Herald reporter Clarissa’s muddy military experience

Escot boot camp. Ref shs 7013-07-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Escot boot camp. Ref shs 7013-07-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

A face full of mud followed by an icy bath is not the usual way people spend their Saturdays, unless they are taking part in a military-style fitness class.

Escot boot camp. Ref shs 7094-07-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Escot boot camp. Ref shs 7094-07-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

For one hour, I was almost an action hero as I completed the course around Escot Park, with more than 45 people led by South West Military Fitness (SWMF).

After a ten-minute warm-up, the hard work began with a gruelling 40-minute workout.

This took us into the depths of the park through deep mud, forest and then through a small swamp, which had large shards of ice in it.

New members have to get used to the military way of training, which includes a lot of shouting from the instructors.

Owner of SWMF, Pete Hardy said: “The instructors are like personal trainers, they can pick out individuals that need a little bit of help or a little bit of motivation.”

Newcomers are given a mentor to help them along the way so they never feel that they have been thrown in at the deep end.

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My partner, Debbie Lloyd, was a constant source of encouragement as I sunk leg deep in thick mud, dropped to the floor to do five push-ups or took part in the group mega sit up challenge, where we had to do 100 sit ups.

After finishing a complete circuit of the estate, we cooled down and changed into warm clothing. Pete moved to Honiton more than 20 years ago and set up the company after he returned from a tour of Afghanistan in 2012.

The father of two said: “There is nothing in place apart from the natural objects of the parks.

“If we find a felled log, we can do step ups.

“Fundamentally, training outdoors, with no forced air conditioning, is much healthier because you are out in the fresh air, and you burn nearly a third more calories than exercising indoors.”

All of the instructors are serving or ex-military personnel and take a qualification which lasts 12 months.

Members often go on to run marathons and obstacle courses including the Grizzly, at Seaton.

Pete said: “It is not for everyone, but it is something that our members have done for themselves, they find something they enjoy and they are doing it.”

South West Military Fitness runs classes from Exeter to Wales, including weekly sessions in Sidmouth, Exmouth, Ottery St Mary and Honiton.

Classes around East Devon are situated at:

? Violet Hayman playing fields Honiton, Monday and Wednesday at 10am and Wednesday evening at 6.30pm.

? RNLI beach hut Exmouth, Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm.

? The Byes, Sidmouth, Tuesday at 10am

? Escot Park, Ottery St Mary, Saturday at 9am.

For more details, visit the website at http://www.southwestmilitaryfitness.co.uk/

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