Up on the farm’s top field, at least sixteen of us make our way through eight circuit stations. This is ‘Outdoor Boot Camp.’ During the hour-long activity, it snowed. Not, I should add, anything that settled, but it did add a slightly romantic grit to the situation. With no reps set at each station, we’re instructed to just complete as many as we can. It’s an egoless, exhausting, wholesome environment. The personal trainers monitor each of us closely, taking care to correct our posture or remind us to engage our core.
“Is there a particular way I’m meant to do this?” I shout to Lucy as I lamely bounce a sledgehammer off a big rubber tyre.
“You’re just hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer, love. There’s not much more to it.”
This is typical of the sort of chat dealt out by the personal trainers during the Kickstarter Boot Camp. With unfailing enthusiasm and a good sense of humour, Lucy and Kate oversee three activities each over the course of the day. Forget visions of red-faced drill instructors screaming in your face; when the motive8 personal trainers shout, it’s only so you’ll hear them better.
Jenny Cromack, personal trainer and director at motive8 North, tells me that no one should worry about not being able to 'keep up' with the group. Each activity can be modified to suit the individual’s ability. In fact, when we talk on the phone a couple of days before Boot Camp, Jenny’s first question is whether I even exercise at all.
Sporty people - stay with me. Jenny is quick to assert that athletes will have much to gain from Boot Camp, too. The group sizes are small enough for a customised experience for everyone. In advance of the weekend, all clients will receive a free half hour consultation in order to discuss their goals and make sure they are placed in the right training sessions.
For my first session, I’m given the choice between ‘Freestyle Fitness Yoga’ or ‘M8 HIIT’ (high intensity interval training). I choose yoga, taught by Kate, whose class is a winning combination of non-stop movement and spiritual irreverence. Yoga, she warns us, isn’t the easy option. Indeed, it’s remarkable how quickly the cold hall began to warm up as the series of poses grew more and more complicated with each repetition.
“This is called the King Pigeon, guys,” Kate laughs, mid-contortion. “I’m not even making this up.”
Kate also instructs ‘M8 Pump’, motive8’s take on the popular barbell class. Her unofficial mantra: the tougher the better.
“Oh, these are my favourite,” she says, halfway through what feels like the millionth lunge of the session. My thighs are on fire. I want to stop, but I don’t because no-one else does. Alongside Kate’s maniacal encouragement, something of a herd mentality keeps us going.
When I looked at the timetable of events, I assumed we’d need a considerable lunch to keep us going. So, the modestly portioned meal placed before me made me anxious. ‘But,’ I thought, ‘I’ve just done press-ups in the snow.’
Yet the quinoa, bean and kale stew provided by Northern Monk’s legendary Grub and Grog restaurant was met with a positive reception by all. Once we’ve eaten, Jenny’s nutrition talk begins. Healthy food, Jenny explains, does not have to be synonymous with dull food. Our lunch was a case in point.
Several plates of butter and sugar are passed around the dining room. These, it turns out, are visual aids to show us the amount of sugar and fat in a range of much-loved meals. I’m faced with a strange desire to ‘unlearn’ the knowledge of how much sugar is in a portion of chicken tikka masala.
Jenny explains how hidden sugars are abound in not just savory meals, but also food that purports on its packaging to be nutritious. A word of advice: The healthy popcorn trend is a little mislead. Quite often the low calorific content only applies if you’re eating a small portion of the food. Trying to eat healthily without actively examining the ingredients label will leave you fumbling in the dark. Those Bran Flakes won’t stay healthy for long if you, like any normal person, fill an entire bowl with them. So. What should you do?
Jenny emphatically explains the importance of cooking with raw ingredients. That way, you can vouch that nothing you don’t know about has made it into your meal. Still feeling lost? motive8 Boot Camp can help you. During the weekend, the team’s chefs will create menus that you can take home and replicate. motive8’s main aim is to prove that a healthy lifestyle can be sustainable.
Jenny’s talk lasts for 30 minutes, after which it becomes apparent that we haven’t keeled over from hunger and are in fact, ready to face the final class of the day. It’s a powerful lesson about mind over appetite when it comes to portion sizes. Just imagine what you’ll learn over two more days.
A normal full weekend boot camp is held from Friday to Sunday. The schedule of activities is found on the website.
motive8 offer a 1 night, 2 night or 2 day non-residential boot camp for all of their dates. Prices start from only £169. Quote BC10 at check out to claim an exclusive Leeds Living reader 10% discount.