My third interview is with Jo and Karen from Bali Pink retreats. They offer healthy retreats in Bali, Indonesia including Bali Pink Retreats for women affected by breast cancer, support the Bali Pink Ribbon Foundation (and fun runs) and promote breast cancer awareness in Bali, Indonesia.
Bali has a long way to go in the Breast Cancer awareness challenge and SharpMoves and Sharing Bali are helping. They have teamed up with the Bali Pink Ribbon Foundation and organised Bali Pink Retreats. These six day pink retreats are a celebration of life with healthy food and fun. The retreats include lots of activities such as early morning fitness sessions, jungle treks, cycling tours, sunset yoga, pilates, traditional spa treatments and massages, an opportunity to learn how to cook delicious meals or simply to sit back on your balcony and watch the magical rice paddy fire flies. There is a very special pink celebratory sunrise volcano climb for those who want to find their volcano warrior and the opportunity of participating in the Bali Pink Ribbon 5km fun run/walk at Nusa Dua. Please contact Jo and Karen for more information about future Bali Pink Retreats.
7 Q&A with Jo and Karen from Bali Pink Retreats
1. I love what you do. Tell me about your roles:
Jo: My role is to inspire and motivate guests through fitness sessions whilst enjoying beautiful Bali.
Karen: To share our Bali life! My role is to develop the partnerships with our trainers and group leaders, create the retreat programs, manage the marketing and booking process and be the hands on host on the retreat.
2. What is the philosophy behind your retreats?
Fun, fitness and friendships with a taste of Bali village life.
3. How did you get involved?
Jo: I was searching for a holiday where I could be active and experience a different culture. I joined a Sharing Bali retreat for a few days to experience it for myself and then worked with Karen to create the Sharp Moves Fitness Retreats.
Karen: Doing health and fitness retreats was a natural and fairly unplanned step for us to take! We are surrounded by jungle, mountains rivers and rice paddies. I love the outdoors and fitness so we tried one Boot-camp to see if it would work. And now over the last four years we have created retreats that are all about the celebration of healthy living. Outdoor exercise, delicious fresh food served in true Balinese style, good sleep and relaxation, with some laughs along the way with new retreat friends is what its all about. We don’t focus on detox or deprivation. Simply good healthy habits that leave the guests feeling revived and re-energised.
4. What inspires you about the work you do?
Jo: I find inspiration from the Balinese culture. Life in the village is simple and revolves around the community and family.
Karen: Our staff are like family and they in turn treat our guests as family, making it so much easier to provide great service. Sharing Bali is not just a job; it’s our way of life that we choose to share. Our guests feel this and become part of our lives.
5. What drives you to do this work?
Jo: My guests are what drives me. It is satisfying to see people achieve what they thought was impossible.
Karen: One of the best aspects of what we do here at Sharing Bali is the people we work with, and our guests. They are all up for a slightly different Bali experience. We work in partnership with our trainers and leaders. We all want the same outcome and everyone benefits – guests, partners, staff and our village community.
My day starts at sunrise and ends as our guests make their way to their bungalows for some well-deserved sleep. I participate in nearly every fitness, yoga or Pilates session. I never miss a jungle trek or sunrise volcano climb. They not only bring me pure personal joy, I am there to support our guests, guides and trainers. Being so involved, I get to stay fit and healthy, become closer to our guests, gain greater understanding of our trainers and also truly understand our guests’ experience.I join our guests for nearly every meal, enjoying the exchange between fellow travellers. Our evening meal is the time to discuss the program for the following day, keeping everyone informed and allowing them to live the retreat one day at a time, taking a break from being in charge.Our retreats are not all about fitness. Relaxation, taking time for some self reflection, indulging in massages and spa treatments, learning how to cook Sharing Bali style, enjoying conversation over drinks and meal times, as well as absorbing local life, are all on the program. We live in harmony with our village. We are part of a small community, our staff is from the local area and we are an active part of the village Banjar and ceremonies
6. What are the main messages you want people to hear about breast cancer? Why is that important?
To help increase breast cancer awareness in Bali through education especially in small villages.
Jo:Next is continuing to promote healthy lifestyle choices to as many people as possible.
Karen:Our retreats are all about the celebration of healthy living and the Sharing of our Balinese way of life. We are always working on new ideas. Jo and I are working on being a retreat destination as a fund raiser for a cancer research group in 2014. The opportunities are endless and exciting!
And here is an excerpt from the last Bali Pink Ribbon Retreat:
We met our guests for the first time in the cool of the very nice hotel lobby in Nusa Dua. It wasn’t hard to find each other. We were the ones in running gear whilst everyone else was thinking about their next swim or cocktail.
We followed the pink flags to the meeting point and signed up for the Bali Pink Ribbon Walk. A quick change into our very chic Bali Pink Ribbon t-shirts and we were ready to join the crowd for the warm up session.
A few of us had already decided to run the 5km track. 30+ degrees, over 90% humidity. What were we thinking? We had a dedicated runner in the group. One who regularly runs 25-30kms. Her pink t-shirt in the distance kept us going. At some point our runners group missed a few pink flags, adding another 3kms to the run. We had not only raised some funds for this walk, we were adding some extra sweat.
Our walkers crossed the finish line and it was time for some celebration. We heard from some inspiring people who had not only survived breast cancer, but had become champions for the cause, raising much-needed funds. Our donations were gratefully acknowledged by the hard working people from Bali Pink Ribbon.
We moved on to a candle-lit table on the beach to celebrate the day with fresh fish, wine and good company. It was a special beginning to the retreat.
Next destination – our village in the hills outside Ubud for the Sharp Moves 4All fitness retreat. It was the start of 5 days of fitness, cycling, treks, spa treatments, cooking classes, yoga, massages and lots of fun.
Part of the group were a mother and daughter duo with a lot to celebrate. Appreciation for each other through difficult times and a 40th birthday. At 3am a bottle of Veuve was in the backpack and they were ready for the Mt Batur volcano climb for a sunrise champagne. Our staff surprised our guests with hand painted champagne “glasses” and fresh flowers at the summit. A memorable sunrise for everyone.
A Sharp Moves Fitness Retreat always ends on a high. The final fitness session involves a run to the school loaded up with donations of school shoes for needy kids, as well as pens, pencils and notebooks for all. Much fun is had taking the whole school through some playful exercises before handing out the goods. Returning home for our farewell breakfast, we were in good shape. We had not only worked on our fitness and had some fun, we had made a difference in some small way to a charity that has just started on a long journey. Our thanks to our retreat guests for their participation, fund raising and for being generous, fun loving people.