Higher Tone

Variety is the spice of life and the fuel for fitness


Booty Camp Cardiff

Booty Camp has exploded onto the Cardiff fitness scene, attracting over 100 female members all looking to get in shape and have fun at the same time.  The group exercise classes aim to encourage women of all ages and fitness levels to commit to a healthier lifestyle.

booty camp cardiff

Instructor Abbie Skene (bottom left) and booty campers

Founder of Cardiff’s first female only fitness boot camp and personal trainer, Mark Tregilgas, shares his passion for more inclusive and motivational exercise.

“We wanted to create a place where all women could exercise comfortably in a completely non-intimidating environment. At Booty Camp we want you to be who you want to be and not worry about being judged.”

“Our target group is mainly women in their early 30s, often mothers with a few young children.  The ages range from around 28 to 40 and there is a vast range of fitness levels.”



Mark is an experienced gym and spin instructor with a diploma in personal training and a level 3 qualification in advanced personal training.  He is an inspirational example of the importance of dedication to fitness as he struggled with his weight as a youngster but is now committed to exercise and healthy nutrition.



Instructors Mark Tregilgas and Abbie Skene

What to expect from a Booty Camp class:

This class couldn’t be further from the traditional Sergeant Major style boot camp hell I’ve experienced in the past.  We were encouraged to take the range of bodyweight exercises and high intensity intervals at our own pace as there was a diverse range of fitness levels within the group.  I decided to start with the beginners class, which combines some tough tabata routines with a mixture of toning exercises.  It was a gentle and relaxed introduction to the Booty Camp classes and I would be keen to try some of the intermediate and advanced sessions.

Date and time: Thursday 630pm – 7.15pm

Venue: Poletwisters, Eastmoors Road Industrial Estate.

Instructor: Abbie Skene

1)   Atmosphere and Fun: 7.5/10

Abbie immediately made the group feel at ease and we were guided and motivated through a mixture of resistance moves, cardio interval training and core exercises.

2)   Sweat and Pain: 7/10

The jumping jacks, side lunge jumps and mountain climbers were alternated with squats, lunges and planks, so there was a mixture of sweaty aerobic exercise and painful toning moves.

3)   Calorie Burn

I’d estimate about 250-300 calories per class, but this completely depends on your weight and fitness level.

4)   Toning Potential: 9/10

This class is a must for anyone looking to tighten and tone.  I really noticed my core working during the planks, side-planks and fully extended sit-ups.

5)   Morning After Muscle Ache: 8.5/10

The extremely high number of squats performed at the beginning on the class meant everyday movements such as walking and climbing stairs were very painful the next day.  Squats, named the “King of all exercises” by Abbie clearly have a dramatic effect.  The technical term for this type of muscle ache is DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and the best prevention is keeping active and not sitting still.

Highlight of the class:

The high intensity interval training (Tabata) was by far the most challenging part, as we alternated 30 seconds of side lunge jumps with a 30 seconds plank.  The combination worked several different muscle groups at once and caused my heart rate to increase significantly.

The ladies attended the class for a number of reasons including impending marriages and recent births and there was a great sense of camaraderie within the group.

booty 3

Beginners class at Poletwisters

Here is a list of the Booty Camp classes:

Beginners Classes

Tuesday + Thursday 630pm – 7.15pm at Poletwisters, Eastmoors Road Industrial Estate.

Regular Classes

Monday – Vitality, Red Dragon Centre, Cardiff Bay 7pm – 8pm
Tuesday – Cardiff Athletic Stadium, Lecwith Road. 7.30-8.30pm
Wednesday – Dragon Cross-FIT, Curran Road. 7.30pm – 8.30pm
Thursday – Llandaff Fields, Bottom of Cathedral Road 9.15am – 10.15am
Thursday – Universal Fitness, Ocean Way. 7.30 – 8.30pm
Saturday – Llandaff Fields, Bottom of Cathedral Rd. 10am – 11am

Ninja classes (advanced)

Friday – Dragon Cross-FIT, Curran Road. 6pm – 7pm & 7pm – 8pm

Online Group Detox: Gimme the Skinny

Cardiff Booty Camp’s New Year Cleanse: ‘Gimme the Skinny’ commences on the 14th of January.  This involves 28 days of post festive detoxification, health, fitness and fat loss from Mark and Abbie.

To find out more and sign up, visit the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/bootycampcardiff?fref=ts

The weigh in for the detox will be on Sunday the 13th of January at the Holiday Inn situated in Cardiff City Centre.

“Trust in the programme”- Mark Tregilgasgimmie the skinny

Nutrition is the key factor to sustaining a successful fitness regime.  There are hundreds of fad diets, but unfortunately there is no quick fix.  In order to change your body shape and really notice a difference, you must commit to a balanced diet and an active exercise regime.

“You can’t out train poor nutrition” Mark Tregilgas

10 rules for optimum energy and fat loss

These are the key rules which helped Mark to change his shape:

1) Keep hydrated with bottled or filtered water

2) Bin the sugary cereal

This will give you an instant sugar high and the excess sugar will be stored as fat.

3) Do not fear fat

Avocados, nuts, coconut oil and olive oil are great sources of good fat and essential for energy and healthy living.

