No one questions the toughness of our military training programs. Our soldiers are trained and conditioned with the most challenging drills to prepare them to fight and defend.
If a workout is good enough for our soldiers, it's guaranteed to whip our civilian butts into shape. Hence, the recent fitness trend of boot camp classes. Designed to work all aspects of the body, these classes emphasize both strength and cardiovascular endurance using a multitude of exercises. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently recognized boot camp-style classes as one of the year's top fitness trends. (Do one at home with this Boot Camp Bodyweight Circuit To Improve Your Fitness.)
Types of Boot Camp Classes
As the boot camp fitness trend grows in popularity, the variety of programs being offered has been increasing. No matter which type you select, the workout will usually include a mix of calisthenics (e.g., Pull-Ups, Push-Ups and Lunges) with aerobic activity (e.g., Running, Sprints and Hill Runs.) Newer mind-body classes also may incorporate martial arts, cardio-core strengthening, gymnastics, plyometric drills and meditation. (Check out this example from New York's Circuit of Change studio.)
Reasons to Try
- "No pain, no gain." The old cliché holds true for boot camp workouts. After a class, your body will definitely feel sore. But as the results pile up, you'll be happy you endured the pain. Enhanced wellness, fitness and health benefits are worth the residual soreness.
- Low boredom factor. The exercises switch back and forth between activities (e.g., running five miles and doing sets of Squat Lunges.) You never know exactly what you're in for at the beginning of a class, so you never get bored.
Prepare Before You Go
Boot camp classes are strenuous. So they require at least a base level of conditioning. I wouldn't recommend jumping straight in. Talk to the instructor about whether a program is right for you. And feel free to ask whether modifications are possible during a session. (Check out these tips from The Mayo Clinic.)
How to Start
Over the last few years, many local gyms have begun scheduling boot camp classes. Since they vary widely, it's important to research the class you're considering. Gold's Gym (a nationwide chain) offers its own version, as shown in this video from a Tallahassee location.
Often, local instructors and trainers hold weekly or monthly boot camp challenge sessions. Search to see if these classes are worth your time and money. Many are held outdoors and require no extra equipment.
With the variety of classes available, if you're ready for a challenging and rewarding new workout, there's no better time to get started.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock