One Team, One Dream!
It’s day one and nine nervous bootcampers are standing in a circle waiting for Wez, our trainer’s, instructions. Fitness test. We launch into burpees, squat jumps, high leg raises, press ups, switch lunges, tuck jumps, tricep dips, surf boards, half burpee monkey presses, switch jumps, prisoner squat alternative leg raises and frog jumps. We do as many as we can of each one for 50 seconds with a 10 second break. The music is pumping out, the sweat and adrenaline are flowing. Welcome to boot camp!
The idea of boot camp is a really simple one: exercise very hard and very intensely for an extended period, keep the calories down and you will jumpstart your weightloss and fitness.
The actual doing of it, though, is a little bit more complicated.
The camp was held in Taj Omayma, a lovely private villa 25 minutes from Marrakech with a big grass area, a pool and an airconditioned sports room. In July, it is really hot from around 11 am till at least 4pm, sometimes 6 pm. So, I was a bit worried about how I was going to cope if we were working throughout the day. But I shouldn’t have been. Wez had it all planned out.
Each day was different, but each day followed roughly the same pattern. We always started at 6 am with a warm up and then some form of circuit – aerobic, anaerobic, using weights or bodyweight. Then a break for a snack, followed by another session: boxing, escalating density circuit, cardio carnage with sprinting, bear crawling, running backwards, always as fast as possible. Breakfast was at 9 am and our last morning session was usually a very intensive one from 9.45 to 10.45. We did lots of different routines and circuits including EMOM – every minute on the minute, and AMRAP – as many reps as possible, using all the classics like burpees and squats and some new ones to me like surfboards . Then we were off till lunch at 12.30. At 13.30 we had a session in the pool which varied from technique, drills and sprints to endurance. Then the last, and toughest one, of the day was from, 17.00 – 18.30. Hardest because it came at the end of a long day and Wez always pumped up the intensity, slipping in a bit of Tabata, or some monster repetitions in case we were slacking. Dinner was at 19.00.
It's 80% about the Nutrition
Normally, if I were doing this much exercise, I would be taking in plenty of food, but of course for a weight loss camp, the calorie count has to be kept low. Being in Morocco, meant using only local, seasonal ingredients, fresh from the neighbouring farms, locally-produced dried fruit and nuts, with less accent on substitutes like rice or oat cakes, soya products, almond milk and so on. Several members of the group suffered from food allergies or sensitivities, so that was a challenge. This was one of our daily menus.
Half an apple, tub of natural yoghurt, 4 almonds (women) 6 almonds (men)
Smoothie made from yoghurt, peanut butter, banana and kiwi
One egg, 4/6 almonds, 4/5 spoons of diced cucumber, raw onion and tomatoes
Gazpacho made with carrots, sultanas and apple juice (delicious!), 5 cubes of watermelon and 5 cubes of honeydew melon
One chicken skewer, with four small cubes of chicken and one beef skewer with four small pieces of beef, 4/5 spoons of cooked carrots with parsley
How did we do it?
So, there we were, working like the demons in hell, and in similar temperatures, and eating like birds. How did we get through it?
A very simple answer to that: Determination to reach our goals, the megawatt energy, commitment and expertise of our trainer, Wez, and Team Spirit. Team Spirit definitely needs those capital letters. We also had a laugh!
Sunday: We get through our first three sessions – fitness test, weights then boxing on the roof terrace. We drink litres and sweat the proverbial buckets. Lunch is an egg and tomato tagine. Ten minutes in, elegant Fliss, calmly stands up, walks straight-backed to the end of the room, tells our waitress in her impeccable French, “I am going to throw up,” is handed a bucket, and the rest is noisy history. We also produce an Olympic quality synchronised swimming routine in the pool.
Monday: I am stiff all over and hoping everyone else is. They mostly are. Phew! Cardio carnage almost breaks us. It is a contest as to what we hate the most. I vote for backward running, but bear crawls win it.
Tuesday: Ice packs start to make an appearance and bodies are strewn across the exercise room at breaks, clutching them to aching bits. Our sessions are all strong and fast. Spartacus! Monster Circuit! EMOM! But then a healing angel arrives in the form of our yoga instructress, Delphine. She looks at us with raw pity in her eyes, stretches us out, tells us to relax in a voice that could melt chocolate, and we all fall a little bit in love.
Wednesday: The soreness has worn off but hunger has come lunging in. We have Lettuce Gate. Lunch is lettuce and carrots with 5/6 small pieces of soft goat’s cheese. Now I understand why they say that an army marches on its stomach. We were ripe for mutiny. But this is the day we get to leave the villa and go for a hike through the fields and up to a tiny Berber village, passing river canyons and shepherds with their flocks on the way.
Thursday: Grit the teeth time. My body wants to give up but Wez won’t let us. ” Remember why you signed up!”, “Suck it up, so you won’t need to suck it in!”, “This month’s choices are next month’s body!” School Sport’s Day brings out our competitive spirits and we egg and spoon race like Usain Bolt. Dance offs for extra points and we kill it with some street moves, the worm and gangnam style.
Friday: Time to retake the fitness test. Wow! More reps and better on every single exercise. I wasn’t expecting that. Just a few more sessions to go. Wez brings out the big guns. Cap on, shades on, superman socks on, he goes for the Baywatch warm up. The music blared out, we hitch up our imaginary speedos and go save some lives, which involves many, many squats. Then suddenly, we are done. It is all over bar the weigh in.
It’s 6am and we are all sitting nervously. We had all done well on the fitness test but how would we do on the weight loss? BRILLIANTLY! All our moaning about the food, burpees, rapid running, and squats were forgotten. It had all been worth it. Our top loser shed an incredible 19 lbs (8.6 kgs). I was delighted with my results. I lost 11.6 lbs (5.3 kgs) and 6 inches (15.24 cm) from my waist, hips, legs and arms.
So, would I recommend this for weight loss and fitness gain? Yes, absolutely.
For more information check out www.no1bootcamp.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details… and please mention you read it here.
Finally. We suffered, sweated, grunted, groaned and succeeded together. A big thank you to the Marrakech Massive: Alex, Amy, Barry, Fi, Fliss, Karen, Katie, Magnus and, of course, Wez.