Earlier this year, former duathlon AG world champion Claire Steels ditched running (and the UK) in favour of riding for cycling team Fusion Velo Performance, as she moved her personal training business to the Spanish cycling haven of Pollença in Mallorca.
Here, the 31-year-old chats through a typical day in her new life in Mallorca, from training clients to bagging some seriously impressive Strava QOMs.
I love it here in Mallorca. What’s not to love! It would be fair to say I am a mild control freak so moving to the slow land of Mallorca has been amazing for me. Last year was incredibly difficult for my family and I went into survival mode. Somehow we got through 2017 in one piece, but I needed out. Moving to Mallorca became a light at the end of the tunnel and setting a moving date gave me a real focus.
Now semi-adjusted to the Mañana, Mañana approach to life (I don’t think I’ll ever fully adjust!), I love it here. It is so easy to be active and enjoy being outdoors. Mallorca is also cycling paradise – great as I’m riding for Fusion Velo Performance cycling team right now and love it! I am so fortunate to be in a team of amazing women, managed by a man with a heart of gold. We all get on so well. I can’t believe Terry has selected a team of girls who just get on like old friends!
The roads, the sunshine, the scenery, the mountains all make for a perfect cycling location here in Mallorca. It feels like home.
First thing – Coffee on, then a run with a client
At 6:45am my alarm goes off and I have to get up – if I hit the snooze button I just feel awful for hours. By 6:46am the coffee is on. At home I was a big tea drinker but since moving over here I’ve turned into a coffee addict. I blame the cycling culture for this!
At 7:00am it’s time for a morning run with a client who is staying with me for a bespoke PT retreat. Every day starts with a morning run to the Calvari Steps in the town. Running with my client this week is the first time I’ve run since my last duathlon in September. I have to say it’s made me miss running, so I’ll probably start going again once or twice a week, but only for a very easy 5km. I have no desire to run mile reps or train for a half-marathon anytime soon, but to simply enjoy running again would be nice.
8:00am – Breakfast of fruit, granola and Yoghurt.
As a personal trainer in the UK, I was stuck on a hamster wheel of working and training and just going through the motions in most aspects of my life, so I’ve taken a much more relaxed approach to work and my life over here. I only see a handful of clients each week and I enjoy PT so much more. Having clients come over to stay is great fun too. It gives you the opportunity to spend some concentrated time with them on their training, nutrition and see how they are integrating fitness into their everyday life.
I’m also training a number of people online and through my website www.steelsfitness.com. It’s hard not to have that face-to-face interaction with clients but I get regular feedback from them and love seeing their Instagram stories about how hard their last session was!
Morning: Cycling the Mallorcan roads
At 8:30am I’m on the road for my training ride which could be anything from 1 hour – 3 hours depending on the session. I quite like riding alone if I have structured intervals to do, as I don’t want someone else to have to wait around for me or to have to fit to my plan.
The Coll de sa Batalla climb is a big favourite of mine. Up from Caimari the road weaves its way into the mountains and is a lovely climb. It’s also my proudest QOM of the island – if not ever! I worked my butt off for that and will be so upset when it gets taken, although I think I know who will be going after it at the end of her season…
More recently, I came in from a ride the other day and found that I’ve got the Strava QOM up Coll de Femenia (the climb to Lluc). Super-proud, as I’ve always found this one really hard, and the last time I did a hard effort up here I was sick at the top!
Today’s ride was 2.5 hours on a fairly flat route. It’s starting to get warm over here now so it’s better to get out earlier. I think I’ll be riding at 5am by August! Once back from my ride, I tend to have a banana and soy milk shake as I know I don’t have time for lunch straight away.
Lunchtime – PT session and a late lunch
Today was a lunchtime PT session in the courtyard at the front of our house. It stays nice and cool throughout the day, making it perfect for training. I do most of my PT sessions here as well as my own strength and conditioning sessions.
Afterwards, it’s lunch. An omelette with salad is my normal lunch; I might have some couscous with it if I want some more (which I did today) or a banana with peanut butter (had that too!).
Afternoon – Admin time
Today this was a mix of writing sessions for online clients, social media admin of videos, adverts, posts etc, and planning upcoming retreats for September and October 2018. I have four retreats coming up so it could be a busy end to the year!
I’ve also been working on a new venture with my good friend, Esther O’Callaghan OBE, founder of the OPERA Global Youth Foundation. Recently, we joined forces to work on a project focusing on empowering women in triathlon. I met Esther here in Mallorca when we were both on a training camp last May, and we have become close friends and now business partners. Having both faced an overwhelming number of obstacles within sport we are passionate about providing women with the tools and knowledge to feel confident about themselves in a triathlon environment, with my focus predominantly being the bike. Obviously, my background is duathlon rather than triathlon, but we both entered the world of multisport, and particularly cycling, as adults, and have had to overcome fear, judgement and discrimination in order to succeed. The business will launch towards the end of the year, but keep your eyes open for the Isle Of Tri!
Evening – Coffee, cake, and a hike
My boyfriend and I love living in Pollença, it’s a stunning town and has everything you can ask for – restaurants, coffee shops, culture. Although we ride with a group in Palma on Thursdays (a bit fast and furious, but useful for building my confidence on the bike!) most of our friends live around the Pollença area so we tend to go into the square for a late afternoon coffee (and cake).
This evening, we took a 7pm hike up Puig de Maria. This is the mound opposite Pollença and looks intimidatingly steep! It is a challenge but it’s very accessible, with well-laid paths and a clear route to the top. That’s one of the things I love so much about the island – it is so easy to be active and enjoy being outside!
8:30pm – Dinner
I do most of the cooking here and we usually have meat or fish with salad or vegetables. Tonight I cooked chicken and port skewers with roasted vegetables. I do enjoy cooking but I also love eating out. If you know where to go you can get some incredible dishes for next to nothing! For good food, generous portions (very important to us) and a small bill we go to Es Club in Campanet. My favourite place to eat is probably Marina in Port Pollença – we went through a phase of going there a lot and the food is incredible! I recommend the salmon wellington. Sooo good.
I do try not to spend the evening on my laptop but more often than not we will sit and watch a box set or film and I’ll either finish tweaking sessions or be editing videos or pictures. I am also planning fitness retreats which will be based on the island. I have the following retreats in the calendar this year:
Pilates Retreat: 14th– 17thSeptember
Run & Race Retreat: 9th– 15thOctober (this is for the Palma running event where you can select 10k, HM or Marathon)
Get Fit with HIIT Retreat: 22nd– 26thOctober
Cycling Bootcamp: 26th– 29thOctober
Bath, Netflix and bed
I’ve never considered myself a bath person but I love a bath before bed over here! We have a nice spa bath so I think that might be it, or maybe I’m just getting old! But anyway, I tend to have a ‘Netflix and bath’ hour before bed (I really do sound old!) and then into bed around 11pm-ish.
You can follow Claire on social media via www.instagram.com/steels_fitness, www.twitter.com/claire_steels and www.facebook.com/steelsfitness. For more information on Claire’s PT and cycling camps, visit www.steelsfitness.com.