Monday 22 July 2019

The Body Camp: Inside Majorca's new 'transformation' retreat

Ibiza's famous retreat has opened with a new - slightly more relaxed - programme in Sencelles. Abi Jackson gives it a go.

A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A bedroom at the Body Camp Mallorca villa. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A secluded bay in Santanyi, following a 12km coastal hike as part of the fitness programme at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Guests Body Camp Mallorca enjoying a scenic bike ride. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.

Abi Jackson

It's 11am at a secluded villa in Sencelles, Mallorca.

The sun's shining, palms are softly rustling in the breeze and from somewhere in the distance, the faint crow of a peacock tumbles through the hot Mediterranean air.

Then, bang on cue, the Baywatch theme tune starts blasting from a speaker. I begin doing squats, as one of my teammates starts running laps and the other dances on the grass. "Good work teams, keep moving," head trainer Rick Parcell yells above the music. "Don't forget to high-five your teammates!"

I'm at The Body Camp's brand-new Mallorca retreat, tackling an outdoor workout known as the 'Baywatch Challenge'. The squats are the first of 20 tasks, with each set interspersed with running and dancing (the moves can be as questionable as you like, as long as you keep moving), and already my legs are burning.

To be fair, it is the third workout of the day. We've already ticked off sunrise yoga before breakfast, followed by a gruelling 'Gladiator' session (an hour of high-octane HIIT). And this is the last of four action-packed days - which have somehow seen me do more burpees than I've previously managed in my entire 37 years. Yet somehow, we crunch and press-up our way through all 20 tasks, with energy left over for a celebratory leap into the pool.

That's the thing about The Body Camp. However daunted you feel by the size of the activity list when you arrive, and doubtful you'll be able to complete even half of it, by the end your stay you'll have absolutely smashed it - and the buzz will outdo any aches and exhaustion a hundredfold.

Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A bedroom at the Body Camp Mallorca villa. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A secluded bay in Santanyi, following a 12km coastal hike as part of the fitness programme at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Guests Body Camp Mallorca enjoying a scenic bike ride. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.

So what's new at The Body Camp Mallorca?

Since launching in Ibiza three years ago, The Body Camp has quickly established itself as a leader in the field of fitness/wellness retreat travel. Mallorca is the brand's second exclusive location and is billed as a slightly more relaxed 'Essentials' version of Ibiza's intense 'Life Transformation' programme.

Instead of Ibiza's mandatory 'All In' full-day itineraries, here, it's 'All In' for the mornings, then afternoon activities are optional, meaning guests have the choice to top up their fitness even more, or take time out to lounge by the pool, or read or snooze in one of the villa's peaceful hammocks.

The doors officially opened earlier this summer, and I was once of the first guests to try it out. As a retreat virgin, I had no idea what to expect.

It's instantly clear why The Body Camp insist they're not a boot camp, though. Yes, you'll be put through your paces, but it's all tailored to be fun (Body Camp doesn't have a gym - it has a 'Disco Gym'), not to mention luxurious. The stylish yet cosy villa - surrounded by peaceful grounds, a 30-minute transfer from Palma Airport - has been gorgeously kitted out, and all guests get en suite bathrooms and heavenly comfortable beds (well, no one can 'transform' without decent sleep!).

Neither is it a weight-loss camp. You're welcome to take your own 'before and after' measurements if you want, but it's not something the team pushes as that's not really what it's about. Mindfulness and positive self-talk are all in the mix too, so expect to flex those thought processes as much as your quads and abs.

The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A bedroom at the Body Camp Mallorca villa. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A secluded bay in Santanyi, following a 12km coastal hike as part of the fitness programme at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Guests Body Camp Mallorca enjoying a scenic bike ride. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.

Hitting the reset button

The Body Camp is essentially a chance to escape day-to-day stresses and give your lifestyle and self-care regime a bit of a boot up the backside - while soaking up some sun and having an awesome time.

Most guests come for the full week-long experience, although shorter stays are also an option.

After getting settled, Rick talks us through the programme. We're each given a 'Life Transformation Planner', where we can plot our goals, values and progress - and write notes.

