A fitness retreat is a great way to take you away from the distractions of the daily grind where there’s no excuse to dodge exercise or eat well. Feeling the need to inject a boost to her health and fitness goals, Luxurious Magazine’s Sabi Phagura signed up for a week-long stay at No1 Bootcamp in Norfolk.
Many people know I am a fitness enthusiast who relishes engaging in physical activity whenever the urge arises. I was first introduced to weights by default by my father Malkiat, who would take me to his friend’s garage, where they trained. Not one to be left out of the action, I began lifting whatever weight I could manage, much to my father’s amusement.
There’s no doubt the pandemic has shifted the way people view fitness and wellbeing. Since 2019, many have incorporated small changes in their lives, including walking, taking time out in nature and nourishing their bodies. But if you want a 360 degrees approach to wellness, head to No1 Bootcamp.
The bootcamp, now in its 16th year, has attracted thousands of people who are looking to lose weight, get into shape, build confidence and make lifestyle changes.
People from all walks of life (including celebrities and household names) use the retreat, finding the intensive regime an effective way to lose a few pesky pounds under the watchful eyes of Ava, the bootcamp’s friendly cockapoo.
Located in the seaside resort of Heacham, the camp is based at Summer Hill House, which is surrounded by ample open green spaces. In the summer, this charming countryside area is filled with the colour and scent of Norfolk’s lavender. If you’re looking to venture a bit further afield, you’ll find a number of quaint market towns waiting to be explored.
Summer Hill House has a range of rooms in the main house and the barn opposite. The rooms in the former are more luxurious, with some housing four-poster beds, plump oversized armchairs to relax in and views of the track and greenery outside. The rooms in the barn are modest in comparison but nonetheless inviting after a gruelling day of exercise.
While the chef’s kitchen is out of bounds, campers have access to the guest kitchenette fully equipped with hot water on tap for herbal teas, filtered tap water and a fridge. The communal area situated across the dining room has ample comfy seating, a fireplace and a wall-mounted TV from where to unwind in between sessions and chat with fellow campers who share the same appetite as you to better themselves physically and mentally.
Camping weeks begin each Saturday afternoon, and upon arrival, residents are offered a comprehensive one-to-one body scan during the initial registration and consultation. Mine was with Gee Leary, former Royal Marine and Chief Instructor across the camps (Norfolk is the original of the No1 Bootcamp portfolio, which now boasts four locations, others being Marrakech, Portugal, St. Tropez and Ibiza).
We discussed my current fitness and food diary and my subsequent aims and goals for the week ahead. It felt good to have a fat loss goal and a clear purpose for being at the camp. With Sunday’s itinerary sent to the camper’s WhatsApp group the evening before, I was tucked away in my bed by 8 pm for the 6.30 am sharp start.
Sunday morning began with a bit of a shock to the system. I normally begin mine with a leisurely coffee before contemplating any exercise. But at No1 Bootcamp, I was on the training ground at 7 am warming up in the shape of thoracic spine rotations, side steps, leg swings, and hip openers, having only consumed a herbal tea for fuel. Used to intermittent fasting, the lack of food was not too much of a feat.
Ready for the main action post-warm-up, Gee walked us through the various exercises we were to be engaged in for 90 minutes. It doesn’t matter how fit you are or how much exercise you do; if your body is required to move in a different way than it is used to, you will feel it. And boy, did my body feel it!
The HIIT training session jolted my muscles immediately during the workout, and did so two days later when DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) kicked in. But somehow, it all felt good.
After fuelling our bodies (more about the food later), our group was ready for round two of the day. This time we were led inside the spin bike studio for a cardio workout. Those who were unable to jump on the bike were given the choice of using the cross trainer instead.
Gee, whose vast experience of effective fitness training techniques uses science-based fat loss strategies, talked us through the importance of being in the fat-burning zone. In the absence of a heart rate monitor, we could use our breath as an indicator of how efficiently we were working. He said our breathing should be laboured as such that any conversation should be somewhat halting.
