Namafknste | How Costa Rica Gave Me the Fresh Start I Needed

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It’s the middle of the afternoon on the first Saturday of the new year.  Here I am, cramped into an economy window seat back to the USA, sweating under the mediocre fans Delta has installed on this aircraft, craving a coffee that’ll help me power through the long travel day ahead.  I’m still wearing my red Costa Rica tank with the Surf Yoga Beer logo on the back, a garment I’ve probably sweated through numerous times over the past week and likely isn’t a source of appeal for the unlucky guy in seat 21E.  But as I reflect back on the SYB experience that just concluded in Costa Rica, I couldn’t be more comfortable, relaxed, and ready to attack 2019 full-steam ahead and with 34 new friends.

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Flash back to summer 2018 when, on a whim, I threw my deposit down on a New Years’ adventure to Nosara, Costa Rica with SurfYogaBeer after hearing about them from my Bumble date who had just returned from a trip with them herself (yes, a freakin’ dating app got me here) so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I guess I have a vulnerability to succumb to spontaneous urges like this. I started thinking I was insane...What the hell did I just sign up for? I’m going to wake up early every morning on vacation to work out? With a bunch of strangers? In a foreign country? Will they judge me? Will they like me? As a fiercely independent and stubborn person with a type-A personality,I seriously questioned how this was all going to turn out.

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I had a lot of surface-level reasons that attracted me to the Nosara trip with SYB. And these reasons were solidified every time I told a friend or family member about my upcoming adventure. It turned out everyone else wanted something just like what I had signed up for. They’d respond: “I want to surf.” “I want to get away from the cold for New Years’.” “I need a different type of vacation.” “I’ve never been to Costa Rica and love to travel.” “I heard the female to male ratio on these trips favors guys.”

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But beneath the superficial appeal of going to Costa Rica with a group of like-minded, fun, fit people, there were, as it turned out, deeply personal reasons that brought me and the rest of this group together. On our remote resort nestled just north of Nosara near Ostional, we got to know each other and discovered that we shared in many of the same pains, hardships, and setbacks throughout 2018 and in recent years. Stress, death, illness, anxiety, depression, addiction, etc. – we had all gone through something that’s often stigmatized in our society and in turn holds us back from opening up and releasing that negative energy. Personally, I’ve struggled with health issues over the past few years that nearly destroyed my body. While I took a major step forward this year, still felt as though I was at an impasse between where I was and where I wanted to be in life. I quickly realized the appeal to come on this trip came from more than just wanting to spend the NYE holiday at a tropical destination.

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SYB is not a therapy retreat - that couldn’t be further from the truth.  You can find the proof to that in how much we laughed and danced together.  But there’s something to be said about the connections that are fostered within a small group when you wake up, sweat, and break bread together for 7 days straight.  For whatever reason, after I’ve struggled through burpees with you at 7am, being open and communicating with each other doesn’t seem so difficult. And to be fair, the paradise of Nosara certainly doesn’t hurt either.

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What I realized this past week is that I desired – no, I needed – scratch that, I CRAVED a fresh start. I’ve been yearning for this form of abstract reset button. I refused to go into 2019 with the same song and dance. But I accepted that it’s not all on me. Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat of your own life, but there’s always room on your bus. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you, provide advice, and maintain positivity, and your journey is that much sweeter.

I wouldn’t trade this experience in Nosara for anything.  Among the highlights for me:

  • We surfed one of the most beautiful beaches in the world

  • We did sunset yoga in a massive shala overlooking the Pacific.  We sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody and learned salsa dancing (or tried, anyways)

  • We SUP’d to a remote beach where we cracked coconuts and swam together with not another soul in sight for miles and miles

  • We enjoyed family meals together thanks to our man Eddie (read: LEGEND)

  • We laughed ourselves to tears

  • We pushed each other through the workouts, helping each other overcome fears and doubts along the way

  • We laid down under the unobstructed night sky and watched for shooting stars until the wee hours of the morning

Above all, I did it all with an amazing group of people.  They’re all unbelievably talented, unique, and a true joy to have met.  Thanks to them, I’ve never felt more ready to take on the challenges of a new year.  That’s the damn truth.

