Kathryn Thomas has opened a bootcamp on the West Cork island of Inish Beg. Our reporter gets a sneak preview… and loses seven pounds in the process.
I'm lying face down in the dewy grass.
My blurred vision can just about make out a tiny bug crawling towards me, but I cannot muster the energy to lift my head, or any other part of my body.
I manage to throw a glance backwards, to see a group of people raised in a cobra position, looking quizzically at me. I suppose that means the workout isn't, as I assumed, over.
Minutes earlier, I was throwing punches, jabs, right hooks and uppercuts as fast as my feeble arms could manage. I quickly discovered there is no such thing as a break in boxercise, particularly in a class led by the relentless trainer Robyn Fitzsimons. Despite her sweet amiable demeanour, she was there to kick some ass.
And that she did.
Pure Results Bootcamp is the brainchild of Kathryn Thomas who, inspired by visits to similar concepts in Spain and the US, has started her own in West Cork, on the gorgeous private island estate of Inish Beg (inishbeg.com).
The Operation Transformation host has put together a team of trainers, leaders, a nutritionist and a life coach, and she'll be sweating alongside bootcampers every step of the way. Her goal? For people to finish up the week feeling great and brimming with confidence.
"I want them to leave feeling happier, feeling more content, feeling more confident in themselves," she says.
"It's not about whether you're here to lose five pounds, or three stone, or nothing. It's about you pushing yourself and challenging yourself. People have different goals. It's our job to help people reach those goals."
Kathryn Thomas practising yoga on the deck
Most people will likely head to the bootcamp aiming to shift a few pounds. I was on the weight-loss programme, which granted me 1,400 calories a day. With a schedule packed to the brim with classes, games and activities, it would be almost impossible not to leave a little lighter.
Meals at Pure Results are carefully curated by resident nutritionist Jen O'Callaghan, who has created a perfectly balanced menu that tastes great. But compliments won't get you seconds, and nor will mooching around the kitchen looking mournfully at the chef (I tried).
Luckily, there's little time to think about a grumbling stomach. Our days started at 7am with a Kenyan Run which, I was pleased to discover, is basically a gentle jog, taken at your own pace.
This is pretty much the only time you're not encouraged to go at things full pelt. While you're never screamed at by a burly trainer, you are encouraged to push yourself and dig out that last scrap of energy you didn't realise you had.
A funny thing happens, soon after you think you've nothing left in you.
One minute, you strongly believe you're about to vomit, or that your legs are going to fold beneath you. But then it's over.
You're finished, and all is forgotten. Your muscles are still screaming, of course, but your breath has settled, your cheeks have lost their vivid flush and you find yourself looking forward to whatever the next class will bring.
Nicola and Kathryn
Off-site excursions are thrown into the mix too, with the aim of showing off the wonders of this West Cork paradise. A boat trip to the nearby Sherkin Island, for example, revealed the Silver Strand, a beach so spectacular it could have been airlifted from the Caribbean.
We spend our final evening on kayaks, paddling out onto the still waters of Lough Hyne as the light dims. Pulling my oar through the water, I spot a flicker of bioluminescence: a magical, flint-like light sparked by disrupting Phytoplankton.
"It's there throughout the year, but it's strongest in the summer," says Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking (atlanticseakayaking.com), who leads the outings. "It feeds off the light, so the longer and brighter the day is, the stronger it is in the evening. It's like Tinkerbell's fairy dust."
It's a sight so captivating that my aching muscles are soon forgotten.
The final morning kicks off with circuits, and I find myself struggling. I've mustered enough energy for a few solid lunges, before Robyn counts down our squats.
She counts down from 10, agonisingly slowly, but when we reach "one" we're told to hold the position for a further 10 seconds. Every fibre of my being is urging me to quit, but I look up and see everyone else powering through, with gritted teeth.
I'm the first to let out a roar, but soon we're all bellowing, Kathryn included. Our tribal cry echoes from the deck of the boathouse, and gets us through those final seconds. Thighs are burning, cheeks are roasting, but we've done it and boy, does it feel good.
And the results? A week on, I'm officially seven pounds lighter. I've fallen in love with boxercise, I'm training every day and eating wisely.
But more importantly, I wake up with a buzz of energy I haven't felt since childhood.
I think we can safely call that a win.
Tug-o-war on Inish Beg
Pure Results Bootcamps (pureresultsbootcamp.com) run on May 8, June 5 and June 12. The camps operate from Friday to Friday and cost €1,199pps, or €1,399 for a single room. Also included is a two-week aftercare programme, wherein you're supplied with a bespoke diet and fitness regime, and checked up on by one of the trainers.
Pure Results Bootcamps are held in Inish Beg, near Skibbereen. The drive takes around 90 minutes from Cork City, a little longer if you meet traffic.
What to Pack
Participants are sent a comprehensive pack list before they depart, and it's worth following to the letter. You'll likely need a good few changes Decent runners and (and good sports bras for the ladies) are non-negotiable.
A local massage therapist offers deep-tissue massages at just €20 per 30 minutes. Book in for a few and offer your sore muscles some reprieve. Though all activities are optional, you'd be a fool to give any a miss, especially the 'off-campus' excursions (night kayaking does cost extra).
Before you go
It's worth trying to give up caffeine and sugar, or to cut down at least. You'll be amazed at how terrible a caffeine come-down can feel if you're used to a few cups of coffee a day. Best to suffer at home, and be at your best for bootcamp.
Around 50pc of guests at Pure Results arrive on their own, some for their first trip away by themselves. The spirit of the bootcamp is the perfect environment for solo travellers, who will quickly find themselves part of a solid gang of kindred spirits.