Ibiza Town - You know how it is when you’re gritty-eyed with tiredness, but somehow you can’t sleep at night?
And your skin looks grey and tired? And your eyes might fill with tears whenever anyone says anything unkind, or kind?
I do. Or at least I did. A few weeks ago, all I wanted to do was lie in a cool, dark room with a towel over my head and sleep for 100 years.
So when someone suggested a few days of extreme exercise with a fitness company called 38 Degrees North to blow away the cobwebs, I nearly punched them in the face.
Boxing? Circuits? Kettle bells? Five sessions of exercise a day with personal trainers hovering over you to check you don’t cheat? You must be joking. I can hardly get through the morning as it is.
But then I was told all this jumping about was taking place in and around a gorgeous five-star hotel called Aguas de Ibiza in the Ibizan town of Santa Eulalia. Which had vast, airy rooms, goodness knows how many swimming pools, mountains of thick white towels and a spectacular rooftop bar.
And I could leave my husband, two young boys, laptop and worries about my ageing relatives behind.
Suddenly, a few hours of high- intensity exercise, in the outdoors, beneath carrasco pine trees, next to the gently lapping Mediterranean, didn’t sound so very terrible. After all, how rigorous could it be?
Very, as it turned out.
We started with shuttle runs, at 8am, before breakfast. Faster and faster, until I thought I’d be sick. Then it was sit-ups, burpees, push-ups; you name it, we did it, as Rob, a former British Army instructor, shouted encouragement. And that was just the fitness test.
Next came a quick raid on the hotel’s very extensive buffet breakfast, followed by a two-hour hike along the coast, lunch, circuits, kick boxing and yoga.
And, funnily enough, after more than five hours of alfresco exercise, I had my first decent night’s sleep in weeks — for once, being just too tired to get any purchase on my middle-aged worries.
The last time I went to Ibiza, I was 19. A San Antonio night club had hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons and so, naturally, my friends and I made a beeline for it and didn’t really leave for the next six days. We came back broken — and not nearly as tanned as we should have been.
Happily, both Ibiza and I have moved on since.
Today the island is fragrant, whitewashed and wholesome-looking. It is a strange marriage of swanky yachts and much-improved night clubs on one side, and beach yoga, exercise spiritualism and holistic healing on the other.
Apparently, it is Es Vedra, a tiny and supposedly deeply magnetic rocky island on the southwest coast, that gives Ibiza its unique relaxing vibe.
Which is perhaps why, as well as thigh toning and ab honing, the Body:ReSet Ibiza programme designed by 38 Degrees North founder James Davis also embraces more holistic practices.
So after hours of swinging 12-kilo kettle bells, boxing and the indignity of mastering stand-up paddle boarding in bikinis, there was also yoga, nutrition and a mindfulness session with soft-voiced Ross, where we all sat on big orange cushions with our eyes closed and were told to simply “push away any unwelcome thoughts as you would a playful puppy”.
Easier said than done. But it was nice flopping about on the floor.
The best bit — other than the hotel, the surprisingly plentiful food and the exercise — was a reiki energy treatment with one of the programme’s experts, Faye Reason.
Faye is British, but trained with shamans in the rainforests of South America. She wafted me with burning sage to “protect my heart”. That night, I slept for ten hours straight and felt — and looked — so different next day that I took a selfie and sent it to my husband, who obediently replied: “WOW!”
Before I travelled to Ibiza, I was a tired, frayed, jaded wreck. When I left, after what felt like about 800 hours of exercise, I was stiff and sore. But also thinner, fitter and sleeping through the night, and have done ever since.
At this rate, I’ll soon have enough energy to relive my youth in the nightclubs of San Antonio.
38 Degrees North (thirtyeightdegreesnorth.com, 0203 699 9933) offers the Optimal Fitness Retreat Ibiza from £1 595 (about R28 000) pp for six nights. Similar courses are at the Spread Eagle hotel, Midhurst, W. Sussex (July 31 to August 5) from £1 295 pp and Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, Spain, from £2 095 pp. Visit ibiza.travel.