Nourish Thrive Flow: The new Abu Dhabi day retreat tackling food, fitness and mindfulness

Three wellness and fitness coaches in the capital have come together on a mission to help people live healthier, more sustainable lifestyles

Participants in the Nourish. Thrive. Flow. day retreat work on weightlifting. Photo: Nourish Thrive Flow
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What’s the connection between physical activity, mindfulness and food?

That’s the question I hoped to answer as I recently attended a day experience in Abu Dhabi with Nourish Thrive Flow – a new health and wellness community founded by coaches Carlos Mendez, Suzi Curtis and Lana Nasser.

Together, they're on a mission to empower people towards healthier, more sustainable lifestyles. Only the second retreat the trio have hosted, this one was themed “community” and took place at The Bridge in Al Qana.

It comprised a full-day of activities that included two fitness sessions, two mindfulness workshops and two cooking demonstrations.

While I am well versed with fitness and know a little bit about mindfulness, I’m not much of a chef, so cooking is something that I am not very comfortable with.

During the session, we were put into teams and given a demonstration on how to safely use kitchen knives.

Despite learning tips on how to properly use one (such as gripping with my thumb and forefinger and using a rocking motion when cutting), I can still feel my anxiety rising when it comes time to closely slicing and dicing an onion.

And even though my fear is obvious, I manage to get it done – although I’m sure my cuts could have been more concise.

This is one of the main principals behind the experience, though: to do something unfamiliar.

“I want people to break their boundaries or just step out of their comfort zone and transform in a little way. [I want them to] walk out being a different person from who they are coming into it,” Curtis, a certified master health and wellness coach and mindfulness practitioner, tells The National.

Nourish Thrive Flow aims to help spark change through engaging and enlightening sessions.

The initial idea behind the community came from the founders’ time together in Animal Flow, a fitness programme that combines elements of bodyweight exercises and animal-like movements to improve strength, flexibility, mobility and co-ordination.

Nasser, a holistic chef and certified health coach, explains how the trio wanted to inspire more people to come together to embrace healthy living in a supportive way, through out-of-the-box activities. Putting their heads together, the idea of building their own community was born.

Mendez, who has 13 years of expertise in the fitness and well industry, says: “We [brought] together our best expertise on the things we do," explaining that while they are similar in many ways, it's their differences that proved a strength in setting up Nourish Thrive Flow.

Combining their independent experience and know-how is the key, hence why all retreat experiences will follow a similar format that brings together fitness, cooking and mindfulness. Instead, it will be the theme – which is threaded throughout every class on each one-day experience – that will vary each time.

And despite knowing what the day would encompass as far as hour-by-hour structure goes, I was given little detail stating what exactly would be happening – and this was intentional as the coaches wanted everyone who attended to do so with an open mind, without preconceptions.

"We don't want to promise you that you're going to change your life forever – we want to promise you that you're going to learn something that you didn't know," says Mendez.

“And when you leave, you leave happy that you have now this boost of information that you actually apply and know how to use and can share with others.”

“Whether you transform for good or for one or two days, that's perfect.”

Since the summer can be a quieter time in the capital, they say they will plan their next retreat for some time in October, once the weather cools and more people are back.

But for those who are interested in learning more about connection within fitness, mindfulness and cooking as well as those who are just opened to meeting new people, the group will try to host workshops over the next few months, following a similar ethos.

What I learnt from the experience

As people continue to look for ways to feel rejuvenated or just want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life, more and more are turning to wellness retreats.

Retreats are growing in popularity and the UAE has no shortage of them. According to the Global Wellness Institute, travel for wellness retreats are expected to grow an average of 21 per cent annually through 2025.

However, they don't always have be about going away and spending tons of money. Whether it’s a day-long escape or one that takes up just a few hours, there are plenty of ways to support health and well-being.

While I don’t want to spoil the experience for newcomers, here are some things I took away from it.

1) We all have roles in life and sometimes they change. During one of our mindfulness sessions, we focused on whether we are leaders, contributors or observers, and in what instances we would typically find ourselves in which roles. For example, who am I at work and who am I with my friends or family? It was a thoughtful and reflective moment.

2) Cooking is about so much more than just food. It’s also about creating a community as well as a culture and identity. Passing on recipes from generation to generation or connecting through a shared appreciation of a specific cuisine can bond people. “Cooking for a loved one is the most ultimate act of love," Nasser told us.

3) Take time for yourself in a busy world. Through our two mindfulness sessions, we focused on self-awareness and awareness of the world around us. As things evolve because of technology, it’s easy to forgot to slow down and appreciate the things and people around us.

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Updated: May 12, 2024, 4:05 AM