I'm Zach, and I've gone on two Ketanga retreats in Costa Rica the last two years and both trips were fun, active, and (literally) life-changing. Thanks to the inspiration from my Ketanga adventures, I left a job, moved to another state and started a business.
In January 2017, I was killing time at work and stumbled on a random Thrillist article that mentioned Ketanga. I got more and more excited reading about a company that could take me on a wild journey to a far-away land. I could join a dozen other strangers for a week in the middle of Costa Rica. And it wouldn't be a week of beach sitting and margarita drinking, but of boxing, yoga, interval training, hiking, surfing and exploring. As a die-hard Survivor fan, this seemed like the perfect way to scratch that adventure itch. When I wasn't able to convince any of my travel-loving friends to come along, I got discouraged that it may be weird to attend a retreat solo. I emailed Ketanga's CEO Stacy and she told me that plenty of travelers go on retreats alone, and because there are so many planned activities, it's a great way to meet people. I was in!
My first taste of adventure
In April 2017, I attended my first retreat, the Epic Fitness Scavenger Hunt. Wowza did that week live up to its name! Even though the retreat was only 5 days, it felt like we packed a month's worth of experiences into it. Our highly motivating coaches from Epic Hybrid Fitness gyms kept us engaged and busy. In addition to workouts and activities, we spent our days in Tamarindo completing all kinds of crazy tasks to try and win the scavenger hunt. Who would have pictured me serenading a family eating their lunch on the beach, or teaching kids how to do one of Epic Fitness' signature exercises? And my concerns about going on a retreat alone were quickly quelled. Almost everyone on the trip traveled solo as well and it was so great to spend a vacation with other fitness junkies from all over the US. I still keep in touch with many of them today!
After each of my retreats, I ended up making big changes! My first retreat was so eye-opening that I decided to uproot my life. At the time, I was working in nonprofit communications in DC and had been for about 8 years. After spending the week away and getting to know so many people with interesting stories and goals, I decided I was ready for a change too. Soon after I got back to DC, I let my employer and roommates know I would be leaving in the next few months. I wasn't sure where I was going to land, but I knew I was ready to add some adventure to my life and spice things up.
I moved back home to Michigan to figure out what was next. During that time, I focused on my own goals and interests to plan for my future. I took more time to read, try new things and travel. In late 2017, Stacy told me about a chance to return to Costa Rica for the upcoming Fitness, Food and Fun Retreat. The timing was right and I love cooking and eating healthy food. In February, I made my voyage back to Tamarindo.
I like to think my first retreat was Phase One of my "quarter life crisis" and Fitness, Food and Fun was Phase Two. Our coach Alyssa is the Meal Prep Chef and she started her company crafting home-cooked meals for New Yorkers. Before that trip, I always thought about healthy cooking as a hobby. I had never thought it could be a career option too. And this retreat was the perfect opportunity to learn more about food and hone my own skills and recipes.
I returned to Michigan inspired and passionate about the food I ate and lessons I learned. I was also inspired to bring my love of healthy meals to people in my community. Once I got settled back in Michigan, I started putting serious time and thought into how I could make this passion a reality. After months of planning, test cooking and brainstorming, I launched Literally Homemade, an in-home meal prep company in East Lansing, Michigan, to help local individuals and families eat nutritious food more easily.
In addition to the inspiration to start Literally Homemade, I also had another had a personal wellness change. One of the good friends I made on retreat #2 had recently gone vegan. She raved about her new dietary change and after talking with her during and after our time in Costa Rica, I decided to try it myself. A few months later I did VeganApril: one month meat, dairy and egg-free. I love a good challenge, and the endpoint made the goal feel achievable.I started the month fully expecting to do my 30 days and then go back to my normal diet, but I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. I felt healthier and veganism allowed me to be even more experimental in the kitchen. When May rolled around, I decided to stay vegan. Now, I'm still eating vegan and I love vegan cooking. While I don't cook exclusively vegan for my Literally Homemade clients, I'm hoping I can inspire others to try plant-based meals once in a while and pay forward some of the inspiration I got from my Ketanga retreat.
I don't know if everyone will have the dramatic life changes that I had after my retreats, but everyone I've traveled with has had tremendous benefits from their Ketanga adventure. It's a great way to try new activities, kickstart your own fitness goals and get away to an amazing destination. I've become close with people who live all around the country and I love how we can stay in touch and chat about fitness or our lives. Plus I have new workouts and recipes from my coaches!
