5 Boot Camp Lessons

boot camp lessons

Hiking in the Welsh mountainsI’ve just returned from my first-ever intensive training retreat, feeling a little sore but full of good intentions and with plenty of boot camp lessons to take with me. Thanks to a couple of very stubborn colds and an also-very-stubborn runner’s knee, I haven’t been exercising much since December. Recently I’ve been putting much more focus on my health and wellness, so what better way to kickstart it all with a week of exercise out in the fresh air, nutritious food, and lots of sleep?!

We arrived in Gobowen, Wales, on Monday and so had three full days of circuits and hiking, with healthy meals throughout. A typical day would look like this:

7am circuit training (tabata / high-intensity interval training)
8am breakfast
9.30am circuit training, boxing, running with a snack break
1pm lunch
2.30-4.30pm hilly hike with a snack break
6pm dinner
Optional yoga (using my iPhone app), sports massage and/or hot tub session
9pm bed!

Here’s a little video from our final day, a full-day hike through the beautiful Welsh countryside: snow, waterfalls, and, of course, lots of sheep:

We burned an average of 4,000 calories a day and each of us has lost both pounds and inches. More importantly, however, I think we’ve been given a lot of food for thought (*hoho*) that we can take home and continue to reflect on. Our instructors, both with over 20 years of experience in the military and really lovely guys, were full of wisdom and positivity. I think their little maxims are applicable not just to fitness but also to life.

Here are 5 boot camp lessons from our 3 days in Wales:

1. “Visualise your goals”

Welsh countryside
Some of the views during our full-day hike on the final day

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of goals. Goals can give you a sense of purpose in life, focus your limited time and energy on what’s really important, and motivate you to achieve something that is meaningful to you. This week at boot camp, we were asked to define our goals on Monday, and encouraged to remember them and to really focus on them throughout the week. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, then how can you ever get there? Visualising what you’re trying to achieve, and keeping it top of mind, will make you work that little bit harder and help you not to get distracted.

2. “You won’t be an achiever if you’re not a believer”

I’ve written about this before, too: although you may have set fantastic goals with the best of intentions, you might be held back by your limiting beliefs. You have to believe that you’re going to achieve your goals, or you’ll never get there. Maybe you tell yourself you don’t have time, or your job is too stressful, or you can’t afford it, or some other justification for why your goal is just too hard to achieve. Whatever the reasons – excuses – you give yourself, you need to break these down before you’ll make a breakthrough. Reframe your beliefs in positive terms: I can make time, this is a priority, I choose this over that, I’m strong, I can do this!

3. “The only thing that stands in your way is you”

Boot camp lessons - HIIT exercises
A few of the circuits we were put through

It’s definitely easy to blame other factors for your own weaknesses: you can’t say no when your colleagues pass around a pack of biscuits, your friends encourage you to have another drink or to eat that dessert at the weekend, your husband says you’re being silly. Ultimately, however, these are your goals, you are the one who will achieve them, and you are the only one who will stand in your way. Nobody is forcing you to act in a particular way and you can choose to be strong, choose to resist, choose to make your own choices. It can be incredibly empowering when you recognise that you are in control of your own actions and you really take ownership of your goals and your behaviour. At the end of every day, ask yourself: did my actions today move me closer to my goals? If not, what I can I do differently tomorrow?

4. “Every movement you do chisels your body”

I think this was my favourite call to action of the week. Each and every thing you do, each time you work that little bit harder, each time you keep pushing yourself when you feel like giving up, you are having an impact on your body shape. Whatever the goal, we tend to think in terms of drastic changes, big leaps forward, good or bad. In fact, each and every small step we take will move us forwards; every single thing we do will have an effect (depending on the action, that effect will be positive or negative). We don’t need to think in such black-and-white terms, all or nothing. Knowing that every little thing we do will have an impact will help to motivate you to go that bit further when you don’t think you can.

5. “Don’t let your imagination be your limitation”

Boot camp lessons - The food at boot camp
Here’s a little selection of the food we were served during the week. Not bad, eh?

We did a huge range of different exercises throughout the week, with a minimal amount of equipment. The only things we had were mats, resistance bands, and boxing gloves. The world is your gym, whether you use lampposts or trees or fences, and you can even use your own body weight. I’m definitely guilty of blaming my irregular schedule and constant travel for making it very difficult to exercise – but that’s really a poor excuse! Aside from hotel gyms you can do all sorts of circuits in your room or out in the park. Same for food: the chef this week cooked up some very tasty and creative concoctions. Why not get resourceful and invent your own solutions with the materials and environment you have at your disposal?

The overall boot camp lessons are very much consistent with my own position on this blog: take control of your own life and career, set meaningful goals, and take one step at a time to get there.

Prestige Boot Camp runs boot camp retreats in Wales as well as Devon, Suffolk, Spain and Portugal. They also run sessions in Hyde Park – I went last year and it was great. They really care about the participants, it’s not some horrible shouty military mania, and the results are there as well.

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