Fitness Boot Camps: Get Your Butt in Gear for the New Year!
The holidays are over and if you’re like most people, you’ve probably had more than your share of eggnog, heavy meals and decadent desserts in celebration of the season. Enjoying and over-indulging in delectable goodies has more than likely left you with the gift of a few unwanted pounds, but with the new year comes a resolution to get back on track and get into your best shape ever! Why not try a fitness boot camp?
To the average person, hearing the word “boot camp” immediately conjures up images of the brutal military training program that new recruits go through before being sent out to the field. These days, it has become a popular title for extreme fitness programs that command hard core group exercise that push participants to their physical limits for one reason: to obtain results. Maybe going to the gym to hit the weights and do cardio hasn’t given you the results and the ongoing motivation you were expecting? Signing up for a fitness boot camp just may be the change you need to reach your goals.
Fitness Boot Camps: Not for Wimps
Be forewarned − fitness boot camps are designed to get you out of your comfort zone and push you a bit further than you would normally yourself in the gym alone. This provides a different environment for those who get bored in a gym and find it hard to develop a habit of exercise. Fitness boot camps can be held indoors and/or outdoors depending on the time of the year, the weather and the region. Exercises often consist of, but are not limited to: jogging, sprinting, plyometrics, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and a variety of calisthenic and flexibility exercises. One advantage of a boot camp is that the large group dynamic will help motivate participants. The interaction of a boot camp class is not only emotionally satisfying, but it helps people to push themselves physically.
Train Like a Gladiator, Feel like a Pro
IFBB Fitness Professional and 2009 Fitness Olympia runner-up Tanji Johnson is an entrepreneur, marathon runner and certified personal trainer who runs her own specialized fitness boot camps primarily in the Washington state area where she resides. You may even recognize her as one of the stars of NBC’s “American Gladiators” where she played Stealth, who wreaked havoc on her opponents by challenging them physically. A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and commissioned Air Force officer, she brings authenticity to her boot camps which are similarly patterned after “real” military basic training. “I started teaching boot camps because I enjoy leading groups who are motivated to take things to the next level,” Tanji says. “My camps range from all high-level female athletes to the everyday gym goer looking to get their butts kicked from an American Gladiator.”
Tanji’s boot camp sessions run for 45 minutes not including the warm up and cool down. She teaches several different boot camp classes for men and women. Her classes range from $15 to $20 per class with some classes held outdoors and some in gym aerobics rooms. For optimum results, Tanji suggests that participants take two to three classes per week. Her classes accommodate 10 to 15 people. She adds, “I like to have a large enough group to facilitate positive energy and excitement, yet small enough that I can keep everyone accountable with good form and execution.” Session structure consists of: plyometrics, calisthenics, sprints, agility drills, core exercises and exercises using moderate weights. “I begin with dynamic flexibility drills, followed by sprints and shuttle runs,” shares Tanji. “Then, I move into the main portion of the bootcamp utilizing various athletic strategies like countdowns, circuits and timed segments. We end with a cool down and group stretching.”
While some people may be concerned that they are not physically fit enough to participate in one of her fitness boot camps, Tanji reassuringly states that her programs are geared towards anyone no matter what their fitness level. “I don’t turn anyone away. During my boot camp sessions, I usually teach three different options per exercise so that each client can work out at their appropriate fitness level,” she says. “But the challenging part of my job is to make sure I can manage the various fitness levels of each client while teaching a group class. You have to be able to multi-task mentally and provide guidance while leading a class. These are two traits that I excel at, take pride in and have helped my boot camps to be successful.”
School of Hard KNOXX
Current Strikeforce Lightweight MMA World Champion Josh Thomson and 2006 NPC California State Figure Overall Champion Mona Liza Reyes joined forces to help others in their fitness quest. The result is the wildly successful “School of Hard KNOXX Fitness Camp,” which is geared towards men and women of all ages and fitness levels. The collaboration is a well thought-out effort that required both leaders to come up with a curriculum that would challenge, yet inspire and motivate their participants to stick with the program. While the duo look tough in their Army gear for this month’s cover and the photos in this article, both prefer not to call their camp a “boot camp” because they don’t want to risk frightening anyone away. Instead, they call their program a “fitness camp.”
Josh and Mona Liza’s “School of Hard KNOXX Fitness Camp” costs $350 for a 4-week program of three sessions per week with a $50 discount for early registration. Upcoming camps will be held in January 2010 for those with New Year’s resolutions and then again in April to get participants ready for the summer. Their camps are held both indoors and outdoors depending on the weather conditions and the mood of the instructors. The classes are structured, but yet there is a lot of spontaneity in the curriculum. “When indoors, we host at the infamous American Kickboxing Academy (in San Jose, Calif.), which is home to some of the UFC’s top professional fighters,” says Josh. “When we’re outdoors, we take the participants to a local high school track or a local park.”
Class structure basically consists of speed drills, box jumps, sprints, weight training, conditioning drills and kickboxing techniques with the structure changing daily to ensure that each workout is different every time. Each class lasts approximately 75 minutes and always ends with core strengthening and stretching. “Our clients pay for our services to organize great workouts for them, so we try hard not to let them down. If clients wanted to do the same thing every day, they would work out on their own at their local gym probably never pushing themselves. That’s the beauty of our fitness camps,” says Josh. “We continuously change things up to keep everyone guessing and to obtain the desired end result.”
Mona Liza adds, “Before camps begin, I always get e-mails from future participants who express worry and anxiety that they will have a hard time. Rest assured, although the workouts are challenging, it’s our goal for our participants to feel empowered and not defeated after a session. The workouts are meant to be difficult, but we teach the participant variations to modify them so that they are able to participate.”
Prepping for Camp
If you’ve never participated in a fitness boot camp, there are ways that you can prepare yourself mentally and physically to get the most out of the program. “If possible, I would recommend building a strong core and muscular endurance in bodyweight exercises like squats and push-ups using your own body weight,” suggests Tanji. Adds Mona Liza, “It’s very important to exude positive energy and come to class with a good attitude and the mindset to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s these little things that make the biggest difference in reaching your fitness goals.” MS&F
WE WANT YOU!
5 Ways to Stick To the Program
Join With a Friend. If you have someone to go to boot camp with, you will be less likely to miss class and continue to motivate each other.
Keep Hydrated. Make sure you bring a big bottle of water to quench your thirst and keep your body hydrated during your fitness boot camp sessions.
Modify Your Diet. Yes, you will be burning more calories than ever by participating in a fitness boot camp, but make healthy food choices by cutting out soda, refined sugar and processed foods.
Push Yourself. If your instructor demonstrates exercises on a different fitness level, try the next level up. Stop if you cannot continue, feel pain or experience shortness of breath.
Continue Training. After you’ve completed your sessions of fitness boot camps and/or have reached your fitness goals, continue training two to three times a week using what you’ve learned. You may not need to sign up for another set of classes because the exercises you learn at boot camp classes can be done nearly anywhere.
Article from Max Muscle Fitness Magazine