I like to feel fit. I like it when not too much on me sags and I can go up a flight of stairs without feeling winded.
I want all my muscle groups to be worked and strengthened and exerted. Swimming and running are both great ways to get a cardio workout. But I’ve also felt the need to try other forms of exercise. I don’t want to train so that I have just highly developed -but also highly specific- muscles that only let me run forwards. Then again, who really needs to run backwards?
So, I started to go to boot camp. When I did my first boot camp almost 6 years ago it appealed to me for the focused workouts. I do strength-training at the gym, but at boot camp you have someone who tells you what to do, for how long, and then yells at you to keep doing it. Nothing like having your own cheerleader and audience to ensure you don’t stop performing.
There are many different kinds of boot camps where I live, most of them being available outdoors all year round. Generally it is an hour or longer class combining cardio (running) and interval training (body-weight exercises and core work). It is generally seen as a total-body workout.
Here is what I have learned:
1. your hands (and face) will get dirty
You may need to get down -and get dirty- to do all your exercises. Almost anything that works your upper body will involve some kind of prone position. Your hands will have to touch the ground. If you want to develop some definition in your muscles, you should stop worrying about that manicure. If you are really tired, you may also loose control of your arms and fall on your face. For this reason, it’s a good idea to do these kind of exercises on the softest ground available.
2. an audience is helpful
Having others suffer alongside you is always motivating. Strength in numbers also applies, because you will work harder with others than alone, and you will not feel like such an idiot having signed up for this kind of torture. If nothing else, there are others who are motivated by the strange desire to self-inflict pain; all 15 of them are right in front of you.
3. someone will always yell at you if you stop to look around
Everyone has those days where they don’t feel as strong. Your muscles scream at you and you wonder how you can possibly do another push-up so that you don’t fall on your face (see #1). To draw strength from the group you wonder how everyone else is managing. At times you may be tempted to take a quick glance around you: maybe everyone is taking a break without you knowing it? Before you can even focus on one person, the instructor has spied your pause and is yelling. Usually the words spewed out are, “Suck it up buttercup!” or some other kind of endearing words of encouragement.
4. when you thought you were done, you were just getting started
Sometimes even the warm-up feels hard. Running hill sprints to get warmed up before the workout begins can be torturous. When you feel like you just can’t go on and are questioning your sanity for the 10th time that day, you are actually just warming up to something that is even harder.
5. variety is what makes you stronger
The workouts are never the same. They make you stronger because your muscles can never get complacent. You may use the same muscle groups, but in different ways to ensure they are always being taxed and used to their full potential. Sprawling along the ground trying to gracefully mimic the movement of bears or frogs are common examples of variety.
6. the harder the exercise, the slower time goes by (you are on ‘trainer time’)
The harder an exercise is and the more you want something to end, the longer the interval seems to take. There is some kind of inverse reaction of pain vs time — as the pain increases, time slows. Then you tend to be on ‘trainer time’, where another 15 seconds can take 30 seconds and the final 5 seconds can stretch out to be at least worth 20 seconds.
The other day I was getting ready to leave the house, wearing sporty-like clothing. My son asked me if I was going for a run. I said no, my legs were sore and I needed to work on getting my other muscles stronger.
“Oh, so are you going to that camp to work on your booty?”
* Do you go to bootcamp?
* How do you prevent the sag?
(Photo credit: bloggo chicago), (Photo credit: slworking2), (Photo credit: Urban Mixer)