Michelle Chenery reports on Clumber Parks' newly launched team-building boot campThe Clumber Park Hotel & Spa nestles in picturesque fashion in Sherwood Forest and this was the setting for two and half days of full-on activity, all-round good fun – mixed in with a bit of mud and rain.
The first requirement was a detailed individual assessment for the resident fitness expert, Kyle Hanrahan. This included a blood pressure test and health and weight measurements on which to calculate our body mass index and whether or not we were dehydrated.
I reported that I had a temperamental knee that didn’t take kindly to running. As a result, after our 6.30am morning call I failed a test and was given a walk instead of a group run.
I was back with the group for a hearty, if healthy, breakfast. The wide choice was mainly fruits, cereals and poached eggs on toast. Kyle was there to see we didn’t select cereals high in sugar and to explain to us how many cups of tea and coffee we should drink each day and that drinking water should be at room temperature and without any ice cubes.
Our first team-bonding activity was the Army Assault Course in perfect weather - rain and a little bit chilly. Fitted out with camouflage overalls, one surprise awaiting was the wooden canon that we would have to carry under or over the obstacles. We were also expected to dismantle it, with each member of the team responsible for a part. The end of the course was signaled by re-assembling it, going down on one knee an shouting BANG!
We climbed over 7ft scramble nets, crawled on our bellies in the mud, found ways of passing planks of wood to each other to cross minefields and manoeuvring through spiders’ webs of ropes without touching the ropes. There was a tractor tyre suspended just above waist height through which we helped each other, again without touching it. Fortunately for me a quick-thinking team mate was able to use his shoe to stop my head thumping into the ground.
The surprising thing was that at the end of it all, absolutely shattered, drenched and covered in mud, everyone had a beaming grin on their dirty faces.
Lunch gave us a choice of fish, chicken salad, jacket potatoes and hot spicy fillings. Kyle told us that chillies help your metabolism, alcohol provides empty calories, doing nothing for you, so you must work it off or it will stay somewhere on your body.
The afternoon saw us back in the Clumber Jungle, with circuits of rope climbing, skipping, suicide runs, dips, bunny jumps over small hurdles and tractor-tyre flipping. This was the most exhausting, which was my favourite. Everyone encouraged everyone else.
Then on exercise mats in one of the meeting rooms we ended Day One of the boot camp with Russian twists, planking, more push-ups and stretches that I didn't think possible.
The group was pleasantly surprised at the choice of dishes on the dinner menu. We had a choice of starters, main courses and desserts. It was from the hotel’s normal menu with healthier versions specially formulated for us. It looked and it tasted fantastic.
The next day started with the accompaniment of a few moans and groans elicited by aching muscles. Whilst the group did a run, I cycled in the gym but I once again joined in the challenging circuits in the Clumber Jungle.
The afternoon session involved a lesson on boxing, breathing techniques while punching, the correct stance and the right way to punch. We worked in pairs, one with the boxing gloves, the other wearing the pads. That's right. We got to hit a team mate as hard as we wanted, but it was surprising how much impact the pads absorbed.
The group was then given a few hours before dinner to relax our aching bodies and take full advantage of the New Leaf Spa facilities.
That evening was our farewell dinner and we actually declined an offer of alcohol as we didn't want to negate all the hard work of the last 48 hours. Another hearty and tasty meal served in the restaurant, although there were a few eyes wandering across to where fish and chips went wandering by for other customers. It really did smell good, but then all attention was back onto the food in front of us.
The final morning we were faced with a final epic circuit. I was not sure if I was laughing from hysteria or just because members of the group were constantly cracking jokes.
The whole group had come together as one, cheering each other on when in need of a little support and lighting up the mood with lots of jokes.
There were final health checks to see just how much we had achieved in such a short time. It was all very encouraging. I certainly felt invigorated.
The Clumber Park Hotel & Spa
The Clumber Park Hotel & Spa comprises 73 rooms, all with a homely setting in soft natural tones. All rooms are tastefully decorated to match the countryside environment and fitted with multi-channel TVs, comfortable beds and tea- and coffee-making facilities. A Chill-Out Lounge has large comfy sofas, mood lighting, and options for Wii games, dvd player, screen and projector. The Spa therapists can visit to offer mini treatments.
There are four meeting rooms, the largest, the Normanton, catering for up to 250 delegates theatre style.
The full Clumber Park Hotel & Spa Boot Camp includes a six-night stay at the hotel, from Sunday to Friday, and can offer an all-inclusive charge of £799 per person. Whilst everyone is different and no firm promises are made, the hotel suggests that a weight loss in the region of 6-10 lbs (and a drop of at least one dress/jean size) for each participant at the camps is possible. But, more importantly, the benefits of the Boot Camp and the friendships you make can endure for months, if not years.