A Vacation You Can Bring Back Home With You
By Alex Lauer / June 20, 2017 9:00 am

Jason Loebig doesn’t like the word “vacation.”

It implies an eventual end — a back to reality.

Which is why Live Better, the Chicago-based wellness company he co-founded, decided to do one better: a five-day retreat in El Salvador, where the goal is to bring the vacation back home with you.

See, Loebig and Gornik used to work corporate jobs (one a CPA, one in retail). But they found their greatest satisfaction in life came when helping people become stronger, healthier and better, well, doers. So they teamed up, combined their expertise (as Nike trainers and nutrition buffs) and started a company.

Their most alluring venture so far: Live Better Retreats.

The team took their inaugural trip back in April, to the boutique Las Flores Resort. Think surfing, sunrise yoga, beach bonfires and new friendships. We recently chatted with Loebig and Gornik about why you need to get in on the next one.

InsideHook: Your first retreat in April was to El Salvador. You’re going there again this November, so can you tell us what that was like?  

JL:  We taught one workshop and one fitness-based class each day. We had surfing in the morning, a couple mornings before we had a group meditation and then we left the middle of the day open because the crew we brought down were content creators. We also provided a one-on-one coaching session to each influencer over the trip. And then we taught a sunset yoga, did a workout on the beach and then we all had dinner every night and hung out afterwards.

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IH: People are welcome to sign up with friends, but essentially you’re going on vacation with a bunch of strangers. How did that pan out the first time?

JL: We hosted a bonfire on the beach on one of our last nights there. We walked a little bit away from the resort and built a fire in this cave. Everybody was sitting around not saying much, but everyone had a giant smile on their face and was super relaxed. It was a moment where I realized that a) everyone was super happy and b) they were happy because they were around the people that we had on the retreat who had gone from strangers or acquaintances to friends.

That moment was exactly what we had hoped would happen, but that you can never force. That has to be organic and we’re hoping that part of the magic of coming on these retreats is that through health and wellness, through giving people the tools to succeed at whatever they want to do, that those moments happen every trip.

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IH: How will this upcoming trip rip differ from the first?

BG: One pivot we’re going to make is that this one will be open to the public. It’s not curated for people we know that are essentially “top performers.”

We love working with high performers, including CEOs, athletes, stuff like that. But we also love working with people who just want to figure that out. We’re utilizing health and fitness as the fuel, that sustained energy to pursue your passion. We know that [the corporate world] isn’t for everybody, and even if it is, there are always ways to get better. We’re helping people learn that when they’re stronger, when they’re faster, when they eat better, when they have a better routine, when they’re doing yoga, meditation — that they can be a better performer.

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IH: What can people expect to get out of this retreat, besides a rejuvenating vacation?

BG: There are two things that stick out to me. One thing is that the workshops that we’re going to do are geared towards not just being here for this week and getting lost in the waves and the yoga — and yeah, that’s part of it, it’s a release — but it’s also what are we doing so that you can take this going forward.

One we did [the first time] was on morning routines. I’ve done it in corporate talks all around Chicago. It’s an eye opener for people to realize: oh, once your morning is a little more organized, little things add up so that you can have more time later in the day, and not just physically more time, but more mentally aware time, less decision fatigue, more opportunity to think outside the box and pursue it.

The second aspect is the follow-up. We’re going to curate a broad plan for everybody and stick with the individual. It’s not like one week, then, alright follow me on Instagram and be motivated! We’re going to be in communication with these people. And we’re going to have different ways that they can stay in contact — whether it’s through email, phone calls, general statements we send out to them, newsletters — so that it’s continual. This will be something that each retreat can build on each other, so that you don’t just go to one and you’re done. You can go to multiple and continue to develop.

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IH: Why would someone go on this vacation instead of, you know, plan their own?

JL: I always say this, but I’m not a huge fan of the word “vacation.” People go on vacation and the first thing they say on the way back is, “Back to reality.” But no, you were in [reality] for the last week, you were just living your life in a different place. We want this trip to be something where they’re living life at this next level — more energy, better food, doing things that are active, they’re part of a community — and then being able to take all of those things and go back to where they call home and continue doing that.

We certainly have a reduced level of stress [on these trips], but that’s on purpose. It allows people’s minds to be more open to the strategies we’re giving them. It allows them to relax and settle in and enjoy learning about something rather than coming home from work and spending what precious free time they have during a time when they’re a little bit more tired or a little bit more distracted.

We help shut that down, get all of these strategies and routines ingratiated into their lifestyle, then let them go back home and continue to do them.

Live Better’s El Salvador Retreat is happening November 1-5, 2017. Head over to their website (www.livebetterco.org) for more details.