Image: Jay Yeo
February 28 2012
Spa Junkie has just spent her first night at Amansala Bikini Bootcamp on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico.
This morning, as will be the case on every other while I’m here, I am woken by a loud dong sound that shakes the compound. I rub my eyes and squint at the commotion outside my window: a seriously good-looking guy with his top off is corralling a herd of 15-odd women, between the ages of 30 and 50, who all look pretty sporty and fit – something I haven’t seen at a retreat for a while.
“My name is Josh. I’ll be taking care of you this week,” he says, after I’ve joined them. He is even better looking close up, with piercing blue eyes. “Today we start with a silent walk followed by a beach workout; this will be your daily drill and wake-up call every morning. Although we do not enforce any of the classes, we do encourage you to do as much of the programme as possible.” Beads of sweat have begun to drip down his six-pack as he turns and starts down the beach – and we all scramble after him.
In this regard, the Bikini Bootcamp is great. It has an active yet fun schedule that could keep me busy from 7am to 10pm. It’s perfect for taking my fitness to the next level, but would also work for those times when I’m in a bit of a slump and need to get back into my groove.
We head along what is without question one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever had the privilege of marching on. It’s a brisk walk followed by 15 minutes of intense, army-style training involving star jumps, squats, lunges and pass-the-coconut-to-the-left-hand-side stomach crunches; I work up quite an appetite.
Like all the other meals, breakfast is taken in a large, beach canteen-style restaurant. We sit at communal tables that can accommodate 20, all overlooking the sea. Large bowls of pineapple, papaya, melon, yoghurt and granola line the table, and the girls tuck in. I’m not a big fan of help-yourself buffet services at health retreats. Portion control – or lack of it – is a problem for me and a key influence in weight gain. Allowing ravenous boot campers free rein is, to my mind, asking for trouble.
“Eggs, ladies?” Surely not a second course? Huge plates of Mexican-style eggs, scrambled in olive oil and served with salsa, are dropped on to the table.
I corner Darlene, the yoga teacher/receptionist/retail manager and general fixer; she completes the top-level management team led by Melissa, the owner. I ask what, precisely, is the nutrition strategy at the Bikini Bootcamp.
“I don’t know; it was created by Melissa.” So you have no idea what the thinking behind it is? “You’ll have to ask Melissa,” she repeats, as she floats on a kundalini breath back to reception. What is obvious is that it’s not calorie counted; the food combinations, in my opinion, are terrible, and the portions are way too big. Worse, urns of coffee appear accompanied by heaps of Splenda. It all seems to equal pretty sloppy nutrition considerations.
The dong signals again; time to bike up to the ruins – no time to track down Melissa. I will pick this up later.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, treatments and accommodation.