By Gaynor Burton

In 2000 I was overweight with a dangerous waist measurement of 36 inches. I had no idea that ten years later I would be starting and running my own fitness company! It isn’t just a fitness company it is a retreat ministry. The beautiful destinations, professionally led programs and Christian faith focus strengthen people in their physical, spiritual and emotional fitness.
Fitfish creates a meaningful fitness retreat weekend or week. The retreats let you take a step back from your day-to-day life and be challenged by God in all aspects of your fitness in the beautiful surroundings of the Great British Countryside, the Aegean Coast in Turkey or in the Austrian Alps. The “no-pressure” approach to participating in activities means you can fully relax. Yet the Fitfish team can support you in exercise, nutrition and ministry to progress toward any personal fitness and spiritual goals you have set.
I’m Gaynor Burton the Founder and Director of Fitfish a Christian Fitness Company in the United Kingdom (UK). I was always fairly active as a child and teenager, swimming and playing hockey for my county. However, I battled with my weight. An unhealthy lifestyle while going to college and while travelling led to further weight gain. It was while on a trip to Broome, Australia that I stepped onto a scale and realized I weighed the most ever in my life.
During this period in my life I was challenged and encouraged by God through various channels that one day I would run some kind of retreat. While this appealed to me, I had no strategy to do it. So I simply kept it as a vision trusting that somehow it would come to fruition in God’s timing if it was indeed from Him.

It wasn’t until a few years later, after losing weight, getting fit through exercise and eating well naturally, that I was setting by a swimming pool in Tenerife, Canary Islands in 2010 with a friend chatting. She raved about a recent fitness bootcamp she had attended. She had enjoyed a great morning run along the beautiful hilly coastline and realized that she was in her element; exercise, the great outdoors, Christian friendship and time away from her daily routine had helped her to reflect on life and hear from God.
After some research I discovered no retreat existed that intentionally provided these wellness elements combined with a Christian perspective. Such a retreat could ensure that physical activity and fitness weren’t the only objectives but rather part of a more comprehensive package focusing on spiritual and emotional health too.
My friend and I started discussing a name for the retreat idea. After a few names suggested in jest such as Holy Roly Poly Camp and Chub Church (having run a project called Pub Church in her town of Reading, Berkshire) the name Fitfish was born around that swimming pool. It incorporates Christian imagery and is also fun and catchy. On the plane home from Tenerife we brainstormed and prayed and the seeds of passion for this vision began to grow. What I didn’t yet know was how I would start a new company while working full time with no funds. That was about to change.
A couple of months later I was summoned to the head office of my job and was sacked on the spot with no explanation. I had an immense peace and knew without doubt that I shouldn’t go out and seek a full time job but instead concentrate on starting Fitfish. My personal Bible study notes at the time were speaking about taking risks, stepping out in faith and exploring creative ideas and new opportunities to work. The next day I received a cheque to invest into the business completely out of the blue.
A few months later after many more amazing ‘circumstances’ the Fitfish website was launched. Fitfish includes Bodyfit a full body workout weekly in Reading, Personal Training infused with Christian-faith instruction, weekend retreats in the beautiful Berkshire Countryside and in partnership with Richmond Holidays week-long retreats abroad in Turkey and Austria.
The weekends are the heart of what Fitfish is about and offer people of all ages and abilities the chance to make a step towards healthier living in supportive surroundings. The Fitfish weekend retreat is designed to deliver a full combination of physical and spiritual experiences to aid in dynamic personal growth. Fitfish helps participants understand that physical, spiritual and emotional fitness are interlinked. We can’t fully satisfy God’s purpose for our lives unless we give attention to all three. Part of that purpose is to serve others in your community. To do that service you need to develop and maintain a strong spiritual basis of prayer, knowledge with wisdom, worship, grace-based compassion and a personal vision for your life from God.
- Five or six optional and varied exercise sessions such as ‘Playground Fun’, Circuits, Boxing, Stretching, Walking, Jogging and Bodyweight exercises. - Three themed talks. - Worship and ministry time inspiring people in their spiritual walk. - ‘Emotional Health’ options, which include a coaching, prayer ministry, ‘understanding your personality’ or an introductory counselling session. - Nutrition workshops and workshops on topics such as self-image, stress or sleep.

A Fitfish weekend retreat is much more than a fitness bootcamp structured with programs. Guests can choose to be treated to a sports massage over the weekend. Meals offer the opportunity for guests to enjoy a wide variety of foods that God has created and can make their own decisions on portion sizes with guidance from nutritional advisers. Guests are given resources and encouraged to spend time by themselves to allow God to speak to them.

The Fitfish team brings together a wide range of knowledge, skills and passion to create a rich weekend retreat experience. The team from left to right includes Dave run leader and prayer ministry, Shirley worship leader and counsellor, Esther life coach, Pete sports massage therapist, Gaynor Burton founder, Tonia ministry leader, Eric prayer, Janet ministry leader and Kat fitness leader and nutritional advisor. The Fitfish retreat strengthens guests and inspires them in their physical, spiritual and emotional fitness.

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