Top Training

Nineteen Rio Olympic medallists trained there – can Amanda handle a month at Europe’s top training centre?

Photography Sergio Villalba

Think of Tenerife and what comes to mind? Tattoos, vests, hairy legs? And that’s just the women? Pastel separates, sparkly moccasins, large breasts? And that’s just the men? Tenerife would not normally be on my radar as a holiday destination – not for snobbish reasons, I really don’t mind pastel separates on men (though the gynecomastia – male breast growth – you can keep and I am not so keen on the tattoos either) but other places held greater appeal.

“The facilities are world class and the climate is simply perfect”

Arising out of hotels and apartment blocks with Mount Tiede in the background is Top Training Tenerife (known as T3). It is a dream training facility – views of the sea, several gyms (one open air) tracks, courts, pitches, pools, a gorgeous café – it has everything. Nineteen Olympic medallists trained at T3 before Rio, including Adam Peaty. The facilities are world class and the climate simply perfect – dry, calm and 27C in mid November. I have less lofty goals than Olympic medals. I am here to reconnect, take some time and get back into my stride and I have no idea what to expect.

My programme consists of four strength training/high intensity interval training (“HIT”) sessions with a personal trainer every week and three clay court tennis lessons over six days with one day off. It’s not a camp and it’s not people screaming in your face. I learned years ago from my excellent trainer and former Royal Marine Officer, Rob Suchet, that you did not have to shout at people to get the job done. That’s TV training, not the real deal.

“My tennis has all the usual problems namely, I do everything wrong”

The trip starts badly, from a health point of view that is. I’ve a few days to settle in and in the excitement of warm weather in November and incredibly reasonable wine prices, I end up in the hotel bar leading a chorus of “Y viva España” with a few poker-faced Germans. This is not an easy party to get started. I ask the barman if their ‘happy’ hour should really be called ‘The slightly less miserable than normal hour’. But I am not here to start parties; I am here to start working.

My tennis has all the usual problems. Namely, I do everything wrong. I have the wrong grip, thwack the ball too hard, don’t use topspin and don’t lift my elbow at the end of my shot. There is more of course, but I won’t bore you with the details. But hours of training, along with dedicated consolidation of what is being drummed into me against the walls of the practice courts, see some real improvements. “You are red because you are not exhaling as you hit the ball,” my coffee-coloured Argentinian coach tells me. “I think I am red because a 36 stroke rally in 28C in November is not that normal for me,” I reply.

“People are swimming, diving, leaping, running, lifting and stretching everywhere I look, life coursing through their veins”

When the temperature ‘plummets’ to 22C a few days later, the complaints about the cold are comical. Thinking about people back home with icy dollops of November rain sploshing on their heads whilst this lot are sunbathing, I start to realise that people here really don’t understand the concept of ‘cold’.

The sessions continue at the gym – lifting, stretching and generally panting. Combine that with no booze and no carbs and the results start to show. If you think the fact you are surrounded by holiday makers eating and drinking will derail you, there really is another way of viewing it. For some reason that I could not fathom, men well past their prime insist on walking round the streets (and some of them insist on eating in cafés) with their shirts off, showing off flabby stomachs, love handles and large, jiggly breasts as though they had the best super stud six pack this side of Coventry. This has a number of great advantages for anyone training. Firstly, it serves as a constant visual reminder of what the result of combining no training with an all inclusive hotel looks like and secondly, it puts you off eating much at that restaurant. I don’t know about you, but staring at large, hairy man breasts is enough to put anyone off their calamari.

The training centre offers non-athletes the ability to mix with the very best. The staff are not intimidating despite training some of the world’s top athletes and I was delighted to see a stroke victim walking with her nurse around the track as well as world class athletes training on it.

“The training centre offers non-athletes the ability to mix with the very best. The staff are not intimidating despite training some of the world’s top athletes”

Of an evening, as the sun sets, T3 is a real alternative to the ‘wine o’clock’ groove that so many of us are in. I am struck as I walk to my clay court at all the activity around me, people are swimming, diving, leaping, running, lifting and stretching everywhere I look, life coursing through their veins. On the court, which is now floodlit, my flailing attempts are disconcertingly on full view to those relaxing in the café. I can’t think about it too much. I send a picture of the all too public court back home – ‘you know, that is really out there’ a friend says, ‘most people here will be on their second glass of wine by now.’ That’s the real point. The credit always belongs to the man in the ring, ‘daring greatly’ and as those who work in T3 know, he who dares to show up – when it comes to improving health – always wins.

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Travel Notes


Hotel Suite Villa Maria
Five star luxury villa hotel opposite Top Training

Hotel Hovima Jardin La Caleta
Three star aparthotel around 20 minutes’ (uphill) walk to Top Training. Buffet food. One laundry room and apartment style accommodation.


La Caleta properties – offer a small selection of self-catering villas within walking distance of T3.

Adeje area – has a large selection of excellent hotels with many of the football teams staying here. You will need a taxi to get to T3 but these are easily hired.