I never ever saw myself at a bootcamp, let alone enjoying it. But two weeks ago Clare and I spent six days pushing ourselves as far as we could go in The New Forest in Hampshire at PUSH Mind and Body and found to my limitless surprise that I absolutely loved it. Yes, that really is me above on the bridge.
Unlike normal, I actually packed a pretty good kit – I had scampered off to Gap, which handily has a branch a block away from me in Camden, and bought up half the Gap Fit section. This turned out to be a brilliant move, in that everything I chose was of really excellent quality, made from performance fabrics, and designed to help the body move. It also all washed and dried like a dream.
There were however a few things I really wished I had brought with me – like exercise gloves, when we were raising tree stumps over our heads fifteen times in a row. But, as I had no idea such a thing even existed, I could be forgiven for not packing any.
Then there were the things I threw in at the last minute, like a Gap cashmere beanie, which I ended up wearing every single day at 7am when my ears were so cold I thought they might get frostbite.
We were there in mid April, and it was exceptionally cold at 7am, during our first outdoor fitness session, but then lovely and warm in the afternoons, so do take that into consideration when reading this. If going in the winter I would pack exactly the same kit, with a lot more layers, adding in some Uniqlo HeatTech and more down. And longer socks to avoid bare ankles. Brrrrrr.
TRAINERS: I had my gait analysed recently at the Nike store in Covent Garden, and discovered that the reason I am always turning my ankles over is because I overly pronate. A pair of extremely supportive trainers were produced with solid built up heels and sides to keep my feet from turning in when I run. These were the brilliant and very comfortable Nike Lunarglide 6 (above). For more relaxed sessions, stretching etc I wore a pair of luminous pink Nike Free 4.0 Flyknits.
WALKING BOOTS: Marked as optional, but I think they are essential. We took a 2-3 hour hike each afternoon through and around The New Forest. Trainers were perfectly adequate, but the ground was often both uneven and boggy, and the cushioned support to soles and firm support ankles that is given by proper boots was invaluable. (One girl twisted her ankle, which would have been avoided in proper boots.) My boots are a battered fifteen year old pair of Hi-Tecs, and I absolutely love them. They’ve been around the world with me, and are still going strong.
The nearest I can find are these are these Hi-Tec Altitude Women’s Hiking Boots (£36) with some lovely modern touches, including a dri-tec waterproof membrane, ortholite sockliners and a Vibram outsole.
KEEPING WARM: Even though temperatures were reaching 20C during the day, it was very cold and often misty at 7am in the morning. I took the afore-mentioned Gap cashmere beanie, which I wore without fail every day, and a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Compact Jacket (£39.99) to wear over everything.
I also wish I’d bought an Ultra Light Down Vest. One day I even wore a long woollen John Smedley scarf wrapped around my neck until I had warmed up.
ACCESSORIES: Sunglasses, both for exercising outdoors, and for hiking. For the former I took my blue camouflage Polaroids, (reduced to £33.55 on Amazon) and for the latter the biggest pair I own, as I am pathological about avoiding sun damage on my face. They were the MaxMara MM001/S £105)
A waterbottle – vital. Get a BPA free one with a teat – like this – so you don’t have to keep unscrewing it.
Gloves – not leather ones, but proper exercise gloves like wot weightlifters or runners use. At bootcamp you will be doing terrifying sounding things like log lifts, and possibly crawling along the floor. You will need gloves. These ones are good.
I took both headphones and wellies for the walks, but never used them.
GYM KIT: Investing in a pile of proper sports kit at GAP the day before I left was the best thing I could have done. Usually I exercise in ropey old leggings and old T shirts, but I’ve really been made aware at bootcamp of the difference that well fitting and supportive gym kit has both on your psychological outlook and your performance.
Layering was the key during the week. My T shirts of choice were the GapFit Breathe V-neck T (above) £16.95 in True Black (dark grey) and in three various pale blue colours for £7.99. I wore these over the vests and under a long sleeve T if it was really cold, and on their own with the vest top for the afternoon hikes on the very hot days. The breathable, lightweight, shape retentive knit keeps you cool during your workout, and maintains dryness by pulling moisture away from your skin.
