In March 2009, Prestige's very first camp won it the national award for 'Best Women's Boot Camp'. By March 2011, Prestige Boot Camp is now handling more female clients than any other boot camp in the country! Needless to say, its national award is still rock-solid and Prestige remains - if it's a women-only boot camp you're looking for - the top venue in England.
How, you may ask, in only two years did Prestige achieve such a phenomenon? Well, firstly, the founding directors do make rather a formidable combination. Entrepreneurial ex-broker, Ms. Frankie Christian, has not only had all the funding she's ever needed to do the best for Prestige right from the outset, but also a compelling, personal reason for setting it up at all: the memory of her own battle to lose 4 stone, eventually discovering for herself what really worked, and what flattered to deceive. Frankie's a hands-on type of owner, always around, and she knows from her own biography exactly what you're going through. Her co-director - something of a national treasure in the world of training - is Mr. Iain Reitze, who gets his own paragraph. Iain is at the very centre of all activities on camp. He runs most things, he keeps a watchful eye on everything.
But with 30 years' experience and a host of qualifications behind him( including Nutritionist) - and able, as co-owner, to buy for himself all the best equipment and work with exactly the fellow trainers he wants to - he is almost uniquely advantaged and duly delivers a top-quality programme, full of variety and symapthetic changes of pace, all to an accompaniment of beat-box music and his ever-present Scouse banter, laced with a ready wit. He's going to push you to your limits at times, but never beyond them. Iain also has a sensitive empathty for what you're going through, as befits someone who gave over seven years of his life to the rehabilitation of wounded servicemen. He is, however, military old school - which means you'll have to line up, number off and call him ' Staff R.' at all times. Even if this does strike you as all a bit odd and unnecessary, it's important to him.
So just put on a smile, play the game and go along with it. Iain is going to look after your psychological side, too. During the week he's forever adding in things to think about, which all seem to come together in his one-off evening seminar. This is uncluttered commonsense for the layman, full of usefully portable insights. Here, for example, are just two of them. Attach to your weekly training sessions the same importance that you would give to a business meeting and eat following the 90/10 Principle, rather than the 80/20 Principle you hear everywhere else.
One final bonus of having one man do everything for you is that, rather like that inspirational teacher at school who got through to you, Iain Reitze's presence sticks in your mind, hopefully haunting it into better ways. Secondly, the location of Prestige's HQ at Higher Wiscombe is nigh on perfect. Perched with wonderful views over lovely, unspoilt Southleigh Valley, the camp is set in 52 acres of woodlands, orchards, pastures and streams, on the doorstep of the Unesco World Heritage Jurassic Coast-Line, the beeches of Branscombe and Beer, and the banks of the River Exe.
The site's only omission - a sauna/hot-tub - is soon to join the summertime swimming pool, although their other locations in The Cotswolds and in Spain are fully kitted out for any acquatica. Rain, however, is all that's available to you at the company's Two-Day Weekends in Hyde Park, Prestige's newest departure and useful for anyone near London. Although Europe is outside my brief here, I must say that I would also be very tempted to check out Prestige's villa in southern Spain's hot, sunny Andalucia. It's on the sea; gourmet dining means you don't have to miss out on enjoying the local food; and it's got to be a whole lot nicer environment for your boot camp(all the staff decamp to Spain) than November-March in England! And, apparently, I'm not alone in being tempted. These camps sell out fast each year. Thirdly, Prestige has always gone way beyond providing the perfectly competent boot-camp-cook by employing a real, fine-dining chef. When every morsel of sustenance at boot camp is looked forward to and cherished, why not let master chef, Sean Edwards do it all for you? Forget bunched-up lettuce and dried-out chicken here.
Sean uses all his 25 years round top City Boardrooms and Michelin starred restaurants to produce dishes for you like Blackened Cajun Salmon, on a bed of green bean and tomato salad, drizzled with fresh pineapple salsa. Moreover, at lunchtime, his crunchy and divinely succulent Vegetable Frittata was the best I've ever eaten - and I've reviewed restaurants aplenty. Happily for us all, Sean is committed to staying with Prestige and has ambitions to take boot camp food onto a new level. For me, such healthily balanced, calorie-controlled gourmet food just has to be the perfect way to eat at a boot camp. Fourthly, and finally, you, the public, keep coming back. And for a host of differing reasons: your booster to a new level of weightloss/fitness; you went off mesage and put the weight back on again; you want a holiday from which you're guaranteed to return feeling fantastic, and loaded up with a new set of girfriends as well. That's why ' boot camp junkies ' exist; that's why boot camps have their 'teams' who swear by them and none other, loyal still to where those first friendships were forged.
Prestige has a 'team', too. And the fact that it's an already huge and ever-growing one is, above all, down to one thing: that founding directors Frankie Christian & Iain Reitze have, over the last two years, been prepared to work all of God's hours in pursuit of their shared vision for Prestige Boot Camp. Their success is well-deserved, and long may they enjoy it. Accommodation: Award-winning Holiday Barns, spacious & beautifully crafted with up-market furnishings & panoramic views over the East Devon countryside. Outdoor swimming pool/ summer only. Camps also in Spain & The Cotswolds.
Capacity: 24. F Only(Devon); 16. F Only(Cotswolds); 20. Mixed(Spain). Occasional Mixed & Male Only Weekend Camps, too
Duration: 7 nts. ( 3pm Friday - Friday 10am). 14 nts. available on occasion
Cost: £1550( private doubles,all en-suite) & £1250(twin,en-suite)/£1100(twin,shared bathroom). Discount deals also available.
Price includes: All food, lodging & activities which typically include: gym-style work-outs plus summer sessions in the swimming pool, hill & coastal hiking, canoeing, cycling, coasteering, abseiling, boxing, white water rafting, team games, zip wire & asault course, Nutritional & Life Style Seminar, Healthy Cooking Workshop, First Night Motivational Talk, 120 picture CD of your week & a farewell goodie bag with certificate, T-shirt & Prestige's own Life Coaching Manual to keep you true to your new faith.
Evening Events: e.g Quiz Night, Winter Camp Fire Night, Comedy Cabaret, Yoga & Relaxation, DVD Library in lounge & Final Gala Night Dinner with champagne.
Optional extras: Massage/£30,30mins;£40,40mins. Available every evening.
LOCATION: * * * * ACCOMMODATON: * * * * FOOD: * * * * * STAFF& ACTIVITIES: * * * * VALUE FOR MONEY: * * * * LIFE CHANGING POTENTIAL: * * *
Written by Graeme Harwood.
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