In today’s hyper-connected world, is it really necessary to check into a weight loss camp to reach your fitness goals? With online coaching, meal-in-a-box plans, and calorie trackers at our fingertips, some might say that you have everything you need to accomplish your goals alone. Yet, if you’re committed to making a major change, there’s really no substitute for immersing yourself in an environment supportive of your goals. If you’re considering enrolling in a weight loss camp, here’s everything you need to know before you ship out.

Indoor cycling is one of many activities you'll find at weight loss campPhoto by USAG- Humphreys Licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Contents

     1.1 - The Camp Experience
     2.1 - “As Seen on TV”
     2.2 - Boot Camp
     2.3 - Outdoor Fitness
     2.4 - Medically Supervised
     4.1 - Start Eating Healthy
     4.2 - Cut Out Caffeine
     4.3 - Rest Up
     5.1 - All-Inclusive Fat Camps
     5.2 - Day Camps
     5.3 - Financing Plans
     6.3 - Past Injuries
     6.4 - Distance
     6.5 - Cost
     7.1 - Work with a Trainer
     7.2 - Hire a Coach
     7.3 - Commit to a Diet
     7.4 - Join a Remote Program
     7.5 - Enlist Family and Friends
     7.6 - Use an App
     7.7 - See a Nutritionist 

 

What is a Weight Loss Camp?      

There’s a common perception that weight loss camp is a military-style experience designed to shame you into compliance. The truth couldn't be more different. You will have to put in the effort of course, but today’s camps focus on getting you in shape and giving you the tools to continue your journey successfully when you leave.

The Camp Experience      

Although weight loss camps differ in their approach, ethos, and daily schedule, they’re unified by some common themes. Fundamentally, camp is about taking you out of your usual routine and completely immersing you in a new environment which puts you on the fast track towards a better future.

Taking a complete break from your daily life will give you the time and space to focus entirely on creating transformative change, without distractions and temptations. No work pressures, no colleagues tempting you out with beer and pizza, and no smartphone notifications.

You’ll be surrounded by people all on the same mission as you. You’ll be guided, educated, and motivated by experts devoted to your success. You’ll have a built in support network, underpinned by strong, inspiring leadership. Many lifelong friendships have been forged at weight loss camp.

Although you might be nervous about going, by the end of the experience, you’ll probably be sad to leave. When you do leave, you’ll feel like an entirely new person - stronger, bolder, and more confident. And just wait until you see the look on your friends’ faces when you see them again for the first time!

Weight Loss Camps Take Commitment      

Weight loss resorts take you out of your comfort zone. They drop you into an environment where you and your body come first. The priority is weight loss but setting you up for a healthy future is the most critical component.

Attending fat camp for a few weeks or months will give you big results in the short term. Your habits and attitude when you leave will dictate your results afterwards. While the type of camp you attend may help or hurt the cause, the responsibility falls on you to stick with healthy habits once the program ends.

While you’re there, giving it your all helps build a foundation for your post-program activities. Rather than struggling through camp and lamenting the fact that you’re missing out on treats or relaxation time, commit to doing your best every day.

Be prepared for not just an event, but a lifestyle change – one that you carry forward after your time at weight loss camp.

It’s crucial that you keep up with the strategies and routines you’ve learned to keep the weight off long-term.

Fat Camps Are Often Unregulated      

Many camps boast certifications and on-site experts. However, there are no laws keeping anyone from starting a weight loss camp regardless of their credentials.

Most programs will ask you to sign a release before you attend camp, which is standard for all types of locations that both adults and kids visit. If you have pre-existing medical conditions or just prefer the peace of mind that comes with having doctors on-site, there are several traits you should look for. Find a weight loss program that not only monitors your vitals but also has specialists like nutritionists and doctors around to check in on you.

Moral of the story: do your research. Look for credibility markers – quality of staff, reviews, the results of past attendees. Browse our curated listings, or take advantage of our free concierge service.

