The sun shimmers in the clear blue sky as the lush green trees sway gently in the warm breeze. I let out a loud yawn before taking a swig of my cool drink.
‘All right girls?’ I manage eyeing the 20 ladies lined up next to me.
They nod, their faces as flushed as mine. A dribble of sweat runs down my cheek and I change position.
But I’m not getting comfy on my sun lounger , lazing next to a crystal clear pool in a Spanish resort.
I’m in a field in the middle of the Derbyshire countryside, limbering up for something far more energetic than downing a tropical cocktail.
Suddenly, number one by Tinchy Stryder and N-Dubz blasts out. It’s 6.45am and time for early morning circuit training.
I’ve dusted down my trainers i haven’t worn since doing PE at school and slipped on a bulky sports bra, which looks more like a bulletproof vest, to keep my 36Ds in check. I’m now ready to get my size 14 bottom into gear.
A healthy holiday
However, we’ve only done the warm-up and I’m already sweating like a darts player who’s spied the basket meal menu in a crowded pub.
“ Thank God I’m only doing this for a day ,” I think, as I do two minutes of star jumps followed by skipping, spotty dogs, step-ups, shuttle runs, squats, box steps and lunges.
And I have to do it all twice more before I have my breakfast of beans and toast.
Hoping for a rest, I try to sneak off. But I’m soon spotted.
“Not so fast,” the instructor shouts, handing me a high-visibility vest so I can go for a nice 5k run down the country lanes. Then after a ‘snack’ – two crispbreads with a blob of cottage cheese – it’s time for nutrition class.
As the top diet expert explains the importance of drinking water and sprinkling seaweed on your salad, I enjoy the break form cardiovascular craziness.
But all too soon, it’s time for Music Blast. More circuit training, only this time using, among other things, an exercise ball, huge dumbbells and something that looks like a big blue hedgehog.
After I’ve found my tummy muscles, last used sometime in the late 1990’s, there’s time for lunch – a huge salad, washed down (half an hour later so not to dilute my digestive juices) with water or herbal tea.
After lunch it’s more Muscle Blast, then a seven-mile hike over what looks like pretty hills but felt like a Ben Nevis challenge.
My ears prick up when I hear whispers of an evening activity. But then I realise we’re not talking a visit to the bar or a spot of clubbing.
It’s more exercise, from line dancing to team games, for the size 18-30’s. This is a holiday, but not as you know it.
Welcome to FitFarms, where you pay £995 for a week of healthy meals, expert advice and at least eight hours of exercise every day.
And once you’ve survived the week, you’re given a three-month plan to take home with you.
The super-fit people behind the healthiest of holidays believe they can give us girls a kick-start into a new wholesome lifestyle.
“It’s beneficial for women to exercise together and spur each other on”, says Julie Brealy, health manager at FitFarms. “The team here get really involved in helping each person reach their goal.
“The course has been designed to suit all ages, sizes and fitness levels, so everyone can take part.”
The only thing that would hold you back from joining is the price tag. At nearly £1000 for a week, the camp isn’t cheap.
“It might seem expensive but the benefits can last a lifetime,” says Stephen Cole, MD of FitFarms. The care and attention each guest receives is second to none and they are coached, trained and advised on every step of their journey.”
To be fair, when I add up my last girly holiday to the Balearics, I realised that a week at FitFarms would cost me the same.
With about 20 women working out side by side, the vibe is positive and everyone’s encouraging each other. And now it’s more important than ever for women to look after themselves.
According to NHS statistics, obesity levels are rising in the UK every year. The most recent figures show 22 per cent of UK women are obese while 32 per cent fall into the overweight category.
With packed schedules, women in their twenties and thirties are prone to living on ready meals and enjoying nights out on the town.
“These lifestyles have led to almost a quarter of women aged 16-24 being overweight, with nine per cent obese. This figure leaps to a super-sized 17 per cent once women hit the 25-34 age group.
