Sharon Smith opened G.I. Jane bootcamps and fitness holidays in 2008, and has been helping women find their fitness, stay disciplined and motivated, and to carry their newly found positive attitude and self-fulfilment home with them to instill long term change. With camps in the UK and Thailand’s Koh Samui, the women’s only military-style training programmes push you to just the right level, guaranteeing results whatever your fitness level. Sharon shares the reasons behind opening G.I. Jane, her own personal fitness transformation, and more…
Tell us about your first healthy holiday experience.
The first healthy holiday I experienced was a Bootcamp I attended in June 2008 in Herefordshire with my sister. It turned out to be life changing for both of us.
What are your go-to relaxation tips?
I never feel the need to reboot after a hectic week because I absolutely love what I do! But If I find I have a bit of time to myself a good book and a glass of red wine always manages to hit the spot for me.
Did starting G.I Jane mark a lifestyle change for you?
Before I founded G.I. Jane, I would not say I had the healthiest lifestyle. In my 20s and 30s, I loved the club scene and an awful lot of alcohol was consumed most weekends. I always managed to stay fit and have always been a regular gym attendee, but my diet was mostly sugary drinks and junk food. This does catch up with you! Once I reached my 40s, I noticed it was a lot more difficult to shift excessive weight.
Who are your role models and why?
I love Victoria Beckham for her style, self belief and discipline, but her most endearing feature is the ability to laugh at herself. To be honest, every week I am in a truly fortunate position to meet some of the most incredible women who show real courage and commitment to get through our camps, and it is so amazing to see.
What was the initial reason behind opening GI Jane?
I attended my first Bootcamp with my sister after she had a short stay at the priory due to alcohol addiction. When we returned, our Mum noticed straight away that my sister was different. The vacant look had gone from her eyes and she was excited about life again. I knew then that this was not just about weight loss and fitness, and that mentally this could help so many women. We help so many women now who have mental health issues such as addiction, eating disorders, depression and low self esteem, as well as weight loss and fitness issues. The sense of achievement each woman feels at the end of each camp is amazing and so many go on to completely change their lives.
Are these camps suited to a particular type of person?
We have clients attend our camps from all over the world and they all have one thing in common. They want to make positive changes in their lives and collectively, this is when amazing things happen. We cater to all ages from 18 upwards and whether you want to lose weight, get fit or feel good about yourself again, we can help you make that happen.
What do you hope guests will take away from their stay?
We hope all our guests leave us with the tools needed to implement positive changes in to their lives and the self belief that if you work hard, anything is possible. We watch women change and grow during their stay with us and they leave knowing they are now very much part of the G.I. Jane family.
Describe an ideal retreat experience here in five words.
Educational, challenging, motivational, inspirational and life changing.
What sets GI Jane programmes apart from other fitness bootcamps?
The difference between us and other resorts is the closeness of our camps as we only ever have 14 women in any given week. They bond extremely quickly and real friendships are formed. We only ever have women only camps, and we create a safe environment for them to share their stories and help each other through the camp. I know it sounds very cliché, but we really are a growing family and when each camp ends we are still always there to look out for each other. I also believe we have the best militarily trainers in the world who know how far each individual can be pushed and make sure that each client gets the very best from their stay with us!
What are the crucial factors involved in implementing a successful healthy lifestyle change?
The most crucial factor is wanting to make that change in the first place; in having the self belief that everything is achievable, and surrounding yourself with positive people.