What’s the first thing that conjures up in your mind when you think of a boot camp? A scary looking ex-military personnel shouting at you do 20 press ups on the spot? Well think again. Boot camps are a far cry from this type of torture and I should know because I decided to go along to find out exactly what goes on in one. And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and had so much fun that a lot of the exercises reminded me of my childhood days. We actually played bulldog. Did anyone else play that? Brilliant!
Anyway I have to say the hardest part for me was getting out of my front door because it had been raining and was threatening to rain even more. I don’t do cold very well you see but I had promised James Parker, an ex Army physical training instructor and personal trainer, (definitely NOT scary looking!), I’d go along to his Progressive Fitness Boot Camp in Reading. So I did and like a new kid in class gathered myself to the meeting point in Prospect Park to await for fellow boot campers. Despite it being Monday, cold, damp, wet and miserable, well over 45 people turned up! Both men and women of all shapes and sizes turned up beaming and ready to embrace what lay ahead.
These guys have all signed up to James’ boot camp for six weeks which consist of two 1 hour sessions per week, with the opportunity to add a third Saturday morning session. The hour-long circuit training program is structured to target all your muscles in a short amount of time. There were group exercises as well as individual ones and James and his colleague ensure that the session caters for everyone’s fitness levels. The good thing was that everyone was encouraged to push themselves beyond their normal point of failure without any shouting whatsoever. It was more about words of encouragement intended for you to reach your goals that far exceed your own expectations. What was even more remarkable was that your fellow boot campers were also their to support YOU! As I said it all reminded me of playing in a school playground – having lots of fun but the emphasis of getting a was still there. As James says, his classes offer a full body workout: “A typical workout will have a push exercise, a pull exercise, a hip dominant, a knee dominant, a total body and a core. That way we hit everything. By using different exercises, you create a type of muscle confusion, which produces incredible results.”
Fellow Boot Campers said……
But being a typical journalist I didn’t just want to take James’ word for it so I asked some fellow boot campers what made them join one. And here is some quotes I got from both men and women.
“Going to the gym gets monotonous. Coming here you get to meet people, you get a different workout so it’s very good.”
“I find that the boot camp session are usually pretty quick. The time in my head is manageable, it’s not taxing on you mentally; so you come here you work out hard and you know you’re done.”
“I find that I work more and have got fitter faster by working in a group than on my own in a gym.”
“It can be very annoying watching all the men lifting loads of weight in a gym just showing off. Here its about supporting each other and being part of a group.”
“It can be competitive but in a good friendly way. It makes you work harder and faster”
“I was so tired of the gym and unsociable members but since I’ve been coming here I’ve made lots of new friends. It’s been a new kind of health and fitness experience.”
“It’s a workout and social time all in one so in a way it’s like getting more for your money.”
“You’re not tied here like you are at a gym. You can stay for 6 weeks and then leave if you want to but most people come back because it’s really good value for money and they see proper results.”
“You’re constantly motivated by the instructors which is what I need!”
So there you have it – a snap shot of what a boot camp is. I’m sure there are different ones out there with varying styles but the emphasis is the same – on getting YOU fit with all the added support. I have to say I really did enjoy my session and I will definitely be going back to it again for another chance to roll around in the mud. So if you still havent began your road to fitness this year, why not give a boot camp a go? Most clubs will offer a taster session before you take the plunge to join. Just remember to wear comfortable loose fitting clothing such as t-shirts, shorts or jogging bottoms depending on the weather and expect to get a little dirty. The thing is that to become whatever person you want to be – fit, healthy, lean – you have to surround yourself with like-minded people and you will certainly meet them at a boot camp!
For more information on James Parker’s Boot Camps, times and prices visit http://www.personal-trainer-reading.net/