We have a team of like minded professionals, all experts in their field, working together in harmony to bring you your ultimate weekend retreat. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond clients expectation. So read on to get to know a little bit more about the wonderful people who are going to give you an experience that you will want to come back to year after year.
Laura Bell | Yoga Teacher & Founder
She landed into yoga quite literally after being thrown out of a boat in Australia 11 years ago and landing with a broken back. After 3 months of rehabilitation she was told her passion of running was no longer an option but yoga would aid her recovery and keep her back pain free. After training with David Sweson in Ashtanga yoga a new yogic way of life flourished.
She has since carried out a number of training courses over the years and continues to further her yoga training, gaining qualifications in Blissology yoga, children’s yoga, pregnancy and post natal yoga and Swedish full body massage. She has a personal and friendly attitude towards her teaching, offering a style of yoga that is dynamic with sequences set to rejuvenate & challenge the body. Through Vipassana meditation she has developed a more spiritual path to her practise, which she incorporates into her teachings both on and off the mat.
She has been facilitating retreats for over a decade now and loves nothing more than to host a group of liked minded individuals at our retreat space on Anglesey, sharing her love of yoga and Wales. Since starting her family her hosting role has been put on hold. Laura now manages everything behind the scenes, keeping the cogs turning of The Zest Life machine, so that the team can create blissful weekends for our guests.
Katarina Rayburn | Yoga Teacher
Katarina is a senior yoga teacher and co-founder of London yoga studio, Kindred Yoga. She loves hosting and leading retreats and runs advanced yoga and teacher training courses. Continuing to expand her own knowledge of the practice is very important to her: she is trained in many styles of yoga including, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Rocket Yoga, Mandala Vinyasa, Yin and Prenatal yoga.
Katarina’s teaching style is strong yet playful; she offers modifications and variations to ensure all levels of practitioner are included, using her knowledge of anatomy to ensure you are challenged in a safe and supportive way. Her classes are accompanied by specially curated playlists. Expect to work hard, have fun and enjoy a well earned savasana at the end.
Claire Missingham | Yoga Teacher
Teaching yoga and meditation for over 24 years, Claire is one of the originators of the Vinyasa Method in the West and was one of the 2 first teachers to begin to train UK yoga teachers in the method, back in 2009. Claire’s down to earth teaching method has evolved to be a formulation of traditional practices that keep the historical lineages alive while honouring biomechnical developments including trauma-informed techniques, kriya for purification and music as a therapeutic somatic tool for awareness and freedom.
Through the Vedic philosophy of Jala, or water, Claire is interested in exploring the healing, opening, softening concept of water and rejuvenation. Focussing on connection, healthful food, quiet sleep and connection with others, Claire’s enthusiastic, precise, inspirational yoga teaching, will welcomes you whatever your yogic background.
Katy Stylli | Yoga Teacher
Being an ex-gymnast movement has always played an important role in Katy’s life. After beginning her own yoga journey over 20 years ago and being inspired by the immense physical and mental well-being it created within her, on and off the mat, she decided to follow her passion and qualify as a yoga teacher in 2019. This has enabled her to share her love of yoga with others.
She focuses on balancing strength with flexibility, reinforcing the body and mind, and releasing tension to encourage longevity and mobility. Her sequences are inspired by Vinyasa flow, created to be physically challenging while tailored to ones ability. These sequences provide an active, full body experience that strengthen through stretching, breathing, lengthening and opening.
Leo Oppenheim | Yoga Teacher
Leo is a multi-discipline yoga instructor specialising in balance and core stability, breathwork and coldwater therapy as well as slack-lining and balance boarding. He incorporates a variety of techniques to harness the full power of your breathing and increase strength, conditioning, and focus. His yoga practise is diverse but yang and restorative are key to Leos teaching.
With a wealth of experience in the health and fitness industry, he is head trainer at BLOK studio Manchester and is a strong advocate for mental health and well-being. Retreat guests can expect to learn new skills and deepen their well versed practices as well as set mindful and powerful intentions for themselves for the retreat and moving into their daily lives.
Gilly McArthur | Swimming Leader
Gilly is a STA Level 2 Open Water Swim Coach and her passions lie in the outdoors and encouraging others to find their place in it. Having worked professionally in the outdoor industry for over 20 years, the outdoors is as much her profession as it is her pastime.
She is the co-founder of Blue Mind Swim, a free introduction to open water group based in the Lake District and is part of team Wonderful Wild Women. She is a director of the Women’s Trad Festival – an inclusive to all genders, sustainable and accessible rock climbing festival. Gilly has written for and featured in many publications and media outlets, both in the UK and further afield, on the joys of cold water swimming and climbing. As a skin swimmer she has competed in winter swimming events across Europe.
