When you think of boot camps, what comes to mind? Chances are you’re picturing a big burly dude screaming in your face as you attempt to drag yourself over an obstacle or up out of the dirt. While this may be slightly over the top, it’s not entirely incorrect. Most boot camps take their cue from military training – so there will very likely be yelling and struggles. However, some instructors are more intense than others (remember that when shopping around for the perfect boot camp). If you feel equipped to deal with that, you can also expect to see some pretty great results.
Boot camps are basically a jacked up version of a circuit-training class you’d take at a gym — moving from exercise to exercise with minimal rest in between. The reason boot camps are so effective, aside from that yelling instructor we talked about a second ago, is because you experience a full-body workout and continuous movement for about 60 minutes straight — that’s enough to get anyone’s spare tire to flatten out.
The Benefits of Boot Camps
Boot camps take place in a group setting, giving you a dose of a little healthy competition – it’s easy to push out another rep if you see everybody else digging deep. The majority of boot camps are held in the great outdoors, whether a park, sports field or other large open area. This means you’ll get to gulp that sweet fresh air, soak up some rays and squeeze in some nature time while working your butt off – often times quite literally.
Boot camps also have the potential to foster a team-like comradery among those taking the class – after all, misery does love company. Learn to work together and encourage those around you and expect some encouragement in return. Not only will boot camps bring out your inner athlete, they’ll make you a better human being too.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning Potential
Boot camps are generally designed in a circuit fashion with participants moving from one movement or activity to the next. Because of this constant, high-intensity nature, you can expect to burn a pretty significant amount of calories – annihilating fat in the process. During a one-hour boot camp class you can expect to burn between 500 and 600 calories. Not too bad, right?
It’s also important to keep in mind that during those 60 minutes of hell, you’ll also be training with some sort of resistance whether it be your own body weight, someone else’s body weight, sandbags, weights, etc. Packing a log up a hill is going to cause some muscle damage (a good thing in moderation), which is going to need to be repaired, creating an increase in energy expenditure (higher metabolism) and more calories burned. We all know what that means: more fat loss.
So, yes, the odds of you dropping a few pounds of unnecessary fat during a few months of boot camp workouts are pretty high.
Toning and Muscle Building Potential
Feats of strength are part of the package when you sign up for a boot camp workout. Whether you’re the strongest chic in the gym or you count texting as a workout, your muscles are going to be put to the test. Between bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and squats and more challenging movements like sandbag pause squats, kettlebell swings or med ball slams, your muscles will be screaming by that last rep.
While your brain may be calling you every name in the book, your muscles will thank you – once the soreness has worn off. The diversity of movement during a boot camp workout is what makes them so effective. You’ll hit every muscle in your body and live to tell about it.
With adequate recovery between sessions and a diet that’s on point (no you can’t have a cream filled donut as a post-workout snack. Well, actually, go ahead you earned it ; ), you should notice an improvement in muscle definition after four to six weeks. Remember, it takes time for your body to change and adapt; don’t expect results over night, no matter how intense your workouts might be.
Classes: What to expect; should I take them?
Because boot camps are only offered in a class setting, you’ll have to take a class to participate. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing, considering you’ll have other people around to distract the instructor from your shortcomings. In a nutshell, you can expect to be guided through a 60-minute workout that consists of various different exercises, movements and challenges by the class instructor. Remember, not all instructors are created equal — find one that matches your personality and goals, that should help you stick with it and even look forward to your classes. Along with the group and nature setting, boot camps provide everything necessary for a killer workout so all you have to bring is your body, a willing attitude and a water bottle.
Instructional Boot Camp Videos and Training Tips
Even though you’ll have an instructor present and telling you exactly what to do, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with boot camp-type training before your first class. That way, you’ll at least have a general idea of what to expect – that is, unless you prefer the element of surprise, then just wing it. If you are the type to prepare, here are a few videos we found that may help you along the way.
Again, you’ll have an instructor directing you and coaching you through your class, however there are a few things you can do on your own to make your experience a little more enjoyable.
- Warm-up before your workout. Your class should begin with a warm-up but to minimize your chance of injury and perform at your best, squeeze in a five to 10-minute warm-up beforehand – you’ll be ready for anything.
- Communicate with your instructor – if you have an injury or pre-existing condition that keeps you from doing certain activities, let your instructor know ahead of time.
- Bring a water bottle – if you’re in a park or field, water may not be easily accessible.
- Push yourself – don’t just go through the motions, which admittedly is hard to do if you have someone screaming down your neck.
- Stretch and cool-down afterward to improve recovery and reduce muscle soreness.
- Stash some healthy snacks in your car – after burning through several hundred calories there’s a good chance you’ll be ready to eat anything and everything in sight. Make sure the stuff you reach for is going to do more good than harm.
Clothes and Proper Attire
When it comes to boot camp workout attire, you can wear regular old workout clothes. Shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and the like would work just fine. If your particular instructor likes to do a lot of ground work, i.e. rolling around in the mud, make sure to wear clothes you’re not attached to just in case those grass stains and dirt don’t want to leave your threads.
Another aspect to consider is the weather. If it’s a scorching, humid July workout, opt for minimalist clothing such as light, sweat-wicking fabrics. On the other hand, if the first snow is about to fall dress in layers so you can stay warm without overheating.
As for the feet, wear quality breathable and good-fitting socks to reduce your chance of blisters. Low profile cross-trainers should provide just enough cushion without being too cumbersome.
Results and Success Stories
Sarah is a corporate mom who struggled with her weight and health after the birth of her daughter in 2015. With gestational diabetes and bad eating habits, the weight she picked up from her daughter only magnified her weight gain, not to mention her drop in confidence and self-esteem. After trying everything from fad diets, to personal trainers, expensive gym memberships and training facilities, Sarah finally found an at-home program that fit into her new life as a mom.
Within four short months, Sarah dropped over 30 pounds, gained confidence and started to nourish her body with healthy foods. Knowing her struggle trying to balance working out and working in the corporate world, Sarah started monthly boot camps with old and new friends to help her stay accountable to her own fitness goals and help other struggling moms.
Sarah continues to run monthly boot camps with different themes to empower women to start making healthier choices, workout at home in less than 30 minutes per day, and boost their self-esteem. The transformations in these groups have been absolutely amazing and Sarah has now even dropped a total of 53 pounds herself.