I went to Los Angeles to meet up with a bunch of ladies I’d never met before. Strange how social media works, isn’t it?
I’d been lightly involved with the Mamavation virtual sorority for about a year and a half when Fitcation was announced. It seemed like an amazing opportunity so I jumped in fearlessly.
Fitcation was amazingly priced for us social media moms. Sponsors lined up to subsidize the expenses, so it only cost us each $200 (plus travel to get there) to attend. Who could pass up that price, married with the chance to experience some new fitness routines, stay at an amazing hotel, and get to know my online friends in real life?
As we got closer, I had a little anxiety… would I like these ladies? Would they like me? Would the workouts be too much for me? Not enough? What about frogs?
I am happy to report that Fitcation was an incredibly great experience! I liked all the ladies (and @Mrbookieboo!), the workouts were game changers, the Four Seasons Westlake was GLORIOUS, and we were treated like royalty by DOLE, the main sponsor.
I arrived a few hours early on the first day, and spent those extra hours lounging by the pool with my college roomie, Jeni. It was so luxurious and restful, and I absolutely cherished that time with her. The pool at Four Seasons Westlake is part of the spa of the California Health and Longevity Institute, which shares facilities with the hotel. Jeni said, “We should meet this way more often!” This pool is called the “Serenity Pool,” and there are no children allowed. NO CHILDREN, PEOPLE! What a perfect way to spend my first afternoon of my trip!
After saying goodbye to Jeni, I cleaned up and checked in on the Fitcation gals. I finally got to meet Leah @bookieboo, her husband Mark @MrBookieboo, community manager Shelley @Momma_Oz, and a few of the Mamavation Sistas. I met them all at dinner later that night – a delicious Greek meal catered in Leah’s suite.
It was so easy to start conversations or just jump in on the middle of another one, because we already know so much about each other. I really felt like I was in a group of friends, even though Tina @MadHatterMom and Caryn @RockinMama were the only people I had even met before (and I only met Caryn wearing a harness!).
Tina and I retired to our room fairly early – partly because we knew we had a boot camp workout at 7 a.m., and partly because the Four Seasons beds were calling our names. I am not exaggerating when I say this may have been the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. I’ve stayed in some nice hotels before, but this bed is definitely among the best. The smooth, crisp sheets… the fluffy down comforter… the perfectly plush pillow. OK, enough about the bed for now.
We started Friday morning with Steve from Fit Body Bootcamp. For only 30 minutes, he worked us so hard! I learned two completely new exercises which revolutionized my home workouts. One is (I think) called a triangle pushup. You start in plank, then lower your elbows to the floor, and push back up to straight arms. It totally worked my triceps, to the point that I was still sore on Monday. Good sore! I’ll insert a video link to the other one, because I’m not sure I can describe it. But let me just say, I had no idea it was possible to work the abs so hard so far down the belly.
After boot camp, we cleaned up and walked across the street to Dole World Headquarters for breakfast, a tour and tasting of some new products.
Here we all are on their beautiful back patio, after breakfast:
I learned a few exciting nutrition facts
1. Chia seeds need to be milled in order to derive the Omega 3 health benefits from them.
I’ve heard a lot about the health benefits of chia seeds, but had never tried them. The Dole Nutrition Institute is conducting studies on them being used by athletes, and so far (if the notes I took are correct), they are showing favorable results for helping endurance and recovery. Encouraged by this, I offered to test them during Hood to Coast, and the kind folks at Dole gave me a supply for my team. My endurance and recovery were both awesome, so I’m giving them a thumbs up! Since Fitcation, I’ve been putting chia seeds in my smoothies or on yogurt before my runs, or in pineapple juice for an afternoon snack. They get a little gelatinous if they’re in liquid very long, but there’s no weird flavor at all.
2. Bananas have just as much nutritional benefits as power bars or energy drinks. A study conducted last May proves it. Nature’s energy bar, with no chemicals!
3. Those little fruit cups don’t have any sugar in them.
I would never before have bought those little individual-serving fruit cups for my kids’ lunches, because they seem so processed and sugary. But Dole is the only national producer to use 100% fruit juice in their fruit cups.
After our tour of Dole, we went back to Leah & Mark’s suite for lunch catered by Subway. Joshua Medcalf from “Train to be Clutch” came and talked to us for a while. I am writing a whole separate post on what I got out of our discussion. More to come!
The rest of the afternoon was spent back at Dole learning about their new vitamin D mushroom powder, then we had a tour of the California Health and Longevity Institute.
CHLI is a beautiful facility that not only treats medical issues related to health, but is also a spa, workout facility, and general health and wellness program. We weren’t able to go into the actual treatment rooms to protect the privacy of the current patients, but everything seemed really lovely and professional. It IS sharing facilities with the Four Seasons, after all, so you have to expect a certain level of luxury!
I was really impressed with the kitchen, which is used for a variety of purposes. I was intrigued by the idea of having a chef’s dinner around this gorgeous kitchen, using produce from the garden just outside the door. Apparently, it’s also used on some reality weight loss show, but I don’t know which one. (Extreme Makeover, maybe??)
Dinner Friday night was mostly cooked by Leah’s darling mother, using Alysa @InspiredRD Bajenaru’s recipes. She made a stir-fry using only a few ingredients, and it was so delicious. I think I tend to pile too many seasonings onto my stir-fry, and it really could be as simple as garlic, ginger, and sesame oil.
In addition to the wonderful food, it was really delightful to enjoy the company of all my new friends. Moms always have a lot to talk about.
Saturday morning at 7, I learned my new favorite form of exercise: hula hooping! A Hoopnotica instructor brought us all travel hoops, and very patiently showed us the techniques to hooping like graceful pros. Ok, maybe not totally graceful. I always thought keeping a hula hoop up involved a lot of hip swiveling. Turns out it’s all about momentum, and moving your whole torso back and forth. So. Much. Fun. And SUCH a sneaky abdominal workout! I liken a hula hoop workout to drinking a long island ice tea with an umbrella in it. It tastes so sweet and looks so innocent, you don’t realize how much alcohol it has in it until you’re puking in the bathroom. Hooping was so much fun, I didn’t realize until later how much it was
kicking my ass working my abs.
We spent the rest of the day Saturday on a sight-seeing excursion around LA, finishing at Marrakesh for dinner, courtesy of Leading Lady Bras. Another fabulous sneaky workout ensued in the form of belly dancing! The food was – of course – amazing, and we all had a great time sharing, laughing, dancing and eating.
Knowing it was our last night together, many of us lingered in Leah’s suite until well after midnight. It was just so much fun getting to know each other, I know I for one didn’t want it to end. But the bed – and another early morning workout – compelled me to sleep at last.
Kia @Bodhi_bear led us in a restorative yoga session the next morning. Everyone seemed pretty tired, and Kia picked up on this right away and nurtured us through the breathing, stretching and poses. It was just what I needed to cap off a jam-packed couple of days.
We had a few hours before checkout at noon, so guess what I did? That’s right, I climbed back in that bed. I packed everything up first, set my alarm, and just enjoyed the glorious hotel room until checkout. Since my flight wasn’t leaving until later that night, I met Wendy and Meagan for a day back at the pool and spa. Relaxing in luxury, and already hoping to come back next year!
Fitcation was sponsored by Dole, Four Seasons Westlake Village, the California Health and Longevity Institute, Sip the Good Life, New Balance, Subway and Leading Lady Bras. These sponsors provided the attendees with lodging, meals, activities and product during the event. As an attendee, I was asked to give my honest opinion. As always all opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of these organizations.