 

 

3 Reasons You Might Not Do A Fitness Retreat - And Why You Should Anyway | Catrina Reeder

1. Travel is expensive

The scariest things about travel are all of the details that you have to think about: accommodations, sight-seeing, excursions, food & drink, and all of the planning involved before you get there. All of these things always seem to involve one major thing: money, dinero, pesos, whatever you want to call it. A fitness adventure and yoga retreat is the perfect way to take the worrying out and get the biggest bang for your buck! First of all, going on a group retreat gives you the benefit of a luxury vacation with the benefit of a group rate. This whole retreat is priced just a little higher than a week hotel stay in Vegas (and that’s just the room by the way), but even better because we’re in paradise and have the whole place to ourselves! Secondly, all of the planning is done for you AND with room to change it up as you go. Wanna relax? You can do that. Wanna workout & sweat? Check, check. Lastly, we take some of the brain work out of food planning with breakfast and smoothies every morning, plus 3 nights of dinner and cocktails, care of owner and restauranteur, Eddie from Salud. All you have to do is plan snacks along the way.  

 

2. I have to take time off work or away from family

We’re planning this trip MONTHS in advance, giving you plenty of time to plan out your work and/or family schedule. Plus, we’re gone for just 5 days and traveling back on a weekend, so you have extra time to regroup (and detox?!) right before your work week. When you take time to unplug, reset, and enjoy some well-deserved time off, you’re able to come back with an even better mindset when you return and definitely with more energy!

 

3. I’ve never traveled outside of the US or with strangers before

Consider this one of the best things you’re checking off your bucket list. We’re traveling with one of the pros in fitness adventures, Mantas! Sayulita is one of the best locations for a first-time traveler because your plane ride is only a few hours to Puerto Vallarta, so no jet lag! Our accommodation is about a 5 minute walk from the town center in North Sayulita, so we’ll have the best of both worlds: a tranquil beach with town close by to explore the local sights. We have planned yoga classes that will be both energizing and relaxing, bootcamps if you want to burn off the extra margaritas, and surf lessons if you want to try it out – we’re beginners, too! The best part: the first few hours we start as strangers, then it turns into a trip to remember for a lifetime with some of the best people you will ever meet!


Catrina Reeder is a mega yoga teacher in Dallas. She's lived it, learned it, and is ready to teach it on the SYB Adventure to Sayulita, Mexico May 1- 6, 2017.

THESE SWEATY SOCIETIES ARE MAKING FITNESS SUPER SOCIAL | WellAndGood

Plenty of boutique fitness studios foster communities where socializing is encouraged and friendships (and relationships) are formed, but the vast majority of people frequenting workout classes show up, sweat, and book it before the stretch.

That’s the opposite of what you’ll encounter if you lace up to run with Surf Yoga Beer or Electric Flight Crew, two workout brands that defy established categorization but share one thing in common—members are part of sweaty societies in which the workout is a warm-up for happy hour.

In other words, the night out kicks off with squats, not shots. Beers, however, are waiting at the finish line.

With these new sweat societies, getting fit feels secondary to making friends, and high-fives and huddles with workout buddies are taken more seriously than your pace. It’s an approach that feels like part of an overall shift towards making social activities healthier—whether that happens via incorporating sweat or sobering up.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about these heart-pumping hangouts—and how you can join in on the fun.

Surf Yoga Beer

Surf Yoga Beer (SYB) was started two years ago by popular SoulCycle instructor (and southern California native) Mantas Zvinas, but in the past few months has really hit its stride. It hosts local workouts in New York City (and San Diego)—like a summer run club and weekly boot-camp classes at Bandier’s Studio B—and roughly seven retreats a year, in which the same social vibe is applied to planking and partying in spots like Nicaragua, Oahu, and the Amalfi Coast. And on December 23, the group is getting its ho-ho-ho cardio on with Santa Runs in NYC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

“What’s most uniquely special about SYB is the community we’ve seen built over time, which makes the retreats and events more meaningful, because those friendships directly impact how great the experiences become both during the trip and afterward,” says adventure and event director Kingsley Delacato. “It’s something you really have to see happen and experience in person. It’s pretty incredible.”

Picture a group of people who are really excited to lunge, laugh, and sip rosé together, accompanied by a designated “official hype man” (that’s a real job title, and he’s awesome), along with swag like SYB tanks and trucker hats, and overall great vibes.

