A bottle of Tasmanian red is warming by the crackling fire. King Island brie is generously sliced as new friends exchanged raised eyebrows. For a Detox Retreat, things are looking pretty good. We’ve just arrived on a cool evening at Ratho Farm and there are no spinach leaves in sight. What we learn promptly though, is that we’re in expert hands. Go Team Training owners Alana Mann and Dan Lowry know how to foster health and wellness in busy folk, harnessing decades of experience.
An intimate group of seven are committing to three days at one of Australia’s earliest inland settlements, Ratho Farm, home to the country’s oldest golf course. It’s a fitting location for Alana and Dan, whose nutrition ethos is fairly austere. They have seen protein diets and paleo fads come and go, but for these two the recipe is simple - eat traditional whole foods. As Alana says, “eat like your great grandmother did.”
Out comes our first meal (not the above salmon!), and again a few quiet whispers are exchanged. “Are you sure we should eat these white potatoes?” The meal is delicious; slow cooked lamb, salad with creamy fetta, and crispy local potatoes. As Alana assures the table that potatoes are not to be feared, the group relaxes into the knowledge that balance is more important than tossing whole food groups to the curb. Wines are poured, laughter is shared and we’re even served up dessert. It happens to be raw. And it’s delicious.
Come 8pm, our masters are sneaking a yawn in. Dan, a former paratrooper who today trains professional athletes as a Strength and Conditioning expert, admits that he’s often tucked up and asleep by 8.30pm. Alana, a leading expert in holistic wellness, nods agreeably in a manner revealing her eagerness to hit an early pillow. Having owned a thriving gym and café concept in Sydney, she’s enjoying the relaxed Tassie pace and has done more than her fair share of bedtime reading on the restorative benefits of decent sleep. Like Ratho’s sheep, we all follow suit.
Dan and Alana probably need a good rest. From 6am-6.30pm they conduct classes at their Go Team Training gym in central Hobart, six days a week. Not your typical gym, this pair tap into scientific research and base programs on practical client experience. They afford the same attention to a client’s body fat percentage and customised plan, as they do to ever-changing lactic workouts so every gym visit is different. The result is a boutique gym offering a new level of expertise in the Hobart fitness landscape.
Go Team is based around the belief that group training is best for facilitating change in body composition. After years of personal training, by combining forces in a team environment, they knew they could provide greater impact than giving undivided attention to a single client. “Plus, the energy of the group encourages everyone to work harder,” adds Dan. What’s more, it’s also a good dose of fun.
Our first morning begins with a special concoction. Warm water is swirled with Himalayan rock salt and a splash of apple cider vinegar. It’s not a pleasing taste, but we’re comforted by its ability to stimulate the digestive process and encourage an alkaline state. It’s the perfect precursor for fresh eggs and bacon served up in the original Ratho homestead. No cereal in sight, nor sugar-filled juice, we are again assured that ‘good fat’ equals a ‘good start’ to the morning.
As we settle in for a long chatty breakfast, I begin to think these Detox Retreats are cruisy business. What I don’t know is that a full 30-day detox, beginning with five days of ‘certain veggies only,’ is to follow our time together. Perhaps that was in the fine print! But for now, everything that flows from Dan and Alana makes perfect sense; even down to the importance of ritual and sharing meals with others. The more our bodies learn stable and wholesome routines, the healthier we become. And so far this hasn’t involved 345 crunches or carrying a tyre up a hill.
Just before our 10am lecture, we gather in a cosy kitchen for cups of tea. But not just any tea. This is tea made by Anthia Koullorous, a clever girl whose brews are found in Sydney’s finest eateries. I eye off the bag labelled ‘rise and shine,’ hoping that my non-tea drinking self might convert. I take a sip. I’ve never enjoyed tea more.
This tea is the most delightful little bag of goodness –seeping through into my highland water. I can sense mellow flavours on the back corners of my tongue- sweet yet gentle- nothing like the swills of caffeine usually flooding through. This is nice. I feel alive and a strange sense of calm moves in. Not to sound like a Dilmah tea ad, but I’m struck with a small moment I’d often overlook; a moment where I can nourish my body. I stop, sip and take a jiffy to appreciate the skin I’m in. If Dan and Alana intended to instil this simple ideal, they’ve done so on day one.
