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The Body Camp Ibiza: Off my holistic tits!

Normally when landing in Ibiza I would make a boozy beeline straight from the plane to partake in all that the infamous party isle has to offer.

Myself and my pals would be found dancing up a storm around the beach parties of Playa d’en Bossa or stumbling up the cobbled ramp of the old town for some homo bar-hopping shenanigans. So it was a little disorientating being whisked off to a plush villa in the quiet countryside surrounded by citrus trees and tweeting birds.

But this was no typical Ibizan visit, I’d signed myself up for a week of mind and body TLC at The Body Camp, an alcohol-free holistic retreat like no other and one that’s tearing up the rule book. A relatively new player in the ‘fitness holiday’ world – 2018 will see it in its third year – but one that’s already gaining an exciting reputation amongst Joe Public and celebrities alike as the place to head to sort yourself out in the sun.

While I’ve had many a raucous and memorable time on the island, like everyone the inevitable hangover and ‘fear’ the next day was the price to pay, for me it summoned bubbling anxiety, demons and depression which I have had a perpetual battle with. Now in my, ahem, latish thirties, the aftermath of the ‘boys gone wild’ type nights have become almost unbearable and is something I continue to try to conquer. So I was looking forward to bypassing it completely on this trip.

Although I attend the gym and also do some sporadic running, this was my very first visit to anything along the lines of a boot camp or retreat and I wasn’t sure what to expect. In fact after a whirlwind year of writing, releasing and promoting my book, Being Brave, an emotionally draining and crazy life changing experience, I had no expectations at all only to chill the hell out!

With mental health (rightly) at the forefront of the news, and with me at both a crossroads in my life and on a continuous journey to keep my own mind on the right path, I knew that visiting a place like this could only be a good thing, and I was right.

What CEO Kate Whale, a hilarious and all-round lovely woman, her brother Ben Whale, genius head chef, and Rick Parcell, ex-navy fitness and lifestyle master have created here is something very special indeed.

There’s no militant shouting or extreme quick fixes – instead, The Body Camp is simply about fun inclusive exercise and education around nutrition, with an ethos of challenging ‘learned behaviours’ and encouraging mindful choices. The marvellous 80 % plant-based gluten and chemical free menu from Ben’s kitchen, where refined sugar is completely cut out, aims to re-educate and show you that natural and wholesome foods can be enjoyable and extremely tasty. Who knew a goji berry could tickle your balls more than a packet of Revels.

At first, I was hesitant about the eating plan of three portion-controlled meals a day with two snacks. I envisioned a tiny bowl of humous paired with some limp cucumber staring up at me. I feared I would be starving come bedtime, with a face like a slapped arse heading to my room and would find myself running off into the night like some feral freak in desperate search of a sausage roll.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong, although an adjustment to begin with – I may have tutted a couple of times – but I found that it was, in fact, the opposite and the foods were more than enough to keep me full and it was surprisingly easy to get used to.

There are mindfulness talks throughout the week, which are informed discussions where everyone is listened too and heard rather than feeling like you are being preached at with some fluffy hippy yapping. At the talks, I found a couple of nuggets which really lodged in my brain, especially the phrase ‘mindful choices’.

Rick’s approach here is not that of ‘you must’ or ‘you have to’ but is instead truly inspiring, delivered with kindness, humour and humility. You’re encouraged to think a little more about the life decisions you make and to earn and enjoy your treats, rather than gannet them down. He doesn’t try to instil a fear that if you ever eat a Jaffa Cake again you’ll keel over, or that a slice of Viennetta is the devil, he and the team show you alternatives and create positivity around them.

Balance is key, which seems pretty easy and obvious to work out, but yet most of the modern world can’t seem to get it right, so the aim of the team is to help steer its guests onto the right path to find balance as a life choice, rather than a fad. As Rick himself says, “Where focus goes, energy flows”. Quite a simple yet powerful statement which makes perfect sense, don’t you think?

Throughout the week, our group of varying ages and abilities – each person with their own story and reason for being there – were encouraged and nudged out of our comfort zones to achieve both fitness and mental goals. The exercise is made fun and you want to immerse yourself in it, you will be sweating and doing mountain climbers before breakfast, but when you do them in fancy dress (optional!) then it totally dissolves that instinctive negative sigh or groan.

There’s no judgment if you can’t do something, but the infectious positivity of the staff and camaraderie of the group makes you want to give everything a try. From the hikes across the lush countryside and along the crystal coastlines, the continuous HITT sessions and circuit training to the Baywatch style beach workouts and tennis lessons with coach to the rich and famous Ross Askell, the itineraries are more than doable and more importantly enjoyable. We even made our version of the music video to Bruno Mars ‘Uptown Funk’ with dance captain Cassius Powell.

The week created a bond amongst the group and everyone pushed themselves, much to their own surprise, culminating with a rooftop dance class created by Cassius. As the sunset created a burnt orange horizon over the Old Town we all lost ourselves in the exhilarating music and sweaty routines.

On the final night, emotions ran high as personal achievements and small gifts were shared over a final meal. As I looked around the table, I felt very proud to have been part of it with this bunch. Something had led me to this remarkable and wonderful place at a time when I probably needed it more than I realised.

The hikes alone (or runs, if you’re up to it) across this extraordinary island gave me time to reflect and helped me look back over a full-on couple of years. A mess of a lad on a global journey, turning my world upside down to make sense of the chaos. I’d uprooted my whole existence, delved deeper than I ever had before, and took myself apart to try to grasp and figure out what made me tick. A journey which saved me, and now this little trip to Ibiza gave a renewed clarity and let me smile at how far I had come.

Not only did I leave The Body Camp over 6 lbs lighter and my waist 2.5 inches smaller but also feeling hugely lighter in my mind and with an enlightened outlook. I felt educated in a different way about food too, a way that has stuck and made a positive impact on my life. I now bypass the unnecessary refined sugar and salt, I think a little more about my health before grabbing processed easy foods. I also learned to breathe, it might sound weird but I’m quite crap at breathing, especially at the gym, so now I take a little time each day to stop, breathe and let it out.

Ibiza, The White Isle is a hedonistic paradise which has always had a special place in my heart and now so does this experience. Fatboy Slim may not have been far away geographically, pumping out the beats to wide-eyed revellers, but the oasis that is The Body Camp Ibiza is a world away and has very much opened my eyes to making better choices. Yep, this Ibizan alternative has well and truly done its job.

Prices start from £1500 for a week at the Body Camp with programmes running from March 2018. Includes the programme, accommodation, all food and drink and an hour-long massage. Visit thebodycamp.com for more information. Excludes flights.

Cassius Powell – Instagram: @beachonce – Twitter: @beachonceibiza – Facebook: @beachonce
Ross Askell/Ibiza Tennis – Instagram: @Ibizatennis – Tel: +447974801439

Words Larry Meyler

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