It will be hard work, but you can make itPhoto by Michael Coghlan  under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Different Types of Weight Loss Retreats      

From spa-like weight loss retreats with all-inclusive amenities to basic, bare-bones sleepaway fat camps, there are plenty of choices when it comes to enrolling in a weight loss camp. Whether you’re hoping for tough love or a cushy spa experience, finding the program that’s right for you starts here.

“As Seen on TV”      

Watching the Biggest Loser is almost addictive to many Americans, and not just the overweight ones. Something is fascinating about watching people struggle against their bodies and take control over their lives. That’s why many weight loss programs follow the methods of the show. It’s also why they’ve become popular with consumers.

Boot Camp      

If you’ve spent a lot of time as a couch potato, you might expect a boot camp-style program to get you moving and dropping the weight fast. However, these programs often cater to people at a higher level of physical fitness than most fat camp attendees.

If you’re sure you can handle miles of hikes and tough physical tests, boot camp may be for you. You might have to pass a pre-camp physical and have your doctor’s approval if you have medical concerns or you’re carrying a lot of extra weight.

Outdoor Fitness      

If the wilderness appeals to you, an outdoor fitness program may be the inspiration you need to get moving. Getting out in nature is good for us anyway, but outdoors weight loss retreats mean you’re not sweating it out in a gym with a bunch of other campers.

At the same time, you’re taking advantage of nature’s fitness equipment, which requires plenty of energy too. Outdoor weight loss retreats often use swimming, kayaking, mountain climbing, and more to get campers moving and shedding pounds.

Medically Supervised      

For people with existing health concerns, losing a ton of weight in a short period can be dangerous. While most of us could attend a fat camp with no overt health issues, those with diabetes, heart disease, or other conditions should only participate in a weight loss camp where clinical professionals are supervising.

That said, programs that claim to achieve drastic weight loss in a matter of weeks aren't always a smart idea. Although we may be desperate to get the weight off as fast as possible, cutting pounds more quickly may result in losing more muscle mass than necessary - which is disruptive to your metabolism and therefore your long-term success.

In any case, the medical community suggests aiming for a weight loss rate of one to two pounds per week, both for your overall health and for the best odds of keeping the weight off long-term.

Spas and Wellness Retreats       

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a painful and exhausting experience. At least, according to the spas and camps that label themselves as “retreats” rather than boot camps. For those who don’t enjoy sweating, there’s a luxurious spa experience awaiting you at the end of your workout.

Weight loss spas aim to help you lose weight, but they also offer amenities like facials, massages, and more. After a long day of physical activity, a good pampering session can help you relax and rejuvenate so you're ready to conquer the world tomorrow.

 

What is Fat Camp Really Like?       

For some attendees, the expectation that a weight loss retreat will feel like a real-life version of The Biggest Loser haunts them. But in reality, true weight loss camp programs have an end goal of putting you on the path toward overall health. That means exercise and good eating, sure, but it also means a positive approach to getting you in shape.

Outdoor physical activities are plentiful and fun!Photo by Fort Rucker Licensed under CC BY 2.0

What Foods Can You Eat at Weight Loss Camp?      

Depending on the type of camp you attend, their food offerings will vary. However, most programs involve lots of fruit and vegetables, in addition to lean protein and whole grains. Like most diet programs, weight loss camps typically offer three meals and a few snacks each day.

Unless you attend a camp that follows a specific diet plan, you’ll probably have more food choices than you expect.

The purpose of adhering to a food program at camp is to prepare you for success when you return home. Easing into healthier eating may not keep you from experiencing cravings, but it will give you a guideline for what to eat once you’re on your own.

What is the Daily Fat Camp Schedule Like?       

Don’t expect to sleep in every day. Most fat camps for adults operate on an early rising schedule so that you get the most of out of the day. You may not be waking up at dawn, but you should prepare for getting up early and getting moving.

Since most camp programs are only a matter of weeks, there’s no point in wasting time. You are paying the staff to help whip you into nutritional and physical shape, so keep that in mind when the alarm sounds earlier than you’d like.