Following a water break and a short rest, we campers were prepped for a round of boxing. By now, most were lacking energy, but Gee’s endless enthusiasm encouraged us to plant jabs, crosses, uppercuts and hooks on the hanging punch bags in the hanger shed. Knowing this was the last session of the day before a stretch, I mustered up enough energy to knock the stuffing out of the bags.
Waking up the next morning to face a second day of intense training was daunting, but I hadn’t come all this way to laze about. I was expecting a repeat of the same exercise format but was pleased it wasn’t. All three sessions were different and helped in carrying me through the exercises with renewed enthusiasm on a mental level.
And that’s the beauty of the sessions at No1 Bootcamp – they are varied and changed up to incorporate low and high-intensity workouts to keep the body working efficiently. I particularly enjoyed the competition games in teams which bought about a bit of healthy comradery. The bonus being we were building strength, getting fit and burning fat whilst having fun.
Campers are taken to the local gym Motiv8 mid-week for a change of scenery. Not only does it break up the week, but it also enables campers the use of a variety of machines and equipment.
The early morning brisk walks, some of which were done whilst donning 5kg weighted vests, doubled up as exploration expeditions. Being busy taking in some of the delights of the nearby seaside and countryside helped divert my attention away from the tiredness that threatened to kick in.
Launched in 2008, the camp was the brainchild of friends Deena Reynolds and the late Karen Mackenzie. Hailing from a beauty and fashion background, respectively, the pair were passionate about fitness but didn’t feel there was a one-stop shop that could address fitness and nutrition like they had experienced on their travels.
The camp has evolved over the years to incorporate the latest science in fitness and nutrition. As such, seminars on these are held in between sessions, so campers are armed with the knowledge to continue their fitness journey once they leave the camp.
One of the fitness trends here to stay is ice baths which are said to enhance blood flow to the body. While the science is still in its infancy, athletes typically use ice baths after workouts to ease sore muscles and improve recovery.
If you are keen on taking a plunge in the icy world of ice baths, I can tell you that once your nether regions are in the, the rest is easy. And when you do climb out after the recommended two minutes, you’ll feel invincible.
Food is integral to the bootcamp plan as much as fitness. The two are intrinsically linked. While working out an eating plan that consists of the correct amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats can often feel like doing a mental arithmetic for many people, here it is all done for you.
Depending on your goals and weigh-in at the initial consultation, meals are individually tailored. Matty, the talented chef, ensures all meals are diverse, nutritionally balanced and, most importantly, tasty.
Mealtimes became a big event of the day as campers waited eagerly to discover what delights appeared on our plates. Hands down, I never had a single disappointing meal, and while some campers felt a tad hungry due to the smaller portion sizes they were used to, I never once felt starved.
Everybody goes to sit in their designated seats, so the hosts know exactly where every individual meal is going. No1 caters for vegetarians, pescatarians, or even those who are gluten intolerant, but nobody is fussy. To be honest, you won’t want to be otherwise without the right fuel; you’ll be unable to move your body as efficiently in the next exercise session. The first one directly post dinner is the recommended 20-minute walk around the track to aid digestion.
The purpose of a retreat like No1 is to take you out of your comfort zone and be pushed to a whole new level to reach your personal fitness goals. But it’s also a great way to go on a journey of self-discovery and connect with yourself. No1 has a great way of encouraging campers to push themselves to their limit without being brutal.
Perhaps it’s this, coupled with their friendly approach to health and fitness, that’s the reason they have an 80 per cent return rate. Because let’s face it, the road to fitness is not a linear one, and we all could do with a helping hand from time to time.
No1 Bootcamp – Where and How?
No1 Bootcamp can be found in Summer Hill House, Lamsey Ln, Heacham PE31 7LB. For more information on No1 Bootcamp, visit www.no1bootcamp.com.
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