Our morning workshop is all about the gut. That’s right, there’s even a slide titled ‘get your shit together’ and although not all of it is café conversation, it’s worth talking about. If you can learn how to kill off ‘fungal overgrowth,’ why wouldn’t you? And if 80 per cent of serotonin is made in the gut, eating right might just make one feel brighter about the world.
We learn that supermarkets are good for toilet paper and dishwashing liquid- about the extent of their nutritional products. Word on the Go Team Training street is to support the local butcher, go organic with your veggies and support local growers where you can. Snippets of gold are interspersed with open discussions. Who would have thought olive oil is at its best when it’s not put near a fry pan? Serve it cold on a salad and relish its goodness.
Absorbing all that information calls for a well-earned meal. This time its Tassie Huon salmon and a bitter-flavoured salad, dressed with the aforementioned olive oil. It’s delightful and slow-burning fuel for our afternoon expedition into the highland hills. We walk for a couple of hours in the low afternoon sun, reaching the top of Nicholas Sugar Loaf to enjoy views of Mount Wellington, Mount Ossa and across the central plateau. The autumnal air is clear and crisp.
On return to the homestead we settle in for afternoon tea by the fire- protein enhanced bundles of tapioca in sweet glass jars. Dave, one of Go Team’s most enthusiastic clients, inhales his before the kindling has caught flame. I can’t blame him though, it’s a tasty treat. The lady beside me sighs with relief that we can enjoy it during the 30 day detox.
Come nightfall we are back together for a hearty pork goulash that’s been slow cooking away through the day. Wines are poured and cheery chatter is interspersed with wellness snippets we file away as health nuggets. Of course, most of our body clocks are now on 8.30pm bedtime, so there’s no Lark whisky nightcaps by the fire for our group.
Getting into this wholesome rhythm, we rise with anticipation. There’s contagious enthusiasm now- downing our Himalayan salt sprinkled over apple cider vinegar with child-like fervour. Being kind to our bodies, and making this commitment is not about instant results, reminds Alana, but for the ‘us’ we’ll have in six months. Little changes make all the difference.
Today is about stretching, it’s about learning how to exercise in the confines of small spaces using our bodyweight and it’s about more time in the classroom. Education is key over these three days and absorbing new knowledge takes me back to high school days. It’s refreshing, knowing that our ‘teachers’ have decades of arsenal in their backpacks to share with us. They’re not an unknown website, or the latest fad, they’re living examples of what they preach.
What have Alana and Dan taught us? That fitness isn’t all about pain and thrashing one’s body. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Wellness is about being grateful for your body’s movement ability and nourishing it with the kind of affection you’d afford a new born. Where along the path did fast living and fast food become superior to taking care of that one body each of us are issued?
Look at Dan and Alana and they look a picture of health. Strong, alert, bright eyed and positive. This didn’t accidentally happen. This is a crafted look. This is a nurtured look. Come across Dan when he’s working out and yes, he’ll be stressing those triceps to the max, but he’ll be doing it in a calculated, measured way. A way that his body trusts. And he’ll reward it when he’s done. Watch Alana prepare a meal and she’ll dedicate thought to every green addition, like a piece of the puzzle built to nurture us from the inside.
Most three day retreats are glorious breaks from the real world. Walk away and by 7am the next morning, emails are stressing you out and your body takes a backseat to the daily workload. At this retreat, Dan and Alana are aware of this. Exercises are taught that can be done in a hotel room, meals are made for slotting into manic lives- where slow cookers do the work and where dinners can become tomorrow’s lunch.
They know how to train and eat well, compacted into a busy schedule because this is how Dan and Lan live. They breathe wellness despite their hectic days. The busier they are, the greater their focus on what is precious. As Dan reminds us, “we all have the intelligence to understand what’s good for us, but wisdom is the execution of this knowledge.”
On the final day, I feel as though I’m amongst good friends. There’s a comradery unfound in a generic gym, where sole fitness enthusiasts hit a treadmill silently. This is what binds a professional sporting team- the desire to work together toward a common goal. Dan and Alana know that this recipe works. It forges a commitment from each to help another across the line. It encourages folk to share knowledge and pat one another on the back for successes…surely that’s how health and wellness should be.
Find out more:
Go Team Training
m: 0488 003 089
Words & images (unless credited): Alice Hansen
Your launch pad for exploring Tasmania like a local.