Revival Boot-Camp – Sunshine, Sea, Sand and Somewhat More:
Most of my friends thought I had lost all hold of my senses. Would I like to review a boot-camp – in November – in Spain? It doesn’t sound so unlikely unless you are aware I’m in my fifties, rather unfit, suffering from a mild but chronic health problem that makes me feel exhausted and achey all the time and know that I never really liked anything sporty. In fact, I haven’t run outdoors since I was at school. I hated it then. So, a real test of whether Revival Boot-Camp IS suitable for those of us who perhaps wouldn’t consider ourselves boot-camp material!
I thought it would be bad karma to say no. I’d reached a bit of a plateau in my attempts to lose weight with the 5:2 diet (maybe something to do with some lovely meals out and a fondness for the odd glass of wine or three). And actually I quite like a challenge. I REALLY like Barcelona and the Revival Boot-camp is only a few miles down the road in Sitges, a coastal resort best known for being Europe’s gay capital. If all else failed there was always the option of escape to the City and plenty of Tapas.
November in Spain can be chilly, but on this occasion we were blessed with sunshine and temperatures in the mid 20s each day. The weather was very kind! The villa used for this particular boot-camp was in Sitges itself, less than 10 minutes from the beach. In fact less than 3 minutes from the beach if Marty, our PT had anything to do with it. It came equiped with tennis court, garden and outdoor swimming pool. Perfect for the kind of torture in store for us. In all seriousness, I do think the sunshine helped us all keep smiling.
I arrived with a huge suitcase full of kit. Some borrowed, some blue, some old, some new…I was just a little nervous and didn’t want to turn up without something essential. As it turned out I DIDN’T need the waterproof trousers…and I never quite got into wearing the shorts. I also had a secret packet of Mikado biscuits. Just in case, you understand…
On the first evening, our schedule for the next day was already pinned up. A 6.30am start for fitness assessment and weigh-in before breakfast. Actually, none of it was THAT bad, just very, very early! And I did discover quite quickly I couldn’t run much. Lesson number 1. It’s a good idea to prepare a bit for boot-camp by doing SOME exercise for a month or so (which I did)…Lesson number 2. It would have been an even better idea to include some gentle outdoor running or jogging if you are not used to it, since I was not used to it. The result of lack of preparation for me was appalling pain in the balls of my feet on the first day from the high impact exercise and then dreadful blisters from wearing running socks with hiking boots rather than higher and thicker hiking socks which I’d avoided because the weather was so hot. I’m sure most people wouldn’t be so silly!
A ‘normal’ day went a bit like this:
- 6.45am Early morning exercise – run or circuits on the beach for 40 minutes or so.
- 8am Breakfast
- 9am Circuits and/or exercise game for a couple of hours
- 11am Snack
- 11.30am Exercise till lunchtime –
- 1pm Lunch
- 2pm Hike or Exercise game
- 4pm Snack
- 5pm Boxercise
- 6pm Yoga
- 7pm Supper
- 9pm Bed (!)
Although written out it looks a bit tedious,in reality it never was. On one day we went kayaking in the Olympic park and exercised by climbing up and down some giant steps. Another day we hiked over the cliffs on the outskirts of Sitges, then walked back along the beach, climbing to avoid the incoming tide. Circuits were exhausting, punishing but fun and at times downright silly. We laughed far more than we cried.
The training was remarkably well managed – somehow accommodating me with my impossibly blistered feet and one of the other participants who really struggled to keep up, without compromising the marathon runner and the student who were clearly already at a different level of fitness. That’s a skill on the part of Marty, the trainer. It’s also a reflection of the small groups. In our case there were between five and seven of us and I understand Revival operates with a maximum of twelve participants.
As well as our PT, we had a full time camp manager and a chef/dietician as well as a part time yoga teacher. Meals were eagerly anticipated. A diet of 1300 calories a day is not a lot when you are also exercising for around 10 hours. I genuinely didn’t feel hungry most of the time, probably because of the regular snacks. Some of the others did – perhaps for a number of reasons. I am used to eating small portions, with 5:2 and I also limited the amount of aerobic exercise I did because my feet were so badly blistered. The younger, more active members of the group did say they felt hungry but no one seemed unduely unhappy.
In general the food was excellent. Gluten, lactose, caffeine and alcohol free doesn’t sound like too much fun on paper. But, our chef managed to produce interesting meals every day, although I suspect she may have been somewhat challenged by our varying tastes – a bit like a bizarre version of come dine with me, some people wanted spicy food, others hated it – and there seemed to be an almost universal hatred of celery. But we even managed a curry night!
I’m hoping that Diana will share some of the recipes with me, to give you more of an idea of how well we ate. For now, you’ll have to make do with some photos. The dishes did follow many of the principles I use on a 5:2 fast day – lots of fresh vegetables, very little or no carbohydrates and a little protein in almost every meal and snack to help avert hunger pangs.
All in, while this was definitely a boot-camp not a spa break, I came away happy. I lost a little weight (just over a kilo), I lost an inch from my waist and I gained muscle mass. A great way to kickstart a diet or fitness push, more importantly, I’m still losing weight and I am exercising more at home with an aim of actually being able to run and perhaps do one of the weekend day boot-camps that Revival run in Richmond. Its good value too – the Spanish course is just under £900 for a week, including all food and accommodation.
Oh and I DIDN’T open that packet of Mikado biscuits. Nor did I have a drink on the plane on the way home. There really is something a bit life-changing about it all.
If you need a bit of a push, a bit of a helping hand or just want to find out what is possible, give it a go. You’ll end up healthier, fitter and far more self aware.
Revival run residential boot-camps in various UK locations and in Sitges, Spain. They also have a programme of half and full day boot-camps in Richmond, Surrey. For more about pricing and availability check out the Revival Boot-Camp Website.