lot little later than planned a quick post on the week I spent at Adventure Fitness Bootcamps down in the very beautiful Abbey Dore, Herefordshire. To be honest, I’d never considered doing a bootcamp before. The nearest I’d come previously was a couple of months attending British Military Fitness classes in various London parks in 2009. While enjoyable it all came to an abrupt end when I tore my medial ligament during a class. As I wasn’t screaming in pain*, my injury was assessed by the instructor as not being too bad and while I was offered a lift home, they agreed that it was OK for me to cycle six miles home. When I was allowed to exercise again, I never bothered going back.
Ahem, I digress. The point is it was something I’d never really thought about doing and once signed up, I put equal amounts of not thinking into what the week would actually entail. Well, lots of exercise obviously, probably not much alcohol and not a huge amount of chocolate. I also failed to consider just how hilly Hereford might or that one person’s undulating would be another person’s Everest, or at least one of the steeper sets of foothills.
The week kicked off late Saturday afternoon at Abbey Dore Court, a huge house that used to be an inn and recently featured on Country House Rescue. While me and the other eight inmates made introductions and small talk, Andy, our trainer for the week, started the initial assessments; chest, waist and bum measurements, weight, peak flow, BP and resting heart rate. Then a request to hand over any stashes, which I’d not even though about bringing, dinner, a short walk, and bed, ahead of a 7am start.
The 7am start was necessary to do the second part of our assessment, the fitness bit. There was a choice of running a mile, or a mile and half, then no choice on finding out how many burpees**, press-ups, sit-ups you could do in a minute, followed by a shuttle run test.
All before breakfast, we we were knackered and hardly begun.
Breakfast on the first day was scrabbled eggs and smoked salmon, not the porridge or muesli I expected, and delicious, which was a mark of the food throughout the entire week. Sally and Andy, the brains behind Adventure Fitness Bootcamps, had brought in a dedicated chef for the week from Caffe Arabica in Bristol, who was brilliant. Despite being on a restricted calories diet, with very little meat or fat and no sugar, Jake never failed to deliver something tasty following the menu Sally had devised. On seeing the portions initially, I fully expected to be starving for most of the week, but no, I only felt hungry once and that was solved by drinking water and going to bed even earlier than usual.
I can’t give you a blow by blow account of everything we did as a) I can’t remember b) you’d be bored to tears, but it involved sprint training, various circuits, walks, bike rides up the foothills of K2, boxing and lots of stretching. One thing to note is that group of nine was split into two, with me and two others being deemed fitter***, and made to work a little harder****, which helped to answer one of the questions I wanted this week to answer, more on which later. It never got dull and somehow Andy seemed to know exactly how far to push us. On more than one occasion I thought if we have to do one more sprint or set of reps, I’ll be able to, just, but then I might fall over, usually just as had I thought that thought, an end to torture was called.
The first three days were pretty full on and by Tuesday night I felt I would end the week completely knackered, even the fittest two were suffering. Fortunately the portions seemed to increase a tad and workload eased off a bit with a walk up Sugar Loaf on Wednesday afternoon, canoeing down the River Wye on Thursday and clambering up Pen-Y-Fan on Friday. Still serious physical exertion, especially the bit when we were desperately trying to land the canoes while fighting the current, but not quite as full on as it had been.
All of which meant by the time Saturday morning rolled around for the second attempt at the fitness test my legs were feeling a bit more springy and I knocked 46 seconds off my mile and a half time (w00t). I’d also managed to lose 4% body fat, plus a fair few pounds and inches to boot. The rest of my fitness results weren’t amazing, in fact some were a little worse than the previous week but I think that’s because I put a lot into really beating my run time.
After a final and amazing breakfast of shakshuka, goodbyes were bade and I returned to sunny London, feeling skinny, fit and invigorated. So much so I didn’t want to pig out immediately on junk food, or overdose on caffeine, and I had a weird urge to go the gym as I’d only done a mere 40 minutes of exercise that day.
More weirdly I acted on the urge, and then hit the gym or went running every single day that week. Then Sean and Fiona turned up for the weekend for the annual Army Navy
drinking reunion rugby match and drink was taken, then hangovers endured, then there was a business trip to Switzerland. So basically this week I’ve been crap, though I did go for a run this morning and will do so again tomorrow. I can’t go to crazy though as next weekend brings the 20 miles
Anyhoo dragging myself back to the point, the killer question for any review is always would you recommend your experience to a friend/return yourself and the answer would have to be a resounding yes!
It was tough, challenging, fun and definitely got results. For me it made me realise I am bit fitter than I thought I was and that I should push myself harder when I’m training.
*I did point out that this wasn’t because it didn’t hurt, I was just being very, very brave. Though to be fair, it didn’t hurt that much at the time. I was unable to walk the next day and had to undergo eight weeks of painful physio at the hands of the guy who then go caught up in the Bloodgate scandal, who was without doubt one of the best physios I’ve ever been treated by, and possibly the most sadistic. He agreed there was definitely a link between the two.
**Which I detest, I don’t care how good they are for various body parts
***I was definitely the least fit of the group though
****Which, as I remarked at the time, seems unfair, surely the more unfit should be beasted more so that they get fitter?