As the trend for new-breed body-changing fitness bootcamps continues to gain global momentum, we take a look at the best the Caribbean fitness scene has to offer.
A bootcamp is an exhilarating and effective way to get fit, shape up, improve cardiovascular health and shed a few pounds (or more). Most participants aren’t mega-sleek fitness aficionados but ordinary holidaymakers. They arrive in the Caribbean stodgy, podgy, sun-starved, fatigued and in need of invigorating – and fly home lighter, brighter, a dress size smaller and glowing with self-confidence having achieved a “wow” transformation. In the 1970s, a bootcamp was all about red-faced panting and sweating. Goals were an impossible number of push-ups. Days were filled with physical training led by kick-ass former military personnel. Four decades on, bootcamp exertion remains as tough as heck. Gruelling exercise programmes promise visible transformations. Also sound nutritional advice, fresh juice cleansing, mental re-booting and an invigorating push that really does kick butt.
In the Caribbean, most bootcamp programmes range from between three to seven days and mix circuit training and Pilates with plenty of outdoorsy stuff such as trekking, cycling and hiking. Fitness schedules are tailored to ensure there’s plenty of time to soak up the Caribbean sunshine. After a heart-pumping splurge to burn off a zillion calories, hang a hammock from a rustling palm and enjoy a snooze to the sounds of the sea. Don’t confuse bootcamp with deprivation either: delicious food is plentiful, the setting luxurious and an absence of iPhone dings guarantees some much-needed tranquillity.
If you enjoy a fitness extreme, try the Bootcamp at the Buccament Bay Resort, led by a duo of former British Royal Marines on the beautiful island of St Vincent. High intensity workouts and ambitious weight-loss goals are combined with tropical island surrounds, and daily fitness schedules run from invigorating hikes to the summit of the active La Soufriere Volcano to cowbells on the beach. Alternatively, you can opt for a fast-paced slog along the Vermont Nature Trails, for which the reward is a cool-off in the sea-spray on the sand. Meals are lovingly prepared using the freshest local Caribbean produce from menus created to offer a perfect nutritional balance.
If achieving a greater balance is your goal, head to St Lucia where bootcampers are offered a retreat away from the daily grind with The Body Holiday. Having weaned themselves off caffeine, soda, sugar, and alcohol, new arrivals are encouraged to throw themselves wholeheartedly into a range of fat-burning activities, from tennis to scuba-diving. The schedule, which runs from dawn until dusk, also suggests some traditional Caribbean methods of relaxation for post-workout downtime. After an energetic morning fitness session on the beach, try a sweat-drenched spinning class before unwinding with a breakfast of exotic fruit served up alongside soothing Calypso rhythms. Next, opt for Zumba or an hour or two of beach volleyball before retreating to the comfort of the spa for a decadent, aromatic oil-drenched massage.
In Barbados, the hard graft starts at twilight on the silky white sands of Brandons Beach. In the safe hands of two body-building Barbadian guys, a legion of bootcampers are put through their paces at Barefoot Bootcamp. Better-than-the-gym results are guaranteed – and your facial muscles will get a workout too. Fun, laughter and camaraderie make these weekly beach sessions hugely popular. No need to book – just turn up with some bottled water, a towel and plenty of grit. You’ll make friends, develop lean body mass and learn some impressive Barbadian moves.
Have you tested out any of these Caribbean fitness bootcamps? Let us know in the comments section below.
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About the author: SarahWoodsSarah Woods
Award-winning travel writer, author & broadcaster Sarah Woods has lived, worked and travelled in The Caribbean since 1995. She has visited resort towns, villages and lesser-known islands where she has learned to cook run-down, sampled bush rum, traded coconuts, studied traditional medicine, climbed volcanoes and ridden horses in the sea. Sarah is currently working on a travel documentary about the history of Caribbean cruises.