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Wednesday 18 January 2023

What Happened on a 3 Day Boot Camp Refresh


Dear friends. I'm back from a three night fitness "kick start" in Derbyshire with FitFarms.  It wasn't gifted so I'm giving my own account, having spent my own money!  I know a fair bit about diet and exercise but I learnt a lot over the weekend and am here to tell you all about it. 

You may recall I went to a six night FitFarms retreat in November 2021, in Devon. Recap here

FitFarms were the originators of the boot camp concept, back in 2008. Their approach is not just about military style fitness. It's more holistic, embracing fitness, weight loss and nutrition. The courses include workshops with a nutritionist. Part of the value is the sharing of experiences among attendees, resulting in great tips and learnings.  

I'd never been to Derbyshire before so this was quite an adventure. Situated near the pretty town of Matlock, we were in a holiday village of stone cottages with a lake and wood. I had my own room in Farley Cottage and the heating was very good - needed as we're experiencing a cold snap. 

Below: where we exercised, had meals (upstairs) and workshops.

The Other Guests

There were 13 of us altogether, including one man who came with his wife. The age range was late 20s through to 80s, with great camaraderie and sharing of experiences.  

I was a bit apprehensive beforehand, in spite of having already attended a full length course.  I was afraid the attendees would know each other, having been to a Derbyshire retreat before, or if there was partner work, that no-one would want to be my partner  (sounds silly but goes back to school days).

My fears were unfounded. There was one woman who'd been on five different FitFarm courses, and another who had been on the Devon course, but not at the same time as me. The rest were all new to the concept and giving it a try. 

The main challenges seemed to be burnout, particularly for 3 ladies working for the NHS, and the challenge of long days at work for many, and the difficulty of making the right choices nutritionally when they got home.   

"Treats" on a Friday or the weekend was another recurring topic. Treats on a Friday have become a bit too routine for me too, often a (large) bag of crisps and taramasalata, and sometimes fish and chips. I usually try to rein it in a bit the next day to accommodate this, but I'm sure these habits are contributing to inch gain  (read on). 

The Exercise 

I'll be honest, the exercise was quite gruelling and I'm fairly fit. But there were many levels of ability on the course and everyone exercises at their own pace. There's only ever encouragement, not the shouting or humiliation experienced at some boot camps.

The exercise sessions included high intensity interval training, aerobics, Tabatha, Boxing, dance classes and Pilates, plus two walks. 

The classes with Georgia and Kim were fun and educational. I'd never realised before how effective stretching can be.  We were all quite sore after the day 1 exercise but I didn't ache the next day because we had a really good stretching session, followed the next day by a class on mobilising our joints. I  learnt we should do this before we lift weights.

I also discovered just how strenuous a dance class can be, so may continue with this at my gym, and hope that I get a bit more co-ordinated as I learn the moves!

I'm keen to restart my own HIIT  routine, at home, as I used to do during lockdown. This can be done without weights. 

I write down what I'm going to do first: it might be 30 seconds of running on the spot followed by 30 seconds of star jumps, with 20 seconds rest. Repeat 8 to 10 times.  There are numerous free timer apps you can download.

I'm also going to do more muscle resistance work.  This will be my saviour in helping me shift the inches. As we get older, it becomes harder to shed weight. It's not all about cardio these days.  Lifting weights is far more successful in replacing fat with muscle, and keeping us strong as we age. Cardio is still important, but can be done daily in 10 minute HIIT sessions. These are now seen as just as effective as long walks or running. 

Below: setting off on one of our walks. 

The second walk, a 7 miler to Chatsworth House, was very muddy.  Below: Kim helping one of us across slippery stepping stones (my favourite!). 


Knowledge and opinions about best practices for losing weight and nutrition is constantly shifting these days. Reflecting this, the FitFarms philosophy has moved away from intermittent fasting and the need to do fat burning/cardio to earn carbs, which was the mantra in 2020.  

