You see the signs in gym windows, at local community centers, and even at luxury resorts’ wellness facilities and spas. Their color schemes usually feature black, bullet gray or olive drab, and their blocky, bold letters blare two intimidating words.
What does that mean? Crab-crawling underneath a heavy net? Running an obstacle course surrounded by live fire? Running hut-hut-hut with a 50-pound pack?
Relax. It’s not that kind of boot camp.
Just imagine learning creative new ways to move your body, have fun and stay fit — and not just at home. Many resorts now have certified fitness instructors on staff, and they’ll help you integrate your wellness journey into your eagerly anticipated vacation.
Creativity in Your Wellness Journey
While it may sound daunting to newbies, boot camp is simply a high-intensity, instructor-led class that incorporates cardiovascular body-weight exercises and resistance training. Many instructors also will employ varying repetitions and duration to make each class unique.
“Some instructors might like the comfort of the same routines, but I know I don’t like doing the same workouts,” said Katy Davis, a longtime boot camp coach who is currently based in Bailey, Colorado. “I think varying workouts are important. Not only can I make sure my students avoid overtaxing any single part of their bodies, the variation keeps the body guessing what’s next, which is always challenging.
“I also love that I can bring real creativity to my students’ fitness program and overall wellness journey,” she added.
Growing up in Nevada City, California, Davis realized she wanted an active lifestyle at a very young age.
“My family wasn’t active when I was growing up,” she explained. “We might go for the occasional picnic, but we never went for a family hike or bike ride. I thought there had to be more. Even at age 14, I knew I didn’t want any limitations. I wanted to be healthy and fit, so I could live life to its fullest.”
Davis started working out at a local gym at 15, earned her aerobics certification at 16 and added a personal training certification at 18.
“I saw what a little bit of effort would do, and I wanted more of that,” she said. “It became addictive. I wanted to share that with others. Fitness can’t be just about aesthetics. It’s about feeling stronger in everyday life.”
In 2000, Davis relocated to Colorado, where she continued coaching students at home and in her own studio. She taught boot camp on Saturday mornings for many years, building a solid following. Then, the local Platte Canyon School District upped the ante.
“They were developing a wellness program for their employees,” Davis recalled. “It incorporated things like Zumba, yoga and nutrition; the classes were open to the public and available to staff at a discount. They asked me to be part of the program, and I started offering boot camp twice per week.”
That schedule has expanded significantly over the last few years. Today, Davis teaches boot camp three times per week, provides a dedicated boot camp for ages 50-plus, and offers supplemental classes like pilates and “coach’s pick,” which ranges from kickboxing and weight training to the appropriately named “Butts n’ Guts.”
When asked why she thinks boot camp has resonated so deeply with her community, Davis is thoughtful.
“No. 1, I think, is the camaraderie,” she said. “The students are experiencing something significant together, and they bond through that experience. No. 2 is the fact that they don’t have to make their own workouts; they just come ready. And No. 3? They like out-of-the-gym, out-of-the-box exercises that make them feel powerful and strong.
“My students come from all walks of life and all fitness levels,” she noted. “That is very encouraging, especially to women. They support each other, and they inspire each other.”
Heading for Your First Boot Camp?
7 Important Tips from Certified Coach Katy Davis
1. Make sure the instructor is certified.
2. Your instructor should demonstrate each exercise and modify it to every fitness level (accommodating injuries or disabilities if necessary). He or she should demonstrate beginner, intermediate and advanced versions of the exercises to make sure that all students are being served, no matter where their fitness levels might be.
3. Don’t be intimidated! Everyone has had a first class. Be willing to set your comfort zone aside and try.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask about correct form and modifications, or to clarify instructions. Never hesitate to ask, “Am I doing this right?”
5. Know that you’ll get stronger with consistency. Just go, wherever your fitness level might be, and give what you have to give.
6. It’s never going to be easy. If it is, you’re not pushing yourself. A longtime class member should be breathing just as hard as a newbie; the class should be challenging for everyone.
7. Most importantly: Have fun!
Katy Davis is the owner and founder of X Health and Fitness. She is a certified personal trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, and weight management consultant, and she is dedicated to helping her clients improve their health through a combination of fitness training and nutritional guidance. Learn more at xhealthandfitness.weebly.com.