If you would have told me even a year ago that I'd have gone vegan, I would have called you crazy! I also learned to be more comfortable doing things by myself, without having to rely on a friend wanting to do the same activity. Ketanga Retreats are a great way to break into solo travel.
It's really hard to choose from the food, the people, the workouts, beautiful Tamarindo. But my I will always remember the Pool Olympics workout on the last night of the Scavenger Hunt retreat. It was a great combo of celebration, physical activity and fun that totally capped off our week together.
I believe travel is good for the soul, especially travel focused on wellness! And I'm thankful for Ketanga for making it possible.
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To learn more about Zach's meal prep company, visit literallyhomemade.com and his instagram, @brooksza.
Check out Ketanga's upcoming retreats here or sign up below to join the email list and be the first to hear about new trips, inspiring stories and fitness & travel tips!
What do yoga, meditation and cannabis have in common? And what happens when you combine all three on a retreat?
If you practice yoga and/or meditation regularly, it is likely that you are familiar with how, over time and with practice, you experience a deeper connection to both your mind and your body. An awareness is cultivated that follows you on and off the mat. If you use cannabis with any regularity, it is likely that you experience a deeper connection to both your mind and your body. It, too, cultivates an awareness that stays with you outside of the immediate experience. When combined, a yoga + cannabis practice can take your experience to another level, and we are excited to explore this on our first Cannamaste: Yoga & Cannabis Retreat in Colorado! (Get it, cannabis + namaste...!?)
Led by Rebecca Weible, founder of Yo Yoga! studio in NYC, this May 3-6 getaway is designed to provide education, discovery and a fun time in a safe and legal environment. Already experiencing expected backlash about combining 'weed and wellness', we wanted to bring Rebecca to the forefront and let her share her reasons why this retreat is meaningful for her and what to really expect if you join.
Some people think cannabis is used for tuning out reality, but this retreat will shed light on how both yoga and cannabis are tools for tuning into the present moment and our inner selves when used with cognizance and purpose.
It's no surprise that cannabis is controversial right now, as is combining it with yoga. I'm sure this concept is making some of you see red. I understand and deeply respect everyone’s right to an opinion. We could go back and forth with the facts we choose to believe in order to support our opinions and beliefs but at the end of that, I will still be offering this retreat and you will still not be planning on attending it. So, let’s agree to disagree and to not judge each other. I will be the first to state that you certainly do not need to smoke weed to have a deep and spiritual yoga practice.
That said, the effects of yoga and cannabis practices are remarkably similar. The most notable difference is that the effects of cannabis impact us with more immediacy. This is the key in understanding how cannabis and yoga are complementary. Using cannabis, mindfully and with intention, puts us in a meditative state and by practicing yoga in this enhanced state, we can explore that mind and body connection even more deeply because we do not have to cut through pervasive stress and tension first. We can refine the experience of being in the present moment.
Yes, an integral part of the yoga experience is the journey - the work, effort and intention we dedicate to finding our higher selves cannot be replaced with cannabis. I’m not suggesting we use it as a shortcut. What I’m suggesting is that cannabis can be a part of that ongoing journey. I designed my upcoming retreat, Cannamaste: Yoga & Cannabis Retreat, for those who are interested in this experience.
So, who am I and why am I qualified to lead such a retreat? In my 13 years of practicing yoga, 10 years of teaching it and 15-ish years of using cannabis, I’ve been delighted to watch how two of my passions fertilized each other. With legalization on the rise, it finally seems like the right time to bring this blend to my students. Even though I have plenty of experience with both, I attended a Ganja Yoga Teacher Training in L.A. this fall to learn more, mingle with like-minded teachers and flush out my plans for bringing enhanced yoga to my community. I went a step further and became certified in teaching Ganja Yoga to help lend credibility and professionalism to this endeavor.
