This past weekend, I had the chance to go to a wellness summer camp in Michigan with my friend Sammy (@shapedupsam). When Sammy invited me to go, I was nervous. Nervous to be around other people who I didn’t know, nervous to eat food that I didn’t make for myself, nervous that no one would like me and that I wouldn’t fit in, but also nervous about the experience as a whole. If you follow me on Instagram then you’ve probably seen me post about being an introvert and someone who recharges alone—and this is so true. I don’t do well being on my A-game all the time, and I certainly don’t thrive talking to people all day long…my energy just dwindles. While the summer camp in itself sounded right up my alley—trail runs, smoothie bowls, and HIIT workouts—it was still something that I was unsure of attending.
After talking it over with a few people, I decided I would branch out of my comfort zone and go to Fit Approach’s EMPOWER Summer Camp. The camp was held at Ronora Lodge and Retreat Center in Watervliet, Michigan. The grounds were nestled between a small forest with a lake hidden in the back. Several cabins lined the perimeter and there was a large dining hall with a bonfire in the center.
Sammy and I were cabin-mates…along with 12 other ladies. Major YIKES. I love my space, and sharing a bedroom with nine other girls and only two bathrooms amongst 12 women was nerve-racking. You may be thinking, “Amanda, you are overreacting,” but I can assure you I’m not. I’m so used to sleeping in an environment that is private, dark, and quiet. I’m also someone who can’t fall asleep with any noise…okay, this post is starting to sound like one big complaining fest, but I’m trying to set the scene here OKAY?
After getting settled into our cabin, Sammy and I ventured outside where we were greeted by friendly faces of women who were dressed in workout gear. Our first activity was a trail run to shakeout after a day of traveling (lucky for us, the campgrounds were only three hours from where we live!). I ended up leading the pack with the camp founder/leader, Jamie, and we chatted while running up and down hills and through trees. It was a great way to start off camp, to say the very least. Afterwards, we were served a delicious dinner made from ingredients from the camp’s garden—think homemade guac, freshly picked lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes, and vegan date dessert balls.
thing I learned no.1: if you don’t just “go for it,” you’ll really miss out on new experiences
Even though this was only the first few hours, I already knew I had made the right decision going to this camp, and I knew I probably would never have an opportunity like this again. We were already doing things (like trail running) and eating things (fresh vegetables and fruits) that aligned with my values, that I knew I made the right decision by pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
We finished off the night with sunset yoga and a campfire circle, where myself along with the other ladies created silly dances and cheers to ring in the first night of camp. And after the festivities were over, I realized my second thing I learned from summer camp:
thing I learned No. 2. you can make friends with anyone if you push yourself out of your comfort zone
I had always thought that most bloggers/influencers weren’t their true selves on social media. But these ladies were all welcoming and friendly and made me feel right at home! We talked about running, yoga, and veganism and while I’m not someone who likes talking a lot, I found that pushing myself to start conversations really allowed me to feel more comfortable with everyone else who attended camp.
While I didn’t sleep very well the first night, I woke up the next morning excited for what we had planned for the day: another trail run, a HIIT workout, a smoothie bowl bar, power yoga/pilates, and then sunset yoga later in the evening. The morning trail run was so much fun and was sponsored by Aftershokz. I have never heard of these wireless headphones before but now I’m OBSESSED. Instead of putting the headphones in your ear, you actually wear them above your ear. This style is perfect for running outside because you’re still able to listen to music, podcasts, and take phone calls while still being able to hear what’s happening in your surroundings—they’re truly a game changer (get $50 off a pair for yourself by using the code EMPOWER).
After our morning run, we braved the heat and did a HITT workout taught by Kasey Brown (AKA @powercakes on Instagram) that was sponsored by Now Foods. I was already a bit tired from our morning run, but I was excited to sweat it out and do a HIIT workout. The workout consisted of partner and individual exercises like jump squats, burpees, and a variety of planks. Even though some of the women were pushing it to the limit, I listened to my body and only did the workouts that felt good—I didn’t do burpees, instead, I did squats.
thing I learned no.3. just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean that I have to. listening to my body is so much more important!
Normally, I max out when doing group workouts because I feel as though I have something to prove. But this time around, I was able to listen to my body and do the exercises that felt GOOD. After our HIIT workout, we went inside to the dining hall to decorate our own smoothie bowls that were created by Annmarie (AKA @fitfoodiemama on Instagram) and powered by Now Foods’ protein and supplement powders. The bowl that I chose was a vegan smoothie made with frozen berries and Now Foods’ beet root powder and pea protein powder. In my opinion, the best part of smoothie bowls are the toppings. I loaded the top of my smoothie bowl with cacao nibs, strawberries, blueberries, and shredded coconut—it was the perfect post-workout snack.
After our two workouts we had time to relax by the lake before our, yes it’s true, third and fourth workouts of the day. The lake was gorgeous and I sat and enjoyed the company of Sammy and some of the other girls. A few hours later, we departed back to the dining hall to do an indoor “HIIT and Flow” workout created by the @flexandflow team. Think of “HIIT and Flow” as a power yoga workout that includes sliders to really engage your core and arm muscles.
As someone who has been doing yoga and working out for a long time, this third workout of the day really made me sore—I was walking funny and had to roll out the following few days. Afterwards, we were treated to a happy hour sponsored by Jade Leaf Matcha where we had the chance to try their new vegan matcha fruit bites. They were super tasty and helped me feel energized after a long day of workouts.
As the day came to an end, I realized that this weekend had been full of learning experiences: I went out of my comfort zone to a place where I only knew one person, I tried new foods and ventured out of my “safe” meals, I challenged myself to talk with the other ladies there (because I normally would have only talked to the person I came with), and I managed my emotions especially when I was in no control of the weekend. Fit Approach’s EMPOWER Summer Camp taught me that I can do anything I put my mind to, and just because I might be nervous about doing something, does not mean that I shouldn’t just go for it and try it.
Thank you Fit Approach for such a fantastic weekend!
Photographs courtesy of James Pancoast, @jamespancoastphotos