Instead, nutritionist Georgia is focused on encouraging balanced eating that includes enough macro-nutrients to help us function optimally.  She doesn't believe in good and bad foods, or restricting ourselves. She says there's no reason why we can't have a glass of Malbec on a Friday night, or some chocolate, as long as we put our main focus on having a balanced plate of food as often as we can, with weekly consumption of the right macro nutrients. 

"Macro nutrients" refers to the right composition in the diet of protein, fat and carbs, and this varies by person. 

I've been on a low carb regime for about 2.5 years, eating protein and fat and largely avoiding bread, pasta, potatoes and fruit (high sugar content). I don't avoid carbs altogether and eat those found in ancient grains, porridge, vegetables and berries.  Instead of potatoes I like cauliflower cheese. I'm very focused on gut health and love the 3 K's  (kimchi, kefir, kombucha). 

However, I discovered recently I'm anemic, so have been adding foods with iron and taking a supplement. My weight has stayed the same since the last FitFarms course, but I've gained 3 inches round the waist and an inch on each thigh.

As far as nutrition is concerned,  I want to make sure I have a balanced plate. My personal specification is 129g protein, 67g fat and a moderate 150g of carbs a day.  Apps like My Fitness Pal and Nutracheck can automatically track all this, and sync with your fitness device, to give an accurate view every day. 

To find out your daily requirement, and how many calories your body requires for maintenance, use this free calculator 

The Food

Stephen, who runs FitFarms, is the resident chef, and produces wonderfully nutritious and tasty food,  avoiding anything processed. The recipes are always shared afterwards, and I'm a big fan of the Greek yoghurt cherry smoothies (with full fat yoghurt), overnight oats with chia seeds, and Thai green curry.

He has a fantastic healthy cheesecake recipe with a cashew nut base. Here's a small selection of what we had. We were basically eating 1200 calories a day, but the goal for many is weight loss, and it's useful to see the size of portion we should be eating. 


You're never going to shift a lot of weight on a 3 day course - after such a short period it's likely to be water loss. I did lose 2 pounds, plus, more importantly, 2 inches off my hips and 0.5 inch off my waist. I weigh everyday (which is excessive) but need to start measuring myself more often so I can take action when a rogue inch creeps on! 

I'd definitely do the refresher again, ideally at one of FitFarms' other locations (they have several in the UK and Europe).  I feel re-energised and ready to move into my next phase: body shaping. I've got some new learnings and I'm going to put them into practice. 

I'll be sharing more pics from the boot camp on IG.  

Did any of you make resolutions around fitness and diet?  How is it going?  Do you have any tips to share? Do let us know in the comments. 

Sharing this post with: On Mondays We Link Up at Glass of Glam, Weekday Wear at Away from the Blue#AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Rena at Fine WhateverTurning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Confident Twosday at I Do Declaire, Style with a Smile at StylesplashTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling BoomerChic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Fabulous Fridays at Lucy Bertoldi


A new post starts here on the 3rd Thursday of every month- "Tell Us About." I set the challenge for January and it's Time. Pop back either tomorrow at 8pm (UK) or on Friday to see my post plus those of Mary Katherine at MK's Adventures in Style, Jill at Grownup Glamour, Penny at Frugal Fashion Shopper and Debbie at Deb's World Australia. 

On Friday there's a new post on the latest books for #WhatsOnYourBookshelf.


Make me happy, please spend 10-15 minutes answering questions about how you manage your wardrobe and what you think about how women over 50 are treated in ads, films and TV progs.


Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday.  Bloggers, Instagrammers and YouTubers are invited to share new and evergreen content. 

Last Week's Favourites (Most Clicked) 

Before and After Color Analysis by Pamela from Style Me Confident

Alexander McQueen Exhibition by Jill at Grownup Glamour

How to Live Your Best Life by Rena at Fine Whatever 

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  1. Sounds like you had a good time. I need something like that but then to gain weight lol.

  2. It does sound good Gail, glad you had similar ladies. I would have been worried too! Thanks for sharing this week and for the linkup xx Jacqui


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