Many athletes and professionals do not realize that the true way to gain strength is through a balance of training and relaxation. There are plenty of people that forget the latter step in this balancing act; however, the place that has it right and practices it on a daily basis is Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
This property, found on the West Coast of the lush Hawaiian island of Oahu has meshed a traditional renaissance of wellness and healing for top athletes and those who are just wanting to be fit while on vacation.
They got it right.
Aulani has beautifully crafted natural and peaceful ways to maintain a fitness regimen through a range of programs such as: Ocean Fitness, Sunrise Yoga, Ocean Yoga, Seaside Stretch, Cardio Rush, Yoga Burn and various other centralizing and core focused activities.
“Ikaika,” meaning “strength” in the Hawaiian language has shown great presence during my time at Aulani. The main reason being is that I needed a great deal of strength during my session of Ocean Fitness. This specific program blended a full-body workout while stabilizing the core, or “piko,” on a paddle board in the middle of the gorgeous Ko Olina lagoon located in the back of the Aulani property.
There was a building technique used as the routine started with a wide squat, then went straight into pushups; keep in mind, you are trying not to fall into the welcoming Pacific Ocean during this.
After returning to your feet from the push up position, the next step was to squat and jump into a surfing pose on each side of your body, then back down to a core workout on your hands and feet.
As the 30-minute session continues, the intensity keeps building and it gets more strenuous; however, you find yourself more motivated and determined rather than frustrated because of the ambiance surrounding you. The scenery and tranquility that you are encapsulated by keep you calm and help you strive to better yourself, which is crucial for athletes of any caliber. Most of the time, sporting competitions and training can be more of a mental state than the physical components.
“Our Ocean Yoga and Seaside Stretch are some of the calming factors in our classes,” said Chasen Hasen, Aulani Fitness Instructor. “Just being outside too puts people in that mindset and let’s them appreciate where they’re at.”
Ocean Fitness was led by one of the only four certified trainers at the resort. Ironically enough, his name was Ikaika, which again, translates to “strength.”
As a part of various packages in the wellness and fitness programs at Aulani, following your workout you can proceed to the luxurious spa to rejuvenate your body. It may sound strange to some athletes but this is vital to help grow and become better.
Not only does the fitness program that you just finished focus on core building but so does the spa treatment when you enter into Laniwai, or when translated meaning “Freshwater Heaven.” To remain aligned with the theme of water, serenity and tradition, the 18,000 sq. ft. Laniwai focuses on the majestic nature of water followed by a soothing rainbow effect.
These purposeful design implementations created by the Disney Imagineers allow you to replenish mental stamina as you traverse through illuminated walkways to find peace at the “piko” of the venue. After the culturally-submerged journey, you are then provided the opportunity to oxygenate muscles in the hydrotherapy garden. This area, secluded from the rest of the Disney resort, contains various relaxation silos that focus on body-specific needs. Some of which include a hot tub followed by a quick dip in the cold plunge to stimulate the muscles for blood flow to detox your body. This area also contains a warming sauna and cleansing steam room to release toxins and impurities that may have built up during competition, training or regular everyday tasks.
After lounging in the Freshwater Heaven, you then float to the massage rooms. A signature 50-minute treatment that the therapists use is a native-Hawaiian practice called Lomilomi, which has been passed down through the culture’s ancestry. This method of massage therapy assesses guests from head to toe, and locates where healing of the body needs to take place.
During the session, hot stones are used to loosen the muscle for deep healing, as well as wave-like movement from the therapist to ease tension from post-exercise, competition or training. This resembles a rhythmic and oceanic motion, accompanied by traditional Hawaiian music softly serenading you in the background.
“Spa treatment is not about fixing what is wrong but incorporating wellness into everyday life,” said Lucia Amasio, Aulani Spa Director. “It’s about making it a part of your journey.”
Along with incorporating wellness into your journey, Aulani has an incredible cuisine that is fit for any particular dietary plan. If you are training for an upcoming marathon, surf competition, ski race or whatever the occasion, the resort has the essential culinary creations for you.
Each morning, you can wake up to the freshest acai bowl from the ‘AMA’ AMA restaurant, with an oceanfront view. This allows you to start the morning rejuvenated and feel at peace to mentally and physically take on the day.
Seriously though, there is plenty of joy that comes with this fresh meal and breathtaking view.
The resort also offers lean options, including poultry, fish, lean beef and various fruits and vegetables that will serve your needs. There is also room to indulge and partake in the occasional feasting; including at the KAWA’A Luau.
During this evening festivity, guests gather around to eat, drink and witness the storytelling of Hawaiian traditions and spiritual upbringings. Before and during the Luau, there is opportunity to practice various techniques that are present in the island’s culture such as ukulele playing, making historic food sustenance that can still be found in modern meals and many more.
Not only can you learn from this, you will also be entertained. This is another effort at replenishing your body to be ready to tackle the next feat in your wellness journey.
There are many people that say after winning major competitions that they are “going to Disney World,” but next time you are celebrating or just need to escape to help yourself grow, take a trip to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
To learn more about Aulani, visit their website at www.disneyaulani.com.