Written by: Jodi Schwartz
Five days of Euphoria, Jiu Jitsu, Empowerment & the Sea
Sophia McDermott’s Lifestyle and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Camp took place in small but quaint town of Siesta Key this past October. A small patch of paradise in Florida where the ice cream comes in rainbow colors and the karaoke game is strong; Siesta Key was not ready for the twenty five personalities coming. There was plenty of bonding with the other Jiu Jitsu girls, lounging by the pool and playing at the beach; the only thing missing was a cabana boy and bottomless Mimosas.
Morning person or not, all the ladies of the camp awoke early each morning to be greeted by a stunning array of fresh fruit before taking a short walk to the beach for sunrise yoga led by the brilliant and beautiful Jiu Jitsu Yogi, Jasmine Bienvenue . Each day, Jasmine explored different flows where she encouraged a connection to the body and breath before laying and meditating in a sweet Shavasana as the sun came up.
The practice was followed by a hearty, nutritious breakfast which offered a choice of fruit, eggs, yogurt, gluten free or rye toast with coffee and tea. All meals were prepared by a woman of many talents, Tina West, with help from sous chef Jodi Schwartz.
At 10.30 a.m. Sophia McDermott taught the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sessions. Sophia who is an IBJJF Worlds, IBJJF No Gi Worlds and IBJJF Pan Am Champion as well as the 1st female black belt from Australia shared her knowledge of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a particular focus on techniques that were better suited to women. The smiles in the pictures from a couple hours of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques and rolling don’t do the happiness and joy felt throughout justice.
After a good training session, the ladies worked up a serious appetite for lunch. For lunch we were greeted with a nourishing variety of protein, vegetables and complex carbs before relaxing in the afternoon.The next three to four hours were open for whatever suited us. Many of the girls went to the beach, some to the pool, some to shop, others to a movie, or many took a much needed nap.
Evening activities varied day to day, but all included workshops that alternated between a focus on the body, mind and spirit. Sophia taught a toning & sculpting workout, a nutrition workshop, partner stretching and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Q&A session. Tina West took charge of the Warrior Within empowerment – workshops, sound therapy and guided meditations.
Dinner was always ready after the workshops to make sure that ladies were refueled and recharged from all the activities of the day. Although the focus of the camp was about health and good nutrition, if needed the ice cream shop and convenient store were just a quick walk away for those with sweet cravings. It was a busy five days indeed, but what cannot be captured in words is the atmosphere. Here’s our best attempt in quotes from attendees:
“The camp consists of: intense training, brutal honesty, massive growth, vulnerability, love and the unshakable sisterhood. Not one bad vibe for five days. These camps are really on another level. Worth every sacrifice and every last penny we have. I strongly encourage you to experience the next one in February.
“Attending the Sophia lifestyle camp and experiencing all of the components of sound, yoga, meditation, and BJJ training was like reaching inside of yourself and telling that Queen that it’s okay to start her reign. The power that is unlocked at the camp will change the world.”
“This camp could only be said in a few words, passion and purpose inspires others to become the best version of themselves.”
“Best things about camp: the absence of egos, the welcoming feeling and the togetherness and learning a sense of real team after knowing each other for just minutes! Great group of women!”
“Being less than a year into my BJJ journey, I was very nervous attending Sophia’s camp. I felt very welcomed, made amazing connections, and new friendships. So happy I did this for myself.”
“This camp was exactly what I needed. It helped me connect my mind and body, and helped me learn how to help my whole self! I truly feel like a new person after one week at lifestyles camp. Words can’t express how life changing it was for me!”
“I love everything in the camp ! But the Best thing was meeting everyone and getting to roll.”
And here is what Sophia had to say “The focus of my camps is for the ladies to get a glimpse into the lifestyle that promotes optimal health on all levels, body, mind and soul. Good nutrition is a major focus of mine, as well as working out to stay fit and strong. Mental health is just as important as physical health which is why I offer meditations and empowerment workshops and yoga as well as the opportunity to connect with nature. It is so wonderful that I am able to offer this experience all because of Jiu Jitsu – the sport that has connected us all. I think the best part about the camps are the lifelong friendships that are created. My aim is to connect the ladies regardless of age, country, belt rank or affiliation and to build up this sisterhood of empowered women so that collectively we can thrive.”
There is not much else I can add as I write this description of the camp. It is a euphoric feeling for five days where women from all over the US and World come together to meet, learn, experience, share and make lifelong connections. The sisterhood developed is on a different level than most have ever experienced. Each day and session seemed to light more of a fire within each woman, inspiring each one of us to be the wonderful person that we are, listening to our hearts and choosing our own paths.