September 12, 2011
Bootcamp. Once upon a time, you heard that word and the only thing that came to mind is the torture people had to endure before starting military service. Now, when you hear about bootcamps, you may have visions of doing your hundredth lunge and receiving the title, “Miss New Booty”—I know I do.
This fitness craze isn’t new. When it started, bootcamp classes really were like actual military training--calisthenics, cadence calls, and a camo’d out former drill sergeant with a whistle in his mouth. No longer will you see “trainees” wearing heavy lug-soled boots. Now, you see these classes at parks, beaches, gyms—anywhere with some space—filled with sweaty people in trendy kicks.
They’re so popular, you may have tried it already in one format or another. In fact, you might still suffer from some PTSD from how sore you were after the first time. Some bootcamp regulars show off reality show-worthy weight loss. Yet, some others have left programs with injuries, never to return again. Ouch.
I’m not saying ix-nay to bootcamp-ay. I’m just sayin’ take some precautions. Bootcamp, in any format, can be very effective for meeting your fitness goals. Certain programs focus on particular sports, strength, and/or cardiovascular fitness. Before you get started, do some research and be mindful of a few things, so injury doesn’t slow you down on your road to being a fitter (read: hotter) you.
- See if the program is offered in different or all-levels classes. Pick the class that is appropriately paced for your fitness level.
- Speak to the instructor prior to your first class. Make sure the instructor has experience modifying exercises and activities for any injury/concerns you may have.
- What is the instructor’s education and experience? Does the instructor instill confidence in you that he or she is capable of helping you attain your goals without injuring you?
- Does the instructor pay attention to the students or is he or she off doing his or her own thing? The instructor should watch you to safeguard against injury.
- Select a format of class that you know you’ll want to go to. For example, don’t pick a running-based class if you would rather stick a fork in your eye, or swim-based camp if you can’t even dog paddle (unless it’s instructional).
- Last but not least, see if you can try a freebie, or a week- or month-long trial package. Don’t commit to long-term contracts unless you know it’s a program that is appropriate for you. (Check out Groupon or other coupon services. There are lots of options to try there.
Group fitness classes, regardless of the format, should ensure success. They help you stay on a workout schedule, have built-in workout partners, and provide instruction. Be sure to pick a class that successfully fulfills all of the above and is fun, and work your way to a fitter and stronger you.