Last week, my Mother and I went to Fat Camp. As neither of us are particularly fat, it was a slightly odd decision, but one I am now, post Fat Camp (OK, fine, it's called Fit Farm, but you get the idea), very pleased we made.
Fit Farm is a residential weight-loss camp, who has various locations all over Britain. You can stay for 3,4 or 6 nights (I would like it to be clearly noted that I stayed for 6, whilst my Mother left after 3), and we chose to go to an all-female week, although there are mixed options.
'Why did you pick this camp in particular?' I asked my Mother on the train ride to Derbyshire, noticing with some alarm that she was already dressed in gym kit. 'It guarantees weight-loss,' She replied cheerily, refusing my offered packet of crisps. I stared at my Mother briefly, secretly delighted that all the Kettle Chips were for me. 'But,' I began slowly. 'What are we going to do if we don't lose weight? Do they keep you there until you do?' My Mother seems entirely unperturbed by the whole thing, and drinks from her litre bottle of water smugly, frowning disapprovingly at the cookie I am eating, which is roughly the size of my face.
Fit Farm is resolutely not a boot camp- it believes in giving its clients the tools needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than waking them in the middle of the night to do press ups. The watchword is 'long-term change', and to this end its weight-loss programme is focused on the small, manageable improvements that can be integrated into everyday life. It treats its clients as individuals, and creates tailored programmes for each of them.
I entered Fit Farm smugly confident in my own fitness, only to quickly realise that my diet is not dissimilar to that of a 10 year old child, who has been allowed to eat whatever they want, and so spends most of their day high on sugar and saturated fats, bouncing from the walls before the inevitable crash. Working alongside Fit Farm's nutritionist and my personal mentor, I created an eating plan that allowed me to keep my friends (there is truly nothing more boring than a person who won't eat anything), continue to drink (apparently you only have to be good 80% of the time), and begin to give my poor, abused body something other than refined sugar and processed carbs.
The week long programme sees Fit Farm clients trying a range of activities, from hula-hooping to boxing, which seek to show that not all exercise is created equal. I personally have never laughed more than during the zumba class, although this may have been because of my own inability to distinguish left from right under pressure (I am not a driver, panic not), which somewhat curtailed my ability to correctly follow the dance steps.
The day my Mother left we had a boxing class, where we were shown how to correctly throw a series of punches, working out in pairs with gloves and pads. My Mother, unfortunately, has the upper arm strength of a severely dehydrated hummingbird, and was therefore unable to hold the pads up when it was my turn to punch. Luckily, rather than explaining this to me, she simply dropped the pads the moment after I had thrown my punch, leading to an unexpected game of 'chase the pad'. 'Oh no,' She exclaimed as I attempted to connect with the pad she was holding casually against her hip. 'That's much too close to me.' Fortuitously, her turn was to follow. This was where we discovered that despite still being able to recite every naughtiness I performed as a teenager, my Mother is unable to hold a 3 punch combination in her head.
'I don't think boxing is for me,' She told me ruefully as we sat down to our afternoon snack. 'No,' I agreed quickly. 'However,' My Mother continued. 'I have already ordered my hula hoop.'
Fit Farm is a highly effective, extremely thorough introduction to the small changes one can make for a healthier lifestyle and smaller waistline. The residential courses take place in very comfortable en-suite cottages, although after six hours of exercise any bed would feel like heaven. The individual focus given to each client meant that every member of our course felt that they had maximised their time there- even my Mother, who later admitted to 'regretting' leaving early. This regret did not, however, prevent her from sending me photos of junk food for the rest of the time I was at camp, always accompanied by her firm protestation that she was eating impeccably.