Restore and Reform breaks are good for you. Even if you don’t have anything obviously wrong, you will benefit. That is their promise. The aim of the retreats is to make rehabilitation enjoyable. By combining different disciplines, they offer each client a tailored therapy programme that will enhance recovery and ensure wellbeing in the most efficient way.
I arrived with a list of ailments as long as my arm, which was also in pain! I had a minor meniscus tear making my right knee very sore, lower back pain that meant I could barely move most mornings, a shoulder that seemed to have discovered a nerve it shouldn’t have and, to top it all, flu.
The team was prepared for me. Two days prior to my arrival I had had a lengthy call with Michelle, the resident physiotherapist and one of the founders, where she had gone through my medical history and what my expectations were. She then contacted my physio and got his notes so by the time I got to Fair Oak Farm, situated just outside the picturesque village of Mayfield in Sussex, she knew much more about my various ailments than I do.
This attention to detail is something that runs through the retreat. Abigail (who gives soft tissue massages), Michelle and Lucy (the other founder and Pilates instructor who herself has had back surgery and founded the company when she realised what a dearth of places there were to recover) have several meetings a day to ensure all client information is shared and that they are getting the absolute best treatment they can. At no point during my three days there did I have to repeat myself. They were all fully briefed and focused on improving my various ailments with a single-minded dedication.
Fair Oak Farm is a magical location, the English countryside at its very best, complete with weeping willows and proud peacocks wandering around. Each client has his or her own little Shepherd’s hut or treehouse dotted around the grounds. Meals (and they are delicious) are taken together in the main farm house, so each night is a little like a dinner party.
Treatments are packed into a busy timetable and include physiotherapy, soft tissue therapy, reformer Pilates, mat Pilates and stretch classes. In total there were ten of us on the weekend and we were split into two groups of five for the classes, pairs for the reformer Pilates and alone for the massages and physiotherapy sessions.
The impressive dedication and enthusiasm from the team permeates the entire experience and you feel well looked after at all times. You really get the feeling that your health is their number one priority. I came away with a real sense of confidence and a belief that my body, with the right guidance, can heal itself through exercise and physiotherapy. Michelle says her aim in life is to “beat the surgeon” and I’m with her on that. In fact, one of the ladies on the retreat called Clare had done just that with their help and avoided dangerous back surgery. Since meeting the Restore and Reform team she has been able to carry on with her life pain-free. Feeling fully inspired, I am now planning on doing the same!