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!

New Year’s Resolutions: Where Are You in Meeting Your 2015 Goals?

New Year's Resolutions
Resolving to Write More—A Worthy Thought by Carol VanHook, Flickr Creative Commons;

Can you believe it? It’s now February. You are now almost a month into the spring semester. A month into your new classes, a month closer to graduation, and, for us graduate students out there, one month closer to obtaining your master’s, doctorate, or professional degree and entering the job market. You are now also a month into the New Year and potentially a month into your New Year’s Resolutions. Most of us do it. Actually, in a recent survey conducted by, over 60% of Americans reported that they make New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions to eat healthier foods, work out more, quit smoking, spend more quality time with friends and family, and resolutions to get organized, keep up with course readings, and get better grades. These are all great goals to work towards; however, we may not always stick with the goals long enough to meet them. Typically, almost all people (around 90%) are able to practice their New Year’s resolutions for a week but only about 70% of people stick with their resolutions for a month or longer. That leaves 1 out of every 3 people less likely to still be working on their New Year’s resolutions right now. But don’t fret! There are easy steps you can take to make sure you fall into the 70% instead of the 30%.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Before jumping into how to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions, let’s consider how to effectively set goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific: Simply written and clearly defined

    SMART Goals
    Goal Setting by Paula Naugle, Flickr Creative Commons;
  • Measurable: Able to measure progress
  • Attainable: Goals are realistic and can be achieved
  • Relevant: Goals matter to you
  • Time-bound: Goals have a specific time frame for being met

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal or resolution would be “I will go to the gym for one hour three times a week for the next four weeks.” The goal is clearly defined, measurable (three times a week for one hour each day), it is realistic, it matters to me, and I’ve set the time frame for my goal to four weeks. Using this strategy makes it more likely that you will both stick to your goals as well as achieve them.

Remind Yourself Why the Goal is Important To YOU 

Inspiration Board
Inspirational board by Moni, Flickr Creative Commons;

As time passes, it’s easy to lose sight of why New Year’s resolutions were ever made and why they are important to you. When you’re struggling to find the time and energy to go to the gym and cook balanced meals, it may become more difficult to keep in mind why eating healthier and exercising more were important to you before the New Year. Maybe there’s a pair of jeans you want to fit in, you want to have more energy, or there’s a special event coming up in a few months when you want to look and feel your best. Having physical reminders of your goals and the motivations for achieving those goals are a helpful way to keep yourself on track with your resolutions. This can include making inspirational boards—a creative way to visualize your goals and stay focused on why you set them in the first place.

Keep Yourself Accountable…and Invite Others to Do the Same

Telling yourself that you are going to be better organized this semester is one thing—having others remind you of that resolution is something different! This is where a good support system comes in. Having friends and family either remind you of the resolutions you had set back in December OR working along side you to meet those goals is an excellent way to keep you accountable. You’re less likely to break those resolutions if you have someone who cares about you reminding you of your goals.

With these steps, you cannot only make it pass this one-month mark—you can incorporate these short-term changes into your regular habits, turning New Year’s resolutions into lifetime behaviors.

How to Get the Most of Your Winter Break

Spring is Here
“Spring is Here” credited to LadyDragonFlyCC, Creative Commons

Study for exams. Check. Finish finals. Check. Pack up to leave campus for a month. Check! After a long semester of papers, presentations, and tests, you have been waiting for the moment when you can walk off of this campus, suitcase in tow, for a month-long vacation. You are ready to catch up on sleep, Netflix, and quality time with loved ones, but as we all know, break is over in a blink of an eye. Before you know it, you have to buy your books, re-pack your suitcase (maybe more crammed now than before), and prepare to say goodbye again to family and friends. Spring semester has sprung up on you and now you face the dreaded question: how am I going to get back into the swing of things? Well, there’s a way; actually several ways to avoid this semester shock as well as get the most of your winter break. Here’s a few things you can do right now to be a proactive winter breaker: Continue reading

The Career Guide for the Soon-to-Be UNC Graduate

scrabble career
“Scrabble—Career.” Flazingo Photos. Flickr Creative Commons.

It’s finally Homecoming! Time to connect with old friends, go to the Homecoming concert, the step show, the football game, and celebrate being a Tar Heel! But you know what else happens during Homecoming Week? UNC alumni return to their alma mater after going on to start careers after graduation. So what time is it for you seniors? Time to start thinking about life after UNC. Continue reading

Inner TLC and Your Physical Health

Stress Free Zone
Stress Free Zone

We’ve all been there. Yep, the mid-semester slump. That time of the year when your balanced diet, workout goals, and pursuit of healthy living are thrown out of the window and replaced with junk food, long hours sitting in front of the computer, and a desire just to survive midterm exams and papers. You may find that your energy levels are low, you’re easily distracted, not sleeping enough or sleeping too much, and overall, just not feeling like yourself. If this describes you, it just might be time to engage in some self-care, or what I like to call, inner TLC. Continue reading

Commuting to Campus 101


After living less than 10 minutes away from campus for over 3 years, I thought that moving to Durham and commuting to campus would be no big deal. I told myself “I’ll just make the 20-minute drive to campus and find a lot to park my car.” However, now having commuted back and forth between Chapel Hill and Durham, I realize I have grossly underestimated how big of a transition this was going to be. Continue reading