Daydreaming in the car looking over the glistening Mediterranean Sea and catching a glimpse of Gibraltar, I didn’t have the slightest clue of the physical and mental challenges that lay ahead – it felt like I was about to embark on any other holiday.
And besides, 'lounging' in a luxurious villa for a week couldn't be so bad, right?
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One of the luxurious Marbella Boot Camp Villas
I was headed to Prestige Boot Camp, a luxury fitness retreat with the strapline "Better Body, Better Mind, Better You" that was founded in 2008 and boasts camps in Devon, Suffolk, Hyde Park and sunny Marbella, Spain – the one I was off to.
We were introduced to the coaches, who presented themselves as "Staff" – a title they earned in the military where they served for more than 20 years – as well as "Chef", who would be taking care of our dietary requirements, and the camp's manager Jo. Hers was the only name we were given – to maintain a level of professionalism and respect we were to call the coaches Staff R, Staff W and Staff M.
We were then measured, weighed and asked about our individual goals for the week. Mine were to educate myself about healthy food, weight loss and toning up, and I agreed on the restricted calorie weight loss menu... A decision I was soon to question!
At 6pm, dinner was served – a beautifully presented roasted pepper with lentils and tomato sauce. I pretty much inhaled it naively thinking it was the starter, and nearly choked on my lemon water when I realised there were no more food to be served that day. Lesson number one? Eat slowly.
Back at my allocated villa, I was scrolling through Instagram drooling over the Valencia filtered brownies, burritos and sugary deliciousness filling my newsfeed... Despairing doesn't cut it.
Next morning at 7am, I met my fellow boot campers, who all looked as nervous as I felt.
We were constantly reminded of the importance of stretching
The morning workout consisted of a warm-up, cardio, and circuits including abs and lower body, finished by a good stretch.
Although my body was in shock and I didn’t feel as focused as normal, I was immediately surprised by the Staff’s exceptional knowledge on mental-blocks during intense workout and detoxing, nutritional education and muscle rehabilitation.
On the second day, I was an emotional wreck. But I was reassured that my detox symptoms of uncontrollable shaking, vomiting and moodiness were perfectly normal and that when my body got rid of toxins such as sugars, caffeine and alcohol, I would feel energised and brand new.
Cardio was made easier due to the stunning beach views
This turned out to be true. The third day came and although some of the workouts still felt torturous, it was an amazing feeling to have overcome the discomfort, not to mention a huge confidence boost to know that I was capable of sticking with it.
Over the next few days the Staff were incredible at motivating and supporting us and as the group became closer, it strengthened us as much mentally as it did physically. It is safe to say I wouldn’t have come through it the same way without our motivational chats in the evenings over a cup – or five – of fruit tea.
While Jo made sure we stayed positive and didn't crack under pressure, Chef provided us with exquisite meals throughout the day, fuelling our bodies with wholesome and nutritional foods such as fish, seeds and nuts, fruit and vegetables. He also altered the menu for those with special dietary requirements.
Chef provided us with delicious healthy and nutritious food
While some of the participants came from strenuous job environments and wanted a week to re-energise, others simply wanted a health kick to get into better routines at home.
One of the female attendees who was returning for the second time said: "I love it so much because for a whole week I don’t have to make any decisions. They decide everything from what to wear, what to do and what to eat."
Throughout the week we did diverse activities such as running on the beach, aerobics, boxing, hiking and circuits in the dreaded 'sweat room' – the basement room of one of the villas. It was incredible to see the change in myself and my new friends at the camp. My perception of my own will-power had completely changed and I started to understand why 12 out of 18 men and women were 'returnees'.
Boxing on the beach
Although weight loss can be up to 13 pounds per week at the boot camp, co-owner Staff R says that weight loss is not the focus of the camps. "I want to educate people to get away from the poisonous fixation of using the scales," he said.
"If you ate better and if you moved more, you would feel happier and your body shape would change without you even thinking about it. It’s so simple, people just have to break out of their habits."
We were taught exercise routines that work your whole body in just 12 minutes, and let’s face it – anyone has 12 minutes a day to spare.
They also taught us how to stay active without the commitment of a gym membership – and for me, this advice was crucial. "Use your environment: stairs, benches, walls, hills are all things you can use to perform effective workouts without a price tag on it," they explained.
Evenings were free to enjoy the luxury facilities, which included heated pools, Jacuzzis and saunas and a private cinema room. There was also a wide range of beauty treatments and sports massages available.
Witnessing the transformation in all the diverse participants – a mix of six nationalities, nearly all ages and sizes – was amazing. The last day, which was spent on the beach doing water-sports concluded a week which I can honestly say was a life-changing experience in terms of my attitude to health and fitness.
The last day was spent enjoying water sports in the Mediterranean Sea
As for me, I returned to London 6.2lbs and 10.5 inches smaller and more energised and relaxed than ever with a new three-month goal… Watch this space!
For more information visit: Prestigebootcamp.com