TAKING FITNESS TO THE XTREME

Boot Camp. Eight letters arranged in such a way that vest them with the power to strike mortal fear in the hearts of most adult humans. As the youngest – and supposedly fittest – member of the team, we sent Matt Blackwell packing to the heart of Herefordshire to explore the boundaries of fitness at a three day residential Xtreme Luxury Boot Camp.

Don’t let the word ‘luxury’ throw you off the scent though; we’re not talking Tai Chi and deep breathing here, this is military-style fitness with all employees either serving or ex-serving armed forces personnel. From the moment you walk through the door you enter a disciplined environment in which the qualified instructors will push your body to its limit – and then a bit further – in the pursuit of whatever goals you came armed with.

Typically, the first ‘detail’ of the day will involve running. We were treated to a four-mile ‘Battle Run’ lead by serving Royal Marine and Xtreme Boot Camps co-founder James Evans, who had us sprinting, jogging, jumping and crawling through mud, rivers, fields and over gates; all before breakfast!

After fuelling up on ‘scran’ you’ll be marched outside for the morning’s exercise session, which could comprise of anything from kettle bell workouts to intense circuits, performed either in the beautiful grounds of The Colloquy or in the heated pool. Post-lunch we were given the chance to slow things down a tad with a spot of yoga and after the evening meal you may be rewarded for the day’s efforts with some free time. That is unless someone in your troop was late (and by late I mean any less than five minutes early) or failed to arrive to detail fully equipped – as I did… twice – in which case, you can expect to be worked well into the evening, squat thrusting and lunge jumping your way to trim, tight and toned perfection. Put in a shift though and you’ll earn your reward as you relax in the sauna and hot tub or indulge in one of the spa treatments provided by My Personal Sanctuary.

Naturally, this level of exercise gives you an almighty appetite and come mealtimes we eagerly wolfed the clean and nutritious food that ex-RAF chef Terry placed in front of us, including a healthy selection of cereals, porridge and poached eggs for breakfast, salads and pasta for lunch, followed by a three course sumptuous feast in the evenings.

As much as I abhor clichés, two of them crop up time and time again when people ask me about my boot camp experience: you get out exactly what you put in and if you skimp on effort or commitment, it’s only yourself that you’re cheating. As I boarded my train home I was struck by a feeling (and it wasn’t just muscle soreness) that I had learnt an invaluable lesson about my body’s capabilities and had uncovered a determination and unwillingness to give in that most probably stems from an inherent stubborn streak. After three days of extreme exercise I was heading home with a huge buzz that has since motivated me to push myself beyond my natural comfort zone in everything I do.I guess the clue’s in the name really and make no mistake; Xtreme Boot Camps are not for the faint hearted, but if you’re serious about fitness, there really is no better service out there.

Xtreme Boot Camps offer three, four and seven day camp s starting at £495 per person.. Go to www. xtremebootcamps.com for more information