Earlier this year I decided to go on holiday. Although I’d been daydreaming of sipping cocktails on a tropical beach, I instead somehow found myself signing up for seven days at a muddy, outdoor fitness boot camp in Suffolk. No idea what came over me. Not sure what happened there at all.
Based in a luxury country manor, Prestige Boot Camp is run by ex-Royal Marine PTIs (physical training instructors) and is designed to give your fitness a military kick up the ass.
The fresh and healthy food is prepared on site by a boot camp chef, and you have the option of going on restricted portions if you want to lose weight. If I have one piece of advice for you, it is this: DO NOT go on restricted portions!
All 14 boot campers arrived at the swanky country house on Friday afternoon to settle in and meet our two trainers, who we had to call Staff R and Staff W (some military shizzle about not using real names).
How little I knew then about how my free ‘holiday’ time would actually be spent – falling asleep, utterly exhausted, at 8.30pm
A nose round the house unearthed a TV room and a pool table for relaxing around with new pals. Oh how little I knew then about how my free time would actually be spent – falling asleep, utterly exhausted, at 8.30pm, every single night.
Day one was also weigh-in and measurement day. Before I arrived, this had always been my main issue with fitness boot camp: the emphasis on rapid weight loss. However, Prestige founder Staff R reassured me that the focus was on educating people about food and exercise, so that they can carry on the good work at home. So I let him measure my thighs.
On day one we got the choice of eating restricted or unrestricted portions throughout our stay. I wasn’t bothered about losing weight, but I decided to go for restricted portions as everyone else was, and I didn’t want them to hate me at mealtimes.
Big mistake. When we got up for a walk at 7am – which very quickly turned into a run with a few sprints thrown in – I was already sooo hungry. And we still had a 20-min tabata session to get through before breakfast.
Before the day was out we’d also done circuits in the garden, a bit of boxing, a couple of walks, an arm workout and a timed run. Kind of a busy day.
The food hallucinations were kicking in.
We ate three meals and two snacks throughout the day but holy f––k-buckets was I hungry
We ate three meals and two snacks throughout the day but holy f––k buckets was I hungry – particularly when the day’s activities included circuits, fartlek training and a hellish 50-minute hill run – Suffolk is a very flat county, but Staff R somehow managed to magic up some hills from somewhere.
When things got tough, though, the banter and support from the others got me through. You get to know your camp-mates pretty well over the week, and you see them at their best and worst. There were a few tears when people thought they couldn’t do something, and more tears when they realised they actually could. (Not from me though, I’m hard!) But it was amazing to see everyone’s confidence and ability improve from day to day.
I devoured a contraband Sesame Snap. Oh the sweet relief of sugar
That night, I was bad. Along with another boot camper, who shall remain nameless, I devoured a contraband Sesame Snap I found in my bag. Oh the sweet relief of sugar.
Something strange happened. Whether the food increased or I got used to the portion sizes I don’t know, but I actually felt full after breakfast.
It helped as well that this was a bit of a recovery day – although when I started classing a 15-mile walk along the coast as a recovery day I don’t know. I also booked in for a deep tissue massage – the best £30 I’ve ever spent.
Day Five & Six
We went to the beach!
No sun-loungers here though, just more running, walking, boxing and circuits.
I liked the fact that a lot of the work throughout the camp was using your own body weight (squats, press ups, tricep dips and so on) so that you could replicate sessions at home. Although we did also do some daft scooter races, and some bouncing around on a trampoline (which is harder than you’d think).
I made friends with the chef. He sneaked me some extra nuts.
All that exercise and fresh air had left me feeling totally zenned-out, although that could’ve been the champagne
The final full day! And we went mountain biking through the woods, which was fricking awesome. At the beginning of the week, when I was finding things pretty tough, I couldn’t wait for this day, but now it all seemed to have gone far too fast.
Strangely all that exercise, fresh air and healthy food had left me feeling totally zenned-out and relaxed (although that could’ve been the glass of celebratory champagne).
It was also time for the final weigh-in. I’d noticed my leggings were getting looser but was amazed to find I’d lost half a stone. Although I’d settle for a few less lost lbs and a bit more food next time.
As for putting the weight back on, as Staff R says, “Yes, you will. Well, you will if you go back to how you were before. But if you continue with the healthy eating and add more exercise into your regime then you should keep getting fitter and stronger and, if weight loss is important, you should keep it off too.”
Let’s not tell him about the two packets of Hula Hoops and bar of chocolate I scoffed on the way home, eh?