I decided to spend the week before my 40th birthday at The Body Camp Ibiza for two reasons: 1) because I thought the fitness retreat’s grueling regime (plus a healthy scoop of Spanish sunshine) would help me look hotter in my House of Hackney party frock, and 2) because a load of celebrities had visited (Caroline Flack, Mel C, Lisa Snowdon, Henry Holland, etc) and made it look glamorous on Instagram.
I was right on both the get-fit and the Insta-fabulous counts. Last week I came home from Body Camp three pounds lighter, with an inch off my waist and bust, a bit of a tan and more defined arms, legs, butt and abs. Plus I’d spent my stay in a rock star villa hanging out with a Dolce & Gabbana model, a man whose job it is to fly around the world interviewing Hollywood stars, and an agent who looks after stars of stage and screen. And I’d taken lots of pretty pictures for the ‘Gram.
But losing weight, acquiring a few freckles and getting my glam on was only the very tip of the Chris de Burgh (80s music is a Body Camp staple – more on this below). Because when I say this week changed my life, I really mean it. And here are six reasons why…
1) I learned to cook
I know; I should have acquired this life skill by the grand old age of 39 years and 51 weeks, but sadly my Pot Noodle habit has persisted. No more! Body Camp super chef Ben Whale not only whipped up delicious, 80% plant-based, gluten- and refined-sugar-free food, he demonstrated how we could cook some of his simple dishes ourselves, and explained the science and nutritional benefit behind this way of eating (buy his brilliant cook book HERE). Since leaving Body Camp (spurred on by the support of my glam new mate Sarah Macklin, the D&G model who also turned out to be a top nutritionist and all-round lovely person) I have created Thai green curry, chocolate and banana protein pancakes, coconut mango chia seed pudding, and pea and courgette fritters. And unfollowed Pot Noodle on Instagram.
2) I fell back in love with exercise
At Body Camp getting fit is properly fun. Ex-British Military Fitness trainer Rick is a proud mullet-owner who loves firing up the bad jokes, 80s tunes and Arnold Schwarzenegger motivational workouts, meaning you’re too busy laughing to notice you’ve just done your 138th press-up of the day. Then there are the Baywatch beach circuits (complete with Rick’s Hoff obsession, his red lifeguard jacket and super-friendly Chihuahua Pamba), glorious hilltop hikes and hilarious air guitar sessions. Because, as Rick constantly reminded us, exercise truly is a treat.
3) I became 33 years younger
Forget knocking off five years – in one week I rolled back more than three whole decades. How? By getting in touch with my inner child. It wasn’t just the preponderance of 80s classics that made me feel seven years old again, but the fact I was encouraged to let loose and do more of the stuff that made me feel joyous. And so I swam (and shrieked) in icy seas and swimming pools (while the weather was gorgeously sunny in April, the Ibizan water hadn’t yet got the summertime memo); told terrible pun-based jokes; took part in a spoof 80s music video of Robert Palmer's 'I didn't mean to turn you on' (click HERE to watch - and you'll find Body Camp music vids featuring Caroline Flack and Bryony Gordon in this link as well) and generally made a bit of a tit of myself, without worrying anyone would take the piss – they were all at it too!
4) I made friends for life
A Body Camp rule is that being judgmental of others is not allowed (neither is sneaking out to go boozing/clubbing at Pacha FYI). Turns out that the less you judge, the easier it becomes not to judge, and the less you feel judged by others. So even though I’d never met any of my fellow Bodycampers before, by the end of the week it felt like we’d all been mates for years. The environment is so emotionally safe and supportive, you feel free to be your true self. And what better foundation for a lasting, meaningful friendship?
5) I planned my future
While Body Camp is a brilliant overhaul for the body (both inside and out), it doesn’t stop there: an important part of the schedule is taking time to evaluate your life and your relationship with yourself. I realised I was guilty of being unnecessarily harsh on myself, and learned techniques for silencing my inner critic. I also loved the Body Camp’s ‘success triangle’, which sees you starting with ‘unconscious incompetence’ and working your way up through ‘conscious incompetence’ and ‘conscious competence’ until you reach your goal of ‘unconscious competence’, which is where you’ve learned how to make a habit of healthy, productive behaviour. Honestly a game changer.
6) I rediscovered the pre-kids me
Perhaps the best thing about Body Camp was spending seven whole days focusing on myself and the grown-ups around me. I’ve been a mum for more than eight years, and while it’s been incredibly rewarding, I’ve been through a number of identity crises as I’ve tried to assimilate the pre-kids me with the person whose job it is to keep two small people alive. Having this time to reestablish who I am and what matters to me was the best birthday present I could possibly have asked for. And I’ll be asking for it all over again when I’m 41…
With HUGE thanks to The Body Camp for having me to stay in exchange for Insta/blog coverage. Prices start from £1500 for a week at The Body Camp with 2018 programmes running from until November. Includes the programme, accommodation, all food and drink and an hour-long massage. Visit www.thebodycamp.com for more information.