Electric Flight Crew

Electric Flight Crew (EFC) is huge in LA, where it started, but it just landed in NYC this past summer, kicking off with weekly Wednesday night runs followed by signature “No-Shower Happy Hours” at downtown bars (which change each month) like Hudson Hound and Tom & Jerry’s.

Runs, complete with glow-stick bracelets (mandatory) and neon yellow-green hats (optional), start with a huddle where attendees introduce themselves and a leader offers a motivational tip and a health tip. Then, there are three- and five-mile options depending on your level, and everyone meets back at the bar to chat and chug.

Twice a month, EFC also hosts “Sunday Funday” with group workouts at studio partners like Barry’s Bootcamp and YogaWorks, to add in some cross-training. “We can be defined as a social fitness club with a large focus on our members and the community we’re building,” says Tom Flaherty, an MD and Dr. Oz producer who’s leading the NYC chapter. Working out alone? So over.

Ready to lace up and get social? Check out these seven surprising ways to become a better runner(beyond just running) before you do. And if cocktails aren’t your thing, you should know about the fast-growing sober social scene that the wellness world has spawned.

So What is Yoga Exactly?

What I started practicing yoga 8 years ago, I was living quite an extraordinary and exciting life. I was working as a model, flying all over the world to the most beautiful places and working with all these amazing and creative individuals. The only problem was, I wasn't really enjoying it, because most of the time I was just too tired! Those jet lags are no joke!

I realized I needed to slow down in order to be present and aware again. My head was (literally) always in the clouds! Thats when I discovered yoga, and was amazed by the effect these yoga classes had on me. 90 minutes to just spend with yourself, your mind, your body, with no phone, and no emails! That is like heaven to me! It created so much free space in my head to see things clearly again. And it's been a long clear journey since that first yoga class! 

In 2015 I decided I wanted to do a yoga teacher training. I wasn't quite sure what the next step in my life was at that point. But one month in a cabana on the beach in Costa Rica and learning about yoga every day, didn't sound like such a bad idea! Once I got there, it all of a sudden hit me! Wait, I'm in the jungle in Costa Rica, out of my comfort zone, with nobody I know, no phone reception AND I have to get up at 5am every day?? How did I get here, and why did I do this to myself?!

Thank God it all worked out, I had the best time, learned so much and I'm so happy to be teaching every day now! But now that I'm a teacher people often ask me: "So what is yoga exactly?" And then I always freak out a bit. Because I'm a terrible sales person, and I feel like I have to sell them this beautiful thing that is called yoga. And you know you only have 30 seconds, because that's how long people's attention spans are these days!

So I was thinking about what yoga is to me. And I realized yoga makes me feel GOOD. It's as simple as that. And who doesn't like to feel good!? (I told you I'm a terrible sales person) But truly, the best thing about yoga is that there's no right or wrong way to do it. It's your own individual journey, finding out what your body's strengths and capabilities are. Yoga is not about twisting and turning into a pretzel (although that is great too if you can do that, good for you!) It's simply becoming aware of your breath, your body and your mind. And when you reach that place of bliss and inner peace, then you go try to describe yoga to someone in 30 seconds! 

I'm so excited to be joining SYB in Nicaragua and to share the week with new friends!

 

Namasté,

Rianne ten Haken


Rianne ten Haken is a super model turned yoga instructor. She is also leading the SYB Retreat to Nicaragua - November 21-26, 2016. 

CHECK OUT NICARAGUA.

Best Places to Run in NYC in the Fall

Running in the fall is an amazing time to take in that fresh air and fall foliage. So show off those warm leggings and beanies, because it's time to experience a meditative exercise in some of our favorite NYC running spots. Check it out!

 

CENTRAL PARK'S RESERVOIR LOOP

Central Park Reservoir Loop

Central Park Reservoir Loop

  • Located in the center of the park, from 85th to 96th street.
  • Loop is 1.58 miles long, so take as many loops as you want.
 

FORT GREENE PARK

Fort Greene Loop

Fort Greene Loop

  • Located in Brooklyn, offers several different running loops depending on what you want.
  • Also has basketball courts, tennis courts and outdoor workout equipment if you want to shred up a six pack like our founder. 

