Elaine Pounder

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My Week at GI Jane Bootcamp
Living in Hong Kong but needing to hide away somewhere in Europe to spring an 18th birthday surprise on my granddaughter led me to search the Internet for an interesting way for my daughter, Abi and I to spend the time. We could have explored an interesting city or gone to some sun-drenched place to lounge away the days, but when an ad popped up for the GI Jane Bootcamp, I knew instantly that was where I wanted to go!

My twenty-four year old daughter Abi was cool with the idea, so the next step was to call to see if this was a realistic choice for a somewhat overweight 60, almost 61 year old, grandmother with a weak knee and whose exercise routine amounted to only 30 minutes, five days a week for one month! Sharon, the owner, answered my call and assured me that I wouldn't be out of place and that the military trainers would be sensitive to my needs. I was hooked and booked that very day - just two weeks before the camp was to begin!

I think my family thought I was slightly mad; even my daughter who had agreed to go with me had reservations as the programme seemed so intense, but I was excited and raring to go and didn't have any reservations - I really couldn't wait.
Check in day arrived and so too did a moment of questioning my own sanity, but there was no way I was going to back out and the two of us set off for Scuttington Manor in good time, heeding the warning not to be late - a taste of the discipline to come for sure, but the thought of the discipline did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. I think that deep inside I had a sense that this was going to be just what I needed to get over years of yo-yo dieting and steadily increasing weight gain and declining fitness.

After being shown to our room, we unpacked and then got ready for the first event, being weighed and measured by Sharon. Next came an introduction to our trainers for the week, Glenn & Leona, both serving with the Royal Navy. They told us what we could expect from them and what they would expect from us. They were friendly but they made it clear this was not going to be a cakewalk! A thorough fitness test followed in which we were all timed doing a mile run/walk, squats, sit-ups, burpees and the plank. Two hours later, we'd all been put through our paces and assessed, and I was already feeling worn out!

Over a delicious calorie controlled dinner, the first of many prepared by super cook Cathy we, the participants, all began to get to know each other. In fact, over the course of the week, what struck me the most was how friendly, supportive and encouraging everyone was with each other. Without a doubt, friendships were made that will continue.

Each day began with a military fall in at 7 am and if anyone was late, running twice around the manor was the order of the day for all! Definitely, not something anyone wanted to do in addition to our pre-breakfast 4 mile walk!

Every day saw us completing five exercise sessions lasting from 1 - 2 hours each with a meal or snack between every session. We were put through our paces doing exercise after exercise including circuit-training sessions with up to fifteen exercises per session. There was so much variety and I loved the fact that every single session throughout the week was unique - even the four mile walks we did each morning took us on a different route. There were some particularly interesting challenges too, for example, the golden hour run in which we were split into two teams to carry weighted stretchers, wooden guns and water bottles. With only three one-minute stops permitted within the hour, it was a challenge and a half, but we did it! We also did uphill running and worked with every imaginable piece of equipment stretching and toning every single muscle in our bodies, and as if that wasn't enough, at the end of the fifth workout session of the day, we had ice baths! Yes, I find it hard to believe that I willingly allowed myself to drop into a barrel full of icy cold water at the end of each day, especially as this was an optional activity. You might ask why I would do that when it was optional, but I did it because the trainers explained that it would help the muscles to recover. I followed their instructions to the letter, which included purposeful warm up and cool down sessions, and can honestly say that, despite working physically harder than I have ever done in my life, exercising for up to 7 hours a day, I never suffered from a single strained muscle injury. That amazes me, for I've suffered many a strained muscle after single exercise sessions in the past. Glenn & Leona, the trainers were truly the best!

Here is a peek at of one of our sessions - yes we did all of these things in one single session!

Evenings were a varied pleasure too with organized events such as dance lessons, pilates, a massage and a quiz night. At the end of the day, every one of us would flop into our very comfortable beds to sleep soundly.

On the last day, we were weighed and measured again, and I was delighted to discover that I'd lost 9 lbs and 9.5 inches. I felt a hundred per cent better, both physically and psychologically, than when I'd arrived just one week earlier. I was truly high as I looked back on the week where most of the time I was at the back of the pack, yet a winner! I was thrilled with my achievement. I never felt in competition with the younger members of the group and was never made to feel so by the trainers or anyone else. In fact, I cheered with super satisfaction and others cheered with me when I came 11th out of 11 for one arduous activity. I was simply thrilled that I'd completed a task that I'd never have thought possible when I arrived. In fact, I'd been unable to do a single squat before arriving, and by the end of the week, I was doing 30+ without a break!

Best of all, I was leaving with a tremendously positive mindset. The camp had served to convince me that I wasn't past it, destined to be overweight and resigned to a future of declining energy and fitness. I was filled with optimism, hope and a belief that this time I will reach my goal. In fact, even before leaving, Sharon had emailed all of us with a plan to help us continue making the programme work, and I had made my mind up to attend the GI Jane Bootcamp in Thailand, which for me is much closer to home.

