Fighting fit - boot camps
PUBLISHED: 11:04 13 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:40 20 February 2013
The nation has gone bonkers about boot camps - from military fitness to soul-soothing holistic holidays. Natalie French signs herself up to see what all the fuss is about
After months of snubbing the gym in favour of Rioja and kettle chips on the sofa, I was curious to see whether a full day of fitness would reignite my motivation so I decided to join the Kick Start Boot Camp at Hampshire hotel, Chewton Glen.
According to our instructor, Stuart Ward: Boot camps are a great way for people new to exercise, to try out lots of different workout methods in a relaxed and fun environment. However, more experienced gym goers will get ideas to spice up their existing workout plans with a chance to go all out and push themselves.
Gathering with my fellow recruits in the spa lounge, I was happy to notice a good range of fitness levels and ages (from 19 to over 60) including a few faces as frightened as mine. Stuart reassured us that although he would push us, we could still go at our own pace.
The boot camp commenced with a power walk through the beautiful grounds and on to Highcliffe beach. Blessed with a perfectly crisp day, the sun bounced off the water and the fresh sea air filled our lungs leaving everybody feeling pumped as we all got to know each other.
Along with the local spa members who use boot camp as an extra fitness boost, I also met Lucy Donnelly (31) who advised me this was the first day of her new life: Ive worked in marketing for the past 10 years, but Ive literally just given it all up to follow my dream of becoming a personal fitness instructor. I thought the boot camp would give me both the fitness and motivational boost I need to start my new business, explained Lucy.
New mum Lara Reynolds decided a boot camp would be the best way to get her body back in shape and give her the confidence to start exercising again, after having baby Amalie just six months earlier.
Noticing our desire to chat among ourselves, Stuart cracked the whip and instructed us to start jogging along the promenade, interspersed with short sprints. Before long, I was bright red and gasping for breath, but the group camaraderie and Stuarts encouragement spurred me on.
Upping the pace
Just as we were getting used to the pace, Stuart hit us with the killer hill runs. Running (I use this term loosely) up and down, legs shaking, I wondered why I had ever left my beloved sofa.
Next up: circuit training back at the hotel tennis courts, which according to Stuart would be the toughest part of the day totally incomprehensible after the hills. Thankfully, circuits were good fun, as we stood in a circle performing group star jumps and squats while one person ran up and down the court, before donning gloves to knock out 50 punches on the boxing pads.
There were a few muffled comments that if we accidently knocked Stuart out, we could all toddle off to the spa instead.
After a well-earned coffee break, it was time for the toning class to commence. The next hour and half passed in a blur of bouncing on trampolines, balancing on Swiss balls and crunching all available muscles with the help of dumbbells. Solo and communal groans were common place as Stuart promised us tomorrow we would have a skinny day.
After a morning of hard work, the delicious and healthy buffet lunch was hoovered up in no time before we attended a group session on diet and lifestyle with Karen Guttridge of Slim Focus.
Finally we stretched out our tired bodies in a Pilates session, before Stuart sent us waddling off to the spa for a heavenly soak in the hydrotherapy pool.
Five days later, I am still struggling to sit down but I feel masochistically satisfied that I earned the pain. Im definitely a boot camp convert, and after burning over 2,000 calories throughout the day, there wasnt the slightest tinge of guilt as I poured myself a glass of wine in the evening.
You could also try these
Get whipped into shape by a Royal Marines Physical Training Instructor on an Ultimate Boot Camp (www.ultimatebootcamp.co.uk) Recruits can expect to blast a whopping 6,000 calories per day and lose anything
up to 9Ib. Its not all bad, as youll sleep
it off in 5-star accommodation in Devon
If you fancy a sun-filled, soul-soothing fitness holiday, Purescapes (www.purescapes.com) has retreats in the Algarve and the untouched coast of Mozambique expect outdoors activities from sea kayaking to mountain hikes. These breaks guarantee youll relax and recharge.