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Lisa Jones tries out the Fitfarm

Lisa Jones gained more than she lost at luxury fitness camp, going home a bigger person, but still a slimmer woman.

Lisa Jones gained more than she lost at luxury fitness camp, going home a bigger person, but still a slimmer woman

THREE years ago, my life was changed completely when I spent a week in a military-style weightloss bootcamp. I lost more than a stone, and returned with renewed confidence, positivity and a lust for exercise which led to me dropping four dress sizes.

But life, love and a few injuries got in the way and I resorted to the old habit of comfort eating with the obvious consequences.

So I jumped at the chance of the offer of a week at FitFarms to rediscover my missing mojo.

This Devon-based company uses personal trainers, life coaches and nutritionists to work with both the mind and body at a luxury holiday village in the Peak District and another in Exmoor.

Its approach to getting you fitter is holistic, in that it goes beyond just inch and weight loss. There’s also a 12-week aftercare package.

Their idea is that fitness should be fun. If you find an exercise you love, you’ll stick to it.

The concept is simple. You survive on a regime of calorie-controlled meals and snacks, and have a day full of exercise, excursions and workshops.

I learned that an inspiring exercise teacher is worth his or her weight in gold and you should really do exercise you enjoy, or otherwise it will eventually tail off.

There will always be the need to lift a few weights and crunch those abs, but if you reward yourself with a zumba class afterwards, it will be a breeze.

The life coaching classes made me realise that although I’d lost a lot of weight, I’d never really come to terms with it. Might sound odd, but I’ve spent more of my life as a fattie, than as a size 12. I didn’t know how not to be fat and invisible. I’d thought for so many years, that if only I was thinner, I’d be happy. But it didn’t work for long, because I was still the same person inside.

What FitFarms has helped me realise is that you can go on all the diets and fitness fads in the world but if you’re not the person you want to be inside, you may end up undoing all that good work.

So, love your love-handles, boys and girls and your wobbly bits but most of all, respect yourself.

My bootcamp experience started off my physical fitness journey. FitFarms has set me on a journey of achieving mental fitness.

Day One

I arrived on the first evening, had a small, but perfectly cooked lentil curry, prepared by Breton chef Mikael Perret, and talked about our expectations for the week. We have to be up at 6am and exercising by 6.30am. Easy.

Day Two

The day is choc full of exercise, but definitely no chocolate. We run for a mile and our time is recorded then have our measurements taken and a chat with fitness trainer Zuzana. I tell her about my bootcamp experience and all my subsequent injuries but also what I want to achieve from the week (losing half a stone). I feel like a horse which needs putting out of its misery.

We eat muesli for breakfast. We will get up every morning for aerobics with just a shot of fruit juice to kick start our bodies and then have breakfast.

The other FitFarmers are really nice. There’s a very supportive atmosphere. The furthest anyone has travelled to be here is Jordan.

There are a couple of women who are large. I tell them I was once a big girl in the hope it inspires them.

The rest of the day flies by with exercise; circuit training, pilates and boxing, which I loved and zumba. It’s an absolutely ridiculous dance class and I’m rubbish at it, but spent most of it laughing.

We had salmon for tea. All the portions are carefully measured, so we have the right bal ance of meals.

I love talking to chef Mikael about food. He’s passionate about his subject and full of useful tips. He tells me I’m wasting my time eating Quorn and that I should eat chicken instead. Er, thanks.

Day three

A massively high-tempo day, in terms of exercise. Very tiring. An early morning walk around Carsington Reservoir was followed by a VIPR session with Marlon, a very fit and foxy instructor, with bags of enthusiasm.

A VIPR is a hollow, three-foot-long rubber tube, fabricated to differing weights, with handles midway along its length. You basically juggle it in all manner of ways and it gives you a fab workout. To be honest, I’d only do this again if the instructor was this hot.

We also did kettlebells, interval training – short bursts of exercise – and Abba Aerobics. Yes, aerobics to the music of Abba.

Day four

After our wake-up breakfast workout at 6.45am, we spend the rest of the morning cycling around Mapleton Lake, which some of the other girls found a bit challenging. I’m not a fan of cycling uphill, or sweating. And give me bike with more than three gears and I’m lost. .

After lunch we had a nutrition workshop, followed by a triple trio of exercise. I’m constantly amazed by how little we know of the rubbish which is in our foods. The rule of thumb is “don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t have heard of”.

Day five

Tri-circuits, yogilates, aerobics, interspersed with more nutrition workshop and a habits workshop.

In the tri-circuits, Gillie, camp director, pushes me through the step sessions. I have no co-ordination, but I try my best.

We spend the afternoon walking six miles around the Chatsworth Estate.

Devastated that we don’t get to have a look at Chatsworth House, not even to see where Mr Darcy (played by Colin Firth) plunged into the lake in Pride and Prejudice. Gutted.

In the habits workshop, we examine why we eat too much and don’t exercise. This is where the light goes on for me concerning why I eat too much and why I haven’t learned how to be slimmer. I feel very emotional about it. I’ve been acting and eating as though I don’t deserve to be slim. I’ve been punishing myself.

Gillie says we essentially have to re-programme ourselves so that we don’t fall back into our old habits.

Day Six

Straight after breakfast, we go on a seven-mile high peak trail. After lunch, it was swimming, and a cookery workshop. Chef Mikael whips up six meals in around two hours. More aerobics, yoga and boxercise followed by another habits workshop. I come away realising I still have lots of work to do to change my attitude to a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga was great. It has a very calming effect and I feel very flexible afterwards. Boxercise was great too and I like the feeling of strength I get from it.

We have our fitness tests to check if we’ve progressed. I’ve shaved five seconds off my run, cut my body fat by 4% and lost six pounds. I go home happy.