Once you’re up, breakfast is the priority. Skipping breakfast only puts your body into panic mode and has the potential to mess with your blood sugar. It also affects your appetite for the rest of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast before you start working out helps avoid fatigue, too.

Although each camp will vary in its daily schedule, you’ll likely spend the early part of the day being physically active. Depending on the type of camp, you might take a hike, go for a swim, or hit the gym. You might work with a personal trainer or partake in group exercise classes whether in a gym or outdoors.

A low-calorie lunch will follow, but you won’t necessarily be hitting the gym all day. Many weight loss camps use educational seminars, group discussions, and other workshop-type events to help campers prepare for the real-life challenges they’ll face at the conclusion of camp.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t have a lot of downtime to enjoy, however. Because most programs are only a week or two in length, there’s no time to waste. Still, you can expect to get a full night’s sleep before the morning wakeup call.

How Much Weight Can You Lose at Weight Loss Camp?       

The medical community recommends aiming to lose one to two pounds per week. However, if you have a lot of weight to lose, you’re likely to see faster results than this (perhaps much faster).

It’s not uncommon to lose eight pounds or more in the first week. Just be aware that you can’t expect this rate of progress to continue indefinitely.

While individual results vary, your progress may seem faster or slower than others in your camp. That said, if you stick to the program and give it your best, you will see results.

Get ready to cut down on the PepsiPhoto by Mike Mozart Licensed under CC BY 2.0

How to Prepare for Weight Loss Camp      

There’s more to preparing for weight loss camp than just packing a bag and hopping in a taxi. Here’s what you need to do before you start a camp to ensure a healthy and successful stay.

Start Eating Healthy      

You don’t have to go on a juice diet or start eating kale for every meal but making healthier choices now will make your camp experience less of a shock later. Stop eating sugary snacks, cut out fast food, and take note of how many calories you’re consuming. Getting used to being mindful about your eating habits will set you up for success.

Cut Out Caffeine      

Some programs ban caffeine outright, while others may allow a cup of coffee with breakfast. That said, you won’t have access to a coffee shop or sugar-filled frappe, so you may want to wean off the caffeine before embarking on your weight loss journey.

Similarly, cutting out caffeine in the form of soda can also help you stop consuming empty calories and start drinking more water. Proper hydration is essential for your overall well-being, too, especially as you begin to exercise each day at camp.

Rest Up      

You might think you’re getting a head start on the camp experience by working out heavily before you get to camp. But ill-planned strenuous exercise can cause injury or wear you out so that you’re exhausted by the time camp comes around.

Keep in mind that weight loss camps for adults are often designed for people who haven't been physically active in years, if ever. That means they don’t expect you to be able to run circles around your peers in the program on the first day. Getting enough rest before you leave is more important than putting in hours at the gym.

Soon enough, you'll be able to do this tooPhoto by Eli Christman Licensed under CC BY 2.0

How Much Do Weight Loss Resorts Cost?      

Since insurance probably won’t cover your time at weight loss camp, price may prove the deciding factor. There’s also the question of how far you’re willing to travel to attend the camp of your dreams.

All-Inclusive Fat Camps       

All-inclusive camps cover your room and board plus your meals and other activities. These locations hire chefs, housekeepers, and other staff in addition to nutritionists, trainers, and coaches. The value of these amenities is reflected in the pricing packages.

The Biggest Loser Resort weight loss camp, for example, start at $2995 per week for a private room and meal plan. A typical day at one of their resorts involves chef-created meals, outdoor activities, indoor gym activities, fitness classes, and educational classes and seminars.

OneFitness Camp’s weight loss camp option starts at $2299 per week and covers all the traditional resort amenities. It also includes a follow-up guide and continued support for a few months after you leave camp, helping to keep you on track.

Many resorts function like hotels and require check-in at specific times or on certain days. While many don’t require a minimum stay, some programs mandate that you spend a set amount of time on-site to get the most of out of your time there.

