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Five-day bootcamp in the hills of Chiang Mai, Thailand

By: Amy Brook-Partridge

With husband James teetering on the brink of turning 40, Amy Brook-Partridge packed up a bag with enough his and hers lycra, plasters and Vaseline to see them through a five-day bootcamp in the hills of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

James and Amy at the top of the Doi Suthep temple

“You’re closer to the grave than the cradle,” said James’s best mate, as he was fast approaching the grand old age of 40. With that touching thought in mind, I thought I’d find a retreat for the husband and I that would help boost our fitness levels and make us feel in tiptop shape for his impending birthday. This would be no yogic, deep-breathing, bendy retreat. This “break” was going to be full-on, with exercise from dawn till dusk and maybe a light meal thrown in.

Once we’d returned to Singapore from Chiang Mai, I asked James what he really thought of my “gift”.

Group shot! 

When I told you I’d booked us on this bootcamp, what were you expecting?
To be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. I had visions of scary Sergeant major types (think an Officer and a Gentleman or Full Metal Jacket, not Winsdor Davies out of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum), making my life hell as I waded through swamps and the like, being fed only mung beans. But I have to say, the reality of the experience in Thailand could not have been more different and pleasurable.

And in reality, how did it measure up?
It’s obviously hard work. It is, after all, a boot camp for which you have signed up because you want to get fitter and healthier. You’re exercising for eight hours a day, which is tough. But the activities are mixed, from circuits to cycling, walking to football and training to tennis to Muay Thai. There’s a lot of variation, which stops things being too repetitive.

Secondly, the instructors are great people who really work with you to make sure you are pushing yourself hard enough to gain the most benefit from your time there. They pride themselves on trying to understand your objectives and working with you to maximise your results. 

As far as I could tell, you didn’t sneak off for a burger – what did you think of the food and the place itself?
I was never hungry despite the heavily calorie-controlled diet. The food was ridiculously healthy but surprisingly delicious. I never thought a raw lasagne could taste so good. 

The accommodation was basic but clean. The place itself is beautiful, and the views from the exercise sala are breathtaking.

Half way up towards the Doi Suthep temple 

I want to go back. Will you come with me?
Anytime! If you’re looking to lose weight in a quick and healthy way, and to tone yourself up, having someone encourage good behaviours for a few days can have extraordinary results. So yes, I’d definitely go back. It’s not a quick fix, but can certainly put you on the right track.

James’ results over four days
1.9kg weight loss
6cm lost from arms
10cm lost from waist


Sample days
7.45am to 8.30am: 4km walk to Prem International School to use its facilities.
8.30am to10am: Cardio tennis with La De, focusing on cardio improvement played to some good old Michael Jackson tunes.
10am to 11.30am: Team games, using mental and physical agility.
12.30pm to 1.45pm: Low ropes, a team game across a rope assault course.
2.30pm to 4pm: Circuits back at the spa’s X Track.
4.15pm to 5.15pm: Aqua aerobics at the resort’s pool.
Evening: Massage.

7am to 8am: Breakfast.
8.30am to 10am: Arrive at Huay Tung Tao Lake for walk and exercises.
10.30am to 11.30am: Arrive at Huay Kaew Park for circuits.
12pm to 1.30pm: Step challenge at Doi Suthep Temple.
12pm to 4pm: Muay Thai at KC Muay Thai gym.
Evening: Infrared sauna.

Bicycle kicks around Huay Tung Tao Lake

The details
A one-week Fresh Start programme for two people sharing a deluxe pool room, including all meals and alternate infrared sauna or one-hour Thai massage, costs from $1,700 per person. James and Amy flew with SilkAir, costing just under $1,000 for two people. Other carriers flying the route include Tigerair and AirAsia. We stayed at the Spa Resort Chiang Mai.