What to expect when you get to Colorado
Cannamaste will help dispel the stereotype that stoners are lazy couch potatoes as each day is full of activities like hiking, a cooking with cannabis class, dinners out on the town and a yoga class on the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater steps. You don’t need to be a ‘stoner’ to come on this retreat but I recommend being open-minded in regards to both learning about cannabis and to the cannabis practices of your fellow retreat participants. To achieve a well-rounded yoga experience on this trip we’ll have both sober practices and cannabis-enhanced practices. We’ll be practicing regular vinyasa classes each morning and enhanced classes each evening. Participants can certainly opt out of cannabis use at any time...or opt in and enhance any activities of their choosing on this trip.
Cannabis education is a theme on this retreat in order to highlight some of the many wellness benefits that it can offer, like anxiety and pain relief, cancer- and alzheimer’s-fighting properties, and to help cultivate mindfulness and intention in your usage. This trip is not only about how cannabis can affect your yoga practice, but how the mindfulness we cultivate through our regular yoga practice can help inform the intention we set for our cannabis habit. Our yoga practice can help us stay aware of when and why we are using cannabis so that with each sesh we can truly absorb the benefits and prevent it from becoming a mindless habit. Additionally, cannabis knowledge among regular users is highly important (this pun was unintentional but I’m leaving it!) as legalization rolls across the country because we can help set the standards for this young industry by demanding safe, high-quality, organic plants and products.
What I’m most looking forward to about this retreat is socializing with other like-minded yogis and sharing what I’ve learned about using yoga and weed together in a legal and judgement-free environment. Join me in Denver to learn how smoking can help us tune in instead of tuning out.
Learn more about Rebecca at YoYogaNYC.com and on Instagram @yoyoganyc and learn more about the Cannamaste Retreat by clicking here or filling out the form below:
Ketanga: We're excited to be partnering with you on our first of a series of RediscoverU retreats this year! Can you give a sneak peek of what's to come?
Rich: Our first retreat will be in Kauai, Hawaii, and we have a team of expert trainers, yoga instructors, motivational speakers and one amazing videographer to capture the entire experience! We will have daily workouts followed by yoga practice and meditation, priming the mind and body for the day. Kayaking, hiking, snorkeling, cliff diving (not too high) and motivational speeches will be held each day.
After Hawaii, we are looking to host quarterly domestic retreats in 2019 (#spoiler alert: Sonoma/Napa, Tahoe, Yosemite, and Southern California), and then in 2020 we are thinking about expanding internationally!
What was your inspiration for RediscoverU and who are these retreats for?
My vision for RU was created by the rediscovery of my own self. In 2014 I started the journey of sobriety. I had implemented a few disciplines into my life, and my life changed over night. I started traveling, seeking out experiences I had always talked about doing but had never actually gone through with. My life had changed for the better so drastically that I wanted to spread all the knowledge and experiences I obtained to as many people as possible. If I could change my life, so can anyone else.
RU is for anybody seeking a great life, regardless of what is holding you back.
What's your favorite type of music to play in your classes? / What are 3 songs currently on your playlist?
In my workout classes I listen to hip hop with with a little house influence. Currently top 3 songs are:
What type of activities do you like to do to keep yourself active and in shape (other than working out!)?
I love all things active! Hiking, snowboarding, surfing, boxing, trail/hill running and home cooking :)
What's a fun fact you can share with us?
I am a college baseball state champion and have lived in every major city along the California coast.
Rich's vision is to positively impact peoples lives on a large or small scale. Through his training and interaction with others, he aims to inspire people to take chances in life that have a great reward!
Whether it’s traveling more, starting a new company, leaving a toxic relationship or just simply taking the chance to do something they have always dreamed about doing, he believes that no matter what we all have the ability to positively impact our own lives. RediscoverU was created to be the inspiration and support behind the change.
Join him and his all-star team in Kauai this February or sign up below to hear more about upcoming retreats as they are announced! Plus, be sure to follow Rich @rediscoveru for more info!
Before my first Ketanga retreat
I had been a licensed social worker for more than 10 years. I loved working in various areas of the field, including clinical therapy and nonprofit management, but I did not have a sense of fulfillment.
I wanted more. I wanted to help people become their best self in a way that wasn’t quite under the traditional social work umbrella.
At the time, in 2015, I was a fitness enthusiast who just loved to workout in my free time. I was looking for inspiration, and I decided to take a risk, step outside my comfort zone, and book a solo trip to Costa Rica through Ketanga Fitness Retreats.
