It was two years ago now that I embarked on a fitness weekend with Xtreme Boot Camps (I think my Perfect Wedding colleagues stitched me up with this review opportunity!). But even after all of that time, my experience still resonates with me. And not just the horrific memory of army crawling through the mud after a three-hour circuit training session, but also the mental willpower it taught me.
My bestie Chelsea and I had a lovely start to our trip – driving through the picturesque landscape of the Malvern hills, inhaling various sweet treats and laughing about the prospect of what was to come. But nothing could prepare us for what was in store.
Here’s a diary of what we experienced during the life-changing (hellish) weekend:
As soon as we were arrived we were greeted by the burly ex-military staff, James and Adam who run the residential and it was during our first briefing when the sweating began – I was SO nervous.
To gauge our initial fitness levels, we all had to undergo the bleep test. And yes, it’s just as awful as when you have to do it in school. The challenge didn’t stop there though – before we knew it, we were told to jump in the pond (yes, really) to complete a round of press ups. Now, that really is throwing us in the deep end…
Our first dinner was a welcomed surprise. I was half expected to see a row of kale juices or a teeny weeny salad for each of us, but instead the canteen was brimming with lovely, wholesome dishes – even carbs! We tucked into a delicious meal and things were finally looking up… until we got out of line on the way back to our dorm and had to stop right there and then to do 20 press-ups each.
A bright and early start, but everyone was up feeling energised and ready to tackle the next challenge. My positivity and energy quickly drained away from me each lap of the Olympic-sized track we had to endure. Why is this SO hard?
After that gruelling run, we enjoyed every morsel of our tasty breakfast, but it wasn’t long before we were back out on the field for more fitness, ahem, fun. Today’s session was a military-style circuit for three hours! Three. Whole. Hours. Squats, burpees, planks, sit-ups – you name it, we did it. And just when we thought the beasting was over, we were yelled at to run to the end of the field and back again and again. It quickly became known as ‘hell’s corner’.
After lunch, we headed inside to the gym for a boxercise class. It was in this moment, with the pumping music blaring and everyone on a high, that I actually thought I just might be enjoying myself…
I thought the hour-long pilates class would be a welcomed relief from all of the high-intensity training, but it was actually pretty hard. My muscles were shaking with each and every move. Roll on bedtime.
Our HIIT training class was just 30 minutes long. “How bad can it be?” I thought to myself, and 30 seconds in I realised, very hard was the answer to that question.
Another military circuit awaited us this morning. This time, if anyone stopped, everyone had to start again. James and Adam shouted at us the whole way through, sometimes to tick us off for lazy form, but mostly positive encouragement. The one thing that’s stuck with me ever since is them tell us to ignore that voice inside our heads telling us to stop. They said: “just ignore it and carry on, and you’ll see what happens, your body will carry on.” And, they were right – we did it!
An afternoon at the pool sounded dreamy right about now, but two hours of lengths wasn’t quite what I had in mind. I literally didn’t know I could swim for that long, but it turns out I can. Begrudgingly.
After dinner, it was time for Chelsea and I to leave – the rest of the clan were in fact staying for a few more days but we managed to skip out early due to “work commitments.” Saying goodbye to our new-found friends was emotional but I was glad to see the back of that muddy field.
This was one of the most memorable weekends of my life. I can’t say I now love doing burpees, but I learnt so much. I bonded even more with my bestie, I met a whole load of new pals and I improved my fitness. But above all else, Xtreme Boot Camps made me change my mental attitude. If you want to do something, you can. No ifs, no buts, no maybes. Just suck it up and get on with it!