Sunrise over the Andalusian landscape

The Times journalist Nick Wyke joined a 7 night in:spa retreat in January.

Southern Spain is one of the bases for in:spa’s tailor-made weeks of fitness, yoga and fabulously healthy food.

USP: Neither a bootcamp nor a loll-around spa, in:spa covers the ground in between with a well paced schedule of fitness, yoga, nutrititon and massage all overseen by experts in their field.

AMBIENCE: The venue in Andalucia is held in a hotel designed as a monastery with rooms on two levels around a central courtyard filled with fruitful orange trees. There are outdoor areas for fitness around the large pool and the hall that is used for yoga. In:spa has exclusive use of the venue so there are no distractions from the week’s goals. The hotel is about 10km from the sea. Rooms are spacious with stone floors, which keep them cool, and en-suite bathrooms.

EXPERIENCE: “Just a word of warning,” said Amelia, the nutritionist at our introduction talk, “people do seem to experience nightmares on these weeks.” The crazy dreams are part of the detox deal apparently – one of the prices to pay for forfeiting sugar, salt, wheat, red meat, caffeine and alcohol – something I didn’t find out about until the night before leaving.

I thought of the two lads I’d sat next to on the plane who’d been heading straight from the airport to the bars of Malaga. Now that’s a holiday, I reflected. “Think of it as a holiday for the liver,” said Amelia.

There were 13 of us – three men and ten women – mostly aged between our mid-thirties and mid-fifties. We all had different goals for the week, from weight loss to kickstarting the New Year with a fitness regime (mine).

Each day started at 8am with either a run (a 4 to 6km trot with a hill) or yoga. On days when we weren’t out hiking, between breakfast and lunch there’d be a cross-training session, that was lively and fun in the sun. Later in the afternoon there was a fitness option that might include work with Swiss balls or Boxercise, for example, and the day would wrap up with a restorative yoga session before dinner at 7.30pm. Most of us retired to bed by 9.30pm.

Every other day there was a morning hike, starting from the hotel, and covering between 10 and 15km by lunchtime. The walks and fitness timetable build a camaraderie and talking points among the group. Scattered throughout the week are one-on-one sessions with a nutritionist, personal trainer and massage therapist.

It’s a challenging workout for the body. I felt muscles that had been dormant for years, loosened hips, learnt to stretch properly, got hydrated, rediscovered my palate and confirmed that much as I love the idea of yoga I need to start at square one. Amelia was not able to offer me alcohol but she dispensed some useful ideas on lowering high cholesterol (daily intake of omega 3, 6 and vitamin B complex) and Jo, the massage therapist, was intuitive and made me work hard as we both huffed and puffed our way through a couple of treatments that worked hard on my injured rib side.

Zakia, a four-time in:spa veteran, who’d come along mainly for Sophie’s daily double helping of yoga summed up: “I feel a sense of accomplishment – everyone’s eyes look really bright and their skin glows.”

I didn’t see the lads at the airport but we must have glowed as we boarded the plane with our specially prepared lunch boxes to keep us on the health wagon.

FOOD AND DRINK: Our three meals a day were creative, colourful, tasty, healthy and plentiful. Breakfast included porridge made with apple juice and hazelnut milk, poached eggs, avocado and polenta toast, fruit smoothies, vegetable juices and freshly squeezed orange juice. There was chicken, lots of fish, including freshly seared tuna served with wild asparagus from our hikes, turkey burgers and tofu. Each day after lunch, which we ate in the courtyard sunshine even in early January, we’d pick an orange from the tree for dessert – they were cool, sweet and juicy with just the right tanginess. Drink options were fresh mint or lemon and ginger teas and water. By the time we were offered a glass of local bubbly on the last night, many of us were keen to stay in alcohol-free mode. A cookey demo showed us a few of the secrets of the chef Michael Arthur and his partner Nikki Clarke, encouraging us to season food with fresh herbs and lemon juice, rather than salt, and to grow our own alfalfa sprouts.

IN-CROWD: iPad wielding company execs, business women and lawyers taking time out from busy work and family lives. Most people seemed to thrive and get a lot from the week, though there were grumbles about the intermittent wi-fi and lack of mobile phone reception.

WALLET WATCH: A week, which is all-inclusive except for flights, costs from £1,995 based on two sharing to £2,895 for single occupancy of a superior double room.

Find out more about future retreat dates & destinations.