My Ketanga Experiences
My first Ketanga trip was to Costa Rica with Coach Curtis Williams, and it was amazing!! I loved everything the retreat had to offer from morning and evening workouts, to food, to zip lining, surfing and more. It’s was a fitness vacation filled with both high-intensity and low-impact workouts, delicious food, and fun activities. Plus, it allowed me to see a different country that I would have never thought to visit on my own.
The following year, I signed up for a totally different type of Ketanga retreat, one just a few hours away by car in the Hamptons, NY. The weekend trip with Coach Kelly Keesler was a combination of beachfront Pilates, local dining and enjoying a small group atmosphere (away from the traditional craziness and partying of the Hamptons!). My most unforgettable experience is the 5-mile bike tour that unexpectedly turned into a 12-mile adventure!
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One of the biggest surprises I learned about myself during the retreats is how much I love nature. I’ve always loved water but to go hiking and see open land with all of the beauty that nature has to offer is therapeutic within itself. To be grounded and rooted in nature is truly amazing and has stayed with me since then.
Improving People's Lives
Shortly after my first trip with Ketanga I decided to follow my heart and what made me happy—become a fitness instructor. I figured out I could take my invaluable skills/tools as a social worker combine them with fitness to impact lives in the fitness and wellness arena!
Currently, I am fulfilling my dream as a group fitness instructor at Equinox throughout New York City, a personal trainer and, most recently, a doula!
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So, why join Ketanga on an adventure? For me, the benefits of signing up for a retreat are relaxation and the ability to unplug from the daily grind. In this busy and over-stimulating world we may take recovery for granted. Self love and self care come in many forms. Signing up for a retreat enforces this love and care by giving people a chance to recharge the batteries that often run on empty. Plus, you may get inspiration in the most unexpected ways... and your life may take a wonderful turn from it, like it did for me!
To learn more about Bianca, her fitness classes and doula services, you can visit www.BiancaCrystal.com or follow her on Instagram @_biancacrystal.
Check out Ketanga's upcoming retreats here or sign up below to join the email list and be the first to hear about new trips, inspiring stories and fitness & travel tips!
1. Apple Pie Baked Apples
If it’s almost all fruit, is has to be healthy, right? That’s what you can tell your guests when you present them with this beautifully put-together Apple Pie Baked Apple. It has all the flavor of the Apple Pie with less of the crust, so you’re able to enjoy this unique treat without the added guilt that comes from having a second...third….and potentially 4th slice.
Recipe can be found here via Sally's Baking Addiction.
2. Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Praised for its high level of antioxidants, the Purple Sweet Potato is the ultimate hero in this vibrant pie! It’s an untraditional twist on an otherwise traditional pie, and the best part is that since this variety of Sweet Potato improves blood sugar regulation, you are actually doing something good for your body by eating it! Additionally, everyone in the family, allergies included, can enjoy this one because it’s entirely vegan.
Recipe can be found here via The Endless Meal.
3. Healthy Pecan Pie
While Pecan Pie is typically known for being incredibly high in sugar, this recipe swaps out the icky, refined ingredients for more natural options. Sweetened with dates and maple syrup, this pie provides all of the flavors that everyone loves from a Pecan Pie without any of the intense sugar-crash that comes after a piece.
Recipe can be found here via The Healthy Foodie.
4. White Bean Shepherd’s Pie
Though pies over Thanksgiving are usually considered sweet, we wanted to throw in a savory one to give you options! This Shepherd’s Pie is chock-full of fiber and vegetables, so you don’t even have to waste any space on your plate for your aunt’s wilted salad. And here’s a phrase you probably never thought you’d hear a wellness site say: opt for extra pie instead of stuffing, and save yourself calories later!
Recipe can be found here via Veggie Primer.
5. Skinny Pumpkin Pie
Could we even make this list without the king of all the Thanksgiving pies, Pumpkin? Nutrient-dense with a low calorie count, the pumpkin provides ample opportunities to add flavor to the pie without compromising your diet. So go for that second slice of turkey AND pie, because this recipe allows flexibility to your meal plan without requiring you to change immediately into sweatpants post-meal.
Recipe can be found here via Skinny Taste.
Here's to a healthy, happy and tasty Thanksgiving! And if you're looking for a last-minute getaway, consider joining us in Costa Rica for the Beach Bum Boot Camp Thanksgiving Retreat! Details here.