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How a 24-hour wilderness retreat helped me get out of my fitness funk

HELLO! ventured out to Wilderness Reserve for a 24-hour wellness bootcamp

Outside shot of Chapel barn Suffolk
Nichaela George
Nichaela GeorgeSocial VIdeo Producer
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As a 9-5er, my day-to-day involves working from a computer screen, grabbing quick lunches, and justifying why cancelling the 6th spin class in a row is my version of ‘self-care’ and not procrastination in its purest form. But let’s be honest, it’s easy to delay change when change means rejecting my beloved comfort foods, and ripping myself away from my adored duvet in what feels like the dead of night. 

Whilst I can confirm I’m not a morning person, I can confidently say I’m a lover of a list. When it comes to trying to make exercising and eating healthier more appealing, you name it and it’s probably living in one of my lists somewhere. Yet, the ‘doing’ part of said lists never actually gets done. So when MyFitnessPal invited me to a 24-hour wellness bootcamp at Wilderness Reserve, a secluded haven of woodland, lakes and rolling pastures, I thought it could be a great way to put the spark back into my fitness journey. 

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Chapel Barn Suffolk outside
A tranquil setting is perfect for a fitness retreat

Located just two hours outside of London, Wilderness Reserve is a magnificent green oasis surrounded by 8,000 acres of golden crops, meadows, and parkland, seven miles inland from the seaside town of Southwold. Upon arrival it was clear this city girl was nowhere near the familiar greys and browns the capital is known for. Greeted by the impressive thatched 15th century barn, I was given a few moments to get my bearings before the first round of activities began - an obstacle course! 

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Suffolk Chapel barn living room
Cosying up ahead of the activites

Lunging tyres, slamming ropes and dreaded planks, this obstacle course was everything you’d imagine an outdoor fitness retreat would be. Pairing up and taking turns at each station, I was able to try things I’d often avoided in the gym out of fear of doing it wrong. Once we had all worked up a sweat, the suggestion of lunch was a much appreciated relief that we were all happy to hear.

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As I tucked into succulent salmon fillets and chicken breasts, paired with a delicious curried chickpeas dish and a side salad, the ladies of MyFitnessPal began to discuss the interesting improvement the app had made after listening to how users were using it. I was surprised to hear that not only can premium users now tailor their dashboards to align with their fitness goals, but MyFitnessPal’s scanning feature now goes a step further by allowing us to scan our food - yes, the food itself! I mean, the fact I could scan barcodes always thrilled me as it made tracking my daily calorie intake easier, but this new feature fascinated me so much. 

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I was first introduced to MyFitnessPal in 2015 when I was training four to six times a week and needed to keep track of what I was consuming and burning. And whilst at first I was hooked on the scanning features (again you can only imagine how I felt when I heard scanning food was now a thing), my journey started to shift as the app helped me learn more about nutrition. Just as calories were tracked, so were protein, carbohydrates and fibre - and when you’re first beginning to learn about food's nutritious values, wow is that helpful. We all know that everyone's fitness journey is different, but evidently, MyFitnessPal knows that too.

The sauna at Chapel Farm
The sauna was the perfect way to unwind

After lunch we were invited to enjoy the Chapel Barn’s amenities, which I very much embraced and enjoyed. Starting off with a stress relieving Indian head massage, before taking a dip in the indoor golden pool as well as a few moments to myself in the sauna. I did need to Google midway through what a healthy amount of time to spend in a sauna is as I could’ve easily drifted off into a heavenly cat nap. As the sun set over the extraordinary landscape, we ventured off into the woods for a bonfire complemented by roasted marshmallows and mulled wine (a sweet reminder of Christmas that I didn’t mind at all) to speak with fellow users about how they have used the app to maintain their fitness goals.

Chapel barn swimming pool
The pool was stunning

The evening was completed with a flavourful three-course meal cooked by the Barn’s chef, who gracefully spoke through his recipes and the nutritious value of every ingredient he was using. He even provided great substitutes to use when cooking for people with different dietary needs. All meals could be found on the MyFitnessPal app for us to try at home. After a day of fitness and wellbeing, taking myself to bed with a full stomach only to be met with the luxury of a Hypnos bed was a dream. And the combination of country air, outdoor activities and scrumptious food made for a wonderful night's sleep. 

Before I left the green haven for the hustle and bustle of London, I was able to tuck into a delicious Full English breakfast and enjoy a spot of yoga against a calming backdrop of woodlands, tying the past 24 hours together perfectly. Prior to my Suffolk trip, I was unmotivated and stuck in a loop of procrastinating, but upon leaving I finally felt the buzz and excitement for fitness that I had long wished would return. 

Download MyFitnessPal.

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