Published in Private Edition 33
DEBBIE HATHWAY is obsessed with a few things – island life, Indian cuisine by Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia, and staying in shape. Mauritius delivers.
I’m never as full of vitality as I am when on the Mauritian east coast. I tell people there’s something in the air, at once energising and calming, which begins to work its magic the minute I step out of the plane. There’s fact behind that feeling. Research conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2015 rates the island’s air quality one of the best in the world.
The vibrancy it brings allows me to be one of the last guests to take advantage of the award-winning LUX* Belle Mare’s Sleep Tight promise (a resort-specific combination of mattress and linen positively heaven-sent to ensure the best night’s sleep ever) and one of the first to greet the new day from a sea-facing suite. Daybreak is arguably one of the best times to go for a swim in the enormous temperature-controlled pool or a run along the island’s longest and largest beach.
LUX* Belle Mare’s wellness concierge and former tennis pro, Mattias Rendefors, advises guests to make morning training a habit. If for some reason you skip it, you can make it up in the afternoon, but if something comes up or you’re tired, it usually means a missed workout. ‘We’ve got to get up at 5am? It’s dark. No way, they say,’ says Mattias. ‘Yes, it does hurt in the beginning, but people who’ve made that change arrive at work feeling better, more energetic.’
How long to make it a habit? Three weeks to get to the 30-minute daily minimum. ‘The more the better for cardio training,’ says Mattias, ‘but you have to be realistic. We have guests who come here just to improve their tennis. If they can be on court for two hours every day, for two weeks, their holiday’s made,’ he says.
At LUX* Belle Mare, guests can choose from a range of locations to keep fit depending on their exercise regime – from swimming in temperate waters to working out on the beach or practising yoga under the palm trees. ‘We often host business people who have not exercised in a long while and might not have factored fitness into their downtime, but, you know, this is a time to reflect,’ says Mattias. ‘I like to think of it as the psychology of a vacation. For many people it’s a time of self-assessment. They might take their shirt off on the beach and go, whoa, what happened here… and then decide maybe now it’s time to do some training.’
Mattias focuses on the long term, because what you do on vacation isn’t going to make a big difference; it’s the habits you create in your daily life that will. That’s where the LUX* Me Fitness concept comes in. Mattias and his colleague, Patrick Mooken, work with guests to establish their priorities – looking younger, getting stronger, being more flexible, building muscle, improving athletic performance, losing weight – and offer solutions that include designing a training programme that they will enjoy in their daily routine.
Mattias advises on general training and nutrition, while Patrick is trained in the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), a system that assesses muscular imbalances, and guides him in recommending remedial exercises to improve athletic performance. For professional or keen sportsmen, injury prevention is key. It’s more important than anything else, Mattias explains. ‘If they injure themselves while training they can’t continue, and then everything goes to pieces. I advise that they do the FMS and follow the recommended exercises. Even pro footballers have found it a demanding workout.’
Training protocols have changed drastically over the past two decades. A pro tennis player used to train in the gym, doing traditional exercises such as squats, bench presses, etc. And now it’s all about functional training, which centres on floor-based exercises. ‘FMS tests clients’ mobility and stability, after which we can personalise a programme to target weaknesses, be it balance, flexibility or strength,’ says Mattias.
And what about stamina? Interval training is key, he explains. When he’s training elite players he’ll mix up the environment, perhaps taking them to the beach for a combination of quick sprints and slow runs to get the heart rate up. ‘You can also do interval training in the water if you’re a decent swimmer. Twenty-five seconds of intense butterfly can be very exhausting, followed by 45 seconds of more relaxing breaststroke. Repeat that seven times and that’s your workout done.’
Working out at LU X* Belle Mare offers ample reward. Have a nourishing meal at one of the superb restaurants – my favourite, naturally, was Amari by Vineet. Or treat yourself afterwards to a coffee at Café LU X*, ice cream at ICI or a craft beer, all made on site to help reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint. And for pure relaxation, a massage at the LUX* Me Spa is a must. Try the Thai or Balinese massage to ease tightened muscles, followed by a deep-cleansing facial for two or more hours of pure bliss.
* Visit luxresorts.com for more details.