Editor, Sadie Macleod, discovers a world where luxury and fitness go hand in hand
‘Luxury’ and ‘bootcamp’ – two of my favourite words, and they so very rarely go together. But when they do, it’s as if all my Christmases have come at once. Now for two more of my favourite words “Forest Fit”, the new luxury bootcamp brought to you by the very clever folks at the Limewood Hotel and it’s rather fab Herb House Spa. This bootcamp does not feel like a bootcamp at all, but rather, a lovely spa break in the New Forest with lots of good healthy food, gorgeous surroundings, sumptuous accommodation, exceptional fitness classes, fantastic bike rides, indulging treatments and a dedicated team of experts to whip you (not literally though in this case) into shape. In fact, you will be so relaxed that your exhausted arms, aching abs and your tired thighs will almost (I said almost) go unnoticed. Because, although it doesn’t feel like a bootcamp – your body will certainly tell you otherwise.
The hotel takes up to six women per bootcamp (no men allowed). Keeping numbers small ensures that each woman’s needs are met and allows for the bootcamp to be tailored to you personally. No one is forced to do anything they don’t want to do, and if there is something that a client wants that is not on the schedule, then it is quickly sorted for them. The retreat begins with a phone call from Dawn, the lovely Assistant Fitness Manager and cardio queen. She asks questions like “What are you hoping to get out of the bootcamp?”, “Is there anything you can’t eat or don’t like?” and “What is your fitness like at the moment?”. This all helps her and the team put together a bespoke programme that will not only help you whilst you are at the hotel but also ensure that you take away as much as possible from your time there and continue the good work at home.
On arrival, I was met by the Fitness Manager John, who oversees the Forest Fit programme, and taken on a brief tour of the spa – which immediately whetted my appetite for the days to come. Imagine marble clad heated rooms, power rain showers and a sauna that has the view of the forest. Not to mention, state of the art fitness equipment set amongst white washed walls, slate paneling and duck egg blue finishings – my idea of exercise heaven. It wasn’t long before we were given a quick, light, raw (and completely delicious) lunch from the Raw & Cured restaurant and then put through our paces though as Dawn quickly scooped us up and took us on a brisk walk through the New Forest countryside. So far, so chilled.
We were then ushered straight into a Pilates class – something I had never tried before – as I have always been skeptical that it wouldn’t really make me feel as though I was getting a good work out in. How wrong I was. As lovely as the instructor, Juliette was, she was tough and made sure that I was going to feel her class in the morning. Pilates is fantastic for dancers and for people with a particular injury as it focuses on realigning the body and building strength. I was soon told that I needed to build up my core to support my lower back – something that I have always known but never really admitted to myself. That’s what places like this do. They make you get real with yourself.
After Pilates, it was some downtime in the ah-mazing bedroom (slash two story cottage), so I indulged in a (roll-top) bath (that had views of the forest beyond) and luxuriated in all the wonderful Bamford products. Heaven. After spending a suitable amount of time ensconced in the fluffy bathrobe, my tummy soon told me it was supper time – I had, after all, worked up quite an appetite and was looking forward to trying out the renowned Hartnett Holder & Co Restaurant. Luckily, I did not have the panic of menu confusion as John had already gone through with us the best options for supper and although we weren’t obliged to go with his choices, if we didn’t want to undo all the hard work of the day then it seemed a sensible idea. And so I chose the mackerel and avocado – full of good oils and fats that would only assist me in my Forest Fit journey. And it was delicious. Other detox dinners were not a patch on this culinary marvel – it is very VERY rare to get such fantastic food whilst on bootcamp.
The following days were physically much tougher and I quickly realised that day one was a bit of a warm up for the pain to come: John took me through a water workout which dispelled any thoughts of the stereotypical water aerobics – grandmas in bathing suits rocking it out to 80’s tunes is not really my style. Stuart, the strength and conditioning expert, who also happens to be easy on the eye (having just slated Grandmas’ style I am now beginning to sound like one!) then took over and took us for a long bike ride and forest circuits. I hate circuits at the best of times but it certainly did help that this particular class was conducted in beautiful surroundings and fresh air. Using nature for gym equipment I was made to bench press logs, squat using bridges for support, and even sprint around fallen branches.
All of this hard work was intercepted by delicious raw bites and smoothies from the Raw & Cured restaurant and lots of water. We also cycled to the fabulous sister hotel – more boutique in style but just as well-known for its food, where we had a spot of lunch before journeying back on the bikes. The bootcamp finished with yoga. It was at this point that I realised just how tired I was (falling asleep during Shavasana is not really the done thing). But any pain (I ached for days afterwards), or exhaustion was worth it. For the fitness was great for my body, and the forest was good for my soul.
For more information visit www.limewoodhotel.co.uk