For longer than I care to admit I have been eating and drinking what the hell I like without worrying about the consequences. For someone who does very little exercise, it was inevitable that the pounds would pile on and I recently realised that I was heavier than I’d ever been.
To be honest, I couldn’t really give two hoots what the scales say (I don’t even own any) but I was starting to find my clothes uncomfortable and I’d noticed that my skin and nails were in poor condition. I also don’t mind admitting that I’d become a bit of a moody cow too… it was time for drastic action!
I came across Northern Bootcamp on Facebook and after a few months of following each other a message landed in my inbox inviting me to try out one of their 4 day camps in Northumberland. It was the perfect opportunity for me to take time out and focus on my physical health and was just the kick up the butt I needed.
I was so nervous about staying with strangers, spending several hours a day exercising and having my food intake controlled, but I remembered the quote ‘outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens’. So, I went for it and it was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had!
Northern Bootcamp is a residential bootcamp run by inspiring people who are absolutely passionate about health, fitness and nutrition. It’s the perfect place to kick-start a weight loss or fitness regime as the beautiful location by the unspoilt Northumberland coast (one of my favourite places on the planet!) allows you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and fully focus on your physical health.
It’s a place where you are encouraged to push yourself to the limit but never barked orders at. The trainers are fun, friendly and very motivating. So whether your aim is to improve your marathon time or simply run for a bus without gasping for breath, they’ll help you see improvement in just a few days.
I stayed in an en-suite quad room sharing with three other lovely ladies in Northern Bootcamp’s luxury holiday cottage in Belford, just three miles from the coastal village of Bamburgh.
The spacious accommodation is all across one floor with five bedrooms (inc twins and triples), four bathrooms, a comfortable living room and a traditional farmhouse kitchen where our meals were served (more on that later). The property also has a cute little garden pod for single occupancy and there are further cottages nearby for additional guests.
The accommodation is surrounded by farmland, there’s a huge open field at the front which is used for circuits and a smaller garden with astro-turf where some low-impact classes took place.
The drive to Northern Bootcamp from Newcastle took me about an hour but other campers arrived on the Friday evening from all over the country by road and rail.
All bootcamps start on a Friday with arrivals from 6.30pm onwards and transfers are available from the train station in Berwick upon Tweed.
After getting to know my fellow campers on Friday night I was up bright and early for our first session which took place on Bamburgh beach the next morning.
We did a thorough warm-up followed by a running challenge which was my worst nightmare, I hate running. Thankfully there was a choice of distances so I wasn’t left to feel like the slow-coach at the back. Plus, I could hardly feel down about the situation when I was faced with such stunning views!
Variety and fun are clearly at the heart of Northern Bootcamp’s ethos. The programme was very varied and during my stay I got to experience a great mix of cardio sessions, interval training, kettlebell classes, and strengthening workshops.
We played rounders in the sunshine on the beach, my stamina was tested with an 18 mile hike and I even discovered a new love for foam rolling – I hardly recognised myself!
Without a doubt though, my favourite experiences were the adventure activities. We donned wetsuits and went coasteering in the North Sea which was truly exhilarating.
Those who stayed for the seven day camp also got to try rock climbing, body boarding and kayaking. There was never a dull moment.
The evenings were pretty chilled but Northern Bootcamp’s packages do include free passes to a local pool and spa in the nearby village of Seahouses. I went along with a few of the other ladies and we had a very relaxing time making use of the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.
The itinerary for each camp is not disclosed before you arrive, instead, we were notified of each next session on a blackboard in the kitchen. I was told that the reason for this was simply to allow the trainers flexibility to change the programme to suit the weather, the group and any other factors that come into play. It also meant we didn’t waste time dreading any upcoming sessions that worried us.
My boyfriend James does most of the cooking in our house, he’s very good at it too but he has a tendency to pile my plate as high as his. We eat out quite a lot too (as you will have soon in my foodie reviews) and then there’s all the snacking that I do at work where the office tuck shop tempts me with its sugary treats. It’s fair to say I needed to hit the re-set button on my nutrition and Northern Bootcamp certainly helped me do that.
We were served three meals a day plus two snacks and every dish was carefully put together by chefs Carla and Annie to be nutritious, clean and tasty. There was a clear focus on quality, with lots of protein involved. I certainly never went hungry despite opting for weight-loss portion sizes (a slightly larger fitness portion size was also available).
It was very warm and sunny while I was staying at Northern Bootcamp so I drank lots and lots of water and peppermint tea. I was only allowed coffee once a day, at breakfast, but much to my surprise I didn’t really miss it. I used to drink about 5 or 6 cups a day but I’m pleased to say that I’ve stuck to my one a day (with no sugar) since returning home, something I never thought would happen.
As well keeping us active and feeding us well, the Northern Bootcamp team also challenged our thinking by sharing their vast knowledge in some highly informative seminars. I picked up so many tips from trainer Joel in his talk on nutrition.
My fellow campers also spoke highly of an interesting session on sleep and later in the week there were chances for one to one advice sessions.
The kitchen team also generously shared their top tips. I’m sure we all went home having learnt a lot about how our body works and how to take better care of it.
Although the bootcamp culture was a bit of a shock to my system and I did find it challenging at times, I thouroughly enjoyed my experience. I felt like the amount of time I spent outside was incredibly good for me, not just physically, but mentally too.
I will never forget arriving on the unspoilt beach at Ross Sands to see dolphins dancing in the water! The words of trainer Caroline rang in my mind ‘remember to take a moment to appreciate your surroundings’. I honestly can’t imagine that any bootcamp in the country has a better location, the beautiful views definitely made the training more bearable.
I also couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people to share my experience with. The trainers and campers were all down to earth and super friendly. We may have all been from different backgrounds and different parts of the country but I made great friendships really quickly and have kept in touch with the group on Facebook and WhatsApp. I’m sure with their encouragement I can continue to take better care of myself in future.
So… I guess you’re wondering whether or not I actually lost any weight? Well, bearing in mind I could only stay for three days due to work commitments, I nearly fell off my chair when they told me I’d lost 2.1kg (4.6lbs)! I also lost 11cm off my body, 8 of which were off my waist, it was just the kick start I needed.
Results obviously vary from person to person and are dependent on campers sticking to the meals provided but the Northern Bootcamp team say you can realistically expect to lose 7-12lb in a week, many people lose a lot more than that.
As you can probably guess, the Northern Bootcamp experience doesn’t come cheap, four day camps start from £625 and a full week costs from £995. There are other packages available too, you can check them all out here: www.northernbootcamp.co.uk/camp-prices/
It might sound like a lot but that’s fully inclusive of all the meals, activities and accommodation plus fitness assessments, health spa visits and seminars. At the end of the day it’s an investment in yourself.
*Thank you to Northern Bootcamp and my fellow campers for allowing me to use their photos in this post. My camp was complimentary in return for sharing my real experience. All words and opinions are my own.