Live, breathe, be Pilates

A Pilates Retreat that will knock you off your toesocks!

Join Pilates mentors Benjamin Degenhardt and Heather Thomas Shalabi on an outstanding journey to Portugal's famous wine region—Setubal.

But besides the wine... Let Pilates be your life for a week. Discover not only the 'how', but also the 'why' of classical Pilates and truly connect what you learn with what you can achieve in life.

This Pilates retreat is so intense and yet so joyful and light, that you will never want it to end. Be so immersed that time stands still.

Since Portugal is Mareile's homebase, this retreat is curated with a lot of insight and a true love for the region. Let us show you some of our best-kept Portuguese secrets!

see all the details
Oh yes! That's the one! Sign me up
Portugal, 2022
May 30 - June 4

What can I expect to learn on this retreat?

“Push past perceived limitations, and explore your body’s full capacity to move beautifully on and off the mat. Through the genius sequencing of Classical Pilates find a natural state of  balance and joy in movement, reminiscent of the carefree days of childhood.”

Heather Thomas Shalabi


“There is no greater gift than connecting with yourself on a deeper level in body, mind, and spirit. And there is no better place to do it than away from your everyday life."

Benjamin Degenhard

RETREAT LEADER, Classical Pilates

The retreat was an exceptional discovery and experience for me!

~ Daniela Arede, Luxembourg

All you need to know about our Portugal retreat

All our retreats are limited to 10-15 participants to make sure we can give you the individual care and attention you deserve. Are you ready for an extraordinary experience?

When & Where?

JOIN US IN Setubal, Portugal FROM May 30th - June 4th 2022 AT THE gorgeous Hotel Casa Palmela surrounded by vineyards in the heart of the Arrábida Nature Park.

Let us whisk you away to one of the most charming landscapes of Portugal, just 35-minutes drive from Lisbon International Airport. The Setubal region, known for its wine and gastronomy, is often overlooked by mass tourism. When we looked for the perfect headquarters for Life in Movement, we fell head over heels in love with the stunning hills of the Serra da Arrabida and idyllic beaches fringing its rocky coastline.

We are very excited to share our insight and local discoveries with you, spending five unforgettable nights at the luxurious Hotel Casa Palmela, a family-run estate with a history dating back to the seventeenth century.

Casa Palmela has everything we could possibly wish for to make sure you have a truly special and unique retreat experience. Tucked away into a romantic Portuguese landscape of oak trees, pines and rolling hills, you can't help but take that big long exhale and feel at peace. There are two pools, an exquisite restaurant and the rooms invite you to dream of the quinta's family history and of stories many times retold. Soak up the sunset with a glass of local Moscatel wine and life could not be more perfect!

The turquoise beaches of Arrabida are just a 15-min drive away - or borrow a bike and explore on your own. If you like to go for a run pre- or post Pilates sessions, you can start straight from the hotel.

For our Pilates classes we have a large, light filled studio available to us with big sliding doors that open up into nature. When the weather allows and we feel like it, two large wooden decks (one under at 500-year old oak tree) allow for open air sessions.

What’s Included?

Leave your stresses and worries at home and Let us indulge you:


  • 5 nights accommodation in private 2 or 3-bedroom villa
  • daily healthy breakfast
  • several delicious lunches & dinners (some will be at Casa Palmela, others at local restaurants, vinyards, cafes...)
  • one-on-one assessment / private session with Benjamin or Heather
  • two daily classical Mat Pilates sessions
  • Pilates workshop
  • day trip excursion (dolphin watching, hike in the Serra, city tour of Setubal & Palmela, wine tasting...)
  • 60 min spa treatment (massage)
  • round trip airport transfer to/from Lisbon Airport


  • additional private sessions with your teachers
  • visit to a local vineyard
  • biking, hiking, jogging in the Serra
  • guided nature walk
  • Portuguese tile making workshop
  • Horseback riding excursion


  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • selected meals & alcoholic beverages

Accommodation & Price

WE OFFER SINGLE OR SHARED ACCOMMODATION IN Hotel Casa Palmela's Brand new private villas

Hotel Casa Palmela is a lovingly restored 17th-century elegant country residence full of Portuguese charm and style. When you arrive through the imposing gates and drive down the long road surrounded by vineyards, you will know that this is your sanctuary for the coming days.

For our retreat, manager Salvador Holstein, who's grown up at the property, reserved us three private villas which are part of the Hotel, yet slightly secluded from the main buildings. Enjoy the serenity and tranquility of this place and get ready for time to stand still!