Day Camps      

Other programs require you to check in daily or weekly for training sessions, group chats, and nutrition advice. Day camps take the inconvenience out of packing up your entire life for weeks at a time. However, they still offer the in-person support and fitness guidance that most campers need.

For example, All Star Fitness Boot Camp meets four days a week for a four-week period. This day camp option includes outdoor fitness instruction, nutritional counseling, and on-site personal trainers. Their fee for four weeks of outdoor instruction is $130, making this fat camp a budget-friendly one.

If you are unable to afford an all-inclusive resort camp or just don’t have the time to sleepaway for a month or more, a local program may be the jump start you need to start getting healthy on your own time.

Financing Plans      

Although you may have to negotiate with your insurance provider to get them to cover any part of your weight loss camp experience, some lenders will cover the up-front costs for you. Payment plans come from independent loan organizations that float you cash for your camp. Then you pay it back over a set amount of time.

You can apply for pre-approval to financing programs to see if you qualify, and you could be on your way to camp within a matter of weeks. Some financial institutions also cover travel expenses, an important consideration if you have to travel for the program you want.

Getting in shape can add years to your life, but it also improves the quality of your day-to-day life, and that’s nothing to skimp on.

Transformation takes effort, but it will be the best thing you ever  doPhoto by Tony Alter Licensed under CC BY 2.0

What to Consider When Searching for a Weight Loss Camp       

There’s a lot to consider when you’re putting your health and well-being in the hands of camp staff. To get the most out of your camp experience, do your best to match your current level of health and ability to the right program.

Pre-Existing or Potential Medical Conditions      

Some camps require a doctor’s note or a pre-camp physical before you can attend. However, other camps take your word for it that you’re in good health. Either way, it’s important to know if you have any medical conditions, whether diagnosed or otherwise.

A condition like diabetes, for example, causes fluctuations in blood sugar that are dangerous to your body. Eating the wrong food at the wrong time can result in either a severe spike in blood sugar or levels that are so low it could put you into a coma.

Other dangers include undiagnosed heart disease or organ malfunction that a drastic change in diet can make even worse. Any dietary restrictions should be passed along to your camp staff, as well, and a doctor’s note can help with those accommodations.

Physical Abilities and Limitations      

Recognizing your level of physical fitness and acknowledging any limitations will help you understand what type of weight loss camp would fit you best. If you used to play sports in college but stopped when you started a family, you may feel comfortable at a sports-oriented camp.

If you’ve never worked out before in your life, that might mean you need to start slowly and take beginner classes, then work up to the level you want. If you know that you’re relatively inflexible, you may opt for a program that passes on yoga but focuses on weight lifting.

There’s no shame in recognizing that there are activities that make more sense for your body than others. You just need to find the right camp with the appropriate offerings.

By the same token, recognize that transformative change comes from overcoming challenges, not avoiding them.

Recognize your limitations to avoid getting injuredPhoto by nprpdx Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Past Injuries      

Some injuries can sideline you for decades, while others are straightforward to recover from. For example, if you broke your arm while in your teens, odds are it healed up, and you’ll be ready for upper body exercises at weight loss camp.

If, however, you tore a ligament or had surgery following an on-field mishap, that could mean you won’t be able to move the way you used to. If you have severe limitations because of injury, make use of our concierge service to help you find the right camp to accommodate you.

By evaluating potential programs, we’ll help you find out what types of accommodations they can make and whether the camp will prove a good fit for your needs.

Distance      

Do you have the time and resources to travel across the country or even internationally to attend weight loss camp? Going to your dream location can add an inspirational boost to your weight loss quest, and immersing yourself completely in a new environment is a huge help in making a successful lifestyle change.

If you’re on a tight budget (or you hate flying), you might want to stay local.

Although there are plenty of new camps springing up all the time, expect to travel at least a few hours away for your top choice. Especially if you live in a remote area, you’ll need to expand your search range to a few hundred miles or more.

Cost      

Although we’ve briefly discussed financial assistance programs, not every camper will want to rack up debt to achieve their weight loss goals. If you’re in a tight financial spot, consider whether you have a friend or family member who is willing to chip in, whether on loan or as a gift.

