Tuesday, September 11

fitness bootcamps: what, why, and how?

i was making serious progress until about 3 months ago. then it all kind of slowed down. i think i had hit a real plateau...something i thought was fitness folklore like some sort of excuse or denial. sure i had a few naughty bites of this and that. but, you ought to know, i worked really hard at eating lean. and, still, my body fat wasn't budging. i did notice some gains in muscle and strength, and i was thrilled about that. it was the fat that wasn't coming off. i was ready to really go for it. you know, push my tush and try something different. i had always heard that your body adapts when doing the same workout day in and day out. i guess there's so truth to that.

i don't know what came over me when i decided to give body bootcamp a go. seriously, i would have never EVER imagined that i would voluntarily commit to such a thing. i'm not one to join a fitness group, and i'm super self-conscious. in the past, when i thought about joining, i asked myself stupid questions like:

what if everyone is prettier than me?
what if they're thinner than me?
what if they don't like me?
what if they don't talk to me?
what if i'm not fast enough?
what if i suck?

oh geez, isn't that just sad? boo-hoo...yeah, whatever. this time around, i was ready for a killer workout to help me get some killer legs! i was ready for a challenge. i've never been one to do things because they were easy. plus, for the first time ever, i wasn't concerned about anyone else but ME! and, guess what? i DID it! i finished 6 full weeks of body bootcamp.

changing things up a little bit made a humongous difference! i've lost 4% body fat, 2" off my waist, 1" off my hips, 1/2" off my thigh, 1/2" off my arm, 1/4" off my calf, my legs and arms are way more tone, and my tummy is flatter. people, my body is leaner! and best of all, i have more endurance, strength, and speed!

this fitness bootcamp did so much more than push me past a plateau. it refueled my motivation, my confidence, and determination.

it wasn't easy, but it was worth it. so worth it that i signed up for another 6 weeks, and i'm super excited! i can't wait to see how round 2 changes my body. i was nervous about it when i started, because i wasn't sure what a fitness bootcamp really was. so, if you're thinking about trying one out, but can't quite pull the trigger, let me tell you a little about them!

what?

fitness bootcamps are designed to promote fat loss and build strength in a team environment with camaraderie. bootcamp training sessions typically start with dynamic stretching and running, followed by interval training such as including lifting weights, pushups/situps, plyometrics, squats, lunges, running stairs/hills, sprints, and it ends with static stretching.

each session last an hour and can burn as much as 600 calories. bootcamps usually run between 4 to 6 weeks meeting 2 to 3 times a week. the fitness level (body fat, measurements, stretch ability, and 1 mile run for time) of each member is usually tested at the beginning, half-way through, and at the end.

why?

if you're current workout has you bored out of your mind or stalled out, give a fitness bootcamp a try. if you give it 100%, you'll be amazed at the results! here are some reasons why you should check it out!

  • get motivated by and be accountable to a group of people who share the same fitness goal: to finish!
  • build strength, increase endurance, and burn fat all at the same time!
  • a little friendly competition keeps you going until the very last push-up!
  • surprise yourself by doing things you never thought you could do!
  • for people of all fitness levels!
  • help to jumpstart a fitness routine!
  • blast past a fitness plateau!

how?

bootcamps can be intimidating...even to the fittest of fit. they're tough, but you can make it through if you follow this advice from the greatist!

  • plan ahead. scope out class options and pick a good fit. “boot camp” is often a catchall term for all outdoor instructor-led fitness classes, so make sure to read the fine print. some programs are geared towards specific groups, like women or young adults. some classes devote more time to cardio and bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups, while others may incorporate equipment like kettlebells, sandbags, and free weights.
  • follow the leader. more of a disney princess than a g.i. jane? make sure to find an instructor whose intensity level inspires hard work, not fear. ariane hundt, founder of brooklyn bridge boot camp points out that “some [instructors] are more like ‘drill sergeants,’ while others are more supportive of different fitness levels. search for an instructor that fits your motivational style.” and above all else: make sure they’re certified to train group fitness classes with some solid experience under their belt.
  • know your strength. while some classes are great for fitness beginners, many target a more advanced audience. make sure the boot camp matches your fitness level, and don’t be afraid speak up if an exercise is too difficult. “arriving early and letting the instructor know about any special needs or injuries is always a good idea,” hundt says.
  • prep right. most fitness boot camps meet in local parks or gyms, and provide all the necessary equipment. wear comfortable workout clothes, sneakers, and be sure to bring plenty of water in case there’s no water fountain nearby. although most classes include a thorough warm-up, it’s always a good idea to do a quick 5-minute jog and stretch before class begins. feeling like you’re not quite up to speed? try practicing boot camp moves outside of class. hundt recommends that participants “take the show on the road. do some exercises alone in a park — all you need is a bench and your body weight.”
  • fuel up. to keep blood sugar and energy levels high during tough moves, opt for a carb-based snack (try fruits or veggies with whole grains) an hour or two before the workout, greatist expert and trainer noam tamir suggests. it’s also key to stay hydrated; drinking 10-15 ounces of water 30-60 minutes before class should do the trick. and as with any intense exercise, make sure to recover properly with a healthy carb- and protein-packed snack (ideally within two hours of leaving class).
  • be a team player. boot camp workouts are all about group camaraderie. greet fellow exercisers with a smile and don’t be shy about shouting out encouragements. if you’re lucky, they’ll do the same.
  • go with it. it’s only an hour, so give each class 100 percent to get the best results. “if you are willing to be pushed beyond your comfort zone and trust your instructor, you will see better results than when working out alone,” hundt says. one final word of caution: always listen to your body first and foremost. if you’ve got nothing left in the tank, or feel an injury coming on, remember that no amount of encouragement (or ego) will get you through that last rep safely. so always train smart.

no matter your fitness level or fitness goals, fitness bootcamps are a sure way to whip you into shape! it's a great way for a beginner to jump start a fitness routine or for a fitness junkie to shake things up. look for one in your area. take a buddy and try out class. most instructors give complimentary classes, so ask for one. not sure if you want to commit? check if you can pay by the day. and most importantly, don't give up after the first class or two. it's supposed to be challenging...that's what changes your body!

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