How to Know if a Boot Camp is Right for You

Fitness boot camps have boomed in popularity over the past several years. They seem to appeal to self flagellating types who have let themselves fall out of shape. This should raise caution flags as you consider joining this kind of fitness regimen. The following steps will help you make a sound decision.

Research and understand the workout program. Most boot camps, if not the majority, prescribe to a circuit training kind of fitness routine. You will do several exercises in quick succession and experience some intense muscle burn while gasping for breath. I’ve watched several participants collapse in mid push up, sit up, squat, lunge and so on. It’s called momentary muscle failure due to exhaustion. Boot camps are often painful, though not dangerous.

Determine your goal for attending a boot camp. Are you trying to get disciplined, lose weight, add muscle tone or jump start your distance running season with some full body workouts? If you are hoping to lose weight, then I do not recommend intense boot camps. Circuit workouts bring your body into the anaerobic range, which burns glucose (sugar) and NOT fat. Boot camps are not great for weight loss. Long, slow aerobic workouts burn fat, such as a 45 minute jog.

Assess your pain threshold. I’ve done plenty of boot camp workouts and before each one I have the nauseating anticipation of pending acute physical discomfort. This coming from an Ironman triathlete. So, if you really feel awful doing intense physical workouts, then boot camps are not a viable choice. You do not want to get totally turned off from fitness by feeling tortured by it. Certainly not after you just showed the courage to start getting fit. Choose a sustainable fitness regimen within your comfort range.

Assess the state of your body. Do you have any old muscle, tendon or joint injuries? Again, circuit training stresses the body and quickly. You may not currently feeling an old injury, but it will likely present itself during sustained, intense workouts. Get the advice of your practitioner; clue her in on your fitness plans.

Boot camps are not a lifestyle choice. Cycling, swimming, running, hiking, walking and gym workouts are lifestyle fitness choices that are sustainable throughout the year. I use the word lifestyle in relation to a fitness activity that it becomes a hobby due to your enjoyment of it. You look forward to making time for it and having friends join you in it. Add a boot camp to spice up your routine or for a healthy challenge. Don’t make them your primary fitness activity, you will tire of them.

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