● 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 counseling, 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 type 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. Small group fitness instruction fosters community and encourages accountability with all members, not just between the trainer and students, but also among students themselves. An added benefit of a low class size is the personalized attention each member receives. “The benefit of small group classes is that the trainer is able to give more focused attention to each participant. This allows the trainer to focus on proper form, provide individual encouragement and maintain a safe environment,” says Becky Reinhart with Snap Fitness in Shingle Springs. The boot camp course at Snap Fitness, Body Count, is unique in that it begins with warm up and stretching, then dives into resistance training using nothing but your own body weight.
“Because you are using your own body weight, you can tailor the intensity of the workout to accommodate your abilities and progress at your own pace,” states Reinhart.
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 routine gym visits. “Classes are short, intensive and build the ability to handle your body weight. They’re great for individuals who want to see quick improvements in strength, flexibility and overall fitness,” says Reinhart.
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 suggest consulting a physician before beginning a new workout regimen. While each course is different, individual workouts can include a 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!