We're so pleased to have had the chance to interview Katrina Mather, Founder of The Body Toolkit Retreat based in the stunning Scottish Highlands. Here we discuss what the retreat has to offer, self-care and our shared passion for juicing!
1. We absolutely love the look and feel of the retreat! Especially in the stunning setting of the Scottish Highlands. How did the idea to open the retreat come about and what was your vision?
I fell in love with this part of the Highlands as a wee girl. It’s a magical part of the world and the idea to create a retreat here felt like a natural way for me to marry my love of the west coast Highlands, with my passion for health and wellbeing.
In my early twenties, my own journey back to health made me realise that even small changes to the way we treat the body and the way we think, can make dramatic differences to how we feel. Juicing was one of the ‘tools’ that I adopted early on and I was amazed by the body’s ability to heal; it was key in helping me to overcome anxiety, acne, IBS and depression. Ever since then all I’ve wanted to do is share the ‘tools’ that helped me, in order to help others.
I’ve always felt that even just spending time in this part of the Highlands is therapeutic and good for the soul, regardless of the season. And in 2014, I realised that if I could combine this place with juicing, gentle exercise and coaching then I’d have the makings of a first-of-its-kind health retreat in Scotland, that could make a genuine difference to people’s lives.
Fortuitously, my cousin, Susan, and her husband, Kenneth, had just built Garmoran Square in Moidart as beautiful, luxury holiday accommodation and I knew straight away that the space would lend itself perfectly to being a peaceful retreat - and it’s been home to The Body Toolkit Retreat ever since.
2. What’s the one thing you’d like most for your clients to walk away with from the retreat?
The mantra: be kind to yourself. I think it’s so important to make a conscious decision to carve out a better relationship with ourselves. The vast majority of us tend to be hugely self-critical, which affects us on an emotional and physical level, and when our bodies aren’t doing what we want them to be doing, that can often lead to a real sense of frustration.
For some reason, it can be easier to show kindness to others than for us to be kind to ourselves, and that’s something I’d like to help change. When we practice self-compassion and gratitude for the body that we’re in – just as it is - the consequences can be miraculous. When we’re compassionate towards ourselves, we make better choices, we support and listen to our bodies, we eat well, we rest, we play and let ourselves off the hook, all of which predispose us to living a healthier, happier life.
My approach at the retreat is incredibly gentle, with a big focus on rest and self-care. We’ve been so conditioned that if we want “results” or to change something about our bodies, that we need to beat the body into submission, but the results that people get using my gentle approach turn that thinking completely on its head. In this day and age of busy-ness and stress, we all need to relearn how to nourish, support and be kind to ourselves – and when we do that the body responds beautifully.
3. Juicing is a big part of the retreat and obviously a passion that we both share! How do you structure your juice programmes around other activities at the retreat
Absolutely, juicing is what u-turned my health and it’s the foundation of what I do at the retreat. Fasting is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health, and when you add in vegetable juices, the body is not only able to rest the digestion and use the conserved energy to repair and regenerate, but it’s also able to benefit from the alkalising, anti-inflammatory healing power of mother nature’s raw fruits and vegetables.
On a typical day at the retreat, the morning starts with a detox routine of oil pulling and dry skin brushing, followed by some gentle stretching to wake up the body. The first juice is served at 9.30am, where the group of 8-10 of us come together to start the day with a pint of fresh, organic juice. After breakfast anyone who feels like heading out comes with me for a gentle walk to take in the views and fresh air, and we get back in for the lunchtime juice at 12.30pm.
The early afternoon is designated quiet time, to rest, read or have a massage and we come together again at 3.30pm for the afternoon juice, which I combine with a short workshop (e.g. nutrition, internal cleansing, vision boards). In the early evening I share a health documentary to inspire, followed by the evening soup at 6.30pm. The blended vegetable soups are always a welcome addition to the end of the day. I host another informal workshop after dinner, and then we get the fires on and everyone settles in for the night, usually with one of the books that I’ve shared in a workshop.
4. You have some amazing reviews from previous clients that have visited. What would you say sets The Body Toolkit apart from other retreats that are in mainland UK?
Thank you - I feel very lucky that the work that I do has helped so many people. The retreat has consistently been described as life-changing from day one, and after three and a half years that still blows me away.
The obvious answer to what sets the retreat apart from others would be the Highland location – it really is one of the most beautiful parts of the world. For so many stressed-out visitors it’s incredibly restorative to spend the week surrounded by unspoilt nature (and temperamental wifi). I run the week-long retreats once a month throughout the year – and even in deepest, darkest November, Scotland is a magical place to rest, recuperate and relax in front of the fire.
But the two main things that clients comment on are how the gentle approach makes the week truly enjoyable – it’s the antithesis of a bootcamp - and also how the experience is so much more than just a detox. Of course, the juice detox is the core of the programme, but throughout the week I gently introduce other techniques and focus on the importance of the role of the mind in health - we end up covering a hell of a lot! The vision for The Body Toolkit was for guests to leave the retreat able to maintain their health goals for life – not just their week away. I’m delighted to say that people leave the retreat inspired and empowered, having seen a big difference in the six nights, however, it’s quite incredible how many people stay in touch three, six or nine months later to share how they’ve continued to benefit from the experience well after the retreat.
Of course not everyone can get away to a retreat, but I think it’s more important than ever to prioritise self-care and rest. We’re facing exponential rises in lifestyle diseases and mental health disorders, so the more we can do to really look after ourselves the better, even if that’s just making sure we have a vegetable based juice every day – it really does make a difference.
The Body Toolkit Retreat:
An award winning, first-of-its-kind health retreat based in the Scottish Highlands, Katrina Mather’s all-inclusive, 7-day programme teaches simple techniques that empower you to make serious improvements to your health and quality of life.
Consistently described as “life changing”, guests report an average weight loss of 7lbs, a significant boost to energy and mood, improved sleep and digestion, and a reduction in aches and pains. Each retreat consists of an organic juice cleanse, gentle walks in nature, relaxation and coaching on techniques to combat stress.
Week-long retreats, with a maximum of ten guests, take place once a month throughout the year at the four-star Garmoran Square in Moidart, surrounded by mountains, fresh air and dramatic scenery. All-inclusive retreats start from £999 with a £50 discount for Radiance clients. Just mention us when you book! – www.thebodytoolkit.com