As a member of the 'Small Luxury Hotels of the World' Hotel Casa Palmela lives up to to its world-class reputation, while giving you the feeling that you are part of the family. Feel like the lord (or lady) of a grand estate overlooking the vineyards and fragrant gardens from your light-filled, elegant bedroom.
Needless to say that all mod cons that you'd expect from a 4-star hotel, are taken care of. Oh, and did we mention the exceptionally spacious bathrooms?

Private Villa - Shared Room

Most rooms in our 2 and 3-bedroom villas can be converted to twin beds – a great option for friends traveling together. All villas have their own lounge, kitchenette and living room and share a pool.

EUR 2,250*
book early and pick your room!

Private Villa - Single Room

There is a limited availability of rooms available for single occupancy. Booking early will ensure you get the room type you prefer.

EUR 2,850*
only 3 available

* all prices are per person, and quoted in EUR. We will try our best to help you avoid bank and transfer charges, but if they do occur, all bank/PayPal charges must be carried by the participant.

Your Teachers & Host

YOU COULD NOT BE IN BETTER HANDS! BOTH heather & benjamin are world-class teachers with years of experience down their spines...

Benjamin Degenhardt


Who would not want to spend some time on retreat with Benjamin? An internationally known and highly sought after educator, we are proud to have him on our team. Benjamin's passion in human movement is infectious. A retreat with Benjamin will elevate you to a whole new dimension of understanding and exploring your body. It'll turn your body into a 3-dimensional playground. It will motivate you to try things, to not be afraid, to find new ways. Benjamin's teachings are as mind-and-body opening as they are delightful. Let him guide you for Pilates to become your life.

Heather Thomas Shalabi


Always a movement enthusiast, Heather Thomas Shalabi has taught Pilates for more than 17 years. Her recognition of Pilates’ benefits, and passion for the discipline led her to embark on intensive training, completing her full Studio certification through Polestar in 2002, Traditional Pilates through 360°Pilates Benjamin Degenhardt in 2016, and Classical Pilates with Alycea Ungaro’s REAL Pilates in 2018. In 2005, Heather opened Flex Studio in Hong Kong, which has steadily become the city’s premiere fitness destination, and Classical Pilates Teacher Training Centre. She is dedicated to training apprentices in the Classical Method, adhering to rigorous technique and respect for the original Method. Heather also leads annual retreats in Asia, and regularly leads workshops to empower people to take control of their physical well-being. Her interest in movement and the body stems from decade-long training in classical ballet as a young girl, and subsequent daily yoga practice whilst living in New York City in the 1990’s.

Mareile Paley


If a retreat is a beautiful piece of art, Mareile is the glue that holds all the pieces together. Having started in 2010 leading her own Pilates retreats, she soon found her true calling and strength in connecting people, in crafting and curating truly exceptional retreat experiences and in finding the best teachers. The personal attention you will receive before, during and after the retreat can all be attributed to Mareile’s deep desire to make people happy and to make you feel valued and special.
As an extra bonus, this retreat will take place on Mareile's 'home turf'. Passionate as she is, she will share with you all her local insight and best-kept secrets.


There are many reasons why we love Portugal so much. Let us share our passion for the region's secrets! we have sprinkled them throughout this retreat.

The Venue

17-th century quinta tucked away in a nature reserve, surrounded by oak trees and vineyards? Oh yes! Our retreat venue is as elegant and old-time Portuguese as they get. If you are looking for a place to truly relax and forget about the passing of time... Hotel Casa Palmela will not disappoint!

The Pilates Classes

Besides two daily mind-blowing Pilates mat classes, it's part of our signature program that each participant gets a private one-on-one session with either Benjamin or Heather. This extra time spent with you helps us to get to know you and to serve you better during the group sessions. It’s also a wonderful learning opportunity. Bring your practice to the next level!

The Food

The culinary delights of Portugal are a reason in itself to come visit! Mix that with a glass of local Moscatel wine (or even a wine tour) and you are in paradise. Of course we are integrating the best that the region has to offer into your retreat program. Local taverna or fine dining...let us spoil you.

The Nature

The Arrabida Nature Park makes for stunning vistas all around. This undiscovered region of Setubal is one of Lisbon’s best-kept secrets and we are right in the middle of it! As time allows, explore some of the nearby beaches, go hiking, biking or stand-up paddling. We can even organize an excursion on horseback if you wish.

The Sights

On excursion day you will get to pick from an array of different possibilities how to spend your day. From exploring the medieval town of Palmela to sailing out on the Sado river to watch the local dolphins... even we have a hard time picking our favorite.

