Now you can join celebrity boot camp

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL - BY LOUISE SCODIE

THINK CELEBRITY FIT Club but with­out the whing­ing self­serv­ing of celebrity par­tic­i­pants. That is NuBegin­nings, a new style weight­loss and well­ness re­treat in Devon, that is more about re­lax­ation, nur­tur­ing and re­train­ing than car­rot juice, cry­ing and self-flag­el­la­tion.

Based in a beau­ti­ful, tran­quil old house in Il­fra­combe, NuBegin­ning de­scribes it­self as “bou­tique boot-camp”. Here, in real peace and quiet, fan­tasies about a healthy mind and body can start to be re­alised. Each week around six strangers ar­rive to eat healthily and ex­er­cise un­der the watch­ful eyes of NuBegin­nings owner Vic­to­ria and her part­ner Frank, your car­ing and con­ge­nial hosts, guardians and mop­pers of brow, sweat and tears. Both have to­tal em­pa­thy with their charges — they are on the NuBegin­nings pro­gramme them­selves. They are mak­ing steady progress, and are pas­sion­ate about en­cour­ag­ing and in­spir­ing their guests.

No-non­sense fit­ness in­struc­tor Donna leads the all-im­por­tant ex­er­cise pro­gramme; the house is fully equipped with a gym and ex­er­cise stu­dio, and in sunny weather her cir­cuit ses­sions take place out­side, atop a hill. As Donna mea­sures my blood pres­sure, she asks how of­ten I ex­er­cise. I ad­mit to an av­er­age of once a week if I am lucky. She raises an eye­brow and I spy my blood pres­sure counter ris­ing too. Here, ex­er­cise is more of an hourly than a weekly event, but Donna as­sures me that it is done in an en­joy­able way in which ev­ery­body can join in. That’s handy, I think, as I strug­gle up and down a step dur­ing my fit­ness test, wheez­ing like an asth­matic wal­rus.

It is not all cir­cuit train­ing; you will find your­self in a bel­ly­danc­ing class at 7.45am at the start of your weight loss week. It’s a chance to shake your body be­fore you shape it up. Classes are held in a gym with spec­tac­u­lar views of the Il­fra­combe hills, a cheer­ing sight and one less dis­turb­ing than my shoddy shim­mies. All ex­er­cise is done as a group and the at­mos­phere is gen­er­ally fun and sup­port­ive. Many guests have not ex­er­cised for years, so if you are more used to the sofa than spin­ning classes, do not be afraid. Yoga and pi­lates also fea­ture; in­deed, you sam­ple so many ac­tiv­i­ties, you are bound to find some­thing you like enough to do at home. And that is ex­actly the point.

The ex­er­cise pro­gramme fea­tures some­thing novel for ur­ban­ites: hikes. Come rain or shine you hike — poles and ruck­sacks pro­vided. All you need are good hik­ing boots and faith in your own abil­i­ties and your hik­ing guide. Our guide, Bryan, was some­what be­mused by my JP strop at the start of our rainy walk: “I am slip­ping and I am not do­ing this!” He gamely holds my hand and coaxes me up a steep hill known as the Torrs Walk. What Bryan does not know is that I get my­self through the dif­fi­cult bits by think­ing about which Jimmy Choos to buy once I’ve sur­vived the out­doors. I do how­ever feel a great sense of achieve­ment when we fin­ish, by which time we have all eased into the coun­try­side ter­rain and en­joyed Bryan’s tale of a sheep and dog who once, fol­low­ing a short chase, fell off the side of the hill we have just climbed. Heart-warm­ingly, both sur­vived; the dog with noth­ing but a sprained paw and the lamb well ten­derised.

Vi­tally, a holis­tic approach is ap­plied to weight loss here; neuro lin­guis­tic p pro­gram­ming and hyp­nother­apy ses­sions, along with nu­tri­tion talks and cook­ery demon­stra­tions, help you to make real life changes. Vic­to­ria be­gins our hyp­nother­apy ses­sion by ask­ing about my diet. Af­ter three min­utes, she points out that I have men­tioned bread six times. We de­cide that she will work on my crav­ings for bread, and as she asks me to breathe deeply, I won­der if it is good­bye for­ever to chal­lah. There is cer­tainly none of that here. I nearly cry when served my first break­fast — a healthy (read small) por­tion of por­ridge with ba­nana, in­stead of my beloved Coco Pops, but it quickly be­comes clear that the or­ganic food is fresh, clev­erly put to­gether and packed full of bal­anced nu­tri­ents. You don’t have to think about what to eat; you just eat the meals, sip wa­ter and herbal tea in the lux­u­ri­ous din­ing room and con­cen­trate on be­ing looked af­ter. Veg­e­tar­ian op­tions are avail­able and dishes such as sea bass on fen­nel with Thai broth and but­ter­nut squash, and cur­ried chick­pea soup show that healthy food can be tasty and in­ter­est­ing.

Af­ter my time at the re­treat, I felt health­ier and more peace­ful. Many guests get their weight loss jour­ney off to a good start here, leav­ing with the tools and knowl­edge to cre­ate a slim­mer, health­ier life. Does it work per­ma­nently? That is up to you.

Gra­cious liv­ing: bou­tique boot camp at NuBegin­nings in Il­fra­combe

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