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The walking holiday where you can drink wine – and lose weight

Imagine a walking holiday where you get to drink wine – and lose weight? Victoria Lambert found just that in Joanna Hall’s Walkactive Training Camp in Spain 

A boot camp where you can drink wine? A cardiovascular boost which doesn’t involve high intensity full on aerobic assault? An inch-loss shedding regime which has no truck with slimy hot and cold wraps? Count me in – especially if it takes place in the sun, creates a routine you can genuinely carry on at home. Oh, and ends in a night of wild 80s-style dancing.

This, my friends, is the Walkactive Training Camp in La Manga, Spain – one of several residential courses you can join, both in the UK and by the Mediterranean, where women (and a few men) learn to walk properly, so that every step brings multiple benefits. These include postural, functional and cosmetic effects, explains Joanna Hall, a sports scientist and the creator of the Walkactive programme, which through a series of books and workshops shows you how to walk for weight loss and toning. You learn to hold yourself better, walk using every part of the foot and leg, and ultimately achieve a leaner, taller look – while nabbing those heart and lung benefits too.

Walkactive weekends is that you clock up the steps, skinny down in real measures, and yet live remarkably well.

Having walked with Joanna before in the UK (to learn the technique) and in Spain (to embed it), I was keen to go back to La Manga  to see if I could get further benefits from practising the technique as an improver.

La Manga photo 1
You’ll see some beautiful views on your walks

The course runs across five days and four nights (others in the UK are shorter), and includes drill sessions, time trials, a bathe in the Med and a hill climb.

Every morning starts with an alarm call at 6.30 am. Ah yes. The sunrise walk – 3km or 5km depending on how fresh you are feeling. One of the highlights of a Joanna Hall camp is this daybreak dash when you wake up the body with some serious walking (by torchlight initially), followed by yoga stretches where you salute the sun as it rises. A fabulous start to the day, followed by an equally impressive breakfast, where Walkactivers enjoy a feeling of superiority over the international golfers who are virtually in their PJs, while we have done some serious steps.

La Manga photo 2

Saluting the sun

Walking for weight loss and toning

Drill sessions in the mornings teach the basics. To get the most out of every step you take, says Joanna, everything starts with the foot. She teaches us to stretch one foot back so that the weight is resting on our toes – not quite a ballet pointe, but the toes themselves bent and taking the weight so that we can get maximum propulsion and stretch forward as we begin to move.

This creates an ‘open ankle’ and encourages the muscles all the way up the leg to work, making hamstrings longer and opening up our pelvis.

Second area to work on: lifting up out of the hips. This is where multiple sessions pay off. It is too easy to let your torso become accustomed to slumping into your hip joints, which then get tighter and make leg and back movement less flexible – we all do it. You need to train the muscles to lengthen, and repeat that lesson over and over.

walking side picBut focusing on raising your torso up helps support the back, tighten the abdominals, and allow legs a longer range of motion. Once we mastered those parts of the technique, we’re encouraged to stand up straight by lifting our head and raising the rib cage. Joanna also films walkers so she can tailor her explanations to individual problems.

And Walkactivers do come in different shapes and sizes: there are fitness fanatics who enjoy the challenge of walking with precision at pace; those who want to shape up; others with chronic health conditions who need motivation or support.

I found that as an ‘improver’ I worked on pace as well as technique – working my toes and elbows to move faster, or to give me an extra gear up hill.

Plus it was vital to re-learn the ‘Ab-J’ the standing abdominal exercise designed to work the tummy muscles and pull in the waist. We seem to perform hundreds over the four days.

And the rest of the time, we walk. Step counters are pinging off regularly as we hit 10,000 steps, 20,000, 30,000…   most participants will cover about 50km over the four days.

Walktastic group by sea

How about the results?

When the tape measure came out on the last morning, there were as many excited oohs and aahs as Bonfire Night. I’d lost an inch and a half from my waist. Another walker had lost two inches plus further inches from hips and bust.

Yet what seems remarkable about Walkactive weekends is that you clock up the steps, skinny down in real measures, and yet live remarkably well.

walkers variously dined out on pasta, tapas, and Asian food


More than one bottle of Cava disappeared over the long weekend, and walkers variously dined out on pasta, tapas, and Asian food. Not to mention the addictive toasted sandwiches at lunchtime by La Manga’s pool. Perhaps dancing in the Piano Bar at night helped wear off a few calories?

For an action-packed weekend in the sun, a Walkactive experience offers real health benefits – whether you’re a starter or an addict like me.


Walkactive Training Clubs are running at Ritz Carlton, Abama, Tenerife from Thursday 26th February to Monday 2nd March 2015, and at La Manga Club, Murica, Spain on Thursday 23rd – Monday 27th April 2015. Prices range from £850, including access to all Joanna Hall Walkactive trainsng sessions, five star accomodation for four nights, half board (Thursday evening to Monday morning) and a 30 minute spa treatment (four options) for one person at the value of £40. One Day Wlakactive courses run ascross the country all year.

For more information click here


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