Giving it our all with Barcelona Bootcamp

Megan Lambert reviews Barcelona Bootcamp, a hugely effective fitness retreat in Spain, and despite missing her carbs, finds herself far more capable both mentally and physically than she’d given herself credit for

I arrived in Sant Pere de Ribes for my 7 days with Barcelona Bootcamp fresh off the back of the festive period to atone for the sins of Christmas past. Taking a stroll into the vine-clad village, known for its red wine, I treated myself to a Last Supper of bocadillos and tinto, mulling over what the following week might entail.

A group of Brits, ranging from every corner of the Isles and in age from their 20s to (rather admirably) their 80s,  we offered a broad sample group of fitness levels: an engineer, his lifetime business partner and wife, a property developer, and myself.On day one, first breakfast smoothie down, we began with a ‘gentle’ TRX session. The sun was out, there was a gentle nip in the air. “I can definitely do this”, I thought.

Fast-forward to day three, lunging our way through lashings of rain (courtesy of storm Gloria, which brought with it some of the worst weather Spain has seen in decades), I reflected that perhaps January was not the best time to embark on a fitness boot camp.

But how wrong I was. You’re not sweating buckets, for a start. Ok, so the rain was a bit of a literal dampener, but there’s something quite exhilarating about working up a sweat in gale-force winds. Not to mention the circuits class that was set up (by the inexorably cheerful and endlessly pragmatic Alex) last-minute inside a former wine cellar. I defy anyone not to crack a smile whilst working out with a couple of octogenarians to Reel 2 Real’s “I Like to Move It, Move It”, whilst surrounded by six-foot, centuries-old barrels of wine.

A regular yogi, I often find myself in search of something a little more high-octane after a week of sun salutations and ‘savasana’, and loved the combination of disciplines at Barcelona Bootcamp. Love or hate the workouts, they are fun, hard-work, but never repetitive, and offer everything from kickboxing to yoga.

‘I defy anyone not to crack a smile whilst working out with a couple of octogenarians to Reel 2 Real's "I like to Move It, Move It", whilst surrounded by six-foot, centuries-old barrels of wine’

At times the food was a struggle. After a few days of reduced calories and increased exercise, my stomach began to grumble. Vivid fantasies of bocadillos and jugs of sangria, just minutes away in town, went from distracting to all-consuming. The diet-plan is designed for weight-loss, so if this is not your intention, your menu will be amended. I however, having boldly filled in my fitness form weeks before, was on the weight loss programme. By Day four I realised that the person I was back then, and the person I was today, were two very different people, and scurried into town for a box of granola bars, to keep me from murdering anyone.

By Day 5 the clouds had parted and Storm Gloria was behind us. With a new appreciation for the Mediterranean sun, we headed outdoors for a day on the beach. And what a difference a day makes. Lugging kettlebells, racing each other back and forth, bear-crawling on our hand and knees – there’s no better way to make one feel as though they’re really working out, then by getting covered head to toe in sand. After taking a long soak in my bath that evening, and jumping into (my very cosy) bed, I felt a tingle of intrepid excitement about our final day: the hike up Montserrat.

And what a hike it was. All four-hours, 1,236 metres, and thousands and thousands of steps. Jaw-dropping views, a sense of camaraderie, and an exhilarating end to an exhausting week.

Life is all about perspective, right? And whilst Barcelona Bootcamp is challenging at the time, once you’ve completed the week, gone for the weigh-in, and achieved feats you never thought possible (the gruelling ‘Millenium’ work-out for one: look it up!) it all seems worth it. The aches, the pains, the not wanting to get out of bed. Mitigated by the endorphins and sense of achievement you get at the end of the day.

My main take homes? That red wine is the only alcohol that isn’t just empty calories as it contains antioxidants in the form of flavonoids (which in my mind basically makes it a superfood). That I really, really like carbs. But mostly, that if I put my mind to it, I can physically and mentally achieve more than I thought capable.