Jonathan Cowie | Swimming Leader
Jonathan has a particular love of very cold water and swims all year-round in just trunks, hat and goggles. As Editor of Outdoor Swimmer magazine for seven years, he oversaw the growth in outdoor swimming while promoting its benefits to a diverse audience. He is an STA Level 2 Open Water Swimming coach who loves introducing swimmers to the joys of outdoor swimming.
From marathon swimming to cold water dipping via swimrun and adventure swimming, Jonathan has a passion for swimming outdoors and promoting the benefits it brings. He has competed in winter swimming competitions around the world and co-founded The Swimmer, a half-marathon with four cold water swims through London. He co-founded Blue Mind Men, a men’s cold water swim club to improve mental and physical health.
Dave Brown | Swimming Leader
Originally from South Wales Dave’s passion for swimming is anchored in his days as a pool & beach lifeguard. He was the first person to swim to the Skerries Isles, off the North West Coast of Anglesey, crossing one of the fastest flowing channels of water in the area, has swum numerous lakes in Snowdonia and swam or coasteered most places around the Anglesey coastline.
He has worked in the adventure sector for 30 years, is a triathlete, a surfing coach, swimming teacher and has coached the Welsh and the GB Development triathlon Squads. He provides swim event safety management for a number of organisations and through his company AcwaTerra, offers specialised adventure training consultancy.
John Farrell | Running Coach
John Farrell is a keen runner and Triathlete. He holds the level 2 triathlon coach qualification and coaches regularly with his local club GOG Triathlon. As well as this he is a qualified Sports Nutritional coach, Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Functional Assessment Specialist, Performance Movement Coach and hold an Olympic Weightlifting for Athletes Coaching certificate.
On a personal level, over the last year he has ran every distance up to and including an Ultra Marathon, Competed in the Equinox 24 hour race and completed Marathons in Snowdonia and beautiful trail marathons around Anglesey. He loves passing on his knowledge to experienced runners and performance athletes and also introducing and inspiring beginners to the sport that he is so passionate about.
Marta Swierczek | Pilates Teacher
Marta grew up in the mountains of Poland, and developed a love of the sea when she came to the UK in 2015. She became a qualified Pilates teacher in 2020 when a major life event led her to deepen her knowledge of anatomy and how the body moves. She loves the minimalistic approach to the discipline and teaches mat and foam roller pilates.
She enjoys spending time in the outdoors and nature, whether she’s mountain biking, kitesurfing, paddle boarding or wild swimming. She feels truly connected to elements when she takes a dip in a fresh lake, salty sea or a cold rock pool and adores sharing those moments with guests on the The Zest Life retreats.
Kerry Sutcliffe | Life Coach
Kerry is an international life coach who has a track record for transforming lives through powerful coaching. Kerry is passionate about living life to the full, with purpose, and helping others to do the same. Read about how Kerry has helped many other people on her website.
Kerry will be running group coaching sessions on our Signature retreats. She will cover two topics mental fitness and work life balance. The session will provide participants with an opportunity to consider their mindset, their positive and negative voices, and to explore their work life balance. We will collaboratively develop strategies to enhance wellbeing while navigating personal challenges. The format is a mixture of breakouts and self reflection. Each participant will come away with a personalised action plan.
Catherine Humphrys | Retreat Chef
Coming with more than 35 years of vegetarian cooking experience, Catherine joined the Zest Life team in Spring 2019. In recent years she has focused purely on vegan cuisine from around the world creating tasty, vibrant, seasonal food. Her retreat menus are designed so that guests have the right nutrition and energy to enjoy our range of activities throughout our retreat year, catering for a wide range of dietary requirements.
When she’s not working in the Zest Life kitchen, she runs Wildings Vegan Kitchen catering for private events, supper clubs and local cafes. Catherine will always go that extra mile to make sure there is a beautiful selection of food on your table.
Cathy Whitfield | Retreat Chef
Cathy has always been passionate about food and has a degree in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts. She loves experimenting with spices and herbs bringing a wealth of inspiration from her travels around the world. She’s fascinated by the powerful benefits of gut health on the mind and creates amazing plant based recipes that provide all round nutrition.
More recently she has been specialising in fermentation: brewing kombucha for Blighty Booch Kombucha, and making kimchi and sauerkraut. In her spare time she loves baking with her children, cold water swimming or trail running on the Carneddau mountains with her border Collie Skye.
Rebecca Sutton | Therapist
Rebecca worked in the far east as a teacher for 15 years. There she experienced the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine for general wellbeing and in the treatment of a range of sporting injuries. Upon returning to the UK she retrained, first becoming a Master Practitioner in Tui Na Massage, and then gaining a Diploma in Acupuncture.
Tui Na is a form of rhythmic massage which creates an harmonious flow throughout the body and removes blockages. Tui Na is used in most hospitals throughout China and is often the first and only choice of healthcare. Unlike other forms of massage Tui Na requires that you remain clothed. Tui Na relieves pain from joints and muscles, restores the balance of Qi throughout the body and alleviates stress related conditions.