Bali, why its the perfect holiday destination for fit and healthy people and why I am going back
Updated: Feb 20, 2020
In summer 2018 I went to Bali for 12 days solo and fell in love with the place. Having done a fitness camp the year before in Thailand, I had booked myself on for a 5 days of fitness with S2S CrossFit Bali who provided me with unlimited access to their classes plus accommodation. The rest of my stay I booked into The Chillhouse, a surf and yoga retreat in Canngu.
Both situated in Canngu, an amazing surf spot with a large range of fresh, healthy cafes and restaurants to choose from plus many places to indulge in Balinese massage at the cheap price, there wasn't anything else I could really ask for. This holiday was specifically for me to get some R+R. I wanted some time to myself where I could focus on my own health without the stresses of work and people relying on me. Don't get me wrong I love my job, whether it is helping others in the gym becoming fit and healthy, helping massage and alleviating pain in muscles or spreading my love of yoga; I do believe we all need some time to focus on ourselves.
Being able to train when I liked (usually morning and evening) then refuel with delicious healthy food, at a cheap price all freshly prepared, all I had to decide was whether I would like to go to a yoga class, go surfing or go for a massage, or maybe go do some sightseeing. For me, this is the dream and what a 'holiday' means to me.
As part of the fitness holiday package S2S CrossFit provided me with accommodation in KOA Hotel, about 10 minutes walk away from their CrossFit box and about 5 minutes away from the beach. The hotel rooms were spacious and modern. They were what you would expect from a 4* hotel, however the rooms did lack character, but a lovely, clean room with everything I needed. The hotel provided breakfast each morning with a large selection to choose from including fresh fruit, salads and an egg station which was my favourite. There was a rooftop bar and pool which was also nice to chill out at and a nice place for me to practice yoga when yoga classes weren't at the right times. The hotel was quite a large hotel with many guest here for surfing. On my last 2 nights there, I noticed at breakfast there were a lot of other CrossFitters in the hotel. During my stay, Lauren Fisher, one of CrossFit's youngest athletes to compete in The CrossFit Games, was running a fitness retreat over at CrossFit Wanderlust. People were friendly and as a solo traveller it was nice to sit with other solo travellers and guests at breakfast.
Workouts took place at S2S CrossFit Bali, a small box in Canngu. Every day there were two different classes; CrossFit Class or CrossFit Cardio. I would try to attend both classes, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Having been a regular at CrossFit Cheltenham back at home, I was familiar with classes and the movements. However even if you had never done CrossFit before, the coaches were really on point with technique. Even though I had done CrossFit before, it was nice to do some different movements and have different coaches. There are standard movements in CrossFit, but it was great to experience and do some new exercises. I especially enjoyed the warm ups which were sometimes like partner games. Another thing which my Box back at home does not offer is CrossFit Cardio Class. More simple and different exercises are used during these classes that would get you really working up a sweat and helped improve my fitness and endurance. Everyone was really friendly at the box and the coaches would even sort out dinner, surf sessions or nights outs with other people taking part in classes. What I enjoyed about this box is that the class sizes were kept relatively small with maybe 15 people maximum and throughout my time there I would recognise friendly faces and spend some time hanging out with them outside of class at the beach etc.
Also included in my fitness holiday package was the option to go to yoga classes over Desa
Seni, a Yoga resort about 10 minutes moped ride away from my hotel. Desa Seni is set up as a very peaceful and spiritual place where guest who were coming just for yoga were not allowed into the main resort. However the entrance, reception and yoga shala were extremely beautiful, peaceful and all situated outdoors. I really enjoyed practising here in this tranquil space, hearing the sounds of nature around
The second part of my stay in Bali was at the surf and yoga retreat at The Chillhouse. The Chillhouse has a modern, boho feel to it. I did feel very relaxed and chilled here. Yoga is offered twice daily in the morning and late afternoon, in a shala situated outside. I had the chance to experience different types of yoga such as Kundalini and sound healing. The rooms at the Chillhouse have a lot of character and I loved their outdoor shower and bathrooms. This is definitely a more boutique place to stay. Attached to The Chillhouse is Cassava, a plant based eatery where breakfast is included each day for Chillhouse guests. Eating at Cassava was one of the highlights of staying at The Chillhouse. Every morning I would love to pick something off their healthy plant based menu for breakfast which also included 2 extra sides (think avacado, fresh fruit platter, grilled mushrooms or cassava toast) a juice of the day and a cup of herbal tea or coffee. I connected with many people over at The Chillhouse, it has a great vibe for solo travellers. Over breakfast and in yoga classes we would connect and share experiences and advice about our travels. Again it would be nice to hang out and go to the beach or dinner with some of the other guests. One girl, Virginia, who was also solo traveller recommended using her tour guide to take a trip to Ubud and I was very easily able to arrange this over Whatsapp.
