November 28, 2023

F1000 Scientist

Health to Life

Fitness Camp – No One Left Behind Or No Behind Left?

Fitness camps that are cutting-edge are no longer subscribing to the military-themed drill sergeant style training. That’s a good thing because the very term “bootcamp” has intimidated many more than it has inspired.

The name “boot camp” in itself depicts an unfriendly, uncompromising, competitive, do-or-die attitude that would ward off the faint of heart. These are groups where participants get caught up in the competitive spirit and over exert to the point of vomiting or worse. The end result is that you have passed a pain tolerance test and did little in the way of proper exercise progression. The risk outweighs the benefit.

As the group exercise trend evolves, there are more alternatives that make a lot more sense. While it is good for the bootcamp operator to offer all body weight exercises so equipment expense and setup are not required, the theme is limited. Participants appreciate variety and they appreciate being introduced to many different fitness props or “toys” that can motivate them.

My groups of all ages and levels of conditioning particularly enjoy the TRX suspension training straps anchored overhead which allows one to progress or regress the difficulty according to stance position. Obstacle courses with mini hurdles, agility ladders, Bosu balance trainers, and cone drills can be done not only by the more conditioned athletes, but also by the senior population seeking to improve balance and gait.

While the first boot camps took an outdoor theme, some are being offered indoors with the same variety. Many people enjoy comfort and continuity, whereas the outdoors offers an unpredictable element with weather. In constrast, I happen to know that there is an outdoor bootcamp in Minnesota that operates year round and in the snow. Almost like the “Polar Bear” club of cold water swimmers, the extreme weather makes it an elite distinction for those who pride themselves in being able to “weather” it.

The term “fitness camp” is being used not only for the group training boot camps, but also for the new live-in Biggest Loser themed residential weight loss programs. Most of these live-in fitness programs offer drop-in services, too.

Regardless of theme, the group environment generates a level of enthusiasm by the nature of multiple people in a group. The magic number according to bootcamp operators is a minimum of 8 people to feel that electricity. The support and camaraderie will carry the group with very little from the instructor. Adherence is high due to the accountability one feels to the group. No one wants to miss a class and if they do, they will be missed and hear about it. Everyone looks forward to being there and being recognized as part of the group and that means you are likely to get in more workouts.

Live in fitness camps offer personal training one-on-one and group workouts. This way, the client gets focused technical instruction for weight training and personal assessment. Group training enables the client to develop a sense of being able to hold their own and the confidence to know that they can pace themselves to get through it. The proverbial bar is always being raised just a bit higher.

So there you have it in a nutshell. A fitness camp and boot camp are one and the same. However, no two are alike. Even with the same instructor and location, the variety is endless. Hence, you can get more exercise by spreading more work over more body parts and changing it up. That’s why that Biggest Loser clients who are obese and out of shape can continue to be active and burn more calories longer.

Fit camps are here to stay, so find one that works for you and welcome to the group!