What it feels like… to be the unfit one at boot camp.

By Stuart Cadenhead, Glasgow.

I’d had a tough year, full of 19 hour days and 90 hour weeks, my health and fitness had taken the brunt of it, so in a moment of madness I booked up to attend a boot camp for 3 weeks in Thailand.

I arrived in Phuket in January 2014, tired, unfit and overweight. On arrival I discovered that my group was a mere four people with two instructors, right away my thoughts of hiding away in the back of the group were shot down in flames.

Where I was staying was a small strip, far away from the dive bars, clubs and tacky towns, I was instead surrounded by gyms, fit camps and athletes, I think its fair to say until I arrived, they had never encountered the Scottish one pack before!

We were to train between 4 – 5 hours a day, starting at 6am. The training was to involve a daily 7k hike, with weighted vest sometimes thrown in for good measure, cross fit, yoga, boxing and various other methods of torture.

Day one was hell, after what felt like two hours of interval sprints combined with star jumps, press ups, burpees, the revelation that this was just the warm up did not sit well with me, if someone had offered me the chance to swim home at that point I might have been tempted.

My fellow partners in pain were all gym bunnies, honed and toned, I have never felt so out of my depth. At the end of each day we were to have full body massages to help with our aches and pains, day one didn’t get any better when my masseuse turned out to be a butch lady boy, I’m not sure if I was relieved or not that there wasn’t a gentle approach.

Day two  three didn’t get any better, I struggled even with the yoga poses, this I had foolishly convinced myself into thinking would be the easiest part of the day, but when you’re as agile and supple as a beached whale, yoga is definitely not a push over.

Gradually it started to get easier, my tutors were amazing; they were always there to encourage, not cajole, I learnt so much more about diet, health and form from them and they were both a constant inspiration through my struggles.

My fellow team mates were also great helping me push myself forward and not giving up, suddenly I was not only completing all the activities, but was also occasionally managing to finish above last place.

That first week was one of the toughest most physical weeks of my life, but also one of the most rewarding. It was great to see my sense of non belief and doubt evaporate, years of self doubt about what I could physically achieve were blown away and the improvement in my technique was amazing.

By the end of week three, I had dropped over a stone and a half in weight and lost 3% body fat. Most rewarding of all was the change in my beliefs and attitude towards health and fitness.

It remains one of the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done; I would recommend it to anyone, if I can do it, anyone can.