Boot camp workout: Is it right for you?

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Boot camp workout: Is it right for you?

Just as the armed forces are experimenting with changes to boot camp, such as adding yoga and Pilates, fitness buffs are signing up for book camp workouts modeled on old-school military training. What's the appeal of a boot camp workout? Building strength, endurance and agility to conquer your daily routine. But are you up to the challenge?

Just what is a boot camp workout?

Boot camp workouts can vary but generally include a fairly intense mix of strength training and aerobic elements. One boot camp workout might stress calisthenics while another stresses military-style drills. Some even incorporate martial arts moves.

In pretty much all cases, however, you can expect to do calisthenics, such as pull-ups, push-ups, lunges and crunches, as well as drills and sprints. In essence, a boot camp workout is a type of interval training — bursts of intense activity alternated with intervals of lighter activity.

What are the benefits of a boot camp workout?

The goal of a fitness boot camp is to provide a whole-body workout that builds strength and endurance. Boot camp workouts also attract many people because they:

  • Offer a more challenging and varied workout
  • Require little or no special equipment
  • Create a sense of camaraderie among the participants

Is a boot camp workout for everybody?

Fitness boot camps often appeal to fit individuals looking for a more intense workout. However, some boot camp classes can be adapted for more sedentary individuals. So before you join, ask about the boot camp's basic structure, goals and prerequisites to assess whether it will be a good fit for you.

If you're older than age 40, pregnant, haven't exercised for some time or you have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a boot camp class — or any new exercise program.

It's also important to let your instructor know if you have health issues or special needs. And be sure to tell your instructor if you have difficulty with a particular exercise. Skilled instructors are attentive to proper form and technique and can adapt exercises for you.

Does boot camp deliver?

Opinions are mixed, but boot camp workouts have many fans. A nonprofit fitness organization that studied boot camp workouts found that the average exerciser burns approximately 9.8 calories per minute during a typical boot camp workout, which makes it a good activity if you're trying to lose weight.

In addition, a well-structured boot camp workout can help you meet the recommendations for physical activity in healthy adults:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity — a week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week

Signing up for boot camp

To find a fitness boot camp, check your local YMCA or area gyms. As you consider your options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the instructor's qualifications?
  • Is the class a good mix of aerobics and strength training?
  • What do people who've taken the class have to say about it?
  • Is this class a good match for my fitness goals?

Boot camp may not be for everyone. But if you're looking for a high-energy workout that offers variety and camaraderie, boot camp may be just what you need.

Last Updated: 2010-11-16
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