Ah what a beautiful morning. I wake up naturally, before my alarm (yay, already winning), and bask in the smugness that I’m going to feel on excellent form ready for the day’s long list of activities.
Yesterday we were given today’s timetable of events and well, let’s just say it’s pretty intense. But, as I’ve said, I’m already winning because the day doesn’t officially start until 7am when it’s juice o’clock, and I am up and dressed ready for a run in the Somerset countryside.
Life is good!
We all gather in the kitchen of the main house and are welcomed with a vibrant green juice, which has the insane power of making you feel healthy simply by looking at it. I’m always a bit dubious of green juices, I mean I know people say they like them, but do they…do they really? I tentatively sip the juice, mentally blocking out the thought of what I would really like to be drinking at that time in the morning – coffee all the way – and hang on a mo, this is actually really nice. Like, really, really nice. Who knew apple, spinach and lemon juice could taste so good? Ellie surely must have snuck some kind of delicious tasting elixir in there, right? Nope, it’s just pure and natural health in a glass and I’m relying on this to power me up until breakfast.
Now, this I can do!
Having started running in April this year, I’m certainly not the fastest runner out there, but I’ve got enough grit and determination in me to keep going, and although I can’t say I love it, if you’ve read some of my running posts, it turns out I’m pretty good at it. So when I read that the first real bit of exercise we’d be doing was going out for a 5k run, or a hike for those that didn’t want to run, I was beside myself with joy. This was something I knew, something I felt comfortable with and something I knew I wouldn’t let myself down with.
Clomping through long, dew sodden grass, nimbly skipping over fresh cow pats (or in my case sliding right through them – seriously I literally have zero grace) this was the perfect way to start the day and my positivity levels were on maximum turbo charge. I charged through the final stretch of the run, powering through to get back first (yep OK so I may be just a little bit competitive and yes it did feel amazing to have ‘beaten’ the youngsters) only to be greeted with the news that it was foam rolling time.
Out come those instruments of medieval torture, ready to mangle my muscles to within an inch of their puny little lives. Yesterday I might not have felt much, but jeez those calves certainly took a beating with that running.
Foam rollers – 1 v’s Me – 0
It’s breakfast time and it’s my best ever breakfast…Porridge! My love for porridge is probably bordering on something unhealthily obsessive. Feeling sad? Eat a bowl of porridge. Need a hug? Porridge. Starving and need food RIGHT NOW?! Porridge. Honestly, porridge is the answer to all your problems, so serve me up a yummy, warming and jauntily accessorised (I’m talking shredded apple, almond scattered, cinnamon sprinkled) and I am your friend for life. Wow this day is going amazingly well so far; great exercise, best breakfast, hmmm I’m liking this fitness retreat lark.
Things are about to change…
It’s fitness assessment time!
In order for James and David, the Target fitness retreat trainers, to fully assess where our current fitness levels and strengths and weaknesses lie, we must all take part in the fitness assessment. This involves a kind of mini sports day-esque course with three different stations in which we must complete different sets of exercises, whilst being timed. The idea being that this will be repeated at the end of the retreat to see if our times have improved.
The three stations being:
- Sprint shuttle runs x 20
- Press ups x 20, Squats x 20, Burpees (arghhhhh!) x 20
- Ladder runs and Mini hurdles x 20
Sounds a lot right? But when I stood there looking at the course, it didn’t look so bad. I mean, what, so that’s 100 things in total, that wouldn’t be so bad…
I thought I was relatively fit, certainly compared to the average person out there, but man that course was tough with a capital T. I started off with the sprint shuttle runs, which got harder and harder the nearer to 20 I got and although the competitive streak in me wanted to go at it the hardest and fastest I could possible go, sadly my legs didn’t quite get that memo.
Followed by 60 lots in total of the meanest moves in fitness, which pretty much finished me off, but oh no there’s still that ladder run thing to go. Go on then, let’s crack on and get this over with.
I did it, well I’m not one for giving in, but it certainly wasn’t pretty, it was done in my own rather unique style (think legs flailing out in all directions and some flappy arm movements) and there was a lot of mental swearing going on in my head. Time to lie down and rest…
Nope, dream on, it’s core and posture conditioning time!
Turns out, what we’d done so far was actually a breeze and if I thought that by doing a few ab crunches and planks at home it would help me out, I was seriously mistaken. I think that after having children, all women struggle with their core. I’m not making excuses and I’m not saying it can’t be remedied, but it is an ongoing battle. The core and posture conditioning exercises highlighted to me just how unstrong I am in that area, and although I came away feeling somewhat deflated about how hard I had found it, on reflection as I’m able to think about what positives I can get from this, it has motivated me to do something about it.
Lesson one: Core is Core Grade: C (for could do better!)
Slightly concerned as I’m aching already and um well it’s only been half a day…but oh the powers of a restorative lunch. Ellie works her magic again and refuelled, ready for the afternoon I am firing on all cylinders once again.
When I first arrived at the retreat yesterday, I’d wandered around the grounds and noticed a couple of tractor tyres leaning against an apple tree. “Oooo how country quaint”, I had thought to myself as I naively took a couple of photos. Well, yeah as I’m sure the more cynical of you have already guessed those tyres weren’t put there for decoration, they were, as I was about to find out, a huge part of the outdoor bootcamp.
Bootcamp is hard, it uses all muscles, it stretches you, it tries to break you, but do you know what, in a slightly sick, sadistic kind of way, it is also incredibly fun too. A mixture of hill sprints, tyre jumps, tyre flips, sandbag lunges, weighted ball toss and various rope based exercises; think kids obstacle race on steroids. Again, I’m sure I looked awful doing it, but hey who realistically doesn’t? I mean I know all these images we see on Instagram suggest perfect, sweat and shine free faces, glossy tamed locks and toned designer clad bods, but the reality is bright red, dripping sweaty faces, frizzy flyaway follicles and a too tight sports bra or lycra clad sausage legs. I don’t care what people say, but we ALL look like that when we workout, so just accept it, embrace it and workout – phew rant over!
Best bits of bootcamp? I loved the weighted ball toss, the rope flings and I kind of liked the hill sprints. Lows? The stacked tyre jump became my ultimate nemesis and if looks could kill, those tyres would’ve been flatter than my chest in my sports bra (I’m talking pre-pubescent flat!)
The highlight of my day was the boxing padwork, it’s become my new favourite thing. I’ve tried a little bit of box cardio at home in the past and have always really enjoyed the explosive actions and the great stress relief that it brings, but this was the first time that I had done it wearing gloves and hitting pads with a sparring partner. It was so much fun and brought some light relief after a very tough day. Don’t get me wrong, it was still physically demanding, but through the beat of the music (naturally ‘Rocky’ and ‘Eye of the Tiger’ had to be there), the best partner (thank you Christine, you were amaze!) and the knowledge that this was the last activity of the day, boxing is up there in my best retreat memories. Oh and for the record, I wore the pink boxing gloves, which complimented my complexion perfectly 😉
Hot tub party for 6 before dinner helped ease all of our aching muscles, Ellie cooked up a storm in the kitchen once again (healthy sticky toffee pudding – yep for real!), the team bonded over cards, in bed by 10pm – what a fab day.
Check back tomorrow to see how I coped on Day 3 of the fitness retreat…
(Missed yesterday’s post? Don’t worry, you can read it here!)