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Style Magazine

Basic Training

Dec 30, 2009 10:50AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Photo by Dante Fontana

The popularity of NBC’s The Biggest Loser has shown America the concept and benefits of group fitness training that incorporates calisthenics, low weight, high repetition weight training and nutrition resulting in weight loss, muscle definition and effectually, diet and lifestyle change.

Beginning a new year, fitness and healthy living are at the forefront of the minds of many. But where do you start? Hire a personal trainer? Join a gym, a cycling or running club? Whether the goal is weight loss, or overall better physical health, consider a boot camp group fitness course.

Boot camp is synonymous with sweaty cadets running through mud, doing push ups, burpees, drills and grunting call and response, but it’s the latest fitness regimen garnering the attention of athletes and those just beginning their fitness journeys. Boot camp courses are generally several week-long, small group, physical training programs that integrate weight and interval training and cardiovascular exercise, and vary significantly depending on the instructor and specific type of course. Some classes are led by former military personnel, trainers familiar with military training, or just trainers with a passion for transforming people inside and out.

Increasing in popularity in recent years, these types of classes have grunted their way to the head of fitness training, especially with women. Many courses are uniquely customized for women, while others welcome male and female participants. Classes can range from 45 minutes to two hours, and are jam-packed with concentrated exercises to maximize results. While individual boot camps are different, a commonality in all is camaraderie and accountability that accompanies small group exercise programs. Fortunately, our area boasts several different boot camp type classes with options for all fitness levels.

Boot camps may not be for everyone, but they offer numerous benefits for the right recruit. Whether aiming to lose holiday pounds or train for an athletic competition, boot camps provide advantages to every type of participant. “Anyone who is motivated and determined to better their physical and mental wellbeing should sign up. Our drill instructors are dynamic in challenging anyone from a beginner seeking to lose weight, to a triathlete looking to improve their personal bests,” says Adam Attia, owner of Fitness Rangers Bootcamp. Small group fitness instruction fosters community and encourages accountability, not just between the trainer and students, but also among students themselves. Participants pair up and compete with other members to promote cohesion among classmates. An added benefit of a low class size is the personalized attention each member receives. Attia observes each “soldier” and offers encouragement and proper form instruction. Erika Jones started taking boot camp courses three years ago.

“It has completely changed the shape of my body. By the end of the six-week course, I felt stronger, leaner and generally more energized,” Jones says. She also states that the body transformation encourages nutritious eating habits to promote an all-around healthy lifestyle.

Fitness Boxing Bootcamp in Folsom punches up the training circuit by adding cardio benefits of boxing. “It provides excellent cardiovascular health, self-confidence, balance, flexibility, agility, and improved eye-hand coordination. Additionally, people find the boxing element of the workout to be very liberating and a great stress relief,” says Shon Moore, professional kickboxer and instructor at Fitness Boxing Bootcamp.

Many boot camp instructors explain that the benefits of taking such a class include variety. Combining rigorous indoor and outdoor activity segments classes and takes advantage of the pleasant climate our area enjoys. Each class is different to ensure a complete body workout and abstain from monotony that can creep into a routine gym visit. “This dynamic style of training burns more calories and fat than more standard and traditional formats of fitness. Boot camp formats cover a wide variety of fitness components and push participants to break physical boundaries, and they prevent the plateau effect that is widely experienced by typical health club members,” notes Moore.

A significant asset to most classes is the frequent contact instructors maintain with participants. Many trainers send encouraging emails, nutrition tips, recipes, reminders, and maybe even some reprimanding notes for missing class. It all adds up to accountability, and without it, attaining fitness goals becomes progressively more difficult.

Another bonus to group fitness is that participants have the opportunity to work with personal trainers at a fraction of the cost of one-on-one personal training. Trainers provide tips to maximize workouts. “Boot camps help participants in learning proper form in exercises that are commonly performed with improper alignment and form such as push-ups, squats and lunges,” says Melissa Thomas, group fitness program director, at California Family Fitness. Trainers suggest consulting a physician before beginning a new workout regimen. While each course is different, individual workouts can include series of stretching, marching, pushups, lunges, squats, cycling and running, and may also utilize resistance bands, stability balls and free weights.

Before enrolling in a boot camp class, realize the commitment involved. Most courses range from four to eight weeks, and are two to five days per week. Set up a meeting with the instructor to discuss health goals and any inhibitions. There are classes available for all levels and abilities, so prepare to combat fitness foes and bare your best body in 2010!

Click here for a complete list of local Boot Camp Fitness Programs.