Based on some popular television shows, the idea of a weight loss camp is a place that is full of sporty activities at the very least. There would be running, surfing, jumping, obstacle course, and cycling. At most, we sign up for a military-style week where a drill sargeant pushes us to finish 100 push-ups. And this is because these camps are, as the term hints, camps. Camps are associated with outdoor recreation and communing with nature.
However, we often gloss over the communing with the nature part. As much as many fit or fat camps offer meditation and consultations with therapists and coaches, people usually take some misconception as proof of their progress. For instance, they are not sweating means that we are not getting a good workout. Or that exercising is enough to make healthier.
The concept of holistic fitness is not new, after all. The Shaolin monks have been practicing mindfulness and meditation along with grueling physical workouts for centuries. A fit or fat camp approach like this can emphasize the fact that signing up for one entails a commitment to change one’s lifestyle. We forget how a fitness camp is just the beginning.
Look for a camp that provides sessions for quiet time, journal writing, and meditation. It will allow one’s mind to ask and answer questions like, “Why do I want to get fit?” “What am I trying to lose weight for?”
This meditation will gradually bleed into the physical activities one does and make one more aware of movements, of what the body feels. Someone might discover, perhaps, that his body is more adapted to swimming because running makes his knees hurt extraordinarily. Another person might find that she uses the wrong form when walking and stepping on the ground, and thus makes her more susceptible to exercise-related injuries.
Another benefit of meditation in a camp is the focus on breathing. A famous meditation teacher originated the mantra “Breathing in; I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.” This resonates with every fitness instructor or coach who will tell us to “Breathe,” and to “Pace ourselves.” We breathe involuntarily, but the more strenuous the activity is, the more breathing becomes an active necessity. It brings oxygen to our muscles and lets out heat and toxins. Not only that, abdominal breathing makes us physically balanced and more aware of our center of gravity.
In a martial arts-centered fit camp, for example, an instructor will tell us that each blow we make with our limbs becomes more powerful when released with our breath. Whether it is something registered for or something planned on our own, a fit or fat camp should not be mental and physical punishment. Neither is it a race or a competition. A fit or fat camp with a healthy balance of meditation and introspection can give anyone the right attitude for an active lifestyle change.