You can also petition your insurance company to cover part of the cost of your camp experience. Most health insurance plans cover elements of weight loss treatment like obesity screening and counseling, although what those include is up for debate.

 

How to Ensure Lasting Change After Weight Loss Camp      

After you leave camp, you’ll return home. Back to your normal life, your normal routines, and your friends and family who are used to the old you.

You’ll be jolted straight back into your old life. If you’re not careful, you’ll also return to your old habits.

This is the time when you need to capitalize on all your incredible accomplishments at camp, and make sure your new habits and lifestyle stick. Here are a few time-tested ways to help you keep making progress.

Work with a Trainer      

A trainer can keep you on track if you are hitting the gym and hoping for guidance on which muscle groups to target or how to work the machines. Your gym may offer its members access to staff trainers, or you can hire a personal trainer on your own.

Thankfully, personal trainers aren’t just for the rich and famous. If you join a gym that offers personal training sessions as part of the membership fee, then you’re all set. Otherwise, you’re looking at charges of anywhere from $50 to $150 an hour for one-on-one training.

Hire a Coach      

Whether you are hitting the gym or working out solo at home, hiring a coach can help you develop the right mindset for weight loss success. Fitness coaches can work with clients online or in person, and many have certifications from independent institutions.

While BeachBody is a frontrunner for its fitness coach offerings, new programs are cropping up all the time. There are also many independent fitness coaches from a host of backgrounds, so you can find someone who you truly connect with.

Many people who decide to become fitness coaches have experience losing a lot of weight themselves. Others may have a background in yoga, weightlifting, or other athletic disciplines. Former athletes often become coaches to help others with their fitness goals, too.

 

You'll develop a fondness for fruit and vegPhoto by Kyle Brammer Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Commit to a Diet      

Although the era of diets as fads has lasted longer than expected, many people find success by committing to a diet plan on their own. However, the priority when selecting a diet to use is ensuring that you can stick with it.

Diets that cut out all your favorite foods, require consumption of fewer calories than is healthy, or diets that have you leaving an entire food group off your plate will be hard to stick with long-term. Because dieting is a decision you make on your own, there are no products to buy or programs to keep up with.

According to Medical News Today, the following nine diets were the most popular in 2017 and show no signs of slowing just yet.

  • Atkins: A low carb approach that is notorious for allowing dieters as much meat and fat as they want
  • Zone: A blend of 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent protein per meal
  • Ketogenic: High in “healthy” fats from plant sources and fish, this diet promotes ketosis, which is a sign that your body is losing fat
  • Vegetarian: Overall, vegetarian means avoiding meat and many animal products. But variations have dieters consuming eggs and milk or even fish
  • Vegan: While veganism is a way of life in that it involves avoiding animal products in consumable goods as well as food, it focuses on plant-based nutrition and leaves off dairy, animal ingredients, and honey
  • Weight Watchers: You can follow the weight watchers diet plan without participating in their program by tracking your food intake via points
  • South Beach: Focusing on healthier carbs doesn’t require membership with South Beach
  • Raw food: Like veganism, a raw food diet uses only plant foods, and usually organic ones
  • Mediterranean: This diet mimics the natural diet of Southern European populations that consume mostly plant foods, whole grains, olive oil, some dairy, and fish 

Whole foods work better, but this stuff can be useful when you're on the goPhoto by Clean Wal-Mart Licensed under CC BY 2.0

Join a Remote Program      

Programs like Weight Watchers and the Jenny Craig Diet have been around for years, but if their longevity is any indication, they’re good at what they do. Most diet systems use points or formal meal plans to keep your eating in check, but not all include fitness guidance.

A commercial diet plan usually involves following strict food intake guidelines and either in-person or online check-ins with others in the program. U.S. News & World Report ranked the top commercial diet plans based on the reviews of leading health experts.

