Diary of a luxury bootcamp
By Suzanne Braithwaite
As a bit of a fitness fanatic – well, I did run the marathon – I was the first to be volunteered by the Professional Beauty team for an Xtreme Fitness “luxury” bootcamp, run by Xtreme Gyms, in Herefordshire last weekend.
The luxury part being it had a spa, hot tub, sauna, pool and treatments provided by external company The Personal Sanctuary. It was also located in the lavish and exclusive surroundings of The Colloquy, a large house in Lyonshall. “A weekend of luxury and fitness,” I said. “Yes that sounds great – count me in.”
Perhaps I should have reread the email from the PR and checked the website – as the military branding would have given me a clue as to what I was letting myself in for….
Evening of – 16.05.14
It’s the evening of arrival – not even day one and I’m already in pain. I’ve gone through childbirth, run a marathon, but I’m actually more fearful of what I’m about to put my body through this weekend after tonight’s detail (a detail is a military term for exercise).
I’m all but ready to ring a taxi to get me out of here, but my arms are too tired to pick up the phone.
However, it’s not all bad, perhaps I’ll stick it out till tomorrow as I’m in a gorgeous suite with dressing room, wet room shower, mezzanine level with standalone bath, which over looks a four-post bed – looking forward to some sleep.
So this evening I expected a meet and greet with the other boot campers. Not exactly what I envisaged. We got straight into our fitness gear (fiz gear) and went to the field to do a bleep test (something I hadn’t done since I was a 14-year-old school girl), panic set in as the bleeps got quicker! Then we had a two-minute challenge of sit-ups and press-ups (I have no upper body strength), and seeing how long we could hold the plank for.
The field of fitness/doom
This was followed by an hour of circuit training and shuttle runs (joy)!
When we were done, I struggled to shower but managed to just make it in time for dinner (clean-living nutritious food), as the military do not accept lateness.
The fitness team included – James Evans (a recruit for the Royal Marine Reservists), Hammie (ex RAF) and Charli (she is currently serving in the Army Reserves).
I thought this would be it for the eve until James gave us the next detail to be on the flagstones outside the front door in two ranks by 9.30pm (meaning 9.25pm). I thought they were joking when we were led out to the field for more fitness military style - commando crawls, bear walks, shuttle runs. This was followed by Thai Boxing in the dark (I couldn’t see where I was hitting). We finished at 10.40pm. 10.40!!!!
Thoughts: my muscles are very tense so found it difficult to sleep, I hope (pray) that tomorrow will be easier and we would be using the spa. The balance seems tipped more towards extreme fitness at the moment.
Day one – 17.05.14
After a difficult night's sleep caused by my aching limbs, I woke at 7am and was down on the flagstones at 7.55am for the morning run. We started with a leisurely jog through the beautiful Shropshire countryside (this is more like it). That was the warm up though.
Kenyan hills (sprinting up hill and jogging down) were next on the list with either an army crawl, burpees, squats or lunges at the bottom of the hill. We carried on to the top of the hill and continued our run through the forest (mud and branches).
Wishing I never mentioned I had run a marathon, I got put in the fittest group, which had to tag behind, drop and do press-ups or lunges every so often, then sprint to catch up with the rest of the group (it felt like we were being punished for being fit). The idea is that they push you to your limit – they were.
This was before breakfast so when we got back from the run we all sat down for cereal/porridge and eggs on toast.
The next detail was at 10.45am (10.40 – you get the idea). It was time for pool “games” – this sounds fun but not when you include circuit training. At least it was in the pool as it was particularly hot day.
We had 12 stations in total to get through twice before we played volley ball. Although the losing team had to do a forfeit of something called a bastardo (excuse the language) – basically a combination of a press-up, squat thrust and burpee jump.
1.30-5.00pm Following lunch of pear and mackerel salad, we had some down time to laze by the pool and use the spa facilities. Bliss
5.30 detail. Here’s me thinking we had yoga this evening but we received yet another penalty for someone being late. The warm up session was hard enough – running around in a circle as Charli shouted numbers 1-6 – each with a different instruction. 1- touch the ground with the left hand, 2 – with the right, 3 – jump up, 4 – turn direction, 5 – sprint to grab the person in front, 6 – commando crawl. We then had the joyful task of bear crawls, crab crawls and pulsing lunges (don’t ask – it hurt).
Finally it was time for yoga in the evening sun – usually I would enjoy this but my arms were so sore I could barely get myself into the downward dog position.
After dinner I went to the hot tub so I could relax before collapsing into bed.
Thoughts: I had that sense of satisfaction I had worked myself hard today, my muscle ached in that sweet way, unfortunately this didn't help me sleep any better.
My team of troopers
Day two – 18.05.14 (felt like day 10)
Ouch the pain of rolling out of bed. Usually you get a rest day after intense exercise, this however is Xtreme fitness so no rest for the wicked. The day started much the same with a morning run. While I usually love running (my pace is slow and steady), today I had distinct loathing feeling for it. It felt like I had to sprint the four miles we were going on – whether I found it hard because of the heat, my soreness from previous exercise, or the fact it was a quicker pace – it brought me to tears. Literally. Half a mile from the ranch I had a meltdown and cried like a baby. Hammie stayed with me and managed to get me back running again but I’ve never cried from exercise before so it was all a bit alien.
Breakfast followed by 11am detail – the crazy number warm up again (see above) followed by timed circuits. I cried again. I'd definitely reached my breaking point.
Luckily the afternoon I was booked in for a spa treatment from The Personal Sanctuary. I opted for the deep tissue massage to try and rescue what was left of my body. It was exactly what my muscles needed and just shows the blend of exercise and relaxation work well together. The therapist told me I had a lot of congestion in my arms, which was a new one for me. I guess it just shows the press-ups are working!
The post-massage feeling was cut short as I was ten minutes late for dance class – which I actually loved as it was the first session set to music. The style of exercise was low impact so really helped my aching muscles.
Dinner definitely gets a mention as it was roast beef and roast potatoes – just cooked in extra virgin oil for a healthier option.
Thoughts: A much better nights sleep, which I think was helped by the massage as it had relieved the tension from my muscles.
Day 3 – 20.05.14
Final full day – I had seized up again over night so the run was particularly hard, especially as we were made to do squats and lunges every 20 metres.
11am – a new group had joined the boot camp so they had to do their fitness test while I watched but I soon had to join in with the five minutes of sit-ups.
The next exercise was called 10-1-10, which I will fear for the rest of my days. Basically six exercises including mountain climbers, squats, knees-to-chest, sit-ups, superman’s and jumping lunges. Counting 10 of each, then nine etc, all the way to one and back again.
After lunch – some more newbies joined so there was another fitness test, followed by a weight session on medicine balls. Squeezing the medi-ball with our thighs is an absolute killer.
After this we had the thrill of more circuits (by this point I was so drained I cried again). And just because we hadn’t done enough we had another round of boxing – whoop!
Thoughts: I think due to the new arrivals they worked us especially hard today, I wish I had the chance to enjoy the spa a bit more so I made sure I got in the sauna after my day of exhaustion – we didn't finish till 6pm. Luckily we had a healthy version but satisfying meal of chicken satay with sweet potato mash for dinner.
Tuesday 8am – no running for me I was finally in the taxi home!! I looked back in the rear view mirror and watched as my fellow troopers set off on their morning jog.
I may have moaned a little (ok a lot) throughout my extreme weekend of fitness, I have to admit I’ve come away with a smile of my face and on a high. Ok I enjoyed it. It feels like I’ve been on a lifestyle journey, which has helped reassess my fitness goals and life choices. Now on to my next challenge… any offers?