Boot Camp style fitness programs are all the rage these days. Here in Prince Edward Island, there are so many on offer it is hard to keep track. This style of exercising is popular because it offers variety and challenge to participants in a format which requires commitment.

Some programs are competitive in nature, encouraging competition between participants and/or competition between groups. You can find programs based solely on bodyweight training while others might employ obstacle course training or use built and natural environments to work the participants. You might have to supply some of your own workout equipment. Nutritional counseling can be included, weigh-ins and before/after pictures might be part of the package.  The boot camp can be indoors or outdoors. How frequently the program runs per week is another variable.

I’m engaged in my second spring/summer/fall of outdoor boot camp programming. I love offering outdoor workouts … for so many different reasons.

1. Taking folks outdoors and having them experience engagement with our natural world.  Exercising outdoors has demonstrated physical and mental well-being benefits.  Increased energy and greater enjoyment, as compared to indoor exercise, is documented. Enhanced engagement and greater likelihood of repeating the activity; decreased tension, depression, anger and confusion. This is without mentioning the fresh air, the stunning sunrises, the brisk breezes, the inspiring vistas, the refreshing rains, the early spring and late fall invigorating bite. Put your bare feet, or bare hands in grass or on the earth and feel the connection with the natural world. These connections offer undeniable wealth to our lives.

2. Camaradarie & building relationships within the group. Running a boot camp on a session basis (as opposed to drop-in) allows for the building of relationships, the development of a group identity, built-in fun competition, a sense of sharing, accountability and obligation. I have the great good fortune of watching relationships build and flourish amidst burpees and sprints. The desire to encourage, support and be inspired by each other is evident every day.  And, every one fits in: folks who need to be quiet and reserved , those who are more boisterous and convivial; folks who are fit and fast along with those who are just (re)venturing into fitness, others who are nursing injuries or coaching chronic health issues.  To a person, the boot camp experience is inclusive and rewarding.  This cohesiveness and sense of team can’t be achieved when there is a drop-in option to boot camp participation.

3. Early morning workouts. All sorts of time and frequency options exist for boot camp. I’ve been involved in boot camp programming as part of a larger picture of service, rather than as the primary service. So, when breaking in to the boot camp scene in PEI one of my primary goals was to not compete for the same participant market as the existing boot camps. At the time, the earliest programming was at 7am three times a week in an 8 week format. Thanks to a wonderful Personal Trainer, Boot Camp Instructor and, most importantly, incredible friend, I picked up, with permission, a model she offered in Camden, Maine which was not being offered in PEI.  Four mornings per week for four weeks — I went for a 6:00am offering. I am grateful to JourneyFit Boot Camp (formerly BodyQuest Boot Camp) for allowing me to use their model of programming.

I am a morning person and have my best energy early in the day. For those who can fit a 6:00am workout into their lifestyle, this boot camp model serves them well. Get a jump start on your day, complete your intense workout early on, and have loads of energy for the day ahead of you.  I love it.

4. Creating the workouts.  Aside from the relationships amongst and with boot camp participants, this has to be my favourite part of running a boot camp. I relish structuring the workouts each week. Researching agility drills and sprint training protocols, ensuring a balance of muscle groups worked in an hour, running burnouts on particular muscle groups, mixing in active recovery activities, building in intensity and complexity across the weeks…and the many other factors which go in to 60 minutes in the park over four weeks. The technical aspects of training have always engaged me and I love spending hours each week on the layouts, creating the intensity and balance of work to recovery, being mindful of overtraining issues and taking in to account the fitness levels and health issues of the participants.

I love finding a spark in an odd place, something that will trigger a theme or flow for a morning’s program. Searching out novel ways of using the body and creative ways of using the environment can pass happy hours for me.  Each program I run has rhyme and reason.  I make notes following the workout about how it flowed, what needs tweaking, how well it served the needs of the participants. It is a tremendously satisfying endeavour for me.

So, don’t hesitate to seek out a boot camp fitness program which will meet both your training goals/needs and your life. They are so plentiful and varied right now that it is like picking from a tree laden with juicy, luscious cherries…reach out and find your sweet spot.  I hope taking boot camp training is as fun for you as offering it is to me.

If you’re interested in this particular boot camp, MOVE IT! Outdoor Boot Camp has a tab at the top of my blog…click there for more information.