03 December 2022

Sportsister Champneys FitCamp review

January 12, 2017

Last weekend I was lucky enough to go to a FitCamp at Champneys Forest Mere. Far from any military-style, burnout bootcamp – this break is designed to empower guests, boosting energy through a range of classes to inspire and rejuvenate. There were lots of options I hadn’t heard of before, including different types of yoga, dance, pilates and pool workouts. I made my choices and was given my own itinerary, around which I was free to rest and relax in the beautiful lounges, grounds and spa.


Friday 6 January
4pm – Introduction. Lydia and her team of top instructors introduced themselves and the FitCamp. We were given wristbands and goody bags and encouraged to enjoy and embrace the weekend, with a laid-back, flexible approach.

4.30 – 5.15pm: Pound. This was a fun, rhythmic drumming-based class, led by the most amazingly positive instructor Jess McKee. You hold two drumsticks and pound away in the air and on a mat while doing lots of squats. Different and uplifting!

5.30 – 6.30pm: Trigger Point Pilates. Targeting tight muscles using small spikey balls and a semi-deflated larger ball. It’s slightly painful, but releases tension and feels good afterwards.

6:30 – 7.15pm: Energy Chi Release. This class also used the balls along with mindful meditative stretching to relax, de-stress and energise. Lydia is a brilliant teacher with the most lovely, calming manner.


7.20pm: Dinner. The food at Champneys is excellent. The breakfast and lunch buffets on Saturday and Sunday offer a huge range of healthy, delicious cold and hot options.

Saturday 7 January

8.15 – 8.45am: Silent meditation, with calming music – a great start to the day.


9 – 9.50am: Vera flow. This was a fun dance and stretch class led by Naomi Di Fablo. Incorporating simple dance moves to great music with a mixture of stretches and yoga poses.

11am – 12pm: Hydro Jump and Hydro fighter. First an aerobic-style class on mini trampolines, before a punching and kicking class using foam gloves in the pool led by Nataliya and Ryan Graham of Hydrofitness Solutions. These were gentle and fun but I could also feel my muscles burning.


2 – 2.45pm: XPERT Aerial Silk Fitness. We used low-hanging silks to learn some holds and stands to work upper body and core strength, led by Claire and Kristine of XPERT Fitness. We were slightly limited with what we could do as beginners in the timeframe – but another first and great to try something new!

4 – 4.55pm: Thalassotherapy. This 25-minute treatment was included in my stay and involved being in a pool full of salts and minerals such as magnesium, copper and zinc and various jets to aid detoxification and recovery.

5 – 5.50pm: Buti Yoga. This was a fantastic class with Jess McKee that mixed primal movements and dance with foundations in vinyasa yoga. Lively music – unlike typical yoga classes!

6 – 6.50pm: Relaxation with crystals. Lydia led this candlelit class, where we each chose a crystal and lay on mats with a ball under our necks. The first half was meditation, which was very relaxing, before partnering up to massage with the trigger balls to release tension.


In the evening I also went to two of the talks that Champneys had on. There are a range of talks on each night through the week to choose from that are held in the knowledge pod.

Sunday 8 January
8.15 – 9am:
Yin Yang Flow Yoga. Starting with yang (more dynamic) movements before holding several yin poses (for several minutes each), this balanced class was the perfect way to start the day and reset, led by brilliant Jess McKee.

My only negative comment:
I opted for a full-body massage, which wasn’t part of the FitCamp, and was slightly underwhelmed. I thought the room and bed could have been more comfortable, and aromatherapy oils could have been used. I had knots in my shoulders, which were painful – so this may have taken away from the experience!

The FitCamp was wonderful. It was an amazing start to the New Year, brilliant to try out classes I’d never heard of and some dance-based classes as well as different types of yoga. The energy release and crystal relaxation were highlights and very relaxing. There were other classes on offer, including belly dancing, Indian dance and ‘Strutology’, which other guests loved.

You have the flexibility to do as much as you like, to add in gym sessions, walks or runs and of course time around the pool and in the spa facilities, as well as a range of pampering. One highlight for me was the kilner jars full of icy water infused with citrus fruits and cucumber around Champneys – a nice touch and perfect for staying hydrated, with extra goodness. I was alone for my stay and was made to feel very welcome by the lovely FitCamp team and other guests. Highly recommended.


More information:
Fitness and boot camp information: champneys.com/retreats-pages
Phone: 0843 3162222 (Forest Mere)
Cost: from £239

Stephanie Tait, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine



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