My latest addiction: boot camp

What do all of these terms have in common?

Burpees, squat jumps, dead lift, lunges, jump rope, push ups, sit ups, pull ups, swimmers, high knees, kettle bell swings, wall sits, medicine ball slams, treadmill sprints, row, planks

 They are just a few of the challenging ingredients of a fitness boot camp.

What is boot camp?

Like the widely popular CrossFit, boot camp is known to give you give you full body workout that rotates among cardio and strength exercises, with some flexibility stretches, too, all depending on the teacher. Generally speaking, a variety of muscle groups are challenged during a one-hour workout, with little rest between sets. That translates to an intense workout with plenty of burning and aching, and if you’re not careful, an unpleasant feeling that breakfast may not stay down (usually subsides after a month of training, I have found).

Pain and Gain

According to, your body will reap the benefits of your exertion: “It’s an intense workout that leaves you breathless, but with toned abs and chiseled legs.”

While I am still waiting on those chiseled legs to take form, I am confident there’s hope. At the very least, I am visibly stronger and can see definition in my arms. Boot camp is known to help you reduce body fat and gain muscle, and I can personally vouch for the buff ladies in my class.

I currently do boot camp 2-3 days/week and don’t think my body could handle any more. On the “off” days, I run, play tennis, ski or mountain bike, or a combination of these. It keeps exercise fun and varied, while at the same time, keeping me sore all over pretty much all of the time.

What Got Me Hooked

One of the things I initially liked about boot camp was a lengthy warm-up, which often feels like a workout itself if resistance bands are involved.  According to our fearless leader and former Mr. Idaho Corey Rudd, a thorough warm-up paves the way for more efficient conditioning, especially for old people like me.

Another benefit is the camaraderie of suffering among friends. If I were doing a series of incredibly challenging exercises by myself, I’d no doubt try half as hard. Not to mention, instructor Leah Noland, whose nickname is Lethal Leah, won’t let me slide – always recommending a heavier weight and ensuring I am not slacking off.

Lastly, I feel like I’m getting 1-on-1 technique attention. So unlike CrossFit, which can often lead to injury according to the research, my instructors are watching my technique so I stay healthy and even prevent injury in areas otherwise prone to problems (knees, back).

Buyers Beware

There are a few workouts that will cause extreme fatigue, and those usually have some correlation to a stopwatch or ladders. Consider that a warning…

Another potential hazard? Not all heavy balls are created equal. When I created a boot camp workout with my 11-year old one day at a different gym, I accidentally slammed a heavy ball in my face (blood everywhere, swollen lip, not so pretty). Apparently, some of the oversized balls bounce, so be sure and check this feature out first.

Try Before You Buy

Not all boot camps are created equal so don’t give up if you don’t like the first facility you try. I often wonder how a single instructor devises varied routines from day to day, but it’s also interesting to note how instructors vary among each other. I enjoyed a boot camp offered at my local YMCA, but the class was large and held in a stuffy basement. I now attend a class at Body Basics in Boise – and I highly recommend this gym to locals.

You can also create a boot camp at home using one of these sources:, Self Magazine, Health Magazine, and Pinterest.

Given that I have become good friends with many my classmates (amazing given my anti-social state at 6 a.m.), I find these workouts to be a nice social outlet, too, getting my day off to a stellar start.


About the author

Melinda is a marketer, researcher and writer. She also has a passion for healthy living, every day.