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August 2012
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Boot Camp Classes: Risks and Rewards

What to consider before enlisting in fitness boot camp

Boot camp workouts promise regular civilians a disciplined, intensive and effective fitness program — and you don't have to be a gym rat or masochist to enjoy them. Here’s the skinny on this popular workout program.
 
Fitness boot camps have been popular for years and have many devoted fans. The reasons for this success include:
  • Classes include everything you need, from workout plan to equipment. If you find it difficult to create a solid exercise plan on your own, boot camp might be right for you. The classes incorporate cardio and strength training for a complete workout, and many have a stretching component as well. You’ll also need little-to-no equipment to participate. You should check with the gym or instructor to find out what’s included and what you’ll need to buy.
  • You’ll get a challenging workout. Boot camp instructors will push you to try new exercises, run one more lap or squeeze out one more rep. You might find this especially rewarding if you want a tougher workout but tend to go easy on yourself when you’re at the gym. But keep in mind, you don’t have to be in tip-top shape to join in. Instructors should be willing to modify exercises as needed for those who are less experienced or have a medical condition.
  • The experience cultivates camaraderie among participants. Forget the movie images of a hardened sergeant dressing down quivering recruits. Most exercise boot camps thrive on building you up, not breaking you down. Participants encourage one another and bond over shared challenges and victories.
  •  Results. The American Council on Exercise found that the average person burns 9.8 calories per minute in a boot camp class, making it a great activity for weight loss. In addition, the classes often provide the recommended amount of aerobic and strength training exercise for adults.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? There are a few things to consider before you sign up, though. For example, while these classes are great for those who like challenge and friendly rivalry, they’re not ideal for those who shy away from competition. You also need to consider any physical limitations. Although boot camps are usually inclusive, some do attract more veteran gym-goers. If you have any hesitations, ask plenty of questions about the structure and goals of the class before joining up. You might also sign up for a single class or short session before committing to weeks of training.
 
If you’re interested in trying out an exercise boot camp, a Google search for local options is a good place to start. Gyms often offer classes, and you’ll also find them from independent fitness instructors, the YMCA and other outlets.
 
You’ll also want to make sure you’re healthy enough to take on these challenging classes. Exercise experts advise you to check with a doctor about any new fitness regimen if you’re 45 or older, pregnant or have existing health problems. Start slowly if you haven’t exercised for a while.

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