Archive for the ‘Bootcamp’ Category

After the tough session at Danebury Hill I’d picked up yet another injury and was really starting to wonder if I was cut out for this exercise malarkey. Was someone trying to tell me something?

I spent Tuesday afternoon working from home with the laptop on my knee and an icepack on my leg. Before you ask, yes I used a towel this time, I’m not that daft.

Fortunately I’d been given special dispensation from Sgt’s Hillier & Gentlemen to miss the Thursday morning workout session. Wednesday evening my boss Marie and I were attending the Charted Institute of PR Excellence 25th anniversary awards ceremony.

Testway was a finalist in the publications category for the 2008/09 annual report. It was a great achievement to be finalists in this national award but we were up against some big budget PR agencies, so it came as no surprise when London Borough of Camden won for their University prospectus. We’d practiced our ‘we weren’t expecting to win anyway smiles’ and clapped along with everyone else.

Surprisingly, as soon as the award giving part of the evening was over, the trendy young ‘it’ crowd disappeared in a flash leaving Marie and I to finish off any leftover wine. It’s a shame there wasn’t a category for minesweeping, we’d have won that hands down.

The next morning while my Bootcamp comrades were being put through their paces at Danebury Hilll with the focus on upper body strength, I was struggling to lift a cup of tea and open a packet of painkillers!

And so to week 5, we’ve passed the halfway point and now on the home stretch.

Why am I pinned to the floor?

After the usual warm up sessions, Sgt Gentlemen then pulled out two black harnesses. Now I’m not a prude but I do draw the line at some things and bondage in the open air with early morning dog walkers present is an order too far, even for me!

I had nothing to fear. The harnesses were strapped to our backs with a kettlebell attached. We had to run in relays pulling the heavy weight behind us. Despite picking up penalties for not fastening the harness securely each time, Team H won easily.

Next was a tug of war contest. R Hodges being the strongest in our team was nominated to go at the front, I quickly volunteered to go next. With one eye on A Hodges (the wife) on the opposite team I wrapped my arms around Hodges’ waist and pulled him close. I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to let go on this occasion. Hey I’d waited five weeks to discover there are some advantages to getting up at the crack of dawn and putting myself through all this pain and torture. My early morning cuddle was shortlived as the other team broke the chain and we collapsed in a heap with me ending up flattening the lovely petite Horne.

Unfortunately, the collapse had aggravated the groin injury Hodges R had picked up at the hillfort so he had to take it easy for the rest of the workout. I knew I should have brought the Deep Heat with me.

Before being dismissed Sgt G announced he was leaving us in the capable hands of Sgt Hillier for a week while he went to Spain for rest and recuperation, taking Horne with him to carry his bags!

With Horne on holiday and both Hodges in the sick bay it was a small team that stood in the already baking heat at 7am Thursday morning. Weather experts had been predicting that temperatures would soar as the week progressed. For once they got it right. While Sgt G and Horne were sunning themselves in Marbella we were yomping around a field with a punchbag on our backs dripping in sweat. If we thought Sgt Hillier would be a pushover we were very wrong.

GI Janes

After showering and before heading off to work, I checked with Hodges A how injured Hodges R was. Apparently he was still resting his injury and Sgt Hillier had recommended he take himself to see the medic.

I rushed upstairs, now where the hell did I put my nurses uniform?


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On the strict orders of Sgt Hillier I rested my leg over the weekend to prepare myself for the move to higher ground on Tuesday. It gave me the perfect excuse to catch up with a friend and then get stuck into this month’s bookclub choice, Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult. A novel about a young girl who after witnessing something painful she starts to talk to God and recite passages from the bible.

Not wanting to risk making my injury worse I resisted the urge to go to Tommy’s Body Combat class on Monday night. Instead I did a few squats, press ups, ab crunches and some weight lifting to build up my upper body strength. What I’ve come to realise over the last few weeks is that, I need more strength in my arms to lift my arse!

Before going to bed I logged onto Facebook to find a comrade had been having nightmares about the task ahead. NO!! We must not let the enemy smell our fear. It’s all about PMA, Positive Mental Attitude. It’s time to call on the Queen of the disco, Gloria Gaynor, “I will survive” or in our case “We”.

And so to week 4 – session 5

I woke before the alarm went off. Was it excitement or anticipation? No desperate need for a wee. Gosh I’d nearly lasted a whole night, that hasn’t happened in a long time. Do I get a sticker?

This morning I knew a banana wasn’t going to be enough to fuel my body for what I was facing so I forced a piece of toast with peanut butter down while waiting for Trotter.

We arrived at Danebury Hill Fort at 6.45am. Sgt’s Gentlemen and Hillier were waiting and a few early morning dog walkers were out enjoying the peace and quiet. The weather was perfect, not too hot or too cold. Someone was on our side for once.

As a warm up we were ordered to run up the hill touch the ‘Trig point’, at the top then run back. I thought Sgt Gentlemen had a sudden stammer because I thought for one minute I heard him say and run back again and again. I did. We had to run up the hill and back, a distance of about 300 metres, three times!!! Most of the recruits developed Tourettes syndrome. I distinctly heard lots of F*** F*** F***.