As well as the multiple daily workouts, the menu is 100% plant-based. While dietary requirements will be catered for, everybody is generally expected to eat the same things at set times. There's strictly no booze, and while there's an endless supply of fruit-infused water and herbal teas, coffee is limited to breakfast time. Portion sizes come in three options (you can go regular, slightly more calorie-reduced, or 'bulk up' with more generous servings).

The idea of restricted food and caffeine is what concerns me most - but at no point do I feel deprived. In fact, chef Ben Whale and his team blow us away with their creations. We tuck into a filling sun-dried tomato and walnut ragu, fuel up with stacks of steaming blueberry pancakes, and a chocolatey nut and cacao protein shake - one of the post-workout treats - is so thick and creamy that I can't finish it.

Fitness with a big dose of fun

Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A bedroom at the Body Camp Mallorca villa. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A secluded bay in Santanyi, following a 12km coastal hike as part of the fitness programme at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Guests Body Camp Mallorca enjoying a scenic bike ride. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.

The programmes start with warm-up jogs around the grounds and drills on the villa's custom-built training lawn. Rick and fellow fitness coach Anthony Richmond are clear about the rules: It's not a race and it really doesn't matter whether you can do a full press-up or only manage a few on your knees. So long as everyone supports each other and embraces the 'opportunity' (at Body Camp, a workout is a gift, not a chore!), you're winning.

You'll be dancing (100% sober) a lot, sometimes well before 10am - but Rick and Anthony's comedy act capers make it impossible not to get on board. A few hours in, I'm having so much fun it's impossible to tell whether it's the exercise or laughing so hard that's caused the stitch in my side. And although I'm with a group who were 99% total strangers just a day ago, we're now whooping and exchanging congratulatory hugs like old friends.

Not all the exercise takes place on site. One of The Body Camp highlights is a hike. We trek 12km along a coastal path, stopping at a dreamy secluded bay in Santanyi for a picnic lunch and quick dip in the sea. The next day, we explore the scenery for a few hours with an afternoon bike ride. Guests can also borrow the bikes for longer rides if they want; Mallorca has some fantastic long open roads to get those legs working.

The inside gets some work too

In terms of the mind-based exercises, we start each morning with a quick boogie in the villa (Body Camp doesn't have alarm clocks; instead music starts blaring shortly before 7am), taking turns to read out a series of positive mantras to set the tone for the day ahead.

Rick also leads us on a mindfulness and positive-thinking session, and we do an hour-long breathwork workshop with Sapphire Brown, who guides us through the circular breathing technique as we lie on our backs in the yoga studio. It takes me a little while to get to grips with the technique, but very quickly the effects are intense and overwhelming - in the most welcome and cleansing way. It feels like an emotional purge (tears are totally normal and Sapphire tells us to just go with whatever we're feeling), and I cry like all my periods have come at once - yet afterwards feel incredibly energised.

Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Breakfast with a side of positive thinking at Body Camp Mallorca - plant-based blueberry pancakes and a morning mantra card to start the day. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A villa at the Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
Chef Ben Whale serving up tasty plant-based treats at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
A bedroom at the Body Camp Mallorca villa. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.
A secluded bay in Santanyi, following a 12km coastal hike as part of the fitness programme at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Guests Body Camp Mallorca enjoying a scenic bike ride. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
Abi Jackson (right) and team-mates after completing the Baywatch Challenge workout at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Abi Jackson/PA.
The yoga studio at Body Camp Mallorca. Photo: Sofia Gomez Fonzo/Body Camp/PA.

Everybody's experience at a retreat is slightly different, and that's really the idea. After a few days, my muscles are noticeably more defined and the whole group is glowing from within. Despite the 890,000 burpees, I feel rested and relaxed. People say The Body Camp is life-changing - and it's easy to see why.

How to get there

A week's stay at Body Camp Mallorca (thebodycamp.com) starts from around €1,055pp (programme runs Friday-Friday), which includes the programme, accommodation and all food and drink. Shorter stays of three nights (Fri-Mon) or four nights (Mon-Fri) cost from €665 approx. Day passes are also available for €165.

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