Boot Camp for Beginners

This is a guest post from my friend, Xandros. Xandros has been attending a fitness “boot camp” in recent weeks and I asked him to write a little something about his experience. I’m so grateful that he did! Boot camps were a bit of a mystery to me, but now I’m curious to check one out. They’re a great way to bust out of a plateau, and despite the name, boot camps can actually be FUN. Thanks to X for this eXcellent post!

I started attending a boot camp sometime ago, and have been asked by Monica to contribute something based on my experiences. It’s probably best to talk about aspects that are likely to be shared by most well-run boot camps and could be good reasons for deciding to give one a go.

Boot camps can really help to keep you motivated

Boot camps provide motivation through friendly competition and group support, much like you might get within a sports team. Not only is this a morale-booster for most of us, it also provides distraction and helps the sessions pass quickly. Another aid to motivation is, of course, the instructor. If you’re flagging and your technique is getting sloppy, the instructor is there to give you a friendly verbal prod, advice or encouragement so that you regain focus and form.

You are using all or large parts of your body most of the time

At a boot camp, you’re running, lifting, pushing, pulling and all kinds of other stuff in an environment full of uneven surfaces, changing gradients, obstacles and all the other things that you run into outdoors. Doing lots of different exercises, which are of varying degrees of complexity, outdoors generally requires you to use lots of different muscles in concert and challenges your co-ordination, balance and awareness. Working-out in this way has a depth and completeness to it that is really satisfying and provides great benefits.

Each workout is a surprise

Is that the last set of push ups? What’s next, squats? Sprints? Ah… more push ups. You never really know what the instructor is going to hit you with next. This keeps things interesting and adds to the mental and physical challenge as you often find yourself needing to adapt to changes quickly or dig in to finish off that last unexpected set. And you often end up pushing yourself harder than you might have otherwise.

If you’ve plateaued, are looking for something different, or just looking to get fit, it’s worth taking a serious look at doing a boot camp or two. Most camps run for around 5 weeks at a time and they should be able to accommodate most fitness levels. Be warned, however, that some boot camps are run military style and they will have you crawling through the mud and what have you, while others have a much more civilian mindset. So please talk to the people running the boot camp and make sure that their format and philosophy are right for you.

P.S. If you live in Auckland, check out FasterFitness. They run a great boot camp and will help you achieve your goals.

Photo credit: robgraphics

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