We Tried It: Brooke Burke's Body Transformation Retreat (That Turned Out to Be So Much More!)

What It Is: Brooke Burke’s Body Transformation Retreat, a three-day getaway for women to focus on their physical, mental and emotional health

Who Tried It: Melody Chiu, PEOPLE Staff Editor

Level of Difficulty: 3/10

When Brooke Burke extended an invite for me to attend her upcoming “body transformation retreat” at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point earlier this month, I signed up with zero hesitation. I mean, have you seen her? Brooke is the queen of the booty burn (she teaches a class in Malibu, but fans can work out with her on her fitness app Brooke Burke Body), and I’m all for trying anything that will get my abs looking even the tiniest bit more like hers.

But what also drew me in was seeing how much of a focus there would be on overall wellness. Last year, Brooke announced she was separating from her ex David Charvet after 12 years together. She was bravely candid about her deep sadness following their split — and ended up turning her heartbreak into empowerment through her retreats. Being around her kind of positive energy is something all women can use a little more of these days. “I wish I knew the value of deep self-care as a young woman. It’s transformative and necessary. Every woman deserves to put herself on top of her to-do list,” Brooke told me after the retreat. “This work is so confronting and necessary. It’s my act of service. I’m fascinated by the collective energy like-minded women create.”

Before heading down to the resort, I wasn’t sure what to expect. How much time would we be spending with Brooke? What were the other women going to be like? Would I survive the workouts? About a two-hour drive later, my colleague and I checked into our stunning room (hello, ocean view!) and slightly apprehensively made our way downstairs to meet the rest of the women, who were all so welcoming right off the bat.

After settling into an intimate circle with Brooke out on the patio of the hotel, she asked us all to introduce ourselves and talk a bit about what we hoped to gain from the weekend. There were tears — and tons of laughter — as everyone told bits and pieces of the stories that led them to this retreat, and I could tell within 10 minutes that this weekend was going to be so much more than just about Brooke whipping our butts into shape.

The next morning, we all congregated at 8 a.m. for a “Talk a Latte” session with Brooke. She’s a strong believer in her longtime pal Jorge Cruise’s intermittent fasting diet, so nearly all of the women stuck to coffee and teas. (I couldn’t help but sneak half a croissant, but no one shamed me!) Around an hour later, we all headed down to the resort’s private beach for a silent walk before heading into the fitness studio for a total body workout led by Brooke. While there were moments I thought I would collapse (I may have actually flopped onto the floor once or twice, if we’re being honest), Brooke was super encouraging and kept her workout space free of negative energy. My favorite kind of workouts are short kind of workouts, but the one-and-a-half hour session with her flew by!

After a hearty lunch, we headed into a “living vision book workshop” with Heather Hayward, an immersive experience leader who teaches at Unplug Meditation in L.A. During the nearly four-hour session, we were encouraged to dig deep and really think about what we wanted to manifest and accomplish in the next 90 days. It was a very emotional experience for most of the women, who rarely are able to focus entirely on themselves for even a brief period of time because of their responsibilities as wives, mothers, friends or employees. As she was the entire weekend, Brooke was fully immersed in the experience and even went on to tweak the planned itinerary after seeing how affected the group was following the session. Instead of a sunset stretch and recovery, Brooke led a relaxing meditation in the room and encouraged everyone to process all the thoughts and emotions that had come up over the last few hours.

Following a little bit of downtime, everyone reunited for dinner back at the resort’s restaurant AVEO. As luck would have it, there was a glamorous wedding going on and we were treated to an over-the-top firework show. Though some of the women headed back up to their rooms to get some shuteye ahead of another packed day, the rest of us — including Brooke — headed outside to a fire pit to burn intentions we had written down on little slips of paper. (We were supposed to do that at the start of the retreat, but oh well!) After such a physically and emotionally draining day, it was such a blast to just sit around and swap hilarious stories about everything from dating to aging gracefully late into the night.

The Verdict:

I had to leave the retreat about a day-and-a-half early because of work, and I was genuinely sad to say goodbye to Brooke and the amazing women she had gathered. Because celebrity-hosted events mostly just involved a quick drive-by with the star, I had expected Brooke to just pop in and out or lead a workout here and there. Instead, she was fully involved from start to finish, and led and protected this intimate group of women like a mama bear. “I like to think of myself as an encourager. I never imagined being a fitness instructor,” says Brooke. “Health and wellness has always been a passion of mine, and an absolute life necessity. I feel privileged to connect with women and to offer them one-on-one attention to guide them to their best self.” Though the retreat comes with a heavy price tag ($3,945 for the whole weekend or $550 for a day), many of the women were gifted the weekend by their husbands or families as an early Mother’s Day present or vacation — and each day is so packed to the brim that it truly feels like you’re getting your money’s worth. Nearly three weeks later, all of the women are still exchanging advice or even just posting an encouraging message in a private Facebook group, and it’s clear lifelong friendships have been formed.

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