New Year New You Bootcamp!
A loud, unexpected and involuntary YES escaped from my lips. I think I might have punched my fist into the air if my hands hadn’t been full of barbell! This public display of enthusiasm was brought about by my personal best power clean1at 45 kgs. Not a huge weight by weight lifting or Crossfit standards but for me, a real achievement and a bit of a journey to this pinnacle.
2018 heralded my 40th birthday and I just wasn’t who or where I wanted to be. For someone who had always been sports mad, fit and full of energy I had somehow lost my way. I had put on weight, was drinking too much (not epic proportions, just a couple glasses of wine a day, but too much for me) and was thoroughly miserable.
It’s not that I hadn’t tried to get back into a regular regime, I had. I just couldn’t keep up the momentum. I needed to do something, and I needed more than just the ubiquitous quick fixes splashed across the covers of the January issue of many glossy magazines.
I had joined Crossfit Fareham in September 2017 in one of my many bids to regain my former vigour and it was during one of my infrequent visits that one of the girls mentioned Bootcamp. I didn’t know it at the time but this short conversation was to change my life.
Bootcamp, or the New Year New You Bootcamp at Crossfit Fareham, is certainly not your traditional drill sergeant led, sadistic, scare you into submission training programme. It is small group personal training three times per week over eight weeks – sensibly starting the 2nd week in January, giving additional time to recover from the excesses of the festive season!
The primary aim of Bootcamp is fat loss. It is geared towards anyone wanting to kick start a new fitness regime or reinvigorate an existing one. Bitter experience has taught me that just exercising, but maintaining bad food habits or just following a restrictive diet with minimal exercise won’t produce the desired or sustainable results.
The mantra at Bootcamp, and it appears the Crossfit community at large, is that ‘you cannot out train a bad diet’. Therefore, an audit on our diet and eating habits was, unsurprisingly, one of the first steps in the process. This session was conducted with Neil, one of the trainers who is an expert on nutrition, and took the form of a Biosignature Modulation, which measures body composition. I personally call it the ‘pinch test’ as it involves measuring sub cutaneous fat storage at predefined points on your body using callipers!
The results of the Biosignature allowed Neil to gain information not just on how well I process certain foods but also on sleep quality, stress levels and hormone imbalances – all of which can inhibit fat loss results.
My Biosignature revealed that I don’t have a great relationship with complex carbohydrates, that I was quite stressed and had issues with toxicity – most likely caused by over indulgence of alcohol. From here Neil was able to produce a tailor made nutritional plan ensuring I would receive the correct balance of nutrients to achieve optimal fat loss. There was to be no alcohol and a significant reduction in carbohydrates. At this point I was 70kg – a good 7kg more than I wanted to be.
The physical training itself came next. The training times were pre determined at the start so there was no excuse for not having them planned into your schedule – the age old excuse of ‘I just don’t have time’ was not permissible! In fact, as the financial outlay for Bootcamp was significant, my long suffering husband, having witnessed many of my doomed previous attempts to get fit, had actually threatened divorce if I didn’t attend every session!
I must admit that I was quite apprehensive on my first day of training, as I didn’t know what to expect. As there were only three people in my group there was a lot of individual focus and instruction, which was a great confidence boost as you knew that you were performing the movements correctly and safely. Initially, I kept the weights quite low, as I was worried about mobility the following day. It has been many a time I have had to use the lift at work after a session in the gym!
We completed five sets (rounds) of six-twelve repetitions of a range of different exercises, focusing on different muscle groups. All the exercises were aimed at fat loss and sculpting and were not regular Crossfit movements. By the end of the first week I was already feeling much fitter and stronger, and much more positive in general. Also, 1kg lighter!!
As the weeks progressed the programme changed so that each day varied, different muscles were used and diverse areas of the body targeted to continue to aid weight loss and tone us up. The coaches also varied between Neil, Shane and Matt, all of whom are excellent but have different approaches and areas of specific interest, so I felt that I was learning something new from each.
There was also a conditioning element to each day’s programming that consisted of a more cardiovascular focused exercise such as rowing or shuttle runs with the prowler (weighted sledge). Generally with this type of activity I find I give up as the pain sets in but I was determined to not let that happen. To motivate myself when the going got tough I imagined I was being chased by flesh eating zombies or that I was a running away from a gun wielding enemy! It worked! I continued at the fastest pace I possibly could throughout, to the point where I really couldn’t have done more - so would probably have come to a sticky end in my imagined scenarios!
I struggled initially with getting my diet right. During week two I was finding myself feeling a little lighted headed and unable to concentrate at work at times. I went back to the plan Neil had given me and although I was getting the right number of calories I wasn’t getting the balance between protein, carbohydrates and fats. It turned out that I could actually eat a lot more than I thought but I just needed a different mix. I recalculated everything and worked out a two-day menu that was easy to prepare and stick to. I felt much better straight away – no hunger pangs and lots more energy. I did find it more difficult at weekends as there is no routine or structure in our house but I stuck to the basic principals and that seem to work.
Each week I could see small improvements in definition and tone, but I felt changes too. I started to feel stronger and more confident – in general and not just whilst completing the exercises. My positivity increased and mood also changed. I started to feel like my old self again, where anything was possible. As the weeks progressed I started to look forward to going to the sessions and just attending wasn’t enough – I wanted to achieve. This was a real breakthrough for me, putting in max effort and not quitting – there were definitely some ‘died and gone to hell’ moments but surprisingly I loved it.
The last couple of weeks of training I thought a great deal about what to do when Bootcamp finished – things were improving exponentially but I still felt I had a long way to go with weight, shape and strength. I was worried that once outside the Bootcamp ‘bubble’ I would find it hard to maintain the momentum. I discussed this with the coaches and finally signed up to a full membership of Crossfit Fareham. This meant I could use the gym for classes or for working on my own training if my schedule meant that the class times didn’t fit in. Throughout the training programme I had felt that I was building the foundations needed to really attack classes once Bootcamp finished so this seemed like a sensible solution.
Once the last training session was over I just had one last Bootcamp task left – another Biosignature to find out how much progress I had made. In all honesty, whatever the figures came back with I would have been happy. I felt like a different person. On the scales I had only lost 3kg but I fitted back into my jeans and I felt I could take on the world! As it happens my results were really encouraging. I had lost 4.1% body fat and the weight lost was all fat as my lean muscle mass had also gone up.
Mentally and physically I am now a different person. The £400 Bootcamp price tag was a stretch for me but I can’t begin to describe how much of a worthwhile investment it was. It certainly did what it said on the tin – New Year New You -and I am definitely a fitter, healthier and happier person.
I cannot thank the coaches enough for the advice and support throughout the eight weeks. It changed my life and continues to each day. I am now a regular at the Crossfit WODS2, I took part in the 2018 Crossfit Open, I attend weight lifting classes each week to help improve my performance and I have found a community of like minded and inspirational people to hang out and sweat with.
For me, exercise is no longer about losing weight or how I look – it is about how I feel. It is about seeing what I can achieve by putting in the effort. At the gym they use #heresyourbarnowraiseit – well I am raising mine, not just in the gym but across all areas of my life.
1 Movement of the bar from the ground to the front of the shoulders
2 Work Out of the Day