Fitness Boot Camps: Fad or Fact?

[“Bootcamp” by Oklanica, Flickr Creative Commons]
[“Bootcamp” by Oklanica, Flickr Creative Commons]
Please Note: This blog post is written just from one perspective and may not apply to all. Although I have the goal of losing weight, this blog post is written with the understanding that not everyone holds this same goal. This blog post reflects my experience and is not meant to encourage readers to pursue enrollment in bootcamps or to seek to lose weight. 

Can you believe it? It’s already April! We’ve now waved goodbye to winter and said hello to spring…finally. It’s also that time when I want to say goodbye to those few extra pounds I put on during the cold months. If any of you are like me, it’s a lot more difficult to lose weight than it is to gain it. I’ve tried changing up my eating habits and taking up more rigorous exercise plans. I’ve even done what some people consider an extreme in exercising: fitness boot camps.

Fitness boot camps have become a very popular workout regime embraced by people of all ages, shapes, and levels of physical stamina across the country. Fitness boot camps are a type of group physical training program characterized by intense cardio and strength-training routines during a 1-hour period. Modeled after military boot camps, fitness boot camps are generally composed of calisthenics, or exercises like push-ups, crunches, pull-ups, and planks that rely on one’s body weight and require little equipment. Fitness boot camps also usually adopt a circuit-training format, which is composed of 6-8 circuits of strength and cardio exercises completed one after the other for 60-90 seconds each with 15-30 second breaks in between circuits. An example of a circuit would be sixty seconds of squats, lunges, and mountain climbers followed by a 30-second break and then 60 seconds of push-ups, scissor kicks, and side planks. Free weights, medicine balls, jump ropes, and exercise sliders may also be incorporated into circuit training for extra resistance.

So, are fitness boot camps a safe and effective way to get into shape? The answer is…it depends. What may work for some, may not work for all. According to About Health, fitness boot camps have both pros and cons. As far as pros, fitness boot camps are a cost-efficient way to get a full body workout with opportunities to share motivation and camaraderie with fellow boot campers. Therefore, along with promoting physical wellness, fitness boot camps also offer opportunities to strengthen one’s social wellness. However, there are also some limitations to this form of exercise. Because fitness boot camps are group workout sessions, participants may not be able to receive the one-on-one consultation that characterizes individualized personal training programs. Second, fitness boot camps typically require participants to have a steep learning curve. It may take some time to learn the workout routines and to identify exercises you may need to adapt to your abilities and needs.

Overall, it’s very important that you consult with your physician and, if available, complete a fitness assessment to determine if there are exercises that may aggravate prior injuries or health conditions before you engage in fitness boot camp or any other fitness programs. Fitness boot camps can be a great way to shed the winter weight in preparation for summer, but just like any workout, consistency is key. Completing a couple boot camp classes in early May may not help you meet your health goals before Memorial Day. Sticking to a workout plan along with healthy eating habits requires time, dedication, and commitment to translate to results. But you can do it—with or without fitness bootcamp!

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