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Peter Rana pumps iron in the tropics

Body Tech co-founder Peter Rana on holiday in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

Fitness fanatic Peter Rana turned a few celebrity heads while training Mick Jagger's ex-wife at a makeshift gym on a secluded Caribbean island.

In the late 80s Rana, who co-founded Body Tech Gym, spent three weeks on St Barts - an exclusive island destination, popular with the rich and famous.

"It's secluded and cut off from civilisation, a perfect holiday destination if you want to avoid the paparazzi," Rana said.

"During a typical Christmas holiday period you'll see celebrity after celebrity dining out or taking a stroll along St Jean's beach."

Rana said he was joined on the island by The Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger's ex-wife, Bianca Jagger.

Jagger is big on exercise and it was Rana's task to seek out where she could work out, he said.


"All we could find was a makeshift gym with dumbbells made from steel cans filled with cement and a chin and dip bar."

That simple set up became the pair's dedicated gym for the following three weeks.

Rana said he also used his lifeguard training to devise a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout using the beach and water.

"Funnily enough it attracted attention from the celebs who were doing nothing - and worrying about what the excesses of a steady diet of parties would do to their bodies."

Worst flight?

Flying to St Barts. Well, it might not been my worst flight, but it was surely my worst landing.

Unless you arrive via private yacht or boat charter, all the money in the world can't save you from enduring the white-knuckled landing at the French Island St Barts Airport (SBH), with its steep approach and short airstrip. I guess it wouldn't be so bad if you didn't know that not every plane lands successfully.

Best flight?

Once you've flown on a Learjet, all other commercial air travel pales by comparison.

Working as a skilled fitness trainer and taking off from a New Jersey airport very popular for private and corporate aircraft, I found myself part of an entourage destined for the remote Caribbean Island of St Barts.

We're talking crystal glasses, silverware, five course menu, respectful wine list, waiters, and best of all, enough leg room to do a complete Tia Chi exercise routine if you wished.

Favourite international dish?

Rome is known for its seasonal ingredients mostly prepared in a simple way.

And that for me is home away from home. So I start with an insalata of artichoke and chestnut, followed by stuffed eggplant as my main. Molto delizioso.

Favourite international beverage?

Fitness role model or not, I can't deny good Jamaican rum.  If you go to any of the Caribbean Islands, you'll be hard pressed not to find a good selection. My favourite is rum runners made with local, squeezed tropical fruit. 

Must have travel item?

Of course, a pair of trainers and a Garmin activity watch to assist you in getting your quota of fast exercise (HIIT) that requires only 10 to 15 minutes with little to no equipment needed.

Most underrated city?

Boston, USA. If you like America's rich history, Boston is wonderfully preserved in historical sites, places and old European English culture.

Best airport to land at?

Auckland airport. It's efficient and you'll never find yourself adding an additional 30 to 40 minutes to your travel time taxiing to your terminal after landing.

Top travel tips?

Keep hydrated. And for long travel routes get up and move every 30 minutes to one hour.

One place you want to visit before you die and why?

Orbiting the moon; especially after Sir Richard proves that it's safe to do so.

Favourite souvenir picked up travelling?

A book on the Teton Mountains of Jackson Hole Wyoming.