Be careful. All “boot camps” not alike.
You may be hearing about and seeing a lot of fitness “boot camps” popping up in the area. So, which one is best and which one should you choose? Here’s the skinny on boot camp programs and how they differ from small group training classes.
First, you need to know that there are “boot camps” and then there are “small group” fitness programs that call themselves “boot camps”. “What’s the difference?” you ask. In her article, “What Is a Fitness Boot Camp?” (About.com, 2009), fitness writer Elizabeth Quinn describes a boot camp as…
“…a group exercise class that mixes traditional callisthenic and body weight exercises with interval training and strength training. While there are a variety of styles of fitness boot camps, most are designed in a way that pushes the participants harder than they’d push themselves and, in that way, resemble a military boot camp.”
The key word in her explanation is “military”. An actual boot camp program is run by experienced certified personal trainers who are not only trained in exercise science, but they should also have some type of actual boot camp training and/or certification. Why is this so important? Because military boot camp programs are designed to help take people of average or below average fitness levels and abilities and turn them into lean, mean, fighting machines in as little as eight weeks. And people who design and conduct boot camps and fitness programs for the U.S. Military have developed a template for producing incredible results in a group environment. Your fitness boot camp instructors should be trained and knowledgeable in conducting military boot camp programs and be able to design workouts that follow military boot camp protocol.
Another characteristic of boot camps, as opposed to small group fitness classes, is that they are either conducted outdoors or in a large indoor facility where recruits have ample space to run, jump, climb and complete other exercises that would not be able to be performed in, say, a small 300- or 400 sq. ft. training studio.
In her article, Quinn writes that one underlying component of a good boot camp class is creating a spirit of teamwork and group support and cohesion. And that doesn’t mean being the stereotypical, in-your-face boot camp instructor who gets off on screaming and using profanity as motivators. A trained boot camp instructor should be demanding, yet positive so that you are safely pushed beyond your comfort zone. I would also add that an instructor who prides him or herself on seeing just how sore they can make you should be avoided. The goal, even in military boot camps, is to make recruits stronger, healthier, and more confident – not to cripple them to where they can’t perform their job and ADLs (activities of daily living).
Small group training classes are just that, small. They are meant for groups of 4 – 6 people and are usually limited by available space. While you might get a decent workout from a small group fitness instructor (depends on the quality fo the instructor), you definitely won’t have same resources available or the variety of workouts that keep a true boot camp program fresh, fun, challenging and ever-changing.
This brings me to FitCamp and what sets our program apart from other local “boot camp” and small group fitness programs. This includes experience, knowledge, credentials, variety, space, accountability, camaraderie, and a results guarantee.
We have two certified personal trainers on staff that have completed boot camp and large group training certifications with a combined 16 years experience. Personally, I am the area’s only military-endorsed, Operation Fit to Fight-certified boot camp instructor. I am actually able to walk onto any military base and conduct military boot camp and fitness training programs. As a result of my training, I have not repeated one single workout since opening FitCamp in May of 2011. My recruits never know in advance what the workout will be when they arrive to class. And… we even do the workouts because it encourages our recruits to see us sweating and leaving it all out there!
FitCamp also operates out the 17,000 sq. ft. Speed Athletics facility in Westfield, making us, by far, the largest indoor boot camp in the Carmel/Westfield area. We have access to stairs, spring floors (easy on the knees), plenty of indoor running room, and props and objects that allow us to easily reconstruct actual military-style workouts and obstacle courses. Our classes can accommodate up to 30 people (we would not want to exceed that number).
Another quality that sets us apart are the friendships and business relationships that are created at FitCamp. Many of our FitCamp recruits have been with the program for several months, attending each and every day. Several friendships have developed that have resulted in recruits having “accountability partners” who help motivate, encourage and hold each other accountable for coming to FitCamp on a regular basis. We’ve even seen FitCamp become an excellent business networking environment with several business connections formed. FitCamp recruit Sue Webb sums up the environment this way…
“I have never liked group workouts until now because I think I was uncomfortable with myself, my own insecurities or inabilities. I REALLY AM AMAZED with FitCamp. I have met some really delightful people – some in the similar stages of life. We are all really working toward the same thing, to get in or stay in shape, to live a healthier lifestyle and feel good about. I honestly look forward to the camaraderie.”
And finally, FitCamp has a money-back guarantee. If you attend all of your sessions and don’t see any results such as increases in strength, cardiovascular endurance, body composition, or weight loss/gain, then we’ll refund your money, no questions asked.
So, as we approach winter and the days become shorter and colder, it’s time to start thinking about bringing your fitness program indoors. When you do, I encourage you to consider your options and find the program that’s right for you and your fitness goals. If you are looking to join a simple, small group fitness program, then FitCamp is probably not right for you and we can even recommend some options that we personally endorse. But, if you want to be challenged, have fun, see and feel quick results and work out with others who are on a mission to improve and maintain their health in a motivating setting, then I encourage you to join the area’s REAL boot camp program, FitCamp. HURRY, CLASSES ARE FILLING UP!
To your health!