4) Eat plenty of protein

5) Let vegetables become your best friend

6) Eliminate stress and get your sleep

7) Eat within an hour of your workout

Immediately after your workout your body is at it’s most receptive to absorb vital nutrients in order to start the repair process.

8) Do not calorie count

Concentrate on eating more protein rather than a smaller amount of sugary foods.

9) Understand that booze

Alcohol is simply sugar and it de-hydrates you.

10) In a nutshell eat as much fish, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruit as you like. Cook in coconut oil, drizzle your veg/salads in olive oil, wash it down with bottled water and you will begin to feel and look great.



Boot Camp: British Military Fitness Style

It took a lot of strength to drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday morning, fully aware that I was headed for the hell of a military workout.  The torrential rain did not help matters.  I toyed with the idea that the class might be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, but on arrival it soon became apparent that this couldn’t be further from the case.

In fact the primary aim of the class seemed to be to get us all as muddy as possible.  After sprinting around various trees in the waterlogged Llandaff Fields, our combat-clad instructor shouted that when he yelled 1, we all had to drop to the floor and roll over.  I responded to this with a snort of disdain, but of course failure to comply soon proved foolish.  Our trainer, Solly Afsar, had an impressive assortment of forfeits, which he was only too happy to deal out.  Within minutes I soon resembled Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin.  Attempting to do press-ups in the pouring rain whilst covered head to toe in mud, with mascara dripping steadily down my face, will definitely go down as a low point.

I very much resembled Private Benjamin after the first 10 minutes

Military Mantra: “Break them down and build them back up”

I was broken.  Then things suddenly started to look up.  The sun made a brief appearance and we stopped rolling around in the mud.  My clothes were fortunately not completely ruined because we had been given different coloured bibs before starting the class depending on ability levels.  I was given a blue bib because it was my first time, but the intermediates were wearing red and the dedicated, advanced group were sporting green vests.

This was the state of my outfit post boot camp. The mud dripped through even though I was wearing a bib.

The boot camp class created an incredible team atmosphere because everyone worked together and motivated each other.  Despite being new, I was made to feel part of the group within minutes.  After the class finished I felt elated, hyper and ridiculously energetic.  The post-workout endorphins rush was at a whole new level and I was on a high for the whole day.  Whether this was down to the group dynamic, the outdoor setting or the general feeling of relief that I had survived the class, the feeling was overwhelming.

The team-work exercises really motivate you

Military workouts are based on three fundamentals of training: cardio, strength and agility.  They are all about bare essentials and using your own body weight as resistance.  By stringing together exercises like push-ups, squats, sit-ups and planks with no break in-between, your body will turn into an efficient machine.  Boot camp classes aim to give your body a full workout, so the exercises target multiple muscles, rather than isolating one group at a time.

Challenge Yourself

The classes are designed to improve speed, agility, strength and stamina.  The beginners blue group is more focused on personal goals, whereas the red and green groups can get much more competitive.  The advanced groups are really pushed to their limit and beyond with gruelling circuits and sprint races.

Killer Exercise: The burpee

This is a classic military movement and it works because it targets so many muscle groups.

A marine demonstrating a burpee

1) Start in a standing position

2) Drop down into the squat position with your hands on the floor

3) Extend your feet back quickly to assume the front plank position

4) Bounce back into the squat position

5) Jump back to the standing position

Repeat for 10 (beginner) 25 (intermediate) and advanced keep going for as many as you can

The best element of a BMF class lies in the fun you can have with the other people in your group.  Rather than slogging it out in the gym for hours with minimal results, these sessions will revitalise you and you will see a noticeable improvement within a few weeks.

In Cardiff, BMF hold various morning and evening sessions at Heath Park and Pontcanna Fields.  Groups vary in size, but there can be over 30 people per class, a testament to the popularity of this fitness craze.

BMF Cardiff instructors Solly Asfar (left), Andy Morgan (middle) and participant Arwel Jones (right)

The instructor for the blue group was 18-year-old Solly Asfar (pictured on the left).  Although he has not done any military service yet, he attends military preparation college.  He said: “If you attend regular classes, keep a healthy diet and get enough sleep, you will start to see your fitness improve very quickly.”

Andy Morgan, 24 (pictured middle) was the trainer for the intermediate and advanced groups.  Andy spent 2 years with the RAF Reserves at Mod Saint Athan and has been an instructor with British Military Fitness since June 2010. He aims to join the Royal Marines as an Officer in the near future.

Arwel Jones (pictured on the right) has been coming to the BMF in Cardiff several times a week for three years.  He said “I’m in the advanced green group which is pretty tough but I love it.  The classes really allow you to push yourself to your absolute limit”.

Rate the Class:

1) Atmosphere and Fun: 8/10

The outdoor setting (despite the rain) combined with the motivation from the military instructors and the whole group gave a great buzz.

2) Sweat and Pain: 7/10

The exercises were tough, but because I was in the blue group, I was not pushed to my limit.

3) Calorie Burn: I would estimate about 400-500 per hour

4) Toning Potential 7/10

The combination of planks, squats, press ups, crunches and tricep dips targeted lots of muscle groups.

5) Morning After Muscle Ache: 8.5/10

I was hobbling around like an old lady the next day.  No pain, no gain!