* Please note results may vary from person to person.
After two successful week-long boot camps at Hybrid, we caught up with Karen Shakespeare to ask her a few questions about her experiences and life post boot camp. As well as dropping two dress sizes, Karen has beaten her sugar and alcohol dependency, tackled her depression, climbed to Everest Base Camp, won 27 medals and inspired others, like herself to change their lives.
If you have any reservations about attending boot camp, be sure to read this interview…
Why did you decide to come to Hybrid Bootcamp?
When I started walking upstairs on all fours because I was too unfit to walk upright I realised I needed to change my lifestyle. I tried a gym, an exercise class and a personal trainer for a couple of months but I didn’t lose any fat because none of them focused on my eating habits. I’d become incredibly unhappy and was turning to sugar and alcohol for comfort, both of which made the problem worse. I decided I needed someone to control my nutrition as well as my exercise, like on the TV programme The Biggest Loser. That’s when I found Hybrid Bootcamp in January 2015.
How did you feel on the run up to that first boot camp?
I almost didn’t go to Hybrid because I’d convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the exercise. I was already making excuses to explain the failure I was expecting. My husband, Paul, offered to drive me there and help me settle in because I was so terrified. How did boot camp differ from what you thought it was going to be? How did you feel whilst you were at boot camp? As soon as I arrived, I was made to feel welcome and supported. Although I was still apprehensive, I quickly realised there were others feeling just as scared as me. During the course of our week at Hybrid, we all formed close emotional bonds and lasting friendships; Hybrid Boot camp turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life.
Were there any particular challenges that you had to overcome?
My biggest challenge was not giving up when the going got tough. As the least fit person at boot camp I found the first few exercise sessions difficult. I phoned Paul on the first day and asked him to pick me up because I wanted to leave. Little did I know that the reason he’d offered to drive me to Hybrid Bootcamp in the first place was to stop me leaving at the first sign of hard work! Once I’d accepted that quitting wasn’t an option, I found myself accomplishing things I’d never even dreamed of attempting before. It took a few days for me to re-train my brain to think “I can” instead of “I can’t” but by the end of the week I’d stopped doubting myself completely. In fact I left Hybrid thinking I can do ANYTHING! This new confidence is something that’s stayed with me and has brought happiness to every aspect of my life.
Once you left your first boot camp, how did you continue your weight loss? (Did you join any exercise clubs / the gym etc.?)
For the first 5 weeks after leaving Hybrid I didn’t really need to work at weight loss as the fat continued to fall off me simply by applying the food rules I’d learnt at Hybrid. Although I was eating more than ever before, I was eating the right foods at the right times and this made all the difference. After 5 weeks, the fat loss started to slow down and that’s when I took up running. I’m not a natural runner, but I’ve grown to love it. I ran my first 5K in April 2015 and by September I’d run a half marathon. These were things I’d previously thought “other people” did, but now I’m doing them! How did boot camp change your life / perspective on life? Whenever life gets tough and I start to doubt myself, I simply remember the euphoria I felt at the end of my week at Hybrid Bootcamp when I had conquered the impossible. Afterall, impossible is just an opinion! What have you achieved since leaving boot camp? As well as dropping two dress sizes and shedding nearly 2 stone of fat, I’ve beaten my sugar and alcohol dependency and feel fabulous. Before Hybrid, I’d never done anything worthy of a medal. Now I have 27 of them! I also went on the Hybrid expedition to Everest Base Camp which was awe-inspiring. An unexpected consequence of doing the boot camp was seeing a massive improvement in my mental health. After 6 years of being treated for depression by the NHS, I was discharged by the consultant less than 5 months after leaving Hybrid Bootcamp. I had no idea physical exercise was such a powerful medication!
What would you say was your biggest achievement and why?
The achievement I’m most proud of is inspiring other people to start changing their lives. Some of my friends began running or took up regular exercise following my boot camp experience. I think seeing someone they knew transform before their eyes made them realise that anyone can become fit and healthy, no matter how old or what size and shape they are. I’ve also received messages and photos from people I don’t know telling me about their own weight loss journeys. It’s been incredible.
You have since come back to complete another boot camp, would you come back to Hybrid Bootcamp again? If so why?
I came back to Hybrid Bootcamp this year because I needed to reset my “I can do anything” attitude, and it certainly worked! By the end of the week I’d pledged to run a marathon, climb Kilimanjaro and take a professional qualification I’d previously thought was too difficult. I think I owe it to myself to have a Hybrid Bootcamp confidence boost at least once a year. How would you have described yourself before you joined Hybrid Bootcamp compared to how you would describe yourself now? That’s simple – before Hybrid Bootcamp I was unhappy (although I didn’t realise quite how unhappy I was), but now I love life.
What would you say to someone who was unsure about coming to boot camp? (For example if they were anxious about being too unfit or the oldest there, or perhaps they didn’t think it could help them?)
The sessions are designed to push everyone to their own limits so it really doesn’t matter if you’re the fastest, the slowest, the biggest, the smallest or even if you have injuries; you simply do the exercises at your own pace to the best of your ability. Remember you’re there for YOU so don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. I was the most unfit person on my first week but I got better results than the fittest people! Please don’t let fear stop you becoming happy. You don’t know the astonishing strength you have until you test it. Trust yourself – you can do ANYTHING.