Rebecca Garland is the Co-Founder of Fit & Fly Girl, a fitness and wellness retreat company, that hosts luxury retreats for women to international destinations. Last year, she also created The Curated Getaway, a service providing bespoke luxury travel experiences for couples and groups.
Rebecca is originally from Tennessee and has lived in Seattle - with a short hiatus in New York City - for the past eight years. We caught up with her following her most recent excursion: a digital detox glamping retreat in the Moroccan desert.
Inside/Out: How would you describe your genesis story?
Rebecca Gordon: I was raised in a small town in Tennessee and am the youngest of four children. My mom stayed home to take care of all of us. None of the women in my immediate family worked, so in my early years, starting a business never would have occurred to me. I took a traditional path, which included college, law school, and marriage. After a divorce and a three-month solo trip to the U.K. and Europe, I then moved to Seattle. Throughout this journey, one thing became clear – the practice of law was not fulfilling to me. I started traveling more to escape my everyday life. While sitting on a beach one day in Tulum, the idea for Fit & Fly Girl hit me. I feel like I’ve been on the right path ever since.
I/O: Tell us a bit about what you do and how you do it.
RG: I create retreat experiences around the world for groups of women. This begins with scouting the location to not only find a beautiful villa and a great personal chef but also to make connections with locals so that I can curate unique experiences for the group. After scouting, I begin the process of creating the retreat and then putting it out there into the world. When a potential guest contacts Fit & Fly Girl and wants to book a retreat, it’s my responsibility to answer her questions and try to steer her toward the retreat that would be best for her needs. I also create custom retreats for private groups, whether that be groups of friends or family members or a fitness instructor who wants to host her own retreat but doesn’t want to deal with scouting or logistics.
I/O: What are you doing now or planning for the future?
RG: We have 10 retreats scheduled for 2018, and I dream of offering even more retreats each year in new locations. I’d love to continue adding more custom retreats each year as well. This year we hosted a pop-up fitness event in New York City at Bandier’s Studio B, and next year we would like to offer more pop-ups around the country to bring Fit & Fly Girl to women who can’t attend our retreats. We are also in talks with brands to bring more exciting collaborations to our guests and followers.
I/O: What percentage of your clients are women?
RG: 100% of my clients are women and I love it!
I/O: What are your thoughts on female empowerment?
RG: Being raised in the rural South, feminism was practically a dirty word, so the concept of female empowerment was not something that was stressed or even expressed to me growing up. I somehow figured this out for myself, though, because by the time I was 12 my dad was jokingly calling me his “liberal feminist.” Female empowerment plays a central role in Fit & Fly Girl as one of the purposes of the company is to empower women to travel and to care for themselves mind, body, and spirit.
I/O: How do you achieve - or strive to improve - harmony in your life?
RG: I firmly believe that the people you surround yourself with will either help you rise or help you fall. I try to surround myself with people who are striving to succeed and who want to see me succeed as well. Each time I host a retreat, I am spending a week with strong, inspiring women, and I bring the lessons they teach me back to my daily life.
I/O: What experts do you admire? Who are your teachers?
RG: I admire women entrepreneurs and business leaders. They are women who have left corporate jobs to start their own businesses. They follow their passions. They are risk takers. They don’t play small.
I/O: What does your community look like?
RG: Our community is comprised of women who come from all over the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and even Dubai. Sometimes they are traveling with a friend or family member, but often our community is made up of solo travelers who aren’t letting their lack of a travel partner hold them back. No matter their different backgrounds, their commonality is that they are strong women who are ready to step outside of their comfort zone.
I/O: Who or what helped you get where you are today?
RG: Several years ago when I had the idea for Fit & Fly Girl, I hired a life coach in Seattle. She not only encouraged my idea but she helped bring it to fruition by helping me set goals, create a timeline, and keeping me accountable each week. My life coach was also an energy healer, so we did a good deal of energy work each session, which was incredible.
I/O: What particular challenges do you find women are facing? How can this be improved?
RG: I often find that women who attend Fit & Fly Girl retreats are at a crossroads in their life. That could be personally or professionally, but they often open up about it during the week and gain strength from the other women on the retreat. It’s so important that even if someone doesn’t have the means or the time to go on a retreat, that they find their own tribe of women to be vulnerable with and gain strength from.
I/O: A motto?
RG: It’s cliché, but true: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I’ve spent the past decade escaping my comfort zone – getting divorced, moving across the country, walking away from my legal career, starting a business. While it wasn’t easy to take those giant leaps outside of my comfort zone, it was worth it.
I/O: Do you feel part of a tribe? Or more of a leader?
RG: I feel part of a tribe as well as a leader, depending on what role I’m in on any given day. Even during a retreat, while I am there in a leadership role, I also feel surrounded by and included in the tribe of women we create each week that we are hosting a retreat.
I/O: Three words to describe yourself and what you do.
RG: Female. Wellness. Explore.
I/O: Tell us about your rituals.
RG: Wellness rituals are important. I try to meditate every morning, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I also try to practice mindful meditation throughout my day. I also write in my journal as I find that both cathartic and the best way to express myself.
I/O: Do you ever ‘fall off the wellness wagon’? If so, what does this mean to you? If not, how do you avoid temptation?
RG: Absolutely!Sugar is a true addiction for me, and unfortunately I find that I can’t just eat it in moderation. When I’m off sugar, I find that I stop craving it after about a week. And when I do crave it, I remind myself how bad my body would feel the next day if I give in to the craving.
I/O: What tools would you recommend to our community?
RG: The Healers Podcast where Elizabeth Dehn speaks with modern-day healers. I recently read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle, which made me realize that what I need to focus on in each moment is doing the next right thing. I finally got around to reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it.
I/O: What would you recommend for people without the means or geographical access to prestigious materials, products and practitioners?
RG: One of my missions is to find a way to bring a retreat feel into women’s everyday lives, especially for those who don’t have the ability to go on a retreat. It’s so important to find the time to retreat from the world, even if it’s just for a few minutes each day. Meditation, a fitness class, reading, connecting with friends – whatever works for you.
I/O: Tell us about the role that travel plays in your life. Where have you been and what’s next?
RG: Travel obviously plays a huge role in my life. I’ve traveled to 35 countries on five continents. Much of that has been solo travel to Europe, the U.K., Southeast Asia, Canada, and even Cuba. The next Fit & Fly Girl retreat will take place in Buenos Aires. My next personal vacation is to Tulum, Mexico.
I/O: What role does music play in your life?
RG: Music is a crucial part of working out for me. If I don’t have an upbeat playlist to get me moving, forget it!
I/O: What makes you happy?
RG: Travel. Being outside. The beach. Sunshine. Dancing. My Golden Retriever. Spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.
I/O: What do you do when something makes you unhappy?
RG: Remind myself of one of my mom’s favorite sayings, "This too shall pass". Keep it moving. And probably cry a bit too.
I/O: What inspires you more than anything else?
RG: Two things immediately come to mind: Travel and the the strong and amazing women who attend our retreats.
I/O: A desire? An intention?
RG: I want to find a way to share Fit & Fly Girl with all women – not just those who attend our retreats. I also want to find more opportunities to collaborate with brands that I believe in and are aligned with Fit & Fly Girl’s mission.
I/O: Where can our community find you?
RG: In real life, you can find me on a retreat! You can find Fit & Fly Girl through our website, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. More on The Curated Getaway here.