#namafckinste


This is JB drinking a cold one after a long day of working out, surfing, and namafnkinstaying

This is JB drinking a cold one after a long day of working out, surfing, and namafnkinstaying


Article by: JB

He signed up for the trip because of a first date conversation. What a good choice…

Brad's Story | Iceland 2018

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I never had been to Iceland, met Mantas, or even heard of Surf Yoga Beer before I signed up for the Iceland Running trip. It looked impressive on the web-site, miles over waterfalls/volcanoes/out of the world terrain, photographer with a drone, local running guide, remote cabins with impressive views, this trip had to be something too good to be true. I signed up as a co-worker (Sean) cheered me on and thought, “what am I doing?” This is not me, signing up for a trip without fully exploring all the options, I’m an adventurer, I run marathons, I love to explore, but spontaneous group travel to another country, not me! What if I don’t like any of these people, what if I can’t run the miles, what if I got injured and couldn’t run my regular marathons back home. At that time I didn’t realize a 5 day running adventure with 18 strangers would do to me and the impact those people and the trip would have on me going forward. 

The first run of the trip, just outside our home

The first run of the trip, just outside our home

I eagerly packed my bag and prepared myself for running on trails for the first time. I also did my detective work on who was going on this trip. I learned about Mantas and his SoulCycle classes and how he started this group and past adventures they have gone on. I joined the summer run club and had a taste of the community that SYB builds.

It looks like a fantasy but this was our home

It looks like a fantasy but this was our home

I landed and made my way through customs to the duty free shop to find some local whiskey to buy for the trip. While groggy and looking for coffee I found a black carryon bag alone in the aisle with SYB stickers all over it. I looked around for somebody from the trip, but didn’t find anybody. I thought of all the times at the airport and luggage is left unattended what to do and the consequences to that bag. Soon Mantas swings by hi fives me and grabs the bag. I followed him to meet the others in the group and headed off to a bus onto our cottages in the northern part of Iceland. The awkwardness of a new group melted away quickly and within the first hour. Mantas and Inga asked us each to share a bit about ourselves and what type of runner we are, we had a full range from multi-marathon runner to non-runners, we had developed nick names and inside jokes amongst our group. Hours passed and when we arrived to the Raven Lodge area we stepped out into a scene appropriate for a MacBook wallpaper, it was perfect with snow capped mountains, a crystal clear stream, waterfalls, several black cottages scattered amongst the fresh air that we breathed in deep. It even smelled fresh! We were off on our first run 30 mins later along that stream up a ridge to view waterfalls and the hillside with rolling hills and a circling cloud on the mountain top. We ran like that for the next several days. We took pictures of us running, exploring, goofing off, relaxing, drinking, and building a gram portfolio for months to come. Over the week we toured several parts of Iceland and ran over volcanic rock, through streams, up and down ridges and cliffs worthy of National Geographic. I personally have never seen sights like those before in my life. I still remember the first mile of a 20 mile trail run we did and how I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a cliff with a few hundred foot drop to a teal blue river with rock formations that looked Martian like. My iPhone snapped pictures along the way, but Aaron our professional photographer ran and took pictures of us, I felt like a Lululemon store model in those pictures he took. They adorn my iPad, iPhone, and work laptop wallpapers.

I typically run alone on the west side highway or in Central Park in New York City as I use it as mental clearing and personal therapy. These runs in Iceland were that, you had beautiful scenery to distract you from the miles put in, your head constantly focusing on the next step to take and avoid slippery rocks and sharp points, but when the runs stopped and we climbed the steps for the bus back to our picturesque cottages we learned about challenges back home, heartbreak, family stress, business triumphs, favorite gas-station snacks, personal goals, who snores/who doesn’t snore, and everything in between. I felt as if the run was a time to organize my thoughts and my bus time was the time to let it out share amongst my bus mates. These 18 strangers met in Iceland and escaped everything from where they came from for one week and focus on the moment we were in. 

 
Seriously this was unreal…

Seriously this was unreal…

I’ve ran numerous marathons and have become addicted to the runners high. I hold marathon finishes very highly in my head as what I call Living life to the fullest!  The second to last day we ran the four Forrest race it was a trail race with several distances that our group all signed up for. I did the 30k length and was nervous as we got to the start line by van. We were delayed as sheep had overtaken our path and wouldn’t move out of our way. I had ran 8 miles the day before and 20 miles the day before that. I was exhausted and only ran this race to finish. I ran with heart and the feeling of support from the other runners on my adventure. I remember one special part of the race and it has become my ultimate running experience! At the halfway point the 30k racers ran by the start of the 18k race group, I saw the pack of runners from a few hundred feet away and knew I would run past them. I was running alone in 3rd place and felt great and full of energy. As I turned the corner and passed the 50 runners and felt their energy I ran with so much heart I couldn’t stop from smiling and yelling as I passed them and hear their cheers. For a runner having that experience is like nothing else. I was living my life fully alive and felt the energy of everyone as I turned that corner and onto the rest of the race, it’s a moment I’ll remember forever.

