Pembroke Mariner – Is Fitness Bootcamp Worth Its Weight?

Coaches Corner

By Dave Gleason



Is Fitness Boot Camp Worth Its Weight?



As spring has now arrived with the hope and thoughts of warm weather with bathing suit season to follow, there are countless numbers of people once again looking into a faster way to shed pounds and get in shape.  With no shortage of options on the south shore ranging from big box gyms, smaller exercise studios and in your home personal trainers the variety of exercise choices is vast.


I would be remiss to exclude all the overhyped TV infomercial products that we can purchase “for 3 easy payments….of $29.99” touting the ease of losing the flab in “just 10 days”.


Zumba, yoga, pilates,  group classes, weight training, running, walking, and last but not least fitness bootcamps are some of the more popular modes of exercise utilized today.


The popularity of bootcamps has exploded in the past 2 years and for good reason.  A quick look at the chart below shows the high calorie burning nature of these types of classes.  What are these high powered “kick your butt camps” and are they all created equal?







A fitness bootcamp is an adult fitness class, usually 45 minutes to an hour in length including warm up, workout and cool down.  Heavily programmed with military type calisthenics such as jumping jacks, pushup and sit ups…the ability to burn more calories in less time is certainly a hot button for most exercisers.  The key to fitness bootcamps is their apparent efficiency in getting its attendees from fat to fit with less of an overall time commitment.


Are fitness bootcamps all the same?  Are they really that effective?  Are they safe?


When evaluating a fitness bootcamp class to join look for the following critical components:


1.)  Repetition through variety – Repetitive motion injuries should not occur as a result of your workouts.  Any easy and effective way to avoid them is by having variety in your workout.  An example of this is the squat.  The squat is an activity which involves extending the hip, knee and ankle joint.  This can and should be achieved with several different versions of squatting and lunging.  Single joint movements such as biceps curls should also be avoided in a bootcamp setting.  Whole body exercises are more efficient calorie burners and they hold a lower risk of repetitive motion injury.


2.)  Slow and safe before fast and fancy – Before you try to shuffle through cones like an NFL linebacker, make sure you are given the opportunity to move effectively at a level suitable for you.  A seasoned professional trainer can add several regressions and/or progressions for any exercise or activity.  This is how a bootcamp class can safely accommodate all ability levels.


3.)  Recovery Weeks – A recovery week is a time for your body to heal, recover and rejuvenate with lower intensity and more mobility and flexibility training is crucial to your long term success.  When the recovery week is over (once every 5-7 weeks) your body will be able to push the next level.  Recovery weeks help keep you injury free and avoid the dreaded plateau!


4.)  The non bootcamp bootcamp – Modeled after the military…not the military. A well organized and planned out fitness bootcamp should be challenging.  If fact the intensity of the bootcamp, as mentioned above, is what gives you the big calorie burn your looking for in addition to the “afterburn” effect of burning more calories for up to 48 hours after the class.  Of course this is all true within reason!  Having you carry a friend on your back up hill repeatedly or making you do push ups until you’re ready to cry is not the answer to your fat loss and fitness goals.  Remember if you are injured your are not exercising.  If you are not exercising you are not getting in better shape!


5.)  Timing Sequences – Utilizing timed work/rest ratios are extremely effective in allowing you to work at your personal best.  30 seconds of work followed by 15 seconds of rest, repeated for 6 exercises is an example of a timing sequence.  Completing as much work as you can in the 30 seconds is and should be an individual factor in bootcamp classes.  Many ability levels in one class can perform the same exercises to their own personal relative intensity.


In short, when evaluating a fitness bootcamp the preceding factors will ensure your safety and success.  A fitness bootcamp instructor should be more than a person who can stand over you and yell.  Knowledge of biomechanics, exercise progressions and injury prevention is a requisite.


Nutritional guidance is the silver bullet.  You cannot out work a bad diet.  A meal plan that you can stick to 90% of the time combined with a quality fitness bootcamp will have you in tip top shape faster than you can say “drop and give me 20!”






Dave Gleason is owner of Athletic Revolution on Winter Street in Pembroke.  Dave and his wife Andrea have been helping men and women of all ability levels reach their fitness goals for close to 2 decades.  For more information about the programs at Athletic Revolution for adults and or young athletes call 781-312-7808


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