“So I figured while I’m here I’ll lose a few pounds. And you got what, a 6 to 8 week training program here? A real tough one? Which is perfect for me! I’m going to walk out of here a Lean, Mean, Fightin’ Machine!”
– Ox, Stripes (1981)
Joining the Army may not be everybody’s idea if a fitness and weight loss program like it was for John Candy’s character in STRIPES, but more and more, the whole concept of the fitness boot camp has begin catching on with more and more people. Fitness boot camps are run by gyms, personal trainers, and yes, even the od ex-military guy or two. They are designed to build up strength and physical fitness through group participation in an intense series of one hour periods of time. They have become increasingly popular in the US over the last decade.
The Boot Camp Exerience
Much like a military boot camp, you jump in headfirst with rigorous stretching exercises and running, which is followed by a wide variety of interval training exercises, such as free weights and resistance training. Pushups, sit ups, and other explosive exercise routines are also brought to bear, designed to create the most intense and effective exercise experience over the shortest amount of time. Some boot camps also offer nutritional advice and guidance. The term “boot camp” came to apply to these programs because of its similarity to military boot camps….groups of people, largely conducted outdoors, and pursues a level of intensity and concentration commonly associated with military training.
Boot camp may also be used to refer to programs within the fitness industry that encourage and work towards fat reduction through an accountable team effort. It is designed to push participants a little harder than they would normally be in a regular gym situation. Participants are encouraged to work in pairs or trios, but are also often encouraged and allowed to work at their own pace. The goal is the same, it just may take some folks a little longer to get there.
Boot camps are ideal for those who get bored easily in a gym setting, provding that extra measure of motivation and helping them stay focused on the goal (which may be difficult to do in the gym). Drill instructors may exhibit different levels of strictness, so it is important to find someone who adequately motivates you and pushed you just a little bit beyond your comfort zone. Participants are tested to determine their level of fitness on Day One and the program typically runs between 4 – 6 weeks.
The Boot Camp Benefit
The mental health aspects of a fitness boot camp cannot be overlooked, since it is well known that exercise helps to reduce high blood pressure, hypertension, and combat related stress. Participants also learn how to self motivate, which can be an invaluable talent once they have left the boot camp and are back in the daily grind of the gym environment.
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