Yes this was real life at 11pm

Yes this was real life at 11pm

Recovery at the Blue Lagoon

Recovery at the Blue Lagoon

So It’s been about 3 months since I returned back home, the group texts are still going, I’ve met up with my bus gang several times, I’ve met with a fellow Icelander to help with their business, I’ve attended numerous SoulCycle classes in my Iceland hat with other trip mates, I’ve continued on with the run club in the fall, I feel part of the SYB community I’ve gained genuine friends and support in a challenging city. Personally I’ve gained confidence that I didn’t realize I had. I left my job for a new one, ran a PR marathon, I feel like a part of the city and no longer a transplant, and have become more greateful for the things I have and the people in my life. Like I said before I really didn’t realize this running adventure to Iceland would have ongoing impact on my day to day life. 

And as it says on the SYB site “life changing purchase” they actually mean it. 

MORE PHOTOS FROM ICELAND 2018


Brad Homan works in NYC as a packaging manager.

Brad after winning 3rd place in the 30km race

Brad after winning 3rd place in the 30km race

The Moment I Knew | Morocco 2018

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We are the brave ones, the ones who do the hard things awkwardly, tumbling, fumbling, flailing down sand dune dreams, fueled by the burn of our fear-freckled optimism...

Posing at  Yves Saint Laurent  museum

Posing at Yves Saint Laurent museum

You’d think that if Mantas, the humble epitome of the cool guy in school (school being SoulCycle in this case), asks you “Do you want to go to Morocco?” you’d instinctively respond “hell yeah I want to go to Morocco!” Yet having wrestled a lifetime with anxiety, my mind immediately flashed back to my first time traveling abroad alone in Israel, sobbing in a grimy hotel room, texting my mother over the spotty wi-fi with tear-stained emojis shouting “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING HERE.” But a year had passed since then, a year of highs and lows, of success in work and failure in love, of therapy and meditation, running a half marathon, playing Switzerland through my parents’ divorce and dual cancer diagnoses, and getting seriously stronger both inside and out. 

So I said yes, yes to 6am wake up calls on three hours of sleep, yes to desert-heat workouts and late night dance parties, and intimate conversations about life and fear and love and death with beautiful habibis who were only strangers just two nights before. 

 

The moment I knew I was welcome: singing my heart out during the introductions that first night, and all the high fives that came after. 

 

The moment I knew I was strong: running alongside Mantas in Marrakech, testing a course that included crawling through a shrub, a run that would have doubled me over only a year earlier.

 

The moment I knew I was brave: driving an ATV over towering sand dunes in the Sahara desert.

 

The moment I knew I was, had always been, and always will be ok: sending a floating lantern into the African midnight sky, wishing for nothing more than this moment, this life and to dare myself to live it fully.

 

Our group out on a sunset camel ride

Our group out on a sunset camel ride


What draws me to fitness is that doing the things you never thought you could do changes you. And it sucks because now that you know anything is possible, there are no legitimate excuses- you can no longer stand passive, paralyzed by the unknown because you know too well that you can survive it, you can cozy up to the suck, and as long as you’re still breathing, as long as you don’t stop moving you will finish. And into the awkward hurt we go, because that’s where the change happens, that’s where the growth is. In the just…one…more.

Holly getting thrown into the pool after a workout

Holly getting thrown into the pool after a workout

We are on this planet for a reason. To open ourselves to what’s possible- to leap into discomfort and meet ourselves stronger and braver on the other side. To open ourselves to each other and dive beneath the surface of “how are you” and swim to the bottom of “who are you?” It’s in that space that we become connected, transformed, and truly alive. This Moroccan journey was a milestone for me: showing me how far I’ve come, healing what was once wounded, reminding me that everything I want is on the other side of fear. If we only have one life let’s be in love with it— for me, that means dancing, singing, sweating, laughing as much as possible, surrounded by a courageous community, telling our stories and finding new ways to help each other grow. 

