A two-day boot camp at a luxury spa - it can't really be hard work, right? Wrong, says knackered but glowing bride-to-be blogger Claire Adams
As I write this every single bone in my body aches. Even my fingers are slightly tender as I tap away on my laptop. Although it is secretly quite satisfying to know my body has been worked to the max, this definitely wasn't quite how I was expecting to feel after completing Champneys' Boot Camp.
My only real knowledge of boot camps comes from seeing pics of lycra-ed reality stars working out in a field which made me think Boot Camp was really not for me.
However the Champneys alternative sounded very different; lots of exercise but in a glorious manor house in Tring with delicious meals and - to make it even more appealing - massage in the Champneys spa included.
Predictably, in the lead up to my wedding I'm keen to try all methods of getting fit so I signed myself up and dug out my gym kit.
The house and hotel at boot camp is beautiful and set in amazing grounds plus it is very close to London (40min train from Euston to Berkhamsted). As a lot of people visit just to spa I often saw relaxed guests wandering around in robes and flip flops during my stay. Jealous isn't even the word - when you're at boot camp you are in one of two states: 1) working out or 2) collapsed on your bed.
I arrived on a Friday and was advised to change into my outdoor clothes for the midday walk. After a quick one on one chat with our personal trainer Jordan about my goals and targets (lose weight, tone up, and get fit) we set off.
There were 23 women in my group and we were a real mix of ages (30-65) and motivation (one woman sneaked to the cafe for several coffees and a muffin) but a lovely bunch.
After the hour-long walk (read: hike) we returned to the hotel for lunch. When you're on boot camp you eat 1500 calories per day so we were in a sectioned-off part of the restaurant (far away from the buffet and other "normal" guests).
Lunch on the first day was a delicious halloumi cheese salad with a juice packed with minerals and vitamins (plus lots of water). After lunch we went to Studio 1 for Body Conditioning, then
Zumba followed, then water polo. Honestly, if you're going to get results anywhere, it's here.
Jordan split us into two teams and asked that we kept it friendly. I had a little chuckle as I looked around the pool, how could we not? I was quickly proved wrong as I witnessed elbow barging and nail scratching galore! The level of competitiveness was outstanding especially with a couple of the older ladies.
Thalasso then followed which was an amazing water massage experience in a mineral pool before a quick change and down to dinner (prawn salad to start followed by chicken and pak choi). By 9pm I was happily in bed.
Saturday was an (achy) 7am start thanks to our packed schedule: step circuit, another hike, outdoor games, spinning, boxing, aqua circuits and yoga. The highlight for me, aside from the delicious food breaks, was our games hour where we played a Champneys version of netball and I actually found myself really wanting to win!
The light at the end of the tunnel was a relaxing massage before crawling down to a lovely dinner of cod on a mixed bean salad and an amazing chocolate mousse which we later discovered was made from Tofu - WTF? Again I was in bed by 9pm, trying to stay awake to watch X Factor and failing miserably.
Although Sunday was home time that didn't stop Jordan from working us for a few more hours and from 7am until lunch at 1. We managed to pack Pilates, ANOTHER HIKE, Battle Rope Training and Studio Circuits all in and by the last plank my body had well and truly given up.
On the first day Jordan weighed me and took my measurements and did again before I left. I was relieved to see after the three day exercise marathon I had indeed lost weight, hurrah! A centimetre each from my legs, bum and tim and 2.5lbs in total.
Although weight loss was admittedly my initial reason for signing up to the boot camp I definitely gained more than I lost from the experience with new friends, helpful exercise techniques and healthy meal ideas. Now it's just a case of sticking to them...
Prices start from £349 for a two night boot camp with Champneys.
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See Claire's whole Bride-To-Be Blog here.