Monday, April 11, 2011

Bootcamp for The Bootay: Reviews and Advice!

If you’ve read a fitness blog in the last year or just miss watching Jillian screaming drill-sergeant style in the face of some determined chubber than you’ve probably noticed that pop-fitness is getting a little, well, militant. It’s true, trainers and fitness enthusiasts have caught on that an obstacle course, push ups and rough treatment ala army bootcamp are the best and most straight forward way to tone the body. Bootcamp style workouts usually involve minimal equipment, are often outdoors and have early morning or evening hours to accommodate working people's schedules. They focus on using intervals, hills and your own body weight to give you a hard workout.

I discovered bootcamps a few years ago in New York when my work hours were getting longer, sleep seemed invaluable and the gym was 10 blocks away; I wasn’t working out as much as I wanted to so I decided to put some money down and sign up for a bootcamp in Central Park. 3 years and 3 different bootcamps later I am a TOTAL convert. If you’re having trouble motivating or feel like you do the same workouts over and over I would definitely recommend trying one. The 1 huge caveat is that they are NOT cheap, but even just one session will teach you a lot of new moves that you can do on your own to liven up your workout.

Here are some tips on what to expect from a bootcamp followed by reviews of three that I have tried…

1. Bootcamps are HARD – while they usually have all levels of entrants, don’t join one unless you are really serious about working hard and are ok with some degree of being pushed to your limits!

2. Working out more makes you hungry!!!! Bootcamp is amazing for your body. It will help you tone your arms and butt and could help you lose weight and finally get rid of those love handles… IF (NOTE THE IF) you are eating healthfully! It is really sad but it is 100% true - you need to eat less to lose weight. If you have healthy eating patterns and you’re trying to lose a couple pounds or just tone up than bootcamp is a great bet, but you need to be careful not to let your increased appetite get the better of you. I've definitely done sessions where i've actually gained a few pounds just because I wasn't realizing how much more I was eating after workouts.

3. Bootcamps are Expensive: To afford a bootcamp you might need to cut back in other areas or see if your company (like mine) will help subsidize a bootcamp for employees. My company did this by partnering with bootcampSF. ALSO --- get a subscription to groupon or google "bootcamp coupons" sometimes you can find a great deal out there if you just do the research. ***On the plus side, when I went to a more expensive bootcamp I NEVER missed a class because I had already paid so much for it. Now that I go to a cheaper bootcamp --- I'm a lot more likely to skip classes!***

Reviews Rated on a Scale of 1-5:
1. Stacy’s Bootcamp (Central Park, Manhattan)*** Overall Rating 4.5
How I found it: Online – I google.
Cost: Expensive - $275 for 9 session – 3x a week for an hour each rain or shine.
Location: Central Park. You meet on the upper west side but then run to a different location each class – this keeps things interesting and was a great opportunity to get to know the park. Class meets 12 months a year.
Workout: Amazing and hard! These were some of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done but I was so happy with how my body was looking. Be prepared for crab walking, running up stairs, and lots of crawling on your hands. Stacy helps you workout with only your body weight and get a stronger flatter stomach without doing a single crunch. Of the three bootcamps I've done this is definitely the hardest but I felt real comeradery with my fellow excercisors and stayed in the class for almost a year.
Instructor (Stacy): Is great, she yells and leaves without you if you are late but she makes an amazing workout, learns everyone’s name to make sure that she can correct your form so that you are doing things correctly and getting the most effective workout possible. She seamlessly caters workouts to individuals if they are new to exercise, advanced bootcampers or injured. If you ask nice she will also help you with your diet and eating issues by giving nutritional advice and guidance.

2. Pure Power Bootcamp (Indoors, Chelsea, Manhattan) Rating: 3
How I found it: recommended by my friend Grace and I bought a “GROUPON” to get a great discount on it.
Cost: Expensive - A couple hundred dollars a month. (I got a great deal with groupon and then stopped going when it ran out so I never had to pay the real price.)
Location: Indoors! This is a huge perk for winter working out.
Workout: Is challenging and well rounded and includes some terrible things like climbing over walls and jumping fences.
Notes: YES, this is the crazy ass bootcamp where you have to wear all camo (TRUE) and the instructors are dressed like drill sergeants and refuse to call you by your first name. I AM NOT EXAGGERATING!
The locker rooms are camo style tents made to look like army housing and the walls and pilars are painted in camo colors with words like strength and honor on them. You'd THINK you would be too busy giggling at the ridiculousness of this place to get a workout in but no --- you are too busy climbing walls and running laps carrying a car tire -- this place is ridiculous but it's a good workout.

3. SF Bootcamp (San Francisco, Various locations) Rating: 4
How I found it: My company arranged a bootcamp with them for employees but you can go to their website and find their normal schedule.
Cost: Expensive --- see if you can find a groupon or get your company to help sponsor.
Location: Various- classes meet in locations all over the city to help suit your needs. If you miss a class there is a running make-up class on saturday mornings at Chrissy fields.
Workout: This is a great well rounded workout. Instructors are friendly and helpful and definitely give a challenging workout. They will also group you based on level so you are appropriately challenged as a newbie or an athlete. This is a great workout for people with busy work schedules since they have makeup classes and meet in so many different locations. My only qualm with this bootcamp is that the rating really depends on the instructor --- instructors vary in their level of feedback and interaction --- some don't correct your form, some do. If you can, take a class with Tyler --- you might hate her for doing it but she will kick your butt and make you do things right!

So what do you think, any interest in trying out a bootcamp??? I hope so!


  1. As KS says "buzzkill". I'm still hoping for a silver bullet. But you know there might be a market for old lady boot camp -- long brisk walks that end at Starbucks!

  2. I want to try one! I want to dress up in camo and run laps carrying tires. Sounds miserable.... yet awesome.

  3. yes! I have already proposed the old lady bootcamp idea to Nic as a lucrative side job should our careers not work out.

    And Kate, I would gladly run around in camo carrying tires if it meant we could hang out!