Back To Basics Boot Camp: 04/04.09
Teacher of Food, Textiles, Health and Social Care and Work Experience.
Married, 53 years old.
Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.
I have been an active person in the past, but for the last 15 years, have not exercised and my increasingly busy lifestyle led me to progressively put on weight. Over these last years, I have felt lethargic and although a member of our local gym, I felt that I had no time to attend. A combination of overwork, weight gain, lethargy and apathy began to affect my self-esteem and I decided I needed a kick-start to a more active and fulfilling lifestyle to boost my morale.
Needing a short break, I read a magazine article in my local hairdressers about New You Boot Camp: a completely different experience in an active environment and a chance to meet new people, lose weight and increase those feel-good oxygen levels. I mentioned the article to my hairdresser and she told me that she had recently attended New You Boot Camp with two of her colleagues and they told me all about it: the extreme exercise, incredible weight loss and how the experience had changed their lives with regard to healthy eating and the importance of physical fitness; so I booked up!
The package arrived in the post detailing equipment and clothing requirements (headlamps, sports bra’s, paracetomol, water-proofs, etc.) and timetables. The course was to be held in the Brecon Beacons in Wales and conducted by serving Army Physical Training Instructors. My husband is an ex military officer and described the possible “training” I would receive; I had taught in an Army school in Cyprus in the past, where I led an active life, skiing, swimming, water-skiing and keeping fit by running down Mount Troodos! But that was when I was in my twenties, I am in my fifties now, so I began to have reservations about what I had let myself in for.
I asked my husband to drive me to the meeting place in Wales so that I had no car with me during the course, so no temptation to drive away if the going got too tough. There were 24 women on the course whose ages ranged from 20 to 40, most were young, glamorous and looked much fitter and slimmer than me. My husband had been supportive and encouraging on the journey down from the Lake District, and only admitted later that he had harboured doubts after seeing the youth and vigour of the others.
We followed the Army Sergeant in our cars up a long, steep farm track to a farmhouse set in the rugged Welsh hills. I waved my husband goodbye and discovered that I was to share a dormitory with 14 sleeping in bunk beds, a nightmare for me as I need the loo during the night and hate the thought of disturbing others. We quickly settled in and made friends, comparing equipment, discussing reasons for signing up and what each of us wanted to achieve; and I discovered that others can snore more loudly than me!
The first day was relatively easy: introductions to the week ahead and the daily routine, being weighed, some easy exercise and talks on nutrition. Food and Nutrition is my specialism, of course, and I was impressed by the depth of knowledge demonstrated. I was interested to learn that we were to have no wheat or dairy products for the week. I had suspected for some time that I was intolerant to wheat and this would be a chance to try a new diet. We ate a lovely meal and then completed a hill walk in the dark: head lamps essential!
We started in earnest the following day at 5.15 am (as we did each subsequent morning); it was dark, cold, windy and raining hard. We had no breakfast and spent an hour jogging and doing sit-ups and other exercises in the mud; well, I suppose this was “New You Boot Camp”! The tone had now been set for the rest of the week, each day packed with 2-hour exercises, then a break, then a combination of boxing, hill-walking, gyll-scrambling, rock-climbing, abseiling, combat training, zip-wire training and starving!
All the activities were conducted by competent trainers: Army PTI Sergeants with support from the “Outward Bound Team”. Everyone was very supportive, assertive and expert at getting you to do things you thought were impossible. They dealt with moods, tears and anxieties in a very professional and comforting way whilst pushing you to, and occasionally beyond, your personal limits.
Tuesday was the worst day. Everyone was exhausted, fatigued and at their lowest ebb. Subtle techniques were employed by our instructors to keep us going; I suppose that is what Army training is all about. Relationships established with fellow campers were both interesting and rewarding. By listening to their stories and finding out about their lives, strong bonds were established. We gave and received support from each other, realising that great empathy exists still between strangers and restoring one’s faith in human nature. The course is about much more than simply losing weight and getting fit.
The final day was the great weighing-in; there was incredible excitement over the scales as every result was celebrated with cheers, hoots and roars. I lost 7lbs in weight and 13 inches overall, many of the younger girls lost 9 or 10lbs on average and 3 women lost 1 stone! I had no tummy pains during the week, so the wheat-free diet really worked.
When I went to New You Boot Camp, I weighed 10st 4lbs and should have had a BMI weight of 8st 10lbs. I left New You Boot Camp after 1 week weighing 9st 11lbs and inches thinner: something my husband noticed straight away when he returned to pick me up. Now, 5 months later, I weigh 8st 12lbs, go to the gym 3 times a week, swim, jog, cycle, work out and feel great. I have new clothes, a new image and new interests, which I fit into and around my work. I feel confident when I go to the wardrobe that my clothes will fit and, according to my husband, my snoring has stopped. He joined me in my healthier diet and lifestyle and has lost over a stone in weight (and has also stopped snoring!).
New You Boot Camp has kick-started me into being more healthy, more confident and more at ease with myself and I must thank the Army Sergeants for pushing me to achieve, even in the boxing, which I hated! Thank you also to a great bunch of girls who did not make me feel 20 years older than them and accepted me into the group; and thank you to the New You Boot Camp organisers and the great guys.
For anyone thinking of giving New You Boot Camp a try-go for it! It is certainly tough but it’s worth it; no pain, no loss! Remember the Tuesday Blues and the way through it, and the weigh-in at the end is more exhilarating than you can ever imagine. The course provides significant weight loss, body-toning, clearer skin, higher self-esteem and the possibility of a new wardrobe; but it doesn’t stop there: the camaraderie and support from fellow Bootcamp inmates continues after the camp with new friendships formed; and the photographs are hilarious!*