Surviving boot camp: Part 1 – the arrival

2 Nov

When I was 18, I bought myself a shiny new pair of Canadian made Saucony running shoes. I had dreams of going off to uni, clad with these shoes, with the full intention of becoming ridiculously fit and healthy.

Nine years later, they’re still in rather good shape. I’ve not, actually, worn them much. Oh, there was a brief period in uni when I joined the gym, played a couple of rounds of squash and did some work on the cross trainer. And another few months when Fitness First roped me into its web when I first moved to England. My shoes got a good workout then.

It’s not, I should mention, that I intend to be lazy. It’s more that I find myself getting too caught up in work or distractions like refiling my paperwork or drinking whisky to actually get around to going to the gym.

So when I was recently invited to attend the UK’s only ’boutique boot camp’ it was with slight concern – mostly over whether my body would cope with repeated bouts of exercise. It also didn’t sound terribly ‘pleasurable’, which tends to be the focus of my posts on here.

But, I decided I couldn’t be seen to be a wimp – and I had, after all, been attempting to ‘get fit’ for nearly a decade (ugh, I hate when things can be calculated in near double-digit terms).

After reassuring my friends I would likely survive, packing my rucksack with lots of ‘sporty clothes’ and waving goodbye to the boy (who, I should mention, is much better at the ‘attending the gym’ thing than I am), I hopped on a train westwards – I was Devon bound.

The ‘bootcamp’ destination is a place called NuBeginnings, which finds itself tucked away in a small village called Ilfracombe in North Devon. It’s an hour away from the nearest train station, so I was picked up by Dave, one of the managers. During our trip, he told me about what I was likely to experience during the week long retreat, from the hikes and personal training, through to the psychological side of things, which is looked at through hypnotherapy and acupuncture sessions, among other things.

As background, NuBeginnings was set up by a woman named Victoria Wills in 2008. Wills had experienced issues with her weight for many years, bouncing from one crazy diet to the next. After quitting her job, she spent time traveling to different ‘boot camps’ around the world, finding interesting angles in places as diverse as Canada and Hawaii. Through those, she learned that a combination of sensible exercise routines, streamlined nutrition plans and psychological treatments (to get to the root cause of any potential food dilemmas) worked a treat. When she returned to the UK, she realised there were no ’boutique’ boot camps over here – unlike the US, where there are many more. So, she worked to find a space (Westwell Hall in Ilfracombe) and set up the business with partner Frank. It focuses on teaching guests about all three arenas (exercise, nutrition and mental health) to help them get into a healthier frame of mind and lose up to one stone in a week.

Now, I have to admit – I was a bit skeptical. I was expecting for this to be, either, a bit of an ‘alternative lifestyle’ place with crystals and hypnotism tapes to set you to sleep to, or a crazy, military style boot camp where you find yourself squirming through the mud at some ungodly hour. Luckily, I soon learned, NuBeginnings was neither.

Upon arrival at the listed mansion, I was greeted by Dave’s partner Jennie who manages the retreat with him. Both are former teachers who have a wealth of experience dealing with a range of attitudes and life backgrounds, and both were unendingly friendly in helping each guest pursuit his or her ambitions.

I was shown up to my room – an oasis of welcoming calm, and asked to get changed and be downstairs as quickly as possible for my weigh-ins and personal training assessment. I was loath to leave, however, as the plump feather bed, and large cushioned window seat both looked terribly welcoming after my long journey.

However, in keeping with the plans, I headed down to meet Kieran, one of the personal trainers who would be working with me throughout the week. He tested my blood pressure, asked me about my goals for the week (at that point: not collapsing from the strain of exercise) and weighed me (something I’d not done in a rather long while, since I tend to eschew caring about all things weight loss in favour of eating whatever the hell I want, when I want). It was clear from the start that he was not there to kill me, nor to make me do push-ups in the mud – a fact I was grateful of. He very clearly accentuated the fact I would be working just above my skill level to maximise my heart rate and get the most out of the workouts.

After our chat, and my ‘measurements’ with Jennie, I met the other guests (who ranged from a 64-year old with a recent hip replacement, to a younger City worker keen to get fit again after a bad ankle injury, and a photographer who was focused on getting back into the fitness swing of things) ate a very small dinner ascribing to the GL diet (something I’ll come onto in a later post), partook in some meditation and finally fell down into the soothing comfort of a feather bed.

But the relaxation was not to last long…by 6:30am, I would need to be getting dressed to face the first day of workouts…would I survive?

In my next post, I find myself lugging heavy exercise balls up and down sand dunes, going hiking at 8am on a Sunday morning, and seeing if all the exercise made any difference at all.

I was a guest of NuBeginnings. For more information on the boot camp, visit: http://www.nubeginnings.co.uk

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3 Responses to “Surviving boot camp: Part 1 – the arrival”

  1. G-LO November 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    I’m with you on the whole gym thing. While I have had several bouts of fitness throughout my 45 years (when I was 13/14, 25, and a couple of minor stretches in my late 30s and early 40s), fit and G-LO are rarely used in the same sentence (think Hailey’s Comet type frequency). Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy exercise once I get motivated to do it, but unless there is someone there to push me, it usually doesn’t happen. I need a Boot Camp! Looking forward to part two…

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • gwiltypleasures November 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Thanks for your feedback G-LO. Only just saw it! Think many people would relate your experience. Cheers!

      • G-LO November 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

        You’re very welcome! 🙂

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