Interviewing Blue Zone specialist and Tour Operator Sam Pitzalis
Sam Pitzalis was born and raised in the Netherlands and is of Sardinian descent. Sardinia is an Italian island far from continental influences with a very special fauna and flora. It has been a spiritual place since the stone age. Many Sardinians have preserved traditions, maintaining their own language, cuisine, crafts and culture. The quality of life and longevity of a part of its people have earned Sardinia the status of one of the 5 “blue zones” in the world. Sam is an official tour operator who brings trainers and coaches’ retreats in Sardinia and the Netherlands to another level. He complements their teachings with his and takes on all logistics to let them focus on their expertise. He leads walks in the Netherlands passing on these blue zone concepts and how to recognise them more frequently in your own circumstances and environment.
During Sam’s youth, the mantra in society was ‘no pain, no gain’. Always pushing more and more, Sam became a master in fooling himself with adrenaline rushes through running and cycling fanatically. He had started to listen less and less to the signals his body was sending him and suffered from a full burnout. He now helps people recognise those to step out of their old ways occasionally or permanently. Breaking habits indeed takes courage and feels insurmountable when attempted all by yourself. During Sam’s special retreats and walks, people can build up that courage together, with him and with other people that lovingly recognize this. The words out-going, extra-ordinary, out-of-the-box and out-standing are more than word-play for Sam, he lives them and takes you on a healing and growth journey.
What products/ services do you offer and to whom?
People who come to the realization that they more than occasionally lose faith, energy and joie de vivre can join my walks in The Hague (Keepalivewalks) and retreats on Sardinia and in the Netherlands (Keepalivetours). They are a great way to recharge yourself with positivity and gain new stamina. I am in charge of the walks and organize them myself. I support other professional coaches in smoothly planning and running retreats to a higher standard of content and enjoyment for their clients, therefore alleviating stress and logistical chores for the coaches. We combine their vision and programme with my organizing skills and my talent for finding Sardinian places and experiences that illustrate their vision and programme in a playful and meaningful way. I also add deep understanding of the virtues of blue zones, where people live healthier and longer. Ah, and one of the most picturesque houses on Sardinia is mine, and for rent.
What does your logo represent?
My logo features a bold bird, outgoing without losing touch with its core. It represents a sunny attitude, being aware of all the points around the central sphere, symbolising a) resistance or critics (people who criticize you or even self criticism you have to deal with once you start taking better care of yourself: daring to change, and b) the radiance around you that you can and will create by… daring to go out there, out of your comfort zone.
If you had to name 3 values which guide you as a person, which would they be?
Independence: I value the freedom to discover, try, think, choose, mingle, exchange, change. Openness and mutual trust. Care: I view my role as a caring family father to groups, and we have to care for nature, actively investing in a long term relationship with nature. Now also read this: your own body is nature too. How do you actively invest in a long-term healthy relationship to that: your own body?
What makes you different from others in your industry?
My personal down to earth and philosophical and quick-witted humourous presentation, and my unique life story and experience. The ups and downs also in sports and life have sharpened my sense for recognising competition that ends up to be harmful on the long run. We are masters in hiding this harmfulness with our minds, with our coping strategies, but our body sooner or later will present the bill for that ignoring the signs; signs that it most definitely has been giving, being ignored though. We can try and postpone that bill presentation moment, it’s actually what the Blue Zone lifestyle is about: simply getting that bill presented later. The trainers I work with, in their way contribute to that goal too. They contribute to a serene feeling, regardless of which aspects they highlight: mental aspects, social aspects and physical aspects. I state that it’s all about serenity, deep down. Does your body feel serenity? Then it feels good, then it wants to move with our plans longer. I offer that constant focus on serenity and have become a master in recognising serenity reminders all around us, also in little daily aspects. A life-long exploration of wellness techniques is behind all this too, from which I like to cherry-pick useful elements, making new combinations all the time. It’s the kind of fine-tuning, the finely tuning that I practiced in my super fanatical sports years too. I see and feel it.
What is it like living in two countries?
I appreciate both: I cry for joy when the Dutch national soccer team plays fantastically and I deeply love Sardinia for its long healthy life inspiration and serene ancient energy. When I was young, I wanted to become an ambassador and interpreter and now indeed I am one, one that likes to point at the universal goodness that’s deep inside of us all, I think. In fact, my best moments in life have been when people from different countries, places, origins, shared a table or car or roof terrace, seeing each other’s same humanity. So, switching between countries for me is like searching and discovering the same goodness, differently packaged, culturally, but essentially the same. We have to be able to recognise universal goodness. It gives us serenity. It can be a choice.
When was the last time that you were touched by a client’s reaction to what you helped them with?
Recently, a year after coming back from a Sardinia retreat, a client came back to me saying that she is still following the new focus, which brings her joy and serendipity and a lot of laughs too. She even dared taking the step to change jobs, much to her relief. Relief. Again serenity. I feel that deeply.
Any exciting news about your business? Any upcoming new product or service or event?
Well, since the Sardinia route is closed at the moment I am redesigning them to take place in Delft and surroundings. And surprise, surprise: here too I find very special places, people and stories and metaphors. This has made me more and more convinced of me being guided by serendipity: I just discover it anywhere, surprisingly. Trainers and coaches who are willing to give their course here in the Netherlands instead of in Sardinia, I can assist them too, although Sardinia does have that SHEER MAGIC to offer, if you know where to look, and how to look. And I simply, in my simplicity, do.
How can people reach you?
For the walks in the Netherlands you can visit www.keepalivewalks.com.
For the Sardinia tours and retreats as a client, go to www.keepalivetours.com
To plan a memorable retreat as a trainer: www.retreatsardinia.com
On my YouTube channel
You will find many inspirational clips on how to remind yourself more often to actively invest in a healthy lifestyle, as well as some retreat and tour reviews, and video’s about Sardinia and my rental home there. That house is also suitable as a retreat location, working together with local and less local entrepreneurs.
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This interview was conducted by Lucie Cunningham from Tell Them Well Communications in May 2020. Lucie is a freelance editor, copywriter and translator with many years of community project management. She has lived in France, England, The USA, the Netherlands and is currently based in Scotland.