Raves, shots, David Guetta, UV paint - Ibiza, yeh? Not quite. This Summer, my experience of the infamous Balearic island was slightly different to your stereotypical lads trip. The Body Camp is a shiny new health & fitness retreat set in the secluded region of San Juan. With daily workouts and a ban on alcohol, sugar and all other naughty things you'd normally associate with a holiday - it's a holistic haven amidst the hedonism.
I wasn't quite sure what was waiting for me as I hopped in a cab at Ibiza airport; surrounded by fluorescent billboards for Privilege and Amnesia (the island's largest nightclubs), it dawned on me that this would be a very unique trip. With a superfood-fuelled Instagram feed and celebrity clientele, I was half expecting to walk into Made in Chelsea with barbells. Thankfully, I couldn't have been more wrong. All pretensions are left behind as soon as you walk into the stunning hilltop villa that constitutes The Body Camp. There were 17 of us in the group, a mish mash of personalities and backgrounds. There was the new mum from Brighton, the high-flying financial exec, the charming Frenchman, his teenage daughter, the Welsh TV presenter and many more. We were The Breakfast Club with green juice. Everyone had their own reasons for being there and their own stories to tell.
We were thrown into the deep end from day one; waist measurements, body fat percentages, bleep tests - the entire fitness smorgasbord. This was gratefully followed by breakfast, always a delicious concoction created by the wonderful in-house chef Ben (his elder sister Kate is the head honcho behind the camp). Unsurprisingly, meat, gluten and dairy are limited. 80% of Ben's menu is made up of plant-based foods; think tofu, quinoa, legumes and vegetables (obvs). Coffee is permitted in the mornings and was a delightful token of normality alongside the small portions we would soon become accustomed to.
The idea is that you eat five times a day - three small portions for your main meal plus two snacks. This baffled me at first as I had always been told that snacking was an unnecessary act of gluttony and that breakfast, lunch and dinner should be enough. However, our main meals were substantially smaller to what we were all used to and so those mid-morning and mid-afternoon pick me ups were a godsend. Despite the smaller portions, I can honestly say that at no point during the week did I feel truly hungry. It helped that the food was downright delicious. Breakfasts were gluten-free pancakes with cashew yoghurt, scrambled eggs on quinoa toast and Pinterest-worthy smoothie bowls while lunches and dinners were an amalgamation of miso-glazed sea bream, mushroom burgers and innovative vegetarian curries. The snacks were pretty snazzy too: 'Twix' protein shakes, banana ice creams and homemade almond butter made for plenty of yummy noises.
Of course, there is a lot more going on at The Body Camp aside from good food. After breakfast, there's another hour of exercise, followed by a snack, followed by a bit more exercise and a group discussion, followed by lunch and followed some more exercise. All of which would be terribly laborious in normal circumstances, but the best part about this place is that they genuinely make working out fun; and not in a cringe 'let's all love each other and pretend we're jumping unicorns' kind of way like some of its competitors. A lot of the workouts are cleverly presented as games: touch rugby, water-polo, treasure hunts and fancy-dress circuits are just some of the eclectic offerings. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Rick, the in-house trainer, is constantly motivating you, playing great music and encouraging you to sing-a-long as you sweat.
After lunch we were usually given options; swim 50 lengths, hike down to the local town or simply relax by the pool. The optional element was important as it distinguished the retreat from what could've otherwise felt like school trip. Then, an early evening session of yoga led us to dinner after which we could venture into the aptly-named snug to watch a documentary (I would usually be comatose in bed by 9.30pm). This was the typical daily format and interesting variations such as capoeira, boxing and 80s dance classes kept the momentum going throughout the week.
Oh, and there was the 20km hike in blistering 30 degree heat. Sounds like hell on earth? It kinda was...but looking back, it was actually one of my highlights of the trip. As Rick said prior to leaving, 'this is where you will feel your fat crying'. Fat tears aside, there's something rather mesmerising about hiking treacherous paths for five hours, particularly when you're climbing dazzlingly heights against spectacular views of the rustic Ibizan coast. The feeling of accomplishment afterwards was truly unbeatable.
The week concludes with an outdoor cinema night with a film chosen by the group. After a week of laughing, sweating and sometimes crying with a myriad of strangers from all walks of life, it seemed fitting that we opted for The Breakfast Club.