One week can open your eyes and force you to reflect on life choices and the habits you’ve come accustomed to. KO8 Escapes inspires you to become fitter, healthier and happier and gives you a little subconscious nudge in the right direction. Paradise has never been so convincing.
When my friend Kerry suggested an alternative holiday centered around fitness and healthy eating I was taken aback by the idea. Why would I pay a lot of money to vacation somewhere I couldn’t relax by the pool and do as I please 24/7 and most importantly, not eat a million and one ice creams a day? The idea baffled me until I got thinking about my past vacations. I couldn’t remember a time where I’d returned from a holiday not panicking about the dreaded ‘post-vacation’ diet and how I’d struggle to fit into ‘that dress’ for the next event. The over-indulged belly bloat and general ‘meh’ attitude to life, post-vacation is always a horrible feeling, so why was I so opposed to going on a fitness retreat?
With a gentle nudge from my well-traveled friend, along with a quick search of Thailand on the old Instagram, I’d soon booked my Thailand Escape with KO8 Escapes. How exciting!
KO8 Escapes | My Experience
With the 7-hour flight behind us we arrived at Absolute Twin Sand Resort & Spa to be greeted by the founder of KO8 Escapes, Kieran Owens. We all chatted about what we wanted to achieve by the end of the week over a healthy dinner and Kieran gave us an insight into what we could expect, starting with a 6:30 am start on Day 1. Straight into it, no messing.
Mornings always consisted of a pre-workout drink followed by a beach boot camp/hiit session. The beach boot camp sessions were tough, especially as I’m not used to training outside or on sand but I loved every second of it. Training outside kept it interesting and I definitely preferred the Thailand sea view compared to the dark walls of most gyms. The humidity worked you harder, that’s for sure but it also made you relish hard work and made the feeling of accomplishment so much sweeter.
With the first session completed, now onto the next.
During our time in Thailand, we were really fortunate to learn Muay Thai with some of the most bad-ass fighters in the country. The sessions were relentless and extremely hard-core but so rewarding. Us girls couldn’t help but feel so very ‘Rocky-esque’ once the hand wraps were secure and gloves were donned. Practically pro-fighters (or so we felt at least), we learned some Muay Thai skills and put combinations into action in the ring. The trainers knew how far to push, and when we couldn’t give anymore, they asked for another ten. We visited two gyms over the week, one of which being the famous AKA Thailand; Phuket’s Premier Muay Thai & MMA Fitness Camp.
Our third session of the day was a little less intense. Each day ended with a blissful sunset beach yoga session to stretch and relax our bodies and mind. I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest fan of yoga – I’ve always been more interested in other workouts such as hiit or weight training but I can’t deny that yoga was a massive part of recovery and was a great end to each day. Karol Krauser was our yoga teacher (I want to say yoga master – the guy knew his stuff) and made yoga enjoyable for everyone, even a yoga-skeptic like me.
KO8 Escapes not only wants to open your eyes to health and fitness, they also want you to experience Thailand’s beauty, heritage, and culture. There are lots of cultural excursions included with the programme, some of which, naturally include exercise along the way.
Our first trip included a 45 min jungle-style step challenge followed by a well-deserved dip in a nearby waterfall. The 45 min step challenge was probably the most challenging thing all week but we all got through it with a lot of support and high-fives from each other and other random climbers.
The second trip involved a little less exercise and more elephants. Yes, elephants! We visited Phuket’s Elephant Jungle Sanctuary where we interacted with the elephants; feeding them and bathing them. NOT RIDING THEM. The very lovely people at the sanctuary explained how they save the elephants from unethical circuses and shows around Thailand and aim to give them the happiest life possible. I would highly recommend visiting Phuket’s Elephant Jungle Sanctuary and learning more about these amazing creatures.
We also visited Phuket’s famous Big Buddha in the Nakkerd Hills and learned a little more about the Thai culture and heritage before finally taking a celebratory boat trip around the lost islands of Phuket to end our fitness and fun-filled week.
Absolute Twin Sand Resort & Spa
Accommodation is provided in the KO8 Escapes package, and it’s not too shabby either. Absolute Twin Sand Resort and Spa is the perfect place to retire after a long day of workouts. Set high on a spectacular peninsula on Phuket’s south west coast, minutes from the hustle and bustle of Patong, the resort enjoys panoramic ocean views amidst lush tropical landscapes and two white sand beaches just moments away. The KO8 studio suites have a touch of modern luxury and have everything you need for comfortable stay. The facilities and pool areas are incredibly inviting as are the daily pool yoga sessions. Despite the hectic schedule, you’ll find yourself making the time to escape by the infinity pool for an hour or two. The resort will have all phases complete by May 2018, just in time for my next summer visit!
To make the week even better, KO8 Escapes scheduled for us to receive three massages and a magnesium foot soak in the 180 Wellness Spa. The spa is located in the resort so it was very easy to pop back for a quick shower and leisurely make your way to the spa for your treatment. The ladies at the spa were to true professionals and are experts in Thai, Swedish and sports massage. The treatments were so good, that both Kerry and I purchased an extra massage, just because.
If the KO8 Escape’s food plan, prepared by the Blue Mango restaurant didn’t convert you to a healthy foodie, then I don’t know what will. The food plan was low in carb, high in protein and every bit delicious. The chefs at the Blue Mango restaurant knew how to make healthy, delicious and never compromised on flavour.
The nutritional side of things was the biggest eye opener for me. During the week we consumed around 1200 calories a day and I was honestly surprised at how much food we were eating. Prior to the KO8 week, I was eating due to convenience. Between meetings, I would usually grab a sandwich, or maybe just a chocolate bar instead of eating a healthy lunch. I’d never drink enough water and would always opt for a diet coke at lunch for a quick energy fix. To add yet another bad habit into the mix, I’d always hit the gym on an empty stomach and then be so hungry by the time I got home that I didn’t really care what I ate so long as it was food.
Now that I’m home and back into the routine I’m trying to introduce new, healthier habits into the mix:
- Limiting carbs to one meal a day
- Eating more protein
- Introducing daily fruit/vegetable smoothie
- Drinking at least 2 liters of water a day
- Limit diet soda drinks
I suppose everyone is interested in results – as am I!
Let me start off by sharing my main goals for the week; I wanted to feel healthier, fitter and more energised by the end of the week and to also have lost some weight (as would most girls attending this kind of holiday).
I achieved all of the above and more!
I lost 1.3kg in six days of training and a further 2kg since returning home and keeping up with training and eating healthily. During the KO8 week I lost 8.5 inches altogether, including 3 inches from my waist and smashed the fitness challenge at the end of the week, completing nearly 50% more reps in the press-up challenge.
Physical results are important, we’re only human after all. But I’m more grateful for the learning experience that came with it. Without this experience, it would have been very difficult for me to alter bad habits and understand that ‘healthy’ is a lifestyle, not just a week escape in Thailand. I am genuinely grateful for Kieran’s support and expertise during our KO8 escape.
If anyone would like more information on my experience with KO8 Escapes, feel free to reach out in the comments. I’d love to help out. I’d also like to offer a big thank you to the Nikon Middle East Team who provided me with a Nikon D5500 to capture my special Thailand memories.
Here’s to a healthier happier future.
Love, Amy X