It's now one month since I said farewell to Sharon and the team, and I've not put any of the weight back on despite being on holiday since that time and having countless buffets put in front of me! I'm also really looking forward to going to camp in Thailand and sharing another week with some of the wonderful ladies I met and making new friends too!

Once again, a big THANK YOU Sharon, Glenn, Leona and Cathy and all in the team who came to bless us with lessons, treatments and advice throughout the week!

Elaine Pounder
Participant 16th - 23rd June 2017

Leanne Knowles Testimonial

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On the 9th January 2015 I walked through the doors of Scuttington Manor and began my first ever residential Gi Jane Bootcamp. Overweight and with no fitness behind me I was frightened, unhealthy, unfit, lacked confidence and needed help. It was time to make a change & I wasn't going to fail! I soon began meeting the most inspirational women who have become lifelong friends & I became educated on nutrition and exercise.
2 years ago today and I celebrate this anniversary as... it has changed my life! The ongoing support along with my dedication and determination helped me achieve a weight loss of 4.5 stone and a reduction of 4 dress sizes. It feels freaking awesome! Exercise is now a part of my life and I love it.
So to all of you starting your journey, remember it's not easy, you will cry, you will have bad weeks & it will be painful but it will most definitely be worth it. If you want it enough then you CAN achieve anything. You've just got to believe in yourself. Thank you again to all the amazing trainers who have taught me everything I know and most importantly Sharon. We've become very good friends & your camp is more than just a training camp. It's rehab for a lot of women and I for one know I would be lost without my headspace home.
Leanne Knowles

Catherine Pierce Testimonial

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And it's all over what an amazing week me and my Amy-Marie Bennett have had, so tough, so challenging, mentally and psychically, thought to my self last week wh...at the hell have I signed myself up for, how different do I feel now, met the most amazing inspirational women, from all different areas, specially our lovely American friend who has made us laugh the whole way through, had the best trainers who have pushed us to the max we have cried, laughed, emotions have been at a complete high and our lovely Mandy Smith-Aichen has been there the whole way for cuddles, but would never change this week one of the best weeks I have have ever had, learnt sooooo much and realised how much of a lazy unhealthy life style I have lead Gi Jane Bootcamp has done so much for my mind and how I feel inside, can not recommend them enough it's been a life changing well worth the money experience thank you so much from your favourite Essex girls.
Catherine pierce

Shelley Lunn

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Hi, my visit to bootcamp was brought about by my husband buying me a Groupon offer for my 40th birthday. I was fat and totally unfit. Athough I did some running, I was seriously unfit and needed a kick up the bum. I had signed up to do the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and was terrified that I would let the rest of my walking group down. The weekend with you totally changed my life. I've 1.5 stone since being with you run a 5k in 32 mins and completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in 10 hours 58 mins, beating the 12 hour challenge time easily. I'm now doing another walking challenge for charity, doing the local Wolf Run in September, go to boxercise and sweat camp every week and feel amazing. My mental and emotional health are better than they have even in years which is the biggest bonus of all for me. The PTs showed me what I could achieve but my biggest thanks go to Mandy who not only gave very valuable nutritional advice but also provided a shoulder to cry on. I had piled on the weight due to personal issues and she helped me see that putting on the weight was simply making me feel worse. If I concentrated on eating healthily and set myself achievable weightloss goals, I would succeed and she is right. GI Jane Bootcamp changed my life completely and I'm delighted I went.

 I can't thank you enough xx

Shelley Lunn

Anne InkyAnn Garnish

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Hi GI Jane! Over a year since I did the brilliant boot camp in Kent with Wayne and Danny, I wanted to share this photo with you. The skills and confidence those two taught me mean I'm still pushing myself hard and enjoying the results for anyone who's not sure about whether to book, just do it. I promise it will change your attitude to life, and that's where all the other changes start.

From Anne InkyAnn Garnish xx

Debbie Paul

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Dear Bootcampers,
I just had to write and tell you that unbelievably since going on bootcamp my asthma that I have had all my life has appeared to have disappeared. I've had no attacks and I'm feeling incredible. I've just got back from a 3 mile runand haven't even had to touch my pump. I couldn't even run 100 yards without it prior to bootcamp. It is wonderful.

Debbie Paul

Jane Turkington

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Dear G I Jane
I just wanted to write and say thank you. I had just the most amazing time on my second bootcamp. I lost 12lbs and 8 inches and I feel like a new woman. When I joined bootcamp I was feeling really low (having just come out of a long term relationship) my self esteem was rock bottom. I can't believe what a difference a week has made to me, not only losing the weight, but my whole outlook on life has changed and I feel so much more confident and happy in myself. Thank You Thank You Thank you so much.

From Jane Turkington