Forget fat camps and health retreats, ‘FITcations’ are the new wellness holidays worth scheduling. Fusing the chill factor of a proper vacation with the lifestyle overhaul elements of fitness and nutrition, QT Port Douglas is pioneering a FITcation program that includes accommodation along with a health consultation, a personal training session and private yoga as well as a spoil-worthy spa treatment to reward yourself for all your hard work. Sigourney checked in and reported back…
“I’m really not feeling very fit when I arrive…
Reading the 6.45am start time on my itinerary doesn’t faze me, because I have small gremlins that wake early, but I imagine normal people might find it confronting on their holiday. But, interestingly – I’m up even before the kids, bounding out of bed at 6am. Queensland is an hour behind Sydney in summer, and light from 5am, so it’s actually pretty easy to get up early. I decide to walk to the beach, grabbing a takeaway (almond milk!) latte from the restaurant on my way.
Port Douglas – in far North Queensland - is idyllic, to say the least. A laid back, but stylish enclave an hour north of Cairns, Port (as the locals call it) is fringed by the Daintree Rainforest on one side and The Great Barrier Reef on the other. The water is Caribbean blue, the seafood is fresh and plentiful and it’s bikini season all year round – in other words, just the kind of place you want to get fit and healthy.
As I cross the highway and wander down a path to the beach I actually trip over some mangoes that have fallen from a tree above me. This very fruit that goes for $5 a pop in Woolworths are splayed all over the ground, rotting wastefully and becoming fruit fly fodder.
Emerging from the dim rainforest onto the beach, I’m struck by the vast horizon shimmering with the golden light of sunrise. I have to restrain myself from throwing myself into the water because there’s a risk of being stung by jellyfish that migrate to these waters during summer…it’s also not uncommon for crocodiles to lurk around the beaches. You can swim at a net patrolled by the surf club in town but most people stick to the resort pools this time of year – like the incredible one at the QT.
Suddenly it’s time to get back - I trot back to the QT Fitness club to meet their Health and Fitness Coach Jeremy Lebeuf - an amiable Canadian who looks like he eats TRX bands for breakfast. He takes me out to a little clearing under some palm trees where he’s set up some witches hats and tells me I’m welcome to get Damien and the kids to come. I love this – Damo was just saying to me that he needed to do some exercise, so I call him to come down and start the warm up while Jeremy explains the concept of the FITcation.
“Often when people come away they forget to do any exercise and make really poor choices with food, they get home feeling worse – they almost need a holiday from their holiday,” says Jeremy. “We want to offer guests an opportunity to leave feeling amazing, and to be able to incorporate positive things into their lifestyle back home.”
The family arrives and Damien and I embark on a circuit of burpees, sprints, jump squats and some particularly challenging bunny hops that I know I’m going to feel well into next week. In the soupy humidity, it’s pretty tough but I’m so distracted by the tropical foliage that I barely notice the pain in my quads. The kids are having a grand time stacking witches hats and copying us. “The family that trains together, stays together” quips Jeremy, cajoling us into another set.
Later that day as we loll around the pool, I actually feel quite worthy. Instead of going for the burger as I normally would at a resort, I opt for grilled octopus with kale and chorizo. Oh okay, and a mojito. But that’s the point – the fitcation isn’t asking us to swap pina coladas for protein shakes (although they do have smoothies on offer at the buffet breakfast). It’s about enjoying yourself as much as it is about being healthier. And with that, I climb with Lulu onto a giant inflatable mattress and we bob around the fabulous lagoon style pool to some very agreeable Bob Marley riffs.
The fun doesn’t stop there. The next morning I head to the spa for a one hour massage with the fabulous Spa Manager Kelly, before meeting Jeremy for a one-on-one yoga session. Let’s just say, a massage followed by yoga is perfection. I’m so focused, chilled out and limber (thanks to Kelly’s gentle pummeling) that I’m able to stretch much more than usual. (Which, mind you, is not much). When we reach the standing poses, I am a strong, stable centuries-old tree – rather than my usual shaky twig in the breeze. I lie back for Savasana in such a state of bliss, listening to Jeremy’s gentle voice rise and fall above the rustle of the wind through the hibiscus plants, that I very nearly fall asleep.
The next few days go by in a blur of activity and (mostly!) guilt-free food and, as we check out, I check in with my body. I’ve got sore glutes and thighs, my core is engaged and my stomach is… um, actually flat (!!). It seems that with my daily egg white omelettes and salads, the odd hot chip doesn’t appear to have made a dent (see? Balance!) Unlike my usual post-holiday remorse I’m actually energized and ready to return to work. Which is exactly what a holiday is supposed to do.”
QT FITcation from $269 per room, head to qtportdouglas.com.au for more information.
Story by Sigourney Cantelo; Photography by Rian Cope for The Travel Shoot Co