I hear a lot of fitness professionals taking their turns bashing Bootcamps and I just wanted to stand up in the defense of the shunned Bootcamps out there. As everyone knows, it doesn’t matter where you go to get a good workout, it is all about the Instruction. Bootcamps are by no means the end all be all, in fact, they should be the beginning of your fitness journey. You have to start somewhere, and not many people can afford the luxury of hiring a personal trainer. Bootcamps are a great place to start out because a lot of people are turned off by the douchebag aura of a gym so they just don’t go. You meet a different kind of fitness enthusiast when you go outdoors in in-climate weather and are running, doing push-ups, air squats, and many other calisthenic exercises that you’ve never done before. It encourages you to push yourself harder than you would staring at that treadmill draped in dirty laundry down in your basement. When you talk to the other participants, they are proud people, you can read the camaraderie written on their faces. They meet up for drinks, dinners, and other social events because they are a unit, a team, a Platoon. Best friends, life partners, networking connections are made out there on the ground doing arm haulers to a 4-count cadence because it bands you together against the external force that is your Instructor. The temperature says 21 degrees but you still go because you know that it gives you bragging rights to the others who decided to stay in their cozy beds. It gives you that edge back that you lost years ago when life started to pile up on you. You start to feel your alive kick ass self again, and that is what it is all about.
In terms of exercise science, general conditioning is the first phase of periodization. Do something, anything new for 6 weeks, and you will create a change in your body. After that, it is a matter of what you think your long term goals are. If strength is what you are after, then unfortunately for your outdoor buddies, you need to move indoors to the weight lair. You have progressed from general conditioning to the next phase in your fitness journey. It is now time to start lifting weights and getting serious about it. Both feet in! You have dedicated the first month and a half to getting that edge back and getting yourself back in some decent shape, now is the time to take it to the next level. Does this mean that you have abandoned your bootcamp buddies forever? Absolutely NOT. I always tell my clients, do what is fun, and won’t hurt your current program. You will not build strength at a bootcamp class. Period. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t go out there every once in a while to see your crew and show them the new guns that you’ve been building inside that weight lair. Hell, maybe it will inspire some of them to join you.
Don’t be too shocked though if most of them will not join you. They are the outdoor lifers. Their fitness needs are being met on a daily basis and they will never give that up. They are not looking to get bigger, stronger, or more powerful, they trade that for the fresh air, all-around conditioning, and the fun daily challenge of Unit vs. Instructor.
I can’t understand why some fitness professionals would bash something that gets people up in the morning and moving. I have been doing this for 11 years now and have seen no major injuries (besides a couple sprained ankles), no signs of overtraining, and no reason to ever stop doing what I’m doing as a fitness professional. The key to keeping these lifers is in the Instruction. With a good foundation in exercise science and the unique ability to handle a group of 30+ people in a safe and efficient manner, the class will be what everyone wants it to be, FUN. Who doesn’t want to enjoy their workout? Most people quit immediately if they feel as though they cannot follow along with a new workout program or regimen and then what the hell is the point? It is the Instructor’s job to hold the knowledge and have the rhyme and reason. It is the participant’s job to enjoy it.
So next time you hear an ear full about why bootcamps are a bad idea, remember, without proper instruction, ANY fitness facility or program can be a bad idea. Do what works for you and what you enjoy. Ask a lot of questions to your Instructor and communicate what your goals are. Follow your own fitness journey and enjoy the ride.