Friendly fat fighters
The NHS also found that only just over a quarter of women do recommended 30 minutes of physical activity, five times a week.
Holiday boot camps, like FitFarms, are cashing in on women’s desire for a quick fix.
“Since FitFarms was set up in 2007, we’ve been visited by 1,200 women,” says Stephen Cole.
The healthy holidays are run by a variety of experts ranging from a Michelin star chef, nutritionist and even a female footballer.
The fat fighters arrive as strangers but leave as friends – they even have the option of sharing bedrooms, school-trip style.
“FitFarms was set up to give women the chance to come away for a week with like-minded women, meet friends and kick-start a healthy lifestyle,” adds Stephen.
As I sweated my way through a gruelling day, i chatted to the ladies while they built up their muscles and confidence.
Singleton Alison Male, an IT worker from London , loved the FitFarms experience so much, she went back for more.
“As you get older, it’s hard to find a holiday for single girls,” Alison, 41 explains. “You often have to pay supplements when you go abroad and lots of my friends are coupled-up so not free for even a short break.
“When I found FitFarms, it was just what I needed – the chance to work on my unhealthy lifestyle, lose weight and make friends. I’ve just been back for my second week of exercise with some of the women I met before. Not only have I made some great mates, I’ve dropped from a 12 to a 10. It’s the perfect holiday souvenir.”
I don’t think I’ll be giving up my annual trip to Ibiza for 6am starts, star jumps and crispbread. It’s too much like hard work.
But I will be doing a few laps around the park before I head for the White Isle. If I can achieve results anywhere near those of the fat fighters at FitFarms, I’ll be bikini ready in no time.
For more info, visit www.fitfarms.co.uk, or call free on 0800 634 3070.
The Party Girl
“I went from Chubby Boozer to Buffed up Babe”. Julie Creffield, 31, is a business director from East London .
“Before coming to FitFarms, I was the ultimate party girl. I had a really rewarding but very stressful job in London , working for a community group. And knocking back wine, beer and cocktails after hours might have been on my job description.
“Squeezing in meeting my friends was hard enough, let alone finding the time to exercise. When I was younger I managed to do a bit of keep fit but my hectic lifestyle soon took over any kind of healthy plans I might have had.
“I’ve always been a curvy girl, going in and out in all the right places, just right for my 5ft 11in frame. But when I had to start buying size-20 clothes and tipped the scales at a whopping 17st 7lb, I knew it was time to take action.
“Instead of booking a week away in Spain or the Canaries, which would have definitely have made me fatter, I started looking for a healthy holiday instead. I didn’t want to go to a tough boot camp where men in combats shouted at me.
“So when I found FitFarms, I was really excited. It was a lot of money, but I’d saved up and the promise of slimming down meant it was worth it. Heading off to gorgeous country retreat surrounded by lush green lawns and trees, I was really excited. The health manager and her team were friendly while my fellow fat fighters were all as keen as me.
“ After my fitness assessment, it was time to pull on my joggers and get to work. I knew it was going to be a hard slog but nothing prepared me for how exhausted I felt by the time I’d lunged, run and danced my way through the week.
“It was invigorating and I surprised myself, as I did more exercise than I had ever done in my life. I didn’t give up and a week later, I left FitFarms not only a stone lighter but really proud of myself.
“I followed the exercise plan at home and decided to save up and to go back for another healthy holiday this year.
“Now, I’ve lost nearly two and a half stone thanks to FitFarms and I’m planning to lose more. I now weigh a healthier 15st 2lb and am determined to get to my goal weight.
“I don’t need my size-20 dresses anymore because I’m now a size 16. And I’ve lost six per cent of my body fat in total.
“It’s definitely worth trading in a week in the sun. You still get a tan as you exercise outside and even get a dip in the pool at a water polo class.
“The only thing that is missing is hot boys. But hopefully, now I’m trimmer, I won’t be short on those either!”