Super trooper

It’s time to lace up those trainers! But before you start panicking, you won’t be warming up in a steamy gym – Outdoor boot camp calls

Have you ever faceplanted so badly you’ve had to pick the dewy grass from your teeth?

On Sea Point promenade, no less, in front of the hardened 6am joggers?

I have – because I was convinced I was a super-athlete.

Turns out I’m not.

But the embarrassment I experienced didn’t keep me away from boot camp the next morning. No ways.

What is it?

Boot camp, which started in America, is no longer considered a fitness fad, says Sharon Jessop of Extreme Boot Camp.

It’s here to stay.

The idea is simple – a group of people (men and women, or just women, depending on the camp) get together a few days a week for an hour’s outdoor exercise with a qualified personal trainer.

Before starting a camp, you take your measurements and do a fitness test.

It’s immensely satisfying to see how you lose a few centimetres within four weeks, and go from doing three-and-a-half push-ups in a minute to 25.

The aim is to increase aerobic and anearobic fitness [so you get fit and strong], reduce body fat and increase your muscle tone and definition.

‘Boot camp challenges every muscle in your body, with little rest between each set, so you burn calories even when you stop,’ Sharon explains.

Other benefits include a fun and social environment, different daily routines and guidance and motivation from a trainer, says Genevieve van der Vyver, trainer and owner of the Adventure Boot Camp franchises in Sandton and Fourways, Johannesburg.

Why is it so popular?

Because almost anyone can do it.

‘Our trainers put a lot of time and energy into making workouts unique and finding ways to ensure everybody is catered for,’ Genevieve says.

Plus, instead of hitting the gym after a day already spent cooped up in air-conditioned offices, boot camp is held outdoors.

It’s also social and it helps to exercise with friends because you’re less inclined to skip a class.

And no, you don’t get shouted at.

Trainers encourage you to do your best and make sure you do the exercises correctly, so you don’t hurt yourself.

‘Boot camp can be an excellent exercise choice, since it usually incorporates all aspects of fitness training and work the entire body, for example with cardiovascular, strength and stretching exercises. You also work on your balance, flexibility and coordination,’ says Kim Woolrich, a biokineticist at Sports Science Institute South Africa.

Any drawbacks?

Well, if you count exercise mats blowing into the ocean, sprinklers that switch on just as you’re crunching, exercise pants tearing… and having to clasp your partner-in-suffering’s ankles as they wheelbarrow across a grassy verge, then perhaps there are a few.

But on the other hand, your waistline shrinks, your quality of sleep and concentration improves and you’ll start handling stress more efficiently.

Your self-image is also boosted when you start losing weight and feeling fitter and stronger, so the payoff is well worth it.

Happy camper

‘I was a bit nervous before my first camp at Green Point Urban Park,’ says Jennifer Searle, 30, a digital editor from Cape Town.

‘I’m active, but I don’t like going to gym. I never really know which exercises I should do to target my problem areas and the classes are usually too big, so the instructors can’t really give individual attention to ensure you do the correct exercises in the right way.

I prefer exercising in a small group with someone telling me what to do so I don’t slack off. Boot camp is exactly this – the classes are relatively small and each one is different.

And if I feel a bit lazy, my trainer encourages me to push myself. It’s a very supportive environment.’

Boots and all

• Adventure Boot Camp has 110 camps nationwide for women only and costs R480-R690 for a four-week camp.

• Extreme Boot Camp is nationwide for men and women and costs R265-R325 per month.

• A.W.O.L Outdoor Training is in Cape Town for men and women and costs from R100 per class to R720 per month.

• Boot Camp with SSISA is an eight-week programme for men and women offered by Sport Science Institute South Africa in Pretoria and Durbanville, Cape Town. It costs R1 750.

» Get your copy of iMag in City Press on Sundays.

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