CATCH SYB BACK IN MOROCCO JANUARY 2019

Written by:

-Holly Mitchell, CEO and Leadership Coach at Central Park West Dentistry

 

 

MORE PHOTOS FROM MOROCCO 2018:

Workouts everyday

Workouts everyday

Sand boarding the Sahara desert

Sand boarding the Sahara desert

Stand Up Paddle boarding in Essaouira

Stand Up Paddle boarding in Essaouira

Our last night together

Our last night together

SNOW DAYS | Clay Perry

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I've been traveling for as long as I can remember. I've been snowboarding for 20 years. I've been drinking beer for a decade. I've been doing yoga for 6 months. I'll be honest, I really did not know what to expect heading into my first Surf Yoga Beer trip. So, I decided to try out SYB because I was looking for a new, fresh travel experience that involved recreation, beer, and meeting new people. Oh, and snowboarding!


What I felt within the first hour was the welcoming and energetic community that is SYB. From the get go it was smiles, laughs, and major stokeage. Shortly after meeting the crew, we jumped right into an amazing yoga practice, greeting our arrival and the 11,000 foot mountain outside our window that would be shredded in a mere 12 hrs. Minds clear, stomachs full with an amazing first dinner, and body relaxed after a few beers, we headed to bed. I knew I was in for a fun few days.

I've never seen the movie "Rocky" but I now know how Silvester Stallone got his motivation. Man, Eye of the Tiger on full blast will really get your day going. Once up, we had a beautiful meditation session surrounded by the smell of bacon, which led to yet another amazing meal. Bodies and minds energized, we tackled the mountain like school kids on a playground during recess.

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Back at the commune, we unwound that afternoon with a decompression yoga sesh. We all got cleaned up and headed into the iconic ski town that is Crested Butte for a family dinner for the ages. Another night, another time to lay our heads to bed with a full soul.


Last day - sore and fulfilled from more activities, we said our final goodbyes with hugs, high-fixes, and some tears. It’s not goodbye – it’s “I’ll see you later”.

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I was surprised at how the SYB experience can bring complete strangers together in such a short period of time. You quickly learn to let your guard down, to be a kid again, to get out of your comfort zone and into a place that is safe and welcoming.

SYB reaffirmed my personal feelings that food, fun and fitness really does bring people together - in an absolutely stunning location.


NYE | Jackie Caterina

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NO SHOES, NOT SINGLE, NO PROBLEM.....

The group on a private beach together

The group on a private beach together

When my boyfriend and I signed up for the SYB Nicaragua trip, we didn’t really think about who else was going to be on the trip.
We both are very active NY’ers who workout 6-7 times per week and the idea of an active vacation including early morning wake ups for beach boot camp, surfing and sunset yoga led by one of our favorite fitness instructors seemed like the perfect way to start the New Year together.

As the trip approached, it dawned on us that we might be the only couple on the trip and that we may or may not be a part of singles trip with a low guy to girl ratio. We had no idea what to expect but regardless we were going for the workouts, to surf, to meet some new people and chill out.

With all judgement behind us, we arrived in Nicaragua and quickly came to realize that we were 1 of 2 couples and that there was a pretty even ratio of dudes to chicks. Not a bad start.
I consider myself an outgoing person as is my boyfriend, so being friendly is a non-issue. We both quickly found ourselves having conversations separately from one another and making friends with everyone together & separately. Being a couple on a predominantly singles trip could have been challenging - but we thrived in it actually. We loved competing against each other in boot camp games on the beach & motivating each other to push harder or run faster when we were doing individual relays. It was fun seeing the competitive nature come out in both of us and made us appreciate and trust each other more as the week went on.
A few times that week, it may have crossed my mind that I may have wanted some alone time with my dude but the people we were with made being with everyone together enjoyable. We had some small moments to ourselves to just enjoy a sunset or check out the waves but not once was I upset about getting woken up at 630am by Mantas and Jenn to Kanye West.

As we looked back on the week, we both agreed that this trip could have gone south real quick if we weren’t already confident in our relationship. Instead, those 6 days of making incredible bonds with complete strangers, helped to solidify that feeling. I realized that back in our real life in NYC we had a divide in our life with “his friends” and “my friends” but now we have “our friends” and we have SYB to thank for that.

I am so grateful to everyone at SYB for starting my year off on such an amazing note & cant wait to go on another adventure.

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Jacqueline Caterina is a fitness enthusiast who lives and works in New York City. She and her boyfriend Mike went on the SurfYogaBeer Nicaragua New Years Eve Yoga and Surf Adventure - Dec 2017!

https://www.instagram.com/jaccat15/