The second annual Spinning® Escape Jamaica proved to be even better than the first. Hear how it all came together from founders Natashia Iacovelli, Lisa Adelle Jondeau, Jodi Mair and Natalie Murray!
It takes nine months for a baby to be born. For all of us behind SEJA, it took nearly two years. With many firsts, there are always growing pains, uncertainties and fears. Our first SEJA was our pride and joy. It had four mothers – three Jamaicans and an Australian – and together we dreamed, believed, worked our butts off to give birth to an amazing bundle of joy in November 2016. We were exhausted and a little overwhelmed by it all, but in the end, the push was well worth the effort. We delivered an event that people absolutely loved. For us, that was the most important part.
Naturally, doing it all over again was going to bring the same struggles. At the time, we were euphoric with the success and happiness of our attendees. So of course we said “Yes, let’s have another SEJA before we could even fit into our metaphorical pre-baby jeans again!”
To anybody who has had more than one child, you know the second time round isn’t as carefree as the first. You are juggling the busyness of life and obligations while also trying to nurture this growing creation within you and it can be exhausting. Some days just feel too hard, and you may even ask yourself “What were we thinking?!”
Despite our moments of fatigue and stress, SEJA 2017 – just like the first – was an amazing success. With the incredible people, a fabulous line up of presenters, and the most beautiful location in the world, how can it not be?! Jamaica has a magic about it that you can only experience first-hand.
But still, I am here to tell you that all successful things emerge from some type of sacrifice, hardship and a few little bumps along the way. The girls and I all personally had new obligations this year with a few challenges that made SEJA feel like it was in some way far heavier than the year before – although it should’ve felt easier. But when it’s time to push, there is no other choice than give it 110% and share its splendor with the world. Then once it arrived, you know that life could not have been the same without it.
Welcoming the World’s Best Instructors
2017 was the year of the dance for SEJA. We had Master Instructors and MCs Luciana Marcial-Vincion and Fethi Grabsi grooving and moving at every workout in the fitness tent and even at the Friday night reggae party. We also had butt-kicking, body-blasting sessions with feisty and fiery Jamaican trainers Nadine McNeil, Ceri Moe and Trudy Morris.
This year, we also had a little more Latin flavor for the ladies with two of the best male instructors from the Americas; the tall and handsome Eduardo Gonzales Arce from Mexico and the not-as-tall but still everybody’s favorite Chilean Nes Salinas.
Yoga at SEJA was also in full radiance from 6:00 a.m. on the beach and throughout the day with the talented Jamaican ladies Nadine, Sharon Feanny and Helga Marzouca, as well as American MIs Tami Reilly and Janet Toussaint. With sunrise, beach-side practices like Nidra, restorative and balancing workshops, there were yoga styles for all tastes.
Of course there was plenty of Spinning® with themed rides with Charlie’s Angels making a comeback this year and journey rides with visuals from Master Instructor Nes (who is also a maestro in film production). We had outdoor technical rides with Martha Williams about sprints and power, Francesco Siveri took us on a musical journey, and Eduardo had us trek to the Pyramids. This year, I also had the very special opportunity to open up the weekend with a ride celebrating the unity of women from across the world. In true SoulSista style, there were plenty of emotions flowing…along with just a few joyful tears.
The Reverse Spinning® Triathlon Delivered True Inspiration
On Sunday, we held the second-ever Reverse Spinning Triathlon, which is still the only of its kind in the world! The event started with a 30-minute run around a beautiful left green running trail, allowing the speedsters to run it as fast as they wanted, while the cruisers got a chance to chat and jog and stroll. Nobody gets left behind, and we are all in the same sweet space to cheer each other on.
I have raced in triathlons for over seven years, and this one is by far the most fun events I have ever been involved in! Participation with laughter and smiles are essential skills for all entrants. The run is then followed by a 2-hour MI Team ride led by all 10 of our International Spinning® Master Instructors. Showcasing music and visuals from their respective countries, the ride highlighted the unity within our community of global riders.
Following this 2-hour ride (which goes faster than you’d imagine), we split folks into two groups. The jogging/walking group who make their way calmly across the road to the beach, while the runners group hustled over 800 meters and jumped straight in the ocean to complete an out-n-back, 300-meter swim.
Every participant enjoyed the final swim. This year, Curvin was our man who followed Carl’s lead from last year. Curvin is a Spinning instructor from Connecticut and had been especially inspired by courageous Carl’s efforts in overcoming his fear of the water. So Curvin got himself some swim lessons, brought his coach and wife with him to Jamaica, and we all supported him to get over his demons. He fist-pumped and high-fived every finisher out of the chute like a true champion.
We then wrapped up the weekend with special commemorative SEJA medals made of Jamaica’s famous Ackee tree wood. And finally, just because we are super sneaky, we snuck in a beach special surprise cake and Stevie Wonder-singing Happy Birthday to our SEJA sister Lisa.
Looking Ahead to 2018
There was more dancing, hugging, laughing and maybe a just few more tears of joy. There were also million happy snaps! All in all, the girls and I are so immensely grateful to those who contributed, and we want to give thanks to all of our amazing presenters, sponsors and attendees.
Once again, we have received lots of great feedback and way too many people asking if we are ready again for SEJA 2018. All we can say officially for now is that an announcement will be made very soon. We won’t leave you hanging for too long. We will either just enjoy and adore this second baby for a bit longer and give our stretch marks and tired bodies a moment to recover. Or maybe we will just hunker down and get ready for round three!
Stay tuned. SEJA spirit is alive and well, and our hearts are full for another year!