Kate Staples Adventure Boot Camp for Women

With fitness guru Kate Staples taking over the reins of Surrey Life's health and fitness column in the March edition, find out what happened when we met the former Gladiator at Painshill Park in Cobham, to learn all about her pop...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine September 2008With the return of Gladiators to our television screens, EMMA ROBERTS set her alarm clock bright and early to meet former Gladiator turned fitness guru Kate Staples, at Painshill Park in Cobham, to learn all about her popular Surrey boot camps for women

From March 2009, Kate Staples will be writing Surrey Life magazine's monthly fitness column. Keep an eye out for the first instalment, which is out in shops from Wednesday February 18.

A crimson light creeps slowly over the shadowy treetops at Painshill Park in Cobham picking up a line of silhouetted figures emerging from the woods. They sit down on the grass and admire the breathtaking sunrise. Despite seeing it every morning, there is no complacency. Every morning is different. It's Wednesday, 5.45am, and this is Kate Staples' Adventure Boot Camp for Women. Rapidly becoming one of the most successful fitness camps in the UK, there is not a gym in sight. This is about getting fit and healthy in the most fun and natural way. "It's amazing because the human body actually does want to awaken at this time," says founder Kate Staples, as we take a short breather. "At sunrise, the body is filled with life and has a natural flood of adrenalin. It really is a very special time of the day to be outside exercising. "The women on the 5.45am camps have very busy lives, and before most people have got out of bed, these women have already had an hour of exercise, ready to start their day energised and invigorated." From Zodiac to fitness guru For many years, Kate, 42, was better known as Zodiac in the hit television series Gladiators - until she suffered a terrible injury on the show, in which she ruptured two discs in her neck. An international pole vaulter, it would also mark the end of her sporting career. At the time, Kate was ranked seventh in the world and was all set to go to the Sydney Olympics and so the injury came as a massive blow. Not to be deterred, however, she became a fitness guru instead and used her experiences of the sporting world to help make keeping fit fun. "When I competed for Britain in the pole vault, I travelled all over the world," she says. "We trained really hard but there was loads of fun and laughter. We were outside all the time and we always started very early. The connection of nature, fun and fitness seems natural to me. As corny as it sounds, laughter really is the best tonic for good health." In order to find a format for an outdoor fitness camp, which she felt was really needed in the UK, Kate did a great deal of research in the USA. At that time, nothing similar existed over here. "We were all very wrapped up in the gym culture," she says. "But after extensive research, I came across Adventure Boot Camp, started by John Spencer Ellis in California, which I brought to the UK in 2003." Camps all over Surrey In 2005, Kate opened her first camp with Olympic hero Daley Thompson, and this was so successful that he became her business partner with Adventure Boot Camp. As well as Cobham, they now have camps in Guildford, Esher, East Molesey, Oxshott, Effingham and Wimbledon, and are aiming to open 50 more across the country. It's clear that the formula works - but the words 'boot' and 'camp' are still enough to conjure up a bit of a scary mental image when used together. "Absolutely not!" Kate laughs. "Everyone has their physical limits and the camps are tailored to each individual's needs. The trainer will do an assessment before they start to define their goals. Any medical condition they might have will be taken into consideration and we make sure they take the camp only as far as they can. It's about their personal journey to fitness and well-being and no one else's." It is easy to see the pure passion behind Kate's philosophy when I mention that her approach to fitness seems to be very holistic and refreshing. "I believe that if one is in the right mindset, fitness will follow very easily," says Kate. "So, one needs to address working on the inner beauty, rather than focusing on negative issues outwardly. Some women might give themselves a really hard time, despite being a perfect ten. They magnify their flaws, but it's all in the mind. Accept yourself for the way you are, and that everyone is different, and you're halfway there. "It's such a temptation in today's society to believe everything is instantaneous. Every magazine promises that 'you can lose 10lb in ten days' etc. This is not a reality and definitely not a healthy way to approach good fitness and well-being! What I teach is the whole picture - fat loss, health, nutrition, well-being and fitness." Return of the Gladiators A new series of Gladiators has recently returned to our screens on Sky One and Gladiator Legends starts in October, where some of the original Gladiators will compete with the new ones. I ask Kate what she makes of it all. "I think it's fantastic!" she says. "I still have good friends from the show. Mark Griffin (aka Trojan) is the father of my daughter, Gabriella, and Diane Youdale (aka Jet) is her godmother. "It's a very positive and timely show for the younger generation. The interest in sport and fitness has been kickstarted by the Olympics here in 2012 and I think the show will really reinforce this. "For too long, the 'cool' image for young girls has been to be incredibly thin, constantly dieting. This can have such a dramatic impact on your body later in life, with so many of these models developing osteoporosis by the time they are 25. We need to teach people how to be fit, strong and eat well and healthily." These days, Kate lives in Esher, with her husband Chris Sheasby, and her two children, Gabriella, ten, and Kai, five, and is expecting her third in October. "I have a wonderful family and great friends and I have never enjoyed my work and my life more," she says. "It is so inspiring to meet people who had really given up on being in shape and being fit and to see those people literally transform themselves, through gradual personal commitment and determination. I am so passionate about what I do and I truly love every minute of it. Now that I'm expecting my third child, a whole new chapter of my life is starting." And, how does she feel about being a mother at 42? "I'm truly ecstatic about the prospect of being a mum again - it's a really exciting time," she says. "Plus, I'm used to very early mornings anyway, so there'll be no change there!" For more information on the Kate Staples Adventure Boot Camp for Women, visit www.fitnesscamp.co.uk or call 07809 761261

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