I was a boot camp virgin!
I never thought I’d say this, but… I HEART boot camp! I joined one in June last year, and not only have I stuck with it, but I love it. Believe me, no one is more shocked than I am.
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with exercise over the years (haven’t we all?). Typically, after the last Terry’s Chocolate Orange has been consumed in January, and I’ve unwedged my behind from between the sofa cushions, I’ll announce: ‘I’m going to be a runner! This shall be my ‘thing’. Then, I’ll buy Runners Weekly magazine, stock up on glucose tablets, buy neon trainers, run twice and decide running’s not my thing. Then a month later it’ll be: ‘Yeah! I’m going to be a yogi! And off I trot to buy my yoga mat… you get the gist.
So when Heidi Strickland-Clark of Fast-Track Fit Camp told me her boot camp was different, I was prepared to listen, but pretty doubtful that she could do much with me and my friend muffin top (my constant companion). Yet here I am eight whole months later, still at boot camp, three mornings a week, at 6-flipping-30am no less! And actually enjoying myself. AND I miss it if I don’t go, honest.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of trying a boot camp, then Fast-Track Fit Camp has a good spread of classes across Berkshire including Wokingham, Swallowfield, Warfield, Twyford, Winnersh, Mortimer and one just over the border in Henley. So you might want to check them out.
Now I’m not going to get all preachy and evangelical about this – God knows my spare tyre will never allow that (although it has got smaller, *ahem*) – but I thought it might be useful for boot camp doubters (and believe me, I was one) to hear my reasons for sticking with it. So I’ve narrowed it down to six. Here we go…
1. Your trainer
Your boot camp instructor will literally make or break you. If they say: ‘Ok, 10 seconds to go, can you run that little bit faster/do 3 more press-ups/give it one last burst?’ You want to practically kill yourself to do it because you don’t want to let them down. They need to be able to get more out of you than you ever could doing crunches in front of a DVD, so choose wisely and make sure you have a good rapport. Heidi is an excellent personal trainer and a lovely person to boot. She doesn’t judge, she admits her own little flaws (she loves coffee! Hurrah!) and she is the most motivational person I have ever met. She believes in each and everyone of us, and apart from wanting us to get fit she also wants us to be happy and totally invests in our goals.
When you attend a boot camp you’ll find there is usually a huge mix of people, ages, abilities and snazzy leggings and everyone’s there for different reasons. Whether it’s to lose the baby weight; run a marathon; or just find our mojo, all egos remain firmly at the door and everyone is supportive and respectful of other people’s reasons for being there. Fit Camp unofficially markets itself as ‘The friendliest boot camp in Berkshire’ and by heck it is. I have worked and laughed my butt off at boot camp sessions with my fellow campers, and I am spurred on just as much by their successes as I am by my own, so find a boot camp that feels right for you.
3. Online support
Personally, I think any boot camp vying for your hard-earned buck (and butt!) these days should have a pretty strong online presence or at least be good on phone and email, in order to give you extra support. This might not be that important to you, but I’ve been surprised how much belonging to my boot camp’s Facebook group has motivated me and helped keep me on track if I’m finding things tough. They invest a huge amount of time and energy into social media and emailing us all on a regular basis. If I ever think of not going to camp, a FB notification popping up on my phone with my trainer reminding me they’re ready and raring to go gives me the kick up the arse I need.
4. The whole shebang
No matter how hard you train, you can’t out train a bad diet. Any boot camp’s philosophy should be to take a broader view of fitness to include food and attitude too. You should never be left in a sweaty heap after a session agonising over whether to stuff your face with avocados or turn your back on gluten. At Fit Camp there are no faddy diets to follow, just a sensible healthy eating approach avoiding crap (with the occasional blip, none of us is perfect) and filling up on all the good stuff. You get a nutritional manual when you join and loads of recipes, menus and guidance.
As those deep-thinking, girl-powered songstresses once squawked at us: ‘Spice up your life!’ and it has to be the main reason I keep coming back for more. Boot camp constantly keeps me interested with different routines. Every. Single. Day. I swear I’ve not done the same routine twice since I joined. Heidi is constantly posting challenges too (‘Join me in a 100 day plank challenge’ uh, let me get back to you on that). At boot camp you simply cannot get bored, and that my friend will keep you going back for more.
Finally, never underestimate the power of lunges with a morning sunrise, or burpees under a starry sky (you aren’t going to forget doing power jacks in five layers of clothing and an inch of snow either, but it’s all character building). There have been numerous studies linking exercising outdoors with a reduction in stress. Plus, fresh air and oxygen help to increase the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin. According to Heidi, most people who contact her cite mental health issues as their main reason for wanting to join and make a change. Shocking right? Not really if you think about your own circle of friends and family – you probably know quite a few people living with anxiety, depression or myriad other mental issues – myself included.
So, there you have it. I was a reluctant boot camper, but I now know the difference between a ‘happy bear’ and a ‘bear crawl’, I no longer fear my swimming costume, and Mr P tells me I’m a much more positive confident woman than the anxious worry bug he once knew. So grab your sweatbands and give boot camp a go. You won’t look back, I promise.
www.fastrack-fitcamp.co.uk Tel: 07968 774804.