With its location still only about 15-20 minutes away and a flexible timetable I decided to carry on going to Crossfit at S2S as it was only about 15-20 minutes mo-ped ride away in my new location. Some days I would be able to fit in an early 7am crossfit class, and 2 yoga classes at 9am and 5pm at The Chillhouse. There were a mixture of teachers taking the yoga classes, but I particularly enjoyed classes ran by Danielle who mentioned The Chillhouse was her venture. In one class we did Partner Yoga which was a lot of fun and the teacher brought a lot of positive energy to the class.
Canngu itself is mostly a surf spot. There are two main roads leading to the beach with a connecting street through the rice fields. It was very easy to get around using a Mo-ped App service such as 'Grab' or 'Go-Jek' from your smartphone, similar to Uber. One side is busier than the other side and I preferred the quieter side which S2S Crossfit was on. There are popular beach clubs which I did not go to, but am contemplating going this year. There are many delicious health cafes and restaurants dotted around Canngu where I'd be able to pick up a fresh smoothie bowl, a healthy dinner or just a coconut for a cheap price. Near the beach there is also a weekly market selling a range of Balinese produced products as well as many boutique shops on the streets of Canngu. Some of my favourite places to eat in Canngu were; Cafe Organic, Nude, Bali Bowls and the Shady Shack. Even though Canggu has everything I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on holiday, one thing people do not tell you about Bali is that it can be really noisy. The roads are always really busy and noisy full of mo-peds. There are no pavements in Canngu, but it is fine to walk along the roads. The restaurants and shops however are very near the road, so if you are sat outside in front of a cafe or restaurant it can be quite noisy if you are near a main road. Most places (especially the places on the S2S CrossFit side) did not have this problem and would be a very tranquil place to sit, be mindful and enjoy some nutritious food.
Apart from doing CrossFit and Yoga in Canngu, it wouldn't be a adventure if I didn't do some sightseeing. Halfway through my stay at The Chillhouse and with the advice from Virginia I booked one night in Ubud and arranged a day tour with her guide Leo. Ubud is an amazing place to soak up some Balinese culture and to escape the hustle and bustle near the coast. It is about and hour and a half away from Canngu in a taxi due to traffic. Making my way there myself I booked to go to Bali Swing, a swing park located in the rain forest where you can swing above the palm trees. The rest of the afternoon and evening I spent exploring the town of Ubud. The actual town again is very busy, but it does have pavements. The only thing with the pavements, sometimes there would be a massive hole where it looked like they hadn't laid down the paving stone every 10 yards. It was a bit weird and I wasn't sure if the pavement was new or unfinished, but it was quite odd. I ended the evening with dinner and a massage excited for my tour the next day.
The next morning after having local monkeys try to steal mine and other peoples breakfast by the pool, Leo came and picked me up from my hotel for a day of sightseeing in and around Ubud. This was a very enjoyable day where I really got to see some amazing scenery and experience some Balinese culture. I walked the terrace rice fields of Tegalalang and an hour so soak up the peace of being out there. I went to a Lewak Coffee Plantation where these animals eat the coffee beans scattered around the plantation, then poop them out. Coffee is then made from these bean. Don't get me wrong it sounds gross, but probably the best coffee I have ever tasted! I visited Gunung Kawi Temple, Besakih Mother Temple and Teirta Empul Temple where I took part in a water purifying ritual. Stopping for a traditional lunch looking over the rice fields, it unusually started to rain for that time of season. My tour finished with a walk down to visit Tekad Cepung Waterfall. Overall I felt like I had a great day exploring. Leo was a great guide answering all my questions about Balinese life as well as explaining the history and culture at the temples. Dropping me back at The Chillhouse, I was very happy that I decided to take a proper rest and recovery day with no exercise to go explore the wonders Bali had to hold.
Bali, for me is a healthy person’s dream destination. It was easy out there to make conscious healthy decisions and carry on training in a beautiful setting, and meet like minded people. When I came back from Bali, I felt very healthy, relaxed and like I had pressed the reset button. People often mention to me, when they come back from holidays they feel quite unfit and usually have eaten (and drank) a bit too much and put on a few pounds. I actually came back from Bali feeling fitter and healthier and wouldn’t want to feel any other way. This is one of the main reason why I am going back next week. Now that I have a feel of Bali, I have discovered some other amazing areas and boutique gyms I want to visit and experience. For someone looking for a holiday like this I highly recommend visiting Bali to experience the culture and to maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle while on holiday.