At fifty-one (and almost a half), I was the oldest. It’s a strange thing age – and something you can have no inkling of till you get there – but what hangs about in your head is very different from what’s going on in your body. That means that you think you can do more than you can, and that’s a shock. But what you learn at New You Escapes is that you can, at the same time, do much much more than you thought you could ever do in the course of an hour, a day, or a week.
You can eat less, and well, and be absolutely fine. They clearly have a lot of experience in their field, with a clear outline of the possibility, potential and expectations that they place on both individuals, and the group as a whole. They expect a lot from each person, but they also have a remarkable level of sensitivity towards each person. If one of us was late, all of us had to do squats. We were taught about the many different sorts of exercise, and every one of us found something that would suit us in our various home lives.
We were fifteen in number, and it is now a week since the course finished, and although it was the most painful, arduous week of my life, I miss it. I miss all of those women I met, who came along for so many reasons – not only to do with diet and exercise – but sensing that both those things would help in many other areas of their lives. I went because my ex-husband was getting married, and despite having been divorced for many years, it was filling me with grief. I came away knowing that I am actually a stand up comic, and that my chief problem in life has been focusing on what I can’t do, and not what I can.
There was a moment when I was placed in a harness at the bottom of a sheer cliff face and was expected to haul myself up it. I placed my foot upon it, and it spoke to me. It said, “Judith, go away from me. You’re not my type. I’m a Virgo and you’re an Aquarius. Go and sit on that tussock over there, and write a sketch.” And for the for the first time in my life, I thought, “Gosh, all right then,” and I didn’t feel like a dismal failure. The rock had spoken, and I had listened. Everything else, I did. I was pretty much the slowest, but I did it all. After the exercise was finished each evening, we’d get into enormous tubs of very cold water and stay there for three minutes to prevent an excess of stiffness the next day, and even that was fine. The worst bit for me was getting out, because once you’re settled nicely in, you’re warm after twenty seconds.
I haven’t mentioned our chef, who was perfectly marvellous as a chef, but also deliciously easy on the eye, which is always a bonus. He was too thin to eat or we’d have had him. I’m not telling you his name because we as a group have taken him for our own. But the food was a perfect balance of, you know, all those things that need to be perfectly balanced in order for you to get the best out of blah blah blah… And the granola, my dears, was amazing. Chef showed us how to make chocolate with chillies in it and it was beyond compare. In fact, Staff (I shan’t say which one) stole the leftovers.
A charming nutritionist came for two days and gave highly informative talks, and spoke privately to anyone who required it or wanted to sort out particular problems with their diet. I must stress that it is very important to detox as much as you can before going into the camp, because otherwise the sudden change in diet, combined with very early starts to the day and strenuous exercise, will make you feel lousy! You won’t be excused a session because of it. You must plough on!
We were looked after by Kate, the camp manager, who had the tricky situation of arriving late because she’d been ill. It was her first time as a manager and she took over from Sunny, one of the founders. That was daunting, but Kate took it entirely in her stride and she looked after us very carefully.
During that week, everyone was very aware of everyone else. We ranged from twenty to fifty, and that in itself was a treat. It was immense and intense, and at the end we were stronger, thinner, fitter, and full of respect for ourselves and for each other. I’m missing that time. It was a boot camp and it was a luxury. Perhaps I’ll never be able to afford it again because it costs a lot of money. I’ll never forget it, though, and all of us will stay in touch.