I have never been ageist. I have always believed that you are the age you feel, and I have been pretty convinced that I am actually 24, and have been since I turned, well 24. However my impending 40th birthday has provoked a rather strong reaction within me. When I was presented with the idea of doing an Adventure Boot Camp (ABC), I immediately imagined heart failure, aneurysm and death – I haven’t done regular exercise for what seems like a millennium. I recall reading (always dangerous believing what you read!) that when you reach 40, you will remain the weight you are at, for the rest of your life. That may or may not be true but I ain’t taking that chance!
Overall my experience of ABC was positive. Week 1 and 2 are the most challenging, as one gets into the routine. Day 2 and 3 were the toughest, as my leg muscles took huge strain. However this stiffness dissipates over the period of the camp. I could feel a definite shift in energy levels; at the end of week 1 a fitness test is done to benchmark each campers current levels. The same fitness test is run on the last day of camp (week 4), to show how you have benefitted. The exercises vary day to day, with certain days focusing on full body and cardio, whilst others are more focused on arms, or legs and core strength.
Observations and tips
- Don’t be a hero: if you have been fairly inactive for an extended period of time, rather sign up for 3 days a week. Once you have completed your first camp, you can move to a 5 day routine. I found that setting such a high expectation for myself led to me feeling demotivated quite quickly.
- Take a friend: ABC does encourage a buddy system – each new camper gets 1 free buddy pass for one session. I think it best to sign up and attend with a friend – knowing someone is relying on you to attend acts as a great motivator. The majority of ladies attended with at least one friend.
- Be realistic: I decided to attend morning classes due to practicalities – two young daughters; a travelling husband and a job. However I have never been a morning person, so getting up at 5am was a huge challenge, especially in winter. Running around a clubhouse in 2 degree weather is not fun. Choose the time of day and season that best suits you – it means removing barriers to not attending camp.
- Set your own pace: ABC instructors encourage you to set your own pace. You will be pushed, especially after week 2, but that is not a bad thing – you are there to increase fitness after all. What I also enjoyed is the fact that I was not surrounded by stick-insect youths who were more interested in looking good than actually exercising. There is nothing glamorous about anybody at 5am! This was a group of mature women wanting to focus on their own health and wellness, and doing so with like-minded people. There will always be the competitive crowd, but fortunately maturity brings inner peace (or so they tell me). I ran at my own pace, and stopped when I needed to, and I didn’t feel embarrassed or self aware.
- Equip yourself appropriately: you will be required to bring an exercise mat, dumbbells and a water bottle. These are all necessary and used throughout the camp. Guidelines are offered in terms of weights – pick something reasonable within the weight range provided – see point 1! Dressing correctly is also important – winter was obviously a factor so the layered approach worked well. One does get warm quite quickly, but if you are doing slightly more stationary exercises like bicep curls, the body can cool down. My wardrobe of choice was exercise leggings, t-shirt, light sweater and then a warm top over that. I also used a beanie at certain stages due to the cold. Nobody cares if you are wearing the latest lycra bodysuit from Nike – wear something that will allow you to move with ease, and allows you to concentrate on the exercise, and not on whether your bum looks too big in the pants you are wearing. Good shoes are a must – there is a lot of running, walking, stepping and moving and you need to be comfortable.
- Use additional services on the site: the ABC website is a great portal, especially if you want to change your diet to support a weight loss goal. You can calculate your BMI, and based on the number of days you will be exercising, you will get a week’s eating plan. ABC also has an online nutritionist who can help with any individual queries.
- Know what your goals are: mine were weight loss and increased energy. I must say that I did not change my diet dramatically, but was more conscious of portion size, fat content in food, and eating smaller, but more frequent meals. The eating plan doesn’t encourage extreme changes, but rather focuses on a healthy change in food choices.
So was it worth it? Absolutely. I felt greatly energised after each session, and could feel a shift in overall energy levels. Climbing stairs is no longer a heart-attack inducing activity. It has also motivated me to continue with some form of exercise, be it at the gym, or going for a walk in the mornings before work. I have also found that I am sleeping better – almost as if I have earned it. Visit the ABC website and find the camp nearest to you – sign up – I dare you.
For further information follow the links alongside.