Whilst on the start line of the London Marathon I was a massive tangle of emotions. All at once I was excited, scared, eager to get going and wanting the starting pistol to never sound. I felt reassured before starting by the crowds of others in the same nervous predicament, and particularly by the other Spinal Research runners. There was a team energy and excitement that permeated the terror that was hanging in the air.
It says a lot about the reputation of Kayla Itsines that my feelings before her London Bootcamp last Saturday were not a million miles away from this…
I’ve heard a lot about Kayla, being a fan of both fitness and Instagram it would be extraordinary had I not. I’d seen the transformations, the sweaty selfies, and the #kaylasarmy hashtags, and had grown steadily more curious. However, whilst marathon training I felt I had to be fully committed to my running, and I was concerned about embarking on a programme that seemed to prioritise body image as one of its main outcomes. Whilst results and goals are important to any form of training, I have the sort of mindset and determination whereby if I prioritise body image I’m unlikely to ever be satisfied. Not to mention that even as a relatively fit individual I was terrified at the prospect of her notoriously high intensity workouts.
However, when I heard about the Kayla bootcamps coming to London I knew this was the perfect opportunity to find out what Kayla’s workouts were really like, and where the motivation comes from for the BBG.
I went along with my friend Tiff last Saturday, and I was expecting to leave feeling sweaty and dissatisfied with my body compared to Kayla’s and those of the devotees of BBG. I definitely left sweaty, but from then on my expectations were totally smashed.
There were hordes of us there excitedly chattering away on our yoga mats and the numbers really spoke for itself when it comes to Kayla’s popularity. Her absolute hunk of a boyfriend Toby made sure we fully understood all the terms and conditions of taking part in the bootcamp, as well as revving up the crowds for the main attraction.
When Kayla herself came out it was like a rock star with abs of steel had arrived. I was semi expecting a diminutive drill sergeant to be barking out burpee orders, but what really struck me about Kayla was her enthusiasm, obvious passion, and an overwhelming sense of kindness. It was abundantly clear that she was there to empower people rather than feel powerful herself. However, she was also very down to earth, joking that if we were laughing before the workout we wouldn’t be after it. She wasn’t wrong.
The workout was Tough with a capital T. However, I felt motivated to keep going and alternatives were provided if an exercise became too intense. This provided a level of accessibility that is often missing from high intensity workout classes – I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has turned down resistance on a spin bike having been told to turn it up – and it meant that instead of hurling yourself down a sweaty tunnel with no light at the end of it, you were keeping up and feeling good on your journey.
One thing I really liked about the workout was that although it was hard, it was short. This meant that you knew that if you just kept going for a few more reps it would be over soon, so the motivation to keep working rather than take a break remained consistent.
At the beginning of the session Kayla announced the launch of her merchandise range that is not available in the UK, and let us know that Toby and her team would be looking out for the girls working their hardest to give out a few freebies to. You can imagine my pride when I looked up from a circuit to see a Sweat with Kayla water bottle being placed by my increasingly shaking plank.
I genuinely came away from the session feeling inspired.
I felt inspired by Kayla and her passion for empowering the minds and bodies of women worldwide. Teaching people to squat is one thing, but teaching them to value themselves and their time is another entirely. Fitness can often be misconstrued with vanity unfortunately, but I don’t think anyone would accuse Kayla and her mission of having anything but great intentions.
I felt inspired by the dedication, and not to mention bodies, of the girls who had taken the time to commit to the Bikini Body Guide. I was also able to meet Roa, a follower of my blog, and it was so great to be reminded of the networks of goodwill and support that are built around fitness. Thanks so much for saying hi Rosa!
I felt inspired by the approach. My concerns that the guide promoted an unhealthy relationship with body image were totally unfounded as whilst bodily strength was what we were being served, strength of mind and confidence were the real order of the day.
Finally, I felt inspired to download the guide…