Well I can safely say we all warmed up very quickly. Next it was time to move to higher ground and tougher terrain. We made our way into the inner circle of the hillfort.

My mind briefly drifted back to last summer when Twigman and I spent a wonderful evening at Royal Marines Commando training centre in Lympstone at a summer ball as guests of Lft Col. Mike Tanner. And he didn’t make me work for my supper.

For the next 50 minutes we rolled, crawled and ran our way around the site picking up injuries along the way. It was now time to call on Billy We can do this, Keep the faith.

Bacon had picked up an injury on a charity run at the weekend and today hadn’t helped her. I’d twisted my ankle running downhill and Hodges R pulled a muscle when we were racing for the finish line. We’d all pushed ourselves and each of us witnessed some pain. As I limped down the hill back to the car I thought about the girl in Keeping Faith and muttered, “Oh God give me strength.”

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After Tuesday’s session I realised things are going to get tough. I need to up my game and fast. Team G will not take kindly to being behind, they’ll be determined to come back fighting on Thursday. So, Wednesday evening after getting in from work I quickly changed into my running gear. You don’t know how strange that sounds!

Reluctantly Twigman decided to join me for a short jog. I run only slightly faster than he walks so he finds it a little frustrating. He also doesn’t like the fact that I can only run listening to music. My need to be wired for sound is so I don’t hear my laboured breathing. And anyway, what does he expect, an in depth conversation about the economy or England’s chances in the World Cup? Although both would be very short conversations.

Anyway, off we went at a VERY leisurely pace. We’d gone less than half a mile when my left leg began to hurt. This has happened to me before when I ended up pulling my hamstring and was unable to do any form of exercise for about six weeks. To avoid this we decided to walk the rest of the way. By the time we got back to the house my leg was really sore, even after a hot bath. Then I remembered I’d heard RICE was the best remedy for an injury. Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.

If Eddie Izzard can sit in a bath for 10 minutes every night (for 45 nights) after running a marathon then surely I can cope with using an ice pack for 20 mins.

Which is why, while, the temperature was hotting up for Hayley and Carla in Corrie, it was dropping for me. As Hayley was wondering whether she’d ever again get to butter Roy’s rolls, I was wondering if I’d ever walk again. My leg appeared to be frozen solid! Well maybe a slight exaggeration but stupidly I’d used the gel ice pack directly onto the skin and burnt my leg and was left with a very sore bright red mark on my left calf. OUCH!!!!

Week 3 – Session 6

The next day morning I felt incredibly frustrated and annoyed. One for the fact that this had happened in the first place when I was trying to improve my fitness and two for being so stupid and not putting something between my skin and the ice pack.

Andover Trotter and I arrived at the Infin8pulse studio and I sheepishly explained my dilemma to Sgt’s Gentlemen and Hillier, secretly hoping they’d take pity on me and let me sit this one out. I could always carry the water bottles for the other recruits, yes? No chance!

After making our way to the usual location we split into our teams. Sgt Gentlemen took his recruits around the corner out of sight, while Sgt Hillier quietly praised us for our efforts so far his advice was, “Continue doing what you’re doing it’s working.”

Elephants on parade

Team G

Elephants on parade

After taking us through our stretches, Sgt Gentlemen and Sgt Hillier introduced us to a new team exercise. I’m not sure it’s a one that will be successful on the battlefields but it was good fun and caused a few giggles.

The first recruit had to run to a cone, then run back and collect team members, one at a time. Each member had to link to the other with their hand between their legs. We quickly agreed what order was best for our team. Due to my injury my team agreed I should go last. Trotter could be heard shouting instructions to her team like Colonel Hathis from Jungle Book. It worked and they romped home ahead of us.

Next we formed a circle and sat down. A rest at last, errr no. We had to sit down on each other and stay like that for several minutes!

And relax

And relax

It appeared, at first, that the instructors were giving us an easier session because it was nearly the end of the week and we’d all behaved ourselves. Isn’t that how it works? No, they were just warming us up for the next onslaught, a series of tasks carried out as a team and in time. Once each command is completed the team sprint together before returning and completing another command. Challenges included press ups, squats and ab crunches. By this time my leg was hurting but I was determined not to let the side down.

We all dug in and with true grit and determination and the team encouraging each other we again come out on top.

Before we had time to catch our breath, orders came in that we’re to meet at one of my favourite beauty spots in the area. Danebury Hill Fort is a great place to walk the dog, throw a frisbee or just enjoy the magnificient views of the Hampshire countryside. I don’t suppose Sgt Gentlemen has any of these planned for Tuesday morning.

As you can see from Sgt Gentlemen’s mission notes, they’ve got us sussed.

Team G

Team Gentlemen

The Enemy

Team H

Team Hillier

The best of the best

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Remember years ago when you returned from holiday and rushed to the nearest Boots to get your reels of holiday snaps developed, hoping to relive the holiday memories before your tan faded? Well these days, with digital cameras, you no longer have to wait long.

So after seeing the photos from my recent trip to the US, I decided enough was enough and I couldn’t put it off anymore; it really was time to take ‘the bull by the horns’ or in my case, cow.