Time for Pause

And if the choice is to simply do nothing? Yes, your retreat will allow for that as well. Take a book and read. Enjoy the sun setting over the oak trees. Lie by the pool on a sun chair for hours. Always remember that we curate these retreats for you... it's your choice how to best honour yourself and take what you need.

Frequently Asked Questions


Do you offer this retreat at other times of the year?

No. We offer each of our retreats (except for the Teacher Trainings) just once a year around the same time.

Do you organize bespoke retreats?

Yes. If you are a group of friends looking for a personalized and intimate retreat experience, the Life in Movement team is happy to work with you on a bespoke retreat package

I am a complete beginner. Can I still attend ?

Yes. Even if you are new to Pilates, we welcome and encourage you to join. A retreat week always starts with the basics no matter how experienced the other participants might be. Both Benjamin and Heather are experienced teachers and will attend to all levels. Depending on the overall level of the group we will slowly (or quickly) build up the classes day by day. You can decide to book additional private sessions if you feel you want to work on something specific. If there is a very big difference between levels, we might offer some additional classes to the more advanced participants, but the group sessions will always be tailored to accommodate beginners.

Do I need to be familiar with classical Pilates to attend the retreat?

No. We welcome all types of practitioners and students of any school of Pilates. The teaching style of this retreat will be classical based, which provides a wonderful learning opportunity for those who've never tried the classical work as well as those who know classical Pilates and want to dive deeper.

Can I come with a non-participating spouse, friend, baby...?

Yes. We usually offer a custom retreat price in that case. If you want to bring a child, we recommend you contact us directly to see how we can best accommodate you.

It’s my first time traveling alone. Will I feel safe?

We have lots of guests traveling alone and for many it’s been the first time or the first time on retreat. Portugal is a very safe country with helpful, friendly people, many of whom speak good English. A retreat is actually a perfect setting for a first solo trip. All is organized and taken care of, but if you want to step out of your comfort zone, make friends, try something new, here is your opportunity. You will be surprised how quickly it all falls into place.

I am a Pilates teacher. What can I expect?

We love it when teachers join our retreat! This usually means that you are excited to continue your learning journey. Be aware that our retreats are open to all levels and that this retreat is not primarily focused on an advanced level participant. That said — as this is our most focused Pilates retreat and with highly sought after teachers, we are expecting a higher than usual level of experienced Pilates participants. If that's not enough and when we see that you can be pushed… we will do so! You can always book additional private sessions if you want to go deeper.

Do you offer any Reformer Pilates classes on this retreat?

I get asked this a lot and unfortunately, I have yet to find the perfect Pilates retreat location that offers the possibility to add in equipment sessions. In fact, I am building this space right now in Portugal, so I invite you to support CALM Portugal, so that in a few years the answer can be ”Yes, of course!”

I have a special condition / injury. Can I still attend?

If you have doubts about your physical abilities in regards to the retreat and due to a chronic or acute condition, we encourage you to contact us prior to booking. That way we can advise you and make sure that you will benefit from the retreat. All participants will need to complete a health form prior to the retreat start.

I want to come, but need to leave early/arrive late...

For maximum benefit we encourage each guest to arrive and leave on the official retreat arrival & departure days. If you can’t make it, we will try our best to find a custom solution for you, which will, however, not affect the retreat price.

I have a food allergy and need a special diet

As you can imagine, we are very used to dealing with all kinds of food allergies, preferences and unusual diets. As long as you tell us ahead of time (there is a line about it in our mandatory health form) we can inform the venue and let you know how much we can accommodate you. For the most part it’s easy (ie vegan, gluten free, dairy free) and if it’s potentially tricky, we will advise you to bring your own snacks, supplements and supplies.

Sign Up & Deposit

We would do the same! WELCOME TO OUR Portugal 2022 classical PILATES RETREAT

Your information

Choose your package:

Shared Room

I am happy to share a room
with another guest.

EUR 2,250

Single Room

I prefer my own room.

USD 2,850

Yay! That’s exciting. We are very happy to have you on board. We will be in touch with the next steps.

Below, you can pay your deposit to make sure you get a spot.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Secure your Spot

In order to secure your spot on the retreat, we need to receive a non refundable EUR 500 deposit from you. We accept Credit Cards, PayPal or direct bank transfer. Please note that we won’t pay for any bank or transfer charges, including PayPal fees.

Pay with Credit Card


Travel Insurance
Cancellation up to 90 days before retreat start:
Cancellation after three months before retreat start:
If we cancel the retreat:
Payment general: