A few weeks ago, stressed out by the rarefied atmosphere in London, I felt it was time to do something I never do: take some time off for myself (ie, not for my family, not for the clients I work with, just for me, ... I know, shocking) and focus on getting to my healthiest fittest potential. I had hear about fitness retreats and bootcamps everywhere from magazines to blogs, but didn't really know where to start... Thankfully, reviews abound online and No1 Bootcamp seemed tot get consistently good write-ups, together with the attraction of one of the locations being Ibiza...
When I originally told people I was off to Ibiza, I could see my friends thinking how odd it was, seeing as I'm not really your typical party animal, but then I explained the bootcamp and wellness goals, and it seems to click, especially as people around me have seen me focus so much more on fitness in recent months. The weeks leading up to the bootcamp had me think apprehensively that I wouldn't do so well on holiday on my own, something I've not done in more than a decade, and worry that my fitness levels were too low, or that I wouldn't get on with the rest of the bootcampers... I could not have been more wrong...
As soon as I arrived at the house towards the end of the afternoon (by the way, it puzzles me why the organizers prefer not to hand over an address when it's so simple to get to the villa with simple instructions, instructing me to take an over-priced driver service when I instead opted to visit my cousins who live on the island instead) I met with some of the other house guests for the week, and though it was clear we all came from very different walks of life and had ended up at the Bootcamp villa for different reasons, we quickly got along and started chatting animatedly.
We promptly had our first self-deprecating laughs especially after finding out that the first dinner consisted of exactly one bowl of broccoli soup, no extras. Weight-loss, here we come! Evening one is also when we got weighed and measured and discussed our goals and the rules of the Bootcamp with the head trainer, Gee, and the house manager and hike guide, Gina. As strict as they tried to sound, I'll bring you in on little secret: they are both absolutely adorable with hearts of gold and the ability to understand how to motivate and push each of the Bootcampers to their very own limits.
In my case, for instance, I was concerned that the military origins of No1 Bootcamp would entail some getting yelled at, something I absolutely detest, but in actual facts this didn't happen even once, instead both Gee and Gina found the sweet words to coax me into finishing up some grueling stair climbs and HIIT circuits. For that I'll be thankful to them both for a very long time.
The house itself is lovely, with brightly lit common spaces to hang out and cool fresh rooms, some individual, some shared (the single rooms meaning a slightly more expensive stay, but at least you only have to worry about your own snoring and shower towels on the floor!). The house's best feature is the fabulous Mediterranean garden, sprinkled with fruit trees, laden with lemons, apricots etc. and featuring a lovely pool around which we often congregated during rest times.
As beautiful as it is, I would suggest improving the villa slightly by adding a shade over the work-out area, as doing some of the circuits in the blazing sunshine can be a bit overwhelming for some. Also, I would try to organise the HIIT sections on a slightly flatter surface, as the work-outs often happen on the main drive-around space in front of the house, which is on a slight incline.
Most mornings are structured around a group of circuits, many of which built around a boxing routine. That part was very hard work, but thoroughly enjoyable.
To my relief, we didn't run too much, mainly went for little jogs as a warm-up to circuits, with the exception of one morning when we went for a run on a beach deck, something even I couldn't resist in such a beautiful setting.
In the afternoon, usually the programme includes a hike around some beautiful Ibiza sights, including gorgeous beaches... Don't be fooled: the hikes were not easy, in fact they lasted around 2-3 hours each, and at the end of the one we did on one of the later days I admit I was so tired I went for a swim in the sea in my Lulus and sports bra... Not very elegant but it did cool me down!
Most days finish around 5pm, with some yoga or a well-needed stretch session, something we're encouraged to double up with an evening session to avoid sore limbs, but in my case at least, and despite stretching before, during and after circuits, DOMS sets from day two...
What did I take away? A sense of serenity from having had most of my days planned for me (said serenity was promptly destroyed within days but hey ho, what can I do...), a few great circuits that I'm now reproducing at my gym or in hotels in those lone sessions when I'm trying to work out without the help of a trainer or a class, the pyramid circuit is a personal favourite, and the confidence that I can go away on my own, meet new people, and enjoy and truly bond with them, if only for a few days, regardless of their age, occupation, origin etc. etc. I also did manage to leave behind a not so small poundage of fat, some replaced with muscle and some just lost altogether, and for that, my bikini is thankful, I'm sure!
So, trust my verdict: if you want a quick week to focus on your wellness in a no-nonsense environment with a team who focuses on making you the fittest you can be in as little as seven days, then No1 Bootcamp is the place for you. Choose Ibiza for sunshine and beautiful sea views, but also remember they have a location in Norfolk and another in Marrakech.
Check it out here: http://www.no1bootcamp.com/