In December, Twigman and I will have clocked up 25 years of wedded bliss. Twigman is only slightly heavier than he was in 1985, so you could say I got what I paid for. Whereas my weight has gone up and down more times than Ashley Cole’s pants! I’m several stone heavier than on the day I walked down the aisle. So over the years you could say he’s got an extra 40%, very nearly a ‘Buy one get one half price’!

Realistically I know I’ll never get back down to the weight I was before I got married but it would be nice to at least resemble that person in some way or other.

For the last few months on and off (sometimes more off than on) I’ve been attending exercise classes at the local sports centre. Most Mondays, straight after work I drag myself to Body Combat, an energetic fitness programme based on martial arts led by fitness instructor, Tommy Gentleman.

Tommy G’s fitness classes are well known in the local area. Over the last 12 months he’s opened up his own personal training studio with five staff. And he’s still only 22.

I heard Tommy was launching a new exercise programme for people who wanted to challenge themselves in the early mornings before work. At the end of the day as I’m switching off the PC, the last thing I want to do is challenge my body – more likely fill it!

This seemed like the class for me, a chance to: get fit, lose weight, meet new people, breathe in fresh air and hey it might even be fun. So, before I had time to change my mind, I enlisted on the first of Tommy’s Infin8pulse new Bootcamp.

The website says: Sessions will be scheduled at 07:00 to 07:50 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. By getting up early you already have the psychological benefit of knowing that you are bettering yourself while your friends and family are still sleeping.

You will train no matter what the conditions, and each session will be instructed by 2 Infin8pulse Personal Trainers.
After week 2, you will be split up into 2 ‘regiments’ and will train against each other to win team challenges and be the most improved team.

Training sessions will be carried out at different outdoor locations around Andover, to provide variety and let nature bring different challenges with different terrains.
I’ve always considered myself a morning person, so when the alarm went off at 6.30am a few Tuesdays ago, I sprang out of bed, quickly dressed in the appropriate gear and waited for AndoverTrotter to pick me up.

Last year AndoverTrotter took part in Tommy’s very first ladies challenge, so at least she had some idea of what might lay ahead for us. And she wasn’t put off. I mean how hard could it be?

Day 1

We met the other eight ‘cadets’ at the Infin8pulse studio in Andover. We’re a mixed group of different ages, sizes and abilities. A team of 10 including a husband and wife (I wonder who persuaded who and if they’ll still be talking to each other at the end of the eight weeks).

From the off it was clear it was going to be no walk in the park. In the words of Goldie Hawn, “The army’s no laughing matter.” The usual friendly Tommy G had been replaced by the ruthless Sergeant Gentleman. And he had an accomplice, Sergeant Hillier.

We were lined up (which resembled a firing squad) and informed of the rules. From now on we’d be known by our surnames only and address Andy and Tommy, at all times, as SIR. They meant business. The temptation to go AWOL was at the forefront of my mind. I suddenly wished I was back at home in my warm bed wishing I wasn’t a morning person after all.

Privates on parade

Hodges.R (lone man)
Spoustova (Smith)

Early on Spoustova requested a name change to Smith. Thankfully her request was granted. At the end of the first session, after completing timed tasks of press ups, sit ups and running around a field carrying weighted bag, with me make that two weighted bags. I was having trouble staying alive, let alone remembering everyone’s name.

The first few weeks Sgt Gentleman and Sgt Hillier have spent assessing everyone’s fitness levels. On top of press ups and sit ups we were introduced to lunges, sprints, some horrendous things called burpees and my least favourite of all, for various reasons, star jumps! No woman who has given birth to two or more children should ever be expected to do star jumps!

Hitting the wall
On day four I hit the wall. Who would have thought a wheelbarrow race could be so hard. I seem to remember it being a doddle at primary school. Because of me the team lost the task. There were very nearly tears. I felt I’d let the team down.

And so we’ve all made it to week 3

The first few sessions the weather had been kind to us but, as I lay awake at 5.30am listening to the rain pour down outside I wondered whether I really was a morning person after all. Then I remembered, today was the day we would be put into teams and get our t-shirts. I’m a sucker for a free t-shirt.

Today the gloves were off. Any friendships made over the first few weeks with the opposing team is over, finito. From now on it’s team against team.

After running around the field we were then put through our paces again with the usual press ups, sit ups, lunges, introduced to the kettle bells and advanced burpees called suicide burpees. Burp? I felt like throwing up.

Next we had to make a human tunnel on the wet grass and each team member one at a time snake under and jump over the other team members until we got from one tree to the other. I might add this was all while it was pi**ing it down!

Anyone walking their dogs at 7.30am watching the goings on might be confused with a Miss Wet T shirt competition.

Despite the awful weather I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and to top it off Team H (my team) won both tasks.

For the next six weeks there will be no fraternizing with other team members, they are the enemy and must be defeated. This may prove difficult for Trotter and I, as we work together. But then again that may have its advantages; I could always spike her tea on a Monday evening!

It’s all about working together, learning each others strengths and weaknesses and supporting each other. With Hodges R leading our team we’re confident we can do it. No pressure then Russ

Here’s to the next six weeks…..

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