What to Look for in a Fitness Boot Camp

What to Look for in a Fitness Boot Camp

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  1. One of the latest fitness trends is the “boot camp,” a group training session for adults that takes techniques of military basic training conditioning and incorporates them into a fun, high-energy environment for clients.

     The aim of a fitness boot camp should be the safe achievement of the benefits of exercise in a fun, group setting. That requires a certified fitness counselor with training specifically in group exercise and/or boot camp design. Boot camp participants should not be coerced to perform or continue drills that are beyond their level of conditioning or endurance. Unfortunately, if you peruse ads on online electronic bulletin boards, “boot camps” are being offered by “instructors” with no certification in exercise plan design.

     Following are some key issues to consider before signing up or committing money for any boot camp:

    Is the instructor certified? The National Commission for Certifying Agencies is the main accrediting body for personal training programs in America. Some of the major accredited certifying programs are the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the National Council on Strength and Fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, among others. I have been certified by ACE since 2001, and many of the accredited programs require trainers to continue their education to keep their certification. If a boot camp instructor isn’t certified by a recognized program, back away.

    What training techniques are used in the boot camp? Does the instructor combine all elements of fitness conditioning into his/her program, focusing on muscle strength, muscle endurance, muscle flexibility and cardiovascular fitness? Is there an adequate warm up and warm down for all participants?

    How fit does your instructor appear? When committing money to a fitness trainer, part of the evaluation should be judging a book by its cover.  Many of the certified programs referenced earlier urge trainers to “model” physical fitness and healthy habits. We should remember, though, that there are hundreds of fit people with no experience in exercise program design or exercise injury prevention. 

    Boot camps are a blast. When done well, they allow participants of different fitness levels to coexist for an hour in getting the heart and body revved up, leaving them wanting more.  In short, boot camps allow adults to play again while getting fit. They can’t be designed haphazardly. Don’t trust your body to just anybody.


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