Weight Watchers came in at number one for its overall weight loss and fat loss achievements. Experts say it’s healthy nutritionally, too. Jenny Craig was the runner-up with complete nutrition and effective weight loss, but there are concerns about the program for people with diabetes or heart problems.

The Flat Belly Diet and the Nutritarian diet tied for third place, but both place heavy restrictions on what you can and cannot eat. Experts noted that because of their tight rules, these plans might be hard for people to stick with long-term.

There are also other programs that cater to specific needs and preferences. Whether low carb, low fat, high protein, or another variation, there are commercial plans to accommodate any taste and lifestyle. The top ranking 14 commercial diet plans are:

  • Weight Watchers: Follows a point system for food intake and offers both online-only and in-person meetings for social support
  • Jenny Craig: Uses frozen meals and snacks for nutrition guidance and involves weight management counseling
  • Flat Belly: The book encourages users to eat monounsaturated fats, aka healthy fats, as a means of weight loss
  • Nutritarian: Dr. Fuhrman’s eating plan doesn’t involve calorie counting and instead focuses on eating healthy foods in the right combinations
  • Biggest Loser: This plan recommends small, frequent meals that zero in on lean protein, low-fat foods, and high amounts of fiber to keep your body fueled and your blood sugar steady
  • Nutrisystem: This carb-counting program leans toward healthier carbs that your body digests slowly, helping level blood sugar and keep you full
  • South Beach: A three-stage plan that suggests there are good and bad fats, South Beach doesn’t restrict calories but has strict parameters on what you can eat
  • Zone: Biochemist Barry Sears designed the Zone diet, which gives you a specific ratio of carbohydrates to protein which suggests that keeping you feeling full will help you cut calories
  • SlimFast: SlimFast uses meal-replacement shakes, low-carb snacks, and meal bars to cut calories and keep carbs in check
  • HMR Program: HMR involves nutritional shakes, HMR entrees, and supplements of whole foods like fruits and vegetables 

3kg dumbbellPhoto by Jonathan Rolande Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Learning to eat in a new way is difficult, especially if you have an emotional relationship with food. Fortunately, organized dieting programs take into account that people desire human connection while traveling their weight loss journeys.

Therefore, they usually often online forums, apps, or other support for people who are starting out.

Enlist Family and Friends      

With the advent of fitness trackers, it’s easier than ever to check in with friends and loved ones to see how active they are. Friendly competition can help everyone in your network get healthier, too.

Even without the interconnectivity of fitness bands and their respective apps, families who eat together can help encourage healthy choices. Family and friends can keep each other in check and offer motivation toward their goals.

Asking others to participate in physical activities also gives you a way to spend time with them without involving food. Because eating together is often the basis for many get-togethers, it’s even more critical that your relatives and friends are on board with your healthier lifestyle choices.

Use an App      

From calorie tracking to reminders that it’s time to exercise, today’s smartphone and web applications have more people than ever moving and getting healthy. Beyond Pokémon Go’s encouraging people to get active, the below apps will get you on track with getting healthier, both before and after camp.

  • Lose It!: Tracks food intake and exercise and includes challenges and online support (Apple | Android)
  • MyFitnessPal: Tracks calories with a database of over 5 million foods and offers an online community (Apple | Android)
  • Calorific: This app gives visuals of calorie servings, so you can quickly determine how much of your favorite food equals 200 calories (Apple)

See a Nutritionist      

Nutritionists are experts on food, which is one reason why many weight loss camps employ them. But you can also visit a nutritionist on your own time for help with meal planning. Depending on your physical condition and overall health, your insurance may even cover meetings with a nutritionist or dietician.

If you have an underlying health condition like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, your nutritionist can help you flesh out an eating plan that accommodates those needs. You could choose a diet based on others’ reviews or its makers’ weight loss claims. But if you want a more personalized approach, working with a nutritionist is hard to beat.

Time For Change?      

I hope you’ve found this guide both comprehensive and valuable. Are you ready to take the leap and kickstart the process of becoming your best self? Compare weight loss camps or take advantage of our free concierge service.