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					BIKINI BOOTCAMP
by Melissa Perlman & Erica Gragg
Format: Paperback ISBN: 9780552218191 Imprint: Bantam Released in December, 2007

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to Bikini Bootcamp The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up. Anonymous Like many great stories, Bikini Bootcamp started with a simple idea: to sublet our apartments; pack a few bags with beach clothes; gather some nice sheets, linens, incense and candles; and host weekend getaways for busy city dwellers like ourselves on a glorious stretch of unspoiled beach on the Mexican Riviera. We’d name our imaginary hotel Amansala, Sanskrit for ‘peaceful place on the water’. Our philosophy would be simple: ‘back to basics with style and comfort’, a place where guests could come to reconnect to themselves and nature through healthy eating, a variety of activities like yoga, kayaking, workouts on the beach and, of course, a bit of pampering. At first we focused on people like us – urban workaholics who could get away only for weekend jaunts. But then we realized that there was actually a huge demand for more extended vacations with a purpose – time away from daily pressures that rejuvenates the body and mind through an experience that challenges you and helps you grow. So we created an actual programme and called it Bikini Bootcamp. Little did we know that this simple idea would quickly turn into a journey that would transform our lives – and the lives of the thousands of visitors who participate in our programme each year. In the four years since its inception, Bikini Bootcamp has grown from a fantasy into a proven programme for weight loss, body transformation and spiritual growth. The two of us had been best friends for years, experiencing the best and worst of New York City as single career women with busy lives and endless adventures. Melissa had travelled, lived and worked all over the world, spending many years as a student of Buddhism and meditation while she lived and journeyed in the Far East, and stayed at all sorts of resorts from the most deluxe to the most rustic. She had been toying with the idea of creating an ecologically friendly yet stylish retreat, where visitors could renew themselves and escape from the stress of modern life. It would be a place where guests could eat healthily and improve their bodies and minds in a way that would last long after their suntan faded. Meanwhile, Erica had recently become a fitness and yoga instructor; she had a great job in public relations but was looking to bring more purpose into her life. After 9/11, that need became all the more clear. Some of our friends lost loved ones; others lost jobs. Melissa worked as a volunteer near Ground Zero, and Erica went to church, this Extract from BIKINI BOOTCAMP by Melissa Perlman & Erica Gragg Available in bookshops December, 2007 ISBN: 9780552218191 | Imprint: Bantam | Publisher: Random House Australia

time praying for something more than a really hot date. The tragedy of 9/11 and the quantum shift in society that followed made the need to enjoy the simple things and bring more spiritual meaning into everyone’s lives a priority. To develop the Bikini Bootcamp programme, we studied virtually every hot diet out there – from Atkins to Sugar Busters to eating according to your blood type. We consulted with registered nutritionists and top chefs. Through trial and error, we realized that most of the popular diets on the market can confuse your metabolism and make it very difficult to shed pounds or even maintain a healthy weight. We also learned that losing weight and staying healthy, trim and fit is actually much simpler than anybody seems to realize – or wants to admit. The secret to slimming down and maintaining a bikini-ready body for a lifetime is to eat nutritious, low-fat, and fibre-packed foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. After all, we don’t have to count calories to know that a salad is a better choice than french fries. As a trained chef who had once run her own restaurant in Japan, Melissa was able to devise sumptuous dishes, a fusion of Mexican and Asian cuisines, that reflect our philosophy and get results. To develop our body-shaping programmes we also sought the advice of professionals in the fields of exercise, body mechanics, yoga and meditation. Erica had studied every fitness method under the sun – from stripper workouts to Pilates and everything in between – so she was able to bring to the mix a personal knowledge of what really works and what’s actually doable for busy women. The result is an uncomplicated, workable and balanced fitness, eating and living plan that evolved into the Bikini Bootcamp Lifestyle. All that remained was to put our plan into action. Needless to say, finding the perfect location for our bootcamp was a priority. We knew our dream resort had to be located in Tulum, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Melissa had been introduced to this uniquely beautiful and isolated ten-kilometre stretch of white sand beach bordered by a calm, clear, turquoise sea ten years earlier, and it had drawn her back many times. Unlike other formerly idyllic holiday spots around the Caribbean, Tulum’s peace and tranquillity have remained untouched, thanks to unpaved access roads, no big hotels, and the often unpredictable availability of water, lights and plumbing. So the sun still beams down on water that is crystalline pure, and the starry nightscape is as wondrous today as it was thousands of years ago. All this made Tulum the ideal spot for what we thought of as an ‘ecochic fitness retreat’. Plus, the beach was close to several stunning sites that we could incorporate into our guests’ experience; the gleaming white ruins of Tulum’s pre-Hispanic Mayan city were less than an hour away by bike, and the Cenote Tankah – a system of freshwater pools made of natural limestone and coral wells that lead to underground rivers, caverns and cave systems – would make for great snorkelling excursions for our visitors. We decided to take a leap of faith and set about putting our plan into action. We built a website describing the resort we hoped we’d build, and the kind of fitness programme we hoped to create. We sent out information to a variety of magazines who eagerly wrote about a new fitness getaway called Bikini Bootcamp, and to our amazement, people started signing up! The only problem was that, at this point, Bikini Bootcamp existed only in our minds. Oops! We told all of our would-be guests that we were booked for six months and decided we’d better get on a plane to Mexico and get busy . . . Of course, the ‘no vacancies’ excuse piqued our guests’ interest even more. When we arrived in Mexico, we lugged our six enormous duffle bags down to a small beach town with no electricity, no running water and no real infrastructure. We spent our first night in

Extract from BIKINI BOOTCAMP by Melissa Perlman & Erica Gragg Available in bookshops December, 2007 ISBN: 9780552218191 | Imprint: Bantam | Publisher: Random House Australia

a sandy-floored room at a hotel catering to backpackers, sharing with the other guests a dark, outdoor bathroom that seemed to be crawling with creepy creatures.

We hitched rides down dusty roads in the back of anything with wheels – a wobbly old truck filled with bananas, and even a shiny new police car, the nicest ride in town. We found a variety of run-down cabanas, but they were too grungy to fit our vision. Just as we were about to give up, we saw a cluster of thatched-roofed cabanas nestled among lazily waving palm trees. Even better, we heard the sound of a hammer. Melissa found the owner, a Mayan local flashing gold front teeth, making repairs. He showed us the property. Yes, it was a mess – no electricity or running water – but it had potential. A few weeks later we were the proud new owners of Rancho Amansala.
Copyright © Melissa Perlman & Erica Gragg, 2007 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Extract from BIKINI BOOTCAMP by Melissa Perlman & Erica Gragg Available in bookshops December, 2007 ISBN: 9780552218191 | Imprint: Bantam | Publisher: Random House Australia


				
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