Luxury bootcamp: can you really lose weight and get pampered at the same time?

The idea of a weight loss boot camp often conjures up images of tiny portions of tasteless food, military type personal trainers yelling at you to do hundreds of burpees, and a week of general torture! But with bikini season fast approaching and having been encouraged by the results of celebrities who have done one, I set off in search to find a luxury boot camp where I could get great results and be pampered rather than shouted at.

Surprisingly, this type of boot camp does exist, and I found one that ticked all the boxes. Nu Beginnings is more than your usual weight loss boot camp or fat farm. It’s not just a quick fix, they are a unique luxury weight loss retreat which offers a proven combination of nutrition, exercise and mind therapies that will change your relationship with food and give you the skills you need to continue your healthy lifestyle after you leave.

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Nu Beginnings is based in Illfracmobe, Devon which provides a glorious backdrop and a very peaceful haven away from the hubbub of London. When I arrived at the retreat I was greeted by Victoria Wills, the founder of Nu Beginnings and shown to a gorgeous bedroom and a bathroom full of Elemis products. Things were looking good!


Once I’d settled in I was measured, weighed and asked about my individual goals for the week. Mine were to lose at least 7 lbs and get fitter. We then had a fitness assessment and a welcome talk with the whole group before going to the dining room for dinner.

I was pleasantly surprised by our dinner which was created by the Chef Jess, it was delicious! Before you arrive Nu Beginnings ask you to send a list everything you don't like eating and Jess works to that list. All the food you eat there is sugar free, very low-carb, and totally gluten-free so it’s really important that you get food you are actually going to eat, especially with all the exercise lined up. We all enjoyed the food during the week, Jess made something different for us every day and I didn’t miss chocolate or carbs so quite frankly she’s a miracle worker.


We received our schedules for the week which were jam packed with exercise but luckily there were a few deep tissue massages and mind therapies in the mix to make it slightly less scary.

Every day we were woken up at 7.30 am and most mornings we had some form of exercise before we even had breakfast. Throughout the week we did many diverse activities such as hiking, boxing, circuits, yoga, pilates, core training, resistance training and fitness on the beach. We all noticed a significant improvement in our fitness over the course of the week. We huffed and puffed our way up a hill during the first day but by the end of the week we were doing eight-mile hikes which involved a lot of steep inclines.

Cap, our wonderful hiking guide really tested our limits on those hikes but we were all grateful for that, the harder we worked, the better we felt. There was a real sense of achievement at the end of our final hike. The views were beautiful and although we were shattered, it was very peaceful and enjoyable. As the week went on the more we enjoyed the exercise. Our two personal trainers, Dylan and John were patient and motivating and pushed us as far as we could go. It was tough and very hard work, running up the sand dunes was a particularly arduous challenge but the trainers made exercise fun (which I thought I’d never say) and created fitness games that kept us entrained while improving our fitness.


Thankfully there was a sauna at the house and several incredible masseuses on hand to relieve the aches and pains. Surprisingly we never felt hungry during the week, we had three main meals a day and two snacks to keep us going. Often the snacks were fruit and a few nuts but occasionally we got treated to something special like a goats cheese and fig salad or humus and crudities. The food never got boring and we were spoiled with organic, fresh and delicious food.

A personal highlight were the muffins we had for breakfast on the last day and thankfully we were taught how to make them. One evening we had a cooking demonstration with the chef Jess who taught us how to cook a couple of healthy dishes and gave us a recipe booklet with everything she’d cooked for us over the week. This was very helpful and combined with the very interesting mindful eating and nutrition talks which were given by Victoria Wills, I felt ready to continue my new healthy eating regime at home.

My fellow boot campers were very encouraging which helped and we loved getting to know each other and support each other emotionally and also throughout the tasks. Most evenings we ended up in the living room for a cup of herbal and caffeine free tea to discuss our goals and the challenges we faced. I was very pleased to hear that a few of them had been many times before. That is a testament in itself.


As well as physical exercise, the retreat really focused on the mind which I found very rewarding. We did relaxation techniques, tai chi, breathing, hypnotherapy and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). They all help with dealing with a busy and hectic lifestyle and teach you how to relax the mind and take refuge from all the thoughts that pop into your head throughout the day.
A lot of the people on the course went into the hypnotherapy with a closed mind and we were all surprised after our sessions. My experience with Hypnotherapist Nigel was brilliant and although I’m sure it was the combination of teachings throughout the week, both physical and non physical, that has given me a new outlook on food and exercise, I definitely feel the hypnotherapy played a big part of it.

On our penultimate day at Nu Beginnings we all had a 1-1 personal training session with one of the personal trainers. This was invaluable. Dylan gave me a 30-minute work out that I can do at home so I don’t even need to join a gym. I also had a nutrition consultation with Victoria which was eye opening. I paid a bit extra to do a food intolerance test and I was amazed by the results. Now I’ve stopped eating the food that came up as allergies, I feel a lot better and much less bloated. This was worth the money and I recommend anyone to do one. We also talked through what I would eat after leaving the course and how I could fit the new healthy eating and exercise regime into my busy daily schedule.

We all went to bed that night excited about our results the next day. Witnessing the transformation in all my fellow boot campers –nearly all ages and sizes – was amazing. I can honestly say that the week was a life-changing experience in terms of my attitude to food, health and fitness and I wasn’t the only person in my group to feel that way. We were all excited to leave and embark on our new way of life.


When we all met to be weighed and measured on our last day we were quite nervous. We’d all put in so much effort to the exercise and really wanted to see great results on the scales. We weren’t disappointed! Victoria took me off to the studio and I was thrilled with my results. I’d lost 11bs and over 7 inches. Everyone else had done brilliantly too with one participant losing 15lbs!

This boot camp isn’t just a quick way to lose weight, it teaches you a healthy lifestyle which you continue after you leave. I left two weeks ago and I’ve lost a further 5lbs and haven’t had one family size chocolate bar since!
Nu Beginnings offer a range of weight loss options for everyone. You can join a half day workshop, ease yourself into the retreat packages by attending the two-day retreat package or choose from their three core weight loss retreat packages.

For more information or to book, visit

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