 

 

NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS

New York Botanical Gardens

New York Botanical Gardens

  • A bit of a trek north, located in the Bronx, but worth it if you love woodsy trails and beautiful flowers.

  • Opens early for runners, so between 6 am and 10 am the gardens are private, just you and nature.
  • Scenic routes make you forget you're still in the city.
 

HUDSON RIVER PARK

  • Great views of the Statue of Liberty, the Intrepid, and fall foliage. 

  • The path runs from the tip of Manhattan to 59th street, so hop on and off as you see fit.

  • Several places to stop along the way, including dog parks, batting cages, and tennis courts.

SurfYogaBeer Run Club will be back in May 2017.

A Day in the Life at SurfYogaBeer | Kingsley Delacato

Nosara, Costa Rica 

Nosara, Costa Rica 

What is it?

And why do you love it so much?

SURF. YOGA. BEER.

It's exactly what it sounds like, and so much more.

SurfYogaBeer is a global fitness and adventure company that aims to bring like-minded people together through retreats around the world, as well as through local events in our home city, NYC. SYB is about taking experiences further than just a workout. We are a culture of balance, hard work & play, and we are a community of fun, sweaty, beer-loving people. 

So REAL TALK... What does that actually mean? A typical day on a SurfYogaBeer adventure looks something like this. Let's set the scene...

You are in ___________ (circle your ultimate SYB destination):

  1. Nicaragua
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Amalfi
  4. Mexico
  5. Colorado
  6. Oahu
Playa Maderas, Nicaragua 

Playa Maderas, Nicaragua 

Imagine waking up at the crack of dawn to a topless Mantas jumping on your bed while blasting music. You quickly come to realize that these wake-up calls are an SYB staple. You walk downstairs only to find the coffee already brewed, patiently awaiting your arrival, with a big good morning smile from Eddie, SYB Partner and owner of SALUD in NYC. The world is just waking up around you, the sound of tropical birds, the swishing of palm trees in the wind. The peace and quiet that is unique to only that certain time of day. 

Your new friends (most of whom you met just 24 hours before) start to shuffle downstairs as well. And off you go to the beach for your morning workout. Beach bootcamp, lead by the finest fitness professionals. Where "water breaks" mean actually jumping into the ocean to cool off. High-fives from the Official SYB Hypeman, Marcos, as you head back to the house for breakfast, then off to tackle whatever adventure is in store for the day. Sometimes it's paddleboarding up a river (Costa Rica), sometimes it's hiking to a waterfall (Oahu), touring Pompeii (Amalfi), or simply jumping off the side of your own private catamaran into the bluest of waters (#heaven). 

The day wraps with sunset yoga by the pool, followed by a delicious SALUD dinner made with all local ingredients. The night ends with a casual dance party and of course, a few brews. 

Nosara, Costa Rica 

Nosara, Costa Rica 

Sounds AHHHHHmazing right? Yes, duh. That's because it is. However, what we DO is not even close to the best part. The real magic happens in the way it makes you FEEL. I've watched it time and time again, people head off on these adventures not knowing anyone. Scared shitless about what lies ahead. Only to leave with a whole new sense of adventure and a whole new realm of possibility. Having stepped out of comfort zones that you didn't even know you were stuck in.

My favorite thing about SurfYogaBeer is that it propels us into finding versions of ourselves that we didn't know existed yet. Into friendships that we suddenly can't live without. It forces us to break patterns of our every day lives and instead remember to live wholeheartedly and undoubtedly in the present. To focus on the HERE & NOW. On lifting each other up a little higher and subconsciously lifting ourselves up in the process.

SurfYogaBeer is more than just an adventure, and certainly more than just a vacation. It is connection. It is facing fears. It is self-awareness. It is LOVE, in the purest form. It is about going back to the basics, and remembering that our happiness is a choice. Our reality is what we choose to make of it. So that when we DO step back into the real world, we are grounded, capable, and our acquired passion for adventure continues to pulse through our veins. Always thankful for where we are. Always hungry for what lies ahead. 

Realizing along the way, that this is what we needed all along. That all of the questions suddenly find their answers. That all of the fears suddenly fade away. That all of the discomfort dissipates. 

But don't take my word for it. Come experience it for yourself. 

You may just realize, it's exactly what you've always wished for. 

 

Kingsley Delacato is the Event & Adventure Director for SurfYogaBeer. 

@KINGSDELACATO