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Colonics, cryotherapy and helmet-type gadgets: this is what it’s actually like inside a burnout retreat

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SHA Wellness Clinic in Spain

Preparing a yoga class at SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain

The Leader’s Performance programme works on the seven areas SHA’s experts say have the greatest impact on our health, physical and cognitive performance: nutrition, exercise, rest, stress and emotion management, detoxification, gut microbiota recovery and hormonal balance. Each protocol is tailored to the individual guest, but the goal is to leave the clinic recuperated and armed with the tools to manage your life and live in a preventive (rather than reactive) state. As I walk through the glass doors of the clinic, I mentally and physically hand myself over to the team, with an invisible sign over my head that reads, “please, please fix me“.

My initial observations are how peaceful it is here. It’s busy but doesn’t feel crowded or overbooked, which I was worried about in my anxious state. The warmth of the team radiates, and I feel immediately cocooned, a condition the modern and tranquil bedroom also emits with its plush pillows and buoying balcony views of the surrounding Sierra Helada Natural Park in Southern Spain.

I head to the roof restaurant for my first meal with, truthfully, a modicum of dread. Bland, flavourless food – often the flavour profile of choice at wellness retreats – is my nemesis. But here, a three-course lunch starts with a flavourful broth, a delicious quinoa salad that changes my mind about that particular overhyped grain, and even a pudding that, frankly, tastes too good to be healthy. It settles my food panic, and even starting the day with a miso broth becomes palatable after a day or two.

After a consultation with a nutritionist (who takes into account my issues with bland food and adjusts my menu accordingly), I’m assigned to the Sha Biolight menu. It’s the “intermediate” fare, which is detoxifying but not aimed at weight loss like the stricter Kushi menu or the more gourmet Sha menu at the opposite end. It’s largely plant-based and macrobiotic, with some fish, pasta, oil and nuts. Crucially, it tastes amazing; there’s one prawn and konjac pasta dish I still think about months later.


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