Does FitCamp Work?
Does FitCamp Work? avatar

That’s an excellent and fair question from anyone contemplating giving FitCamp a try.

My answer is always, “It depends on you.” What I mean by that is that if you come to the sessions, follow instructions, give your best effort, and follow sound nutritional advice, you can make some amazing progress in just a few short weeks. You can strengthen your cardiovascular system, build muscle, improve your overall strength, increase your energy levels, burn fat, lose weight, and drop inches.

The Proof

Well, after graduating our very first class of FitCampers at the end of May, 2011, here is an overview of the results. First, it should be noted that all but two participants were what I would classify as either moderately or significantly out-of shape. One participant did have a history of working out with a personal trainer and running half-marathons about a year ago, but she was not at peak shape and did have a goal to lose weight and improve her overall strength and endurance. The other participant was one of my personal training clients who had made excellent progress over the previous three months but needed to step up her program. I felt that FitCamp would be a good change of pace for her. Otherwise, everyone else had not been active for years and were all basically starting from scratch with a new exercise program.

Initial Assessment

FitCamp participants perform push-ups during the initial fitness assessment.

As suspected, we found that everyone struggled through some or all of the tasks involved in the assessment. As personal trainers, Kevin Springsteen (my assistant) and I are able to compare results to other clients that we work with and what we know as being norms from our training and experience. Some of what we observed was elevated (or maxed-out) heart rates, labored breathing, fatigue, weak muscles (upper body, lower body and core), poor endurance, and lack of speed.

Most participants were not able to run the full 600 meter warm-up jog without walking part, if not most, of the way. They also struggled through the initial basic 7-minute dynamic warm-up which includes low reps of basic movements including jumping jacks, squats, lunges, hops and other exercises meant to help elevate the heart rate and warm up all muscle groups. Flexibility and poor posture was also evident.


Participants race each other through the agility course.

Our programming going forward over the next four weeks would be designed to ease participants back into a fitness routine but challenge them to push themselves through positive motivation and fitness coaching. The routines were game-like, fun, and allowed participants to work at their current level of fitness. Most exercises were time-based, instead of rep-based so that if person A was more fit than person B, they both would perform as many reps as they each could do in a 30- or 60-second time period. Person A might do 25 push-ups in 30-seconds while person B might only be able to complete 8.

Participant performs chest fly with a resistance band.

We use six different resistance bands, each with different tension values. The bands range from 3 lbs of tension to 60 lbs. We perform various chest, back, shoulder, arm, and leg exercises that are meant to tone and strengthen the muscles.

Many of our routines focus on body weight exercises, resistance bands, and agility/obstacle courses. We use the resources we have available in Cool Creek Park as well as some basic exercise equipment and don’t currently don’t use any free-weights or mechanical exercise equipment.

For cardio training, we not only do a walk/run program, but we set up fun and creatively designed agility courses using cones, step hurdles, agility ladders and a few other fun props. Every day is a different at FitCamp.

Four Weeks Later…

At the completion of our four-week FitCamp, we conducted the same assessment that we did on the first day. Without fail, everyone made dramatic improvements in nearly all areas. There was marked improvement in cardiovascular health.  We saw a decrease in heart rate, an increase in exercise intensity, or both with each individual.  Every participant who could not complete the warm-up and cool-down runs during the first few days were not only able to complete their runs, but they improved their speed.  I’ll also add that everyone was able to dramatically improve their ability to complete the 1-mile run in a very respectable time for their respective age and fitness level.  We also saw a significant improvement in core strength, upper body strength, and lower body strength.

Every participant lost weight over the four-week period.  Weight loss ranged from 2.5 lbs to 10 lbs. Participants comments included: “I feel stronger”, “I have more energy”, “My clothes are fitting better”, “I’m wearing smaller size clothes”, and “I’m sleeping better”.

Below is a chart highlighting eight of our FitCamp participants’ assessment comparisons. I am not including names of participants per our privacy policy, but this is actual data from our initial assessment (5/2/11) and final assessment (5/27/11).  In some cases, you’ll see an increase in heart rate.  This is due to the participant working with greater intensity four weeks later.  In some the exercises, you may also notice a slight decrease in the number of repetitions the participant completed.  We attribute this to better, more controlled form or doing more reps of a non-modified exercise (i.e. doing regular push-ups instead of doing them from the knees).

These results are undisputable evidence that a commitment to a supervised exercise program based on strength training and cardiovascular training, combined with a sensible nutrition program, can help you move closer to reaching your health and fitness goals in a relatively short period of time.

I hope you’ll consider joining our FitCamp program

To your health!


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