After piling on the pounds during the coronavirus lockdown, Stuart Forster rounds up some of the best weight loss retreats in the UK.
Disclosure: Some of the links below — marked with (£) — are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The United Kingdom went into lockdown on 23 March 2020. Gyms, swimming pools and other sporting facilities were closed as part of efforts to combat the transmission of Covid-19.
For me that meant an interruption to my fitness routine of near daily swims and occasional gym sessions. During the first phase of the lockdown people across England were permitted to leave the house for just one hour’s simple exercise a day. During that window I took regular walks.
The first few weeks of the lockdown felt a bit like a nightmarish cross between an enforced holiday and house arrest.
Participating in Zoom calls to friends and family members while consuming vast amounts of food and drink proved a way of coping. I cooked lavish meals, drank far more than usual and ate cakes galore.
That did have some creative benefits. It resulted in me adding some of the recipes I cooked online, including my spaghetti carbonara recipe with Parma ham. Cocktail making sessions on Saturday afternoons resulted in me experimenting with an easy espresso martini recipe.
Weight gain during the coronavirus lockdown
Unsurprisingly but imperceptibly, at least at first, I gained weight. By the end of July I was beginning to feel the negative side-effects of the additional consumption and significantly less exercise than usual. I was feeling flabby.
The net gain in calories over three months resulted in me piling on one-and-a-half stones. That equates to more than 9.5 kilograms or 21 pounds. A horrendous amount.
Standing on the bathroom scales looking at the bad news proved a shock. I had to bend forward to see the scales’ dial over my protruding belly.
Something clearly needed to be done to shift the weight that I’d gained. I changed my diet, reducing my calorific intake, and resumed regular exercise, purchasing dumbbells (£) and exercise resistance bands (£) for home workouts:
Hopefully this post will be of help if you’re asking questions such as is there a fitness boot camp near me?
Top weight loss retreats in the UK
In 2018 I spent a few days working out at Northern Bootcamp near Bamburgh in Northumberland.
That was my first experience of participating in a residential boot camp. It resulted in me shedding several pounds and proved the catalyst to me changing my eating and exercising habits – at least until the lockdown.
While at Northern Bootcamp I chatted with fellow attendees and learnt that their motivations for attending varied. Some were present with the aim of losing weight. Others were there to concentrate on their fitness. Some attendees regarded the boot camp as an opportunity to reset their lifestyle by breaking from habits associated with their home environment. For one woman it was a week of me time.
The idea that every residential boot camp is a fat camp isn’t necessarily true. Weight loss is often a key objective for participants. Focusing on fitness may be too. Getting away to focus on mental well-being may be driver alongside the physical training.
What to expect at a residential boot camp
The UK’s residential boot camps vary in their focus and programmes. Nearly all cater for people with varied levels of fitness, ranging from people with sedentary lifestyles to athletes training for events such as marathons and triathlons.
There are ladies-only boot camps and those offering places to both men and women.
Some take a military-style approach. If you attend a military bootcamp you can expect to hear shouting to gee you along. Non-military boot camps take a more encouraging approach.
Selecting which boot camp is right for you depends on factors such as availability, location and the style.
Here’s a round-up of some the best residential boot camps in the UK:
Hillmotts has two bases for residential boot camps in the United Kingdom. The camps cater for attendees of varying fitness levels, ranging from those who don’t exercise regularly to people who work out frequently.
Individuals can register to participate in Wilmott’s three-, four- and six-day residential exercise boot camps at Long Hanborough, a village in the Cotswolds. The company’s other English venue is in the Peak District, where group and one-to-one packages are offered.
Throughout the year, Hillmotts operates non-military style boot camps. Attendees can anticipate intensive exercise and fitness work plus healthy, portion-controlled food. Discussions mean opportunities to pick up tips on healthy eating, how to train effectively and how to adapt to a healthier lifestyle.
Motivate Bootcamp operates two-day and three-day residential fitness and weight loss boot camps. They are open only to women, apart from during couples fitness bootcamps.
The company’s boot camps are based in hotels in England’s north and Midlands, concluding at 12.30 on their final day. They feature a broad variety of exercises, including Boxfit, Zumba and circuit training. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tabata workouts also count among the types of workout.
The camps are positioned as affordable fitness breaks aimed at women of all ages and levels of ability.
Northern Bootcamp has its base in the north-east of England. Offering weight loss boot camps varying in duration from one to 14 days, Northern Bootcamp has approachable, encouraging staff members.
There’s an onsite fitness room as well as in- and outdoor training sessions on Bamburgh Beach and in the Northumbrian countryside. The sessions proved varied and enjoyable, including an endurance walk, body boarding in the North Sea and circuit training.
I had a cracking time while at Northern Bootcamp and the quality of the healthy food served at the boot camp encouraged me to buy the Bootcamp Kitchen Recipe Book (£):
Team Bootcamp is based at Bridgenorth in Shropshire, operating military-style boot camps.
Founded by people who themselves have experience of training to lose weight and get into shape, these residential boot camps have two key aims. One is to give attendees an opportunity to get away from their day to day environment and reset their lifestyle, kickstarting revamped health and fitness regimes. The other is to maximise weight loss within a short time frame.
Multi-week residential camps focusing on weight loss as well as one- and two-week residential boot camps count among the packages offered by Team Bootcamp. Attending means an opportunity to combine glamping with tailored physical exercise during boot camp training
Xtreme Bootcamps has two bases in Worcestershire. One is at Malvern St James the other is near Stourbridge.
Open to attendees aged 16 and over, Xtreme Bootcamps emphasises how tough its programme is on its website. It operates weekly residential camps plus transformation packages that involve attending four week-long boot camps over the course of 12 months.
These residential bootcamps in the Midlands aim to help people lose weight, get fitter and learn tips which can be integrated into a healthier lifestyle. Lectures and seminars feature as part of the programme.
Training methods include peripheral heart action training (PHA Training), paddle boarding and boxing. Strength and conditioning training features in addition to fitness sessions.
Residential boot camps in the UK
This post is by no means an exhaustive list of residential weight loss retreats and fitness boot camps in the UK. There are, of course, others including:
Body and Mind Reboot operates UK-based residential camps at Bedford and Dunstable. There’s an emphasis on positivity and promoting positive mental health.
No.1 Bootcamp has its UK base in Norfolk with weekly camps operating from Saturday to Saturday.
FitFarms operates weight loss boot camps at locations scattered across England and Scotland as well as in the Republic of Ireland.
Reboot Dorset runs five-day residential fitness boot camps, beginning on Mondays, from a hotel overlooking England’s south coast.
Trimmer You Boot Camp is based in Mid Wales. It offers weekend and mid-week boot camps in addition to week-long options.
If you’d like to share your own experiences of attending a residential boot camp in the United Kingdom, please feel welcome to comment below.
Maybe you’ve attended a fitness boot camp or weight loss retreat that isn’t mentioned in this post? If you think it should be, please give it a shout out in the comments field below.
Alternatively, perhaps you’d like to share some bootcamp exercises that people can benefit from doing at home. If you do, don’t be shy, comment below.
Enjoy working out and staying or getting into shape.
Visit the websites of each of the residential boot camp businesses mentioned in this post for further information about their facilities, details of forthcoming camps and availability.
Prefer the idea of combining a fitness and weight loss boot camp with an international break? Several UK-based residential boot camp businesses also operate camps in warmer climes.
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