Boot camps may seem like a daunting experience for brides, but some, like the two-night package at Champneys Tring resort are a more gentle option and balance exercise with relaxation.
For those wanting to get into shape before the big day and escape the stresses of wedding planning, the Hertfordshire health spa in the middle of the countryside beckons.
HELLO! Online writer Ainhoa Barcelona braves a group weekend away of spinning, circuit training and calorie-controlled diets... and looks to the facials and massages at the end of the boot camp tunnel.
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Champneys Tring in Hertfordshire
How long is the boot camp for? 2 nights and 3 days.
What does the three-day schedule involve?
Looking at the rigidly scheduled programme, all I could see were scary words like "circuit training," "body conditioning" and "boxing workout". The nicer phrases like "snack," "treatment" and "dinner" seemed unattainable - I felt we'd never make it to those rest periods given our 7am starts. The fitness instructors did push us, putting us through a different activity an hour but the sessions were balanced out and went surprisingly fast. Fun I would even say.
We started the day with a calming yoga or pilates session, followed by a hike through the peaceful woodlands before the real exercise kicked off. We were encouraged to throw ourselves into new types of exercise - I discovered I actually quite enjoyed spinning, aqua aerobics and boxing my stress out. And the day ended at about 4pm, when we were treated to a massage or thalassotherapy session in the pools to ease our muscle pain.
As with any package, guests are allowed to use the gym, swimming pools, sauna and steam rooms at their leisure - the latter options being the best way to while away the time until dinner.
Activities are held outdoors in the beautiful country grounds
What spa treatments and extra classes are on offer?
The bootcamp package included a complimentary massage and thalassotherapy pool session, but guests can also book in to other spa treatments ranging from facials to hot stone massages.
Manicures, pedicures and haircuts are also on offer, as well as being able to stock up on Champneys products in the boutique. For the more active, you can also sign up to classes such as yoga, zumba and body sculpt in the studios.
Massages and pool therapy sessions were scheduled at the end of the day
What's the food like?
When we arrived at the boot camp, one of the first things we were told about was our diet and how we would be living off 1,500 calories a day for the women - the lucky men in the group were gifted 1,700 calories. There would be no alcohol, no caffeine and limited sugar and carbohydrates. For someone who loves to finish every meal with a sweet treat, alarm bells went off in my head.
Our first meal was lunch, which consisted of dry falafel balls in pitta with tzatziki and a plain side salad. And a shot of an appetite suppressant. This was not great. Luckily, it didn't set the tone for the rest of the stay. I was genuinely surprised by how much we could eat and survive on given the amount of exercise we were doing each day. Dinner that night was grilled asparagus and parma ham, followed by a chicken and chorizo bake.
Breakfast the next morning hit the same heights with smoked salmon and a poached egg on muffin, with turkey meatballs and courgette strips for lunch, and grilled sea bass with potatoes for dinner. We were even allowed a cheeky chilli and chocolate cheesecake on the second night. Just don’t try and push your luck by asking for a glass of wine - staff are on strict orders not to give boot campers any alcohol.
Apart from a controlled diet, we were also given a diet and exercise talk by a Champneys nutritionist, who busted food myths and taught us more than just the evils of carbohydrates. The weekend definitely taught me portion control and weaned me off naughty food, which I’ve been determined to keep to since.
The "mansion" wing of the resort
What are the venue and facilities like?
Champneys Tring was just an hour away from London, but once I got there, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere - in a good way. My phone signal conked out, (had I signed up to a digital detox as well as a boot camp?) and while rooms offered TVs, the general vibe was one of total relaxation and disconnection.
Apart from the fully equipped fitness centre and luxury spa area, the rest of the venue was just as appealing. You could sit and read in the lavish music and drawing rooms, unwind in the jacuzzi, have a drink in the outdoor terrace or play tennis and croquet in the gardens. The best part though was being encouraged to walk around in comfy bathrobes and slippers - all day long. Guests could even go to dinner without changing into proper attire.
Champneys Tring from the exterior
What are the pros of the boot camp?
I absolutely loved doing the boot camp and would definitely recommend this weekend one as a good starting point for those who want to get fit, revamp their exercise routine and try out new activities.
The venue itself is amazing and being able to balance exercise with total relaxation and spa treatments is a big plus. Coming away and actually retaining a healthy eating attitude is also something I thought wouldn't happen but it did.
What are the cons of the boot camp?
The different boot camp packages don’t come cheaply, but you definitely get what you pay for in terms of quality service, accommodation, sports facilities and luxury spa treatments.
Would you do it again? Yes
My overall rating: 8/10
Visit www.champneys.com for more information on packages and prices. Ten per cent of all Champneys Boot Camps will go to The Pink Ribbon Foundation as part of the Champneys National Campaign #inspireTHEnation - encouraging people to get outside, get fit and active this summer.