I found that long, ankle length leggings were best for the works outs. I mainly wore GapFit gFast leggings in Black and in Grey (above) £29.95 I love them because they are very thick and supportive, and their four-way stretch allows freedom of movement. They’ve got the obligatory flat-locked seams to prevent chafing, and the Signature Perform fabric is wicking.
I also bought several pairs of their excellent Moto gFast leggings, which are in the sale here for a bargainous £15.99.
I hate having cold ankles, and several of the sessions were held in an old barn so longer leggings meant no scraped shins. That being said, the afternoons were very warm and I wore GapFit gFast mesh-cuff 21″ capris or cropped leggings for the afternoon hikes.
Because of the barn, long sleeved crew necked work out Ts (above) worn over the vest tops were vital for the indoor workouts, as there was a lot of pushing against breeze block walls and cement floors with forearms – the thumb openings were great because you could pull the sleeves over your hands if you weren’t wearing gloves.
I bought several GapFit Breathe long-sleeve tees (£19) True Black (dark grey). They’re breathable, wicking and lightweight to keep you cool during your workout.
Over all that I wore a soft exercise jacket – like a zip up fitted sweatshirt -the GapFit Train jacket (£39.99) which again is made from wicking, four-way stretch, with those brilliant long sleeves with thumb openings, or my Nike Rain Runner, and over that either a Gap windcheater (above) or my Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Compact Jacket.
For the final session of the day, the 4pm core and stretching class, I wore a great pair of JD Sports’ Pure Simple Sport Court Tights, which have a soft very high waistband that can be rolled up or down as you like. I wear these a lot on planes too, as I hate having cold kidneys and I can pull them right up to my ribcage. They’re also super soft and comfortable for travelling.
In the evenings I wore the insanely comfortable cuffed GapFit stripe-panel pants Black £34.95. Green £22.95, and they’d be great for yoga too.
UNDERWEAR: My favourite BRA was the Royce Impact Free Sports Bra, which goes up to a 32J. (£30) It’s not underwired, but support comes from its wide concealed underband. The straps are padded, and the seamless inner cups wick away moisture. It fastens with velcro and hooks. I don’t like running, so I didn’t go any great distance in this, but when boxing, sprinting, using the TRX and skipping I never felt unsupported, bouncy or in danger of two black eyes.
I also took Freya’s Active Underwired Crop Top Sports Bra (£40), which was my choice over the first three days of bootcamp. It has foam moulded cups, which I normally don’t love – it’s not like I need any padding, but I found it extremely supportive and well-fitting. The only issue is that by day three the underwire was really digging into my ribcage. I suspect that this is a great bra for gym or running sessions, just not for wearing eight hours a day.
I also wore a fitted vest top with a supportive elastic bra shelf, the GapFit racerback tank with built-in bra, (£19.95) Pictured at very top to give me extra support over my sports bra, and often got so hot that I stripped down to the vest. I have never ever worn a vest to exercise in before (bingo wing paranoia), but these ended up being vital and I wish I had bought one for every day of the week.
I got through at least three pairs of socks a day (groo – sweaty). My favourites were GAP’s Performance athletic ankle socks in Navy £4 (also available in Yellow & Orange), and for the afternoon hikes I wore a pair of normal socks over the top of them to protect my feet from blisters whilst in walking boots.
Lots of pairs of knickers, obviously. And make them plain, high leg, and cotton. Mine were lace-trimmed boy shorts and they, er, chafed around the legs
LOVELY THINGS TO PUT IN YOUR BATH: I took Deep Heat Muscle Rescue Bath Soak, used Epsom salts each night, and Clare and I got through half a vast bottle of delicious L’Occitane Verveine bubble bath. L’Occitane refreshing Shower Gel made a nice pick me up before bathtime.
FIRST AID: Lots of protection for your feet. Astonishingly I didn’t get any blisters, but I arrived with one, so Compeed Blister Pain Relieving Plasters were vital, in medium and in small sizes (Boots also do a good own brand). I also took Moleskin and a pair of scissors, just in case. I should have bought my Compeed Anti-Blister Stick too. I took ibuprofen and paracetamol, along with ibuprofen gel. In the end, I only used the ibuprofen for a headache as, although my right knee became sore, I didn’t want to mask the pain and over-stress the injury.
It was nice having a very light scent to spray around in the evenings after sloughing off the day’s grime. I took a little bottle of Keihl’s delicious Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit Fragrance.
PUSH Mind and Body
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