I LOVE Boot Camp.
But it hasn’t always been that way. In fact I only started going after two years of constant harassment from my personal trainer at the gym.
I totally get why people can be hesitant to start. I had images of army sergeants screaming at me while I was huddled on the ground curled up in the fetal position, teary eyed, sniveling and whimpering… Private Benjamin style (OK – showing my age there). But hey if Goldie Hawn could get through it then so could I!
In Australia, the land of sun, sand and surf.. fitness boot camps are pretty popular. In fact, many people are opting for this form of fitness training over traditional solo routines at a gym. The idea of exercising together with fellow fitness buffs under the watchful eye of a fit drill sergeant may sound appealing but the truth is that boot camps are not for everyone. So, before taking the plunge, here is a quick overview of the pros and cons of fitness boot camps, which will give you a good understanding of what to expect.
Pros of Joining a Fitness Boot Camp
Add Excitement to Mundane Regimens
Fitness boot camps provide the perfect way to break up boredom or monotony of your usual workout regimen. These group exercises can take place anywhere, including outdoors, which could provide a change of scenery for regular gym goers.
Boot camps place an emphasis on interval trailing. Switching back and forth between intense and moderate workout routines is a great way to push yourself harder when it comes to fitness. What’s more, individuals who do not practice interval training can take what they learn during boot camp and emulate the same after resuming their normal workout routine.
Boot camps are cheaper than hiring a personal trainer. Much of this has to do with the fact that the cost is shared by all members in the group.
If you are with the right group, exercising with other people can be motivational. If everyone else is working hard, this will inspire you to do the same. Get the right group, it’s also a great social outlet. Not having been born, gone to school or uni, where I live now – and commuting a long way to work – my social life at home was pretty much limited to the in-laws. I don’t have kids so there’s no mother’s groups either. Some of my closest friends now, are those I met through boot camp.
Good boot camp instructors usually begin or end sessions by sharing some fitness or nutritional tips. This allows participants to learn as training goes on.
Possible Cons of Fitness Boot Camp
No Personal Attention
During a fitness boot camp, the routine designed for a given day is what everyone will do. The problem with this “one-size-fits-all” approach is that the workouts are not tailored for everyone on an individual basis. While a good instructor, can keep an eye on the group and add modifications in to account for different fitness levels or injuries, the truth is workout requirements differ from one person to the next. It’s easy for the experienced to make modifications or call out if they need them – but a newbie may not know, or be too shy to speak up in front of the group, to For larger groups in particular, the instructor will not be able to provide everyone enough feedback regarding form, and technique.
Even though instructors organize boot camps base aspects such as gender, age and goals (e.g. routines designed for weight loss), participants have varying fitness levels. This means that if you are least fit person in the group, the whole experience could end up being intimidating. This was probably my biggest fear – and what stopped me from joining for so long. But I found a group who was encouraging and supportive and it made my fitness journey so much more rewarding – and successful. Plus I’ve made so many good friends who have encouraged me to do (crazy) things I wouldn’t have otherwise done – like half marathons, Warrior Dash and Tough Bloke Challenge!
Heavily Dependent on Nature of Instructor
The success of any boot camp will depend on the instructor’s personality, enthusiasm and knowledge. With the wrong instructor, the whole experience could end up being unsatisfactory. There is no way around this one – so do your homework. Check with friends, people at your gym etc. Check out their social media pages. Work out what you might be after – a social group, a drill sergeant, the type of exercises (cardio, strength).
The initial days of a boot camp are the most challenging because you will be learning new routines and dealing with soreness that may result from trying new workouts. In order to reap the benefits, you will need to master up the will to follow through with the boot camp to the end. The feeling after a great boot camp session gives you a real high! Even on days I don’t want to go – I never regret it afterwards! Not ever! (despite the photo below)
With these pros and cons of fitness boot camps in mind, it is important to know what you are getting yourself into before signing up for any program. Choose boot camp programs wisely and only join a group where the trainer takes into account the fitness level of each individual.