I’ve been to two different fitness camps, a few years apart. My favourite was Stay Fit Break Free* and I hope to head back there soon. The trainer, Zuzana (Zu), I originally met at a different camp, and when she set up StayFit Break Free in Mallorca, I booked in straight away.
I have been asked repeatedly, what is it REALLY like at one of these places? Do you get to choose what to do? Do you get yelled at? Do they starve you? Are the weight loss results genuine? Do you keep the weight off afterwards? How do you choose which camp is right for you?
A week with Zu is like no other that you might have experienced. She is your Personal Trainer for the week, and has everything efficiently organised from your accommodation, food, exercise schedule and a massage. She works with small groups (usually around 8 guests at any one time), so the training does feel personal. The other camp had 25+ guests.
Before you arrive Zu will have been in touch to ask about health issues, injuries, your goals for the week, (weight loss!) food intolerances and allergies. She’ll also check in about how active you’ve been – it is best not to lie and say you are very active when you aren’t. Be honest and trust in Zu to help you.
Unless you’ve paid extra for a single room, you’ll be sharing with someone. Whilst it might be nice to have some solitude, go with the flow. During fit camp you’ll find you become friends for life with your roomie. Sitting and reflecting on the day with someone who has been through the same shared experience does help bond friendships.
During the first evening you’ll have a one to one with Zu and she’ll follow up with what you told her in advance and talk you through the plan for the week. It also gives you the opportunity to ask any extra questions and discuss in detail your long term goals.
If you’re expecting a week of carrot juice and lettuce leaves you’re in the wrong place! The daily menu consists of a wake up smoothie shot (it is a shot, not a long drink), 3 meals and 2 snacks, all evenly spaced out. There is lots of herbal tea and water, and you will not feel hungry. If your diet has been full of caffeine and sugar, then the chances are the first 2 days will be your body withdrawing from these, but honestly, you will hardly notice. You’ll be so busy.
The meals were varied – aside from breakfast (muesli, porridge etc) and the snacks, no meal was repeated during the week. Example dishes were:-
Sweet potatoes with goats cheese
Steak and vegetables
Salmon and Quinoa
A good fit camp will have a variety of exercise for you to try. StayFit Break Free covers everything from Boxing, Cycling, Hiking, (Kayaking) Circuits, Gym, Walking, Yoga, and lots of things in between. If there is something you are not happy with, (for me it is Kayaking; I’m not a confident swimmer), then mention it in advance of going. You won’t be yelled at but you will be expected to complete all exercise every day. It might sound a lot – 36 hours of exercise in 7 days, but it doesn’t feel like a gruelling schedule, and feels very much like any activity holiday, where you might go to the beach in the morning (boxing, circuits) and then after lunch and a siesta, you go out for walk or for a cycle ride, before coming back for yoga, stretches and dinner.
The exercise day starts around 7.00 am and finishes about 7.00 pm at night, with yoga and stretches.
What to pack
I made a packing list which you can download. You don’t need lots of specialist clothing, but if there is cycling or hiking involved then padded shorts and hiking boots are a must.
Making the most of the week
- Detach yourself from your mobile phone and laptop. Aside from when we were out cycling, and I wanted to track the ride, I gave my mobile phone to my roomie to look after, otherwise I would have been compulsively checking emails and social media all day. I was only allowed to check for text messages once a day and then hand it back. It made a huge difference to the quality of the week for me. I went to break away from all these things, you should too.
- Push yourself as much as you can. When you are measured at the end of the week, don’t have any regrets. ‘If I had only done one more rep’, ‘if I had only run up the hill’, shouldn’t be present. So if for any reason you don’t have the results you want (and you are likely to have some amazing realistic results), it won’t be because you didn’t push yourself.
- Chill out and relax. Be approachable and friendly and work with the other guests as a team. You are all there for the same reason so be kind and considerate to each other.
At the end of camp
By the end of the week not only will you hopefully have some great results (inches off as well as weight loss), you’ll also notice you’ve got some great new habits. To ensure you maintain these when you get home, think about what changes you will make in your life and stick to it. For example, instead of sitting mindlessly eating dinner with the tv on in the background, I found I had to sit at the table and concentrate on what was on the plate.
Throughout the week I was looking at the food and planning meals. I arranged an online supermarket order to be delivered the day after I returned home, all full of healthy food, so I could continue with the weight loss.
Once home, I found it very hard to sit still! My inbox may have said ‘sit at computer’ but my legs said ‘move’!. Make your plans whilst you are away and take immediate action on your return so you don’t lose momentum.
In the week I was away I lost 9lbs in weight and 4 inches off my waist. And it stayed off for over 6 months afterwards, only thwarted by a severe chest infection and 3 courses of steroids. Had it not been for the chest infection, I expect my weight loss would have continued.
This is why I have no hesitation in recommended StayFit Break Free* to anyone looking for a weight loss and fitness retreat.
Choosing the right fitness camp for you
1. Check how the group classifies itself, StayFit Break Free is not a military boot camp, others are. Read up and see what it says about itself, does it have holistic approach? Is it more a spa-type holiday?
2. How big are the group sizes and how many trainers are there to the number of guests?
3. Read the reviews of the camp or go by personal recommendation of a friend.
4. What are the guest facilities like? Do they suit your needs?
5. See if you can talk to one of the trainers before you book, especially if you have health issues. One camp I went to, I spoke to the office and explained my health issues and it was fine, yet when I arrived the trainers hadn’t been briefed.