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Adventures in boot camp

Deanna Keahey  ·  Aug 10, 2010  ·  3 Comments

Blah. That's how I was feeling.

It was too hot for outdoor activities, and I could work up zero enthusiasm for the gym. The plus side was long days of getting work done. The down side was long days of sitting at a computer.

Army boots

Boot camp? Really?

Then, a Groupon happened across my desk, for a discount on outdoor boot camp workouts, starting at 530am to avoid the summer heat. 530am? For a confirmed night owl like me?

I posted on facebook, "Am I insane...?", and friends confirmed that I was definitely off my rocker. To prove them right, I went ahead and signed up with Urban Athletics boot camp. Spoiler alert - I'm glad I did! Sometimes temporary insanity has advantages. :-)

I wasn't sure whether the most difficult part would be getting up about the time I'm used to going to sleep, or the workout itself. Perhaps the testimonial quote on the website "Seriously the hardest workout I've ever had" should have given me a clue, but I was fixated on that pre-dawn alarm.

Day 1 (Sound of heavy breathing)

The first day was tough! I was exhausted after the warm-up, and it got harder from there. I can't even remember what all we did - it's a blur. There was a point where I felt like I was going to collapse on the grass, but then somebody passed me a relay hand-off and I just kept going. Miracles do happen!

The day after, I was SO sore. Walking down the stairs was a minor ordeal, and my arms were so sore I couldn't brush my hair. Just goes to show how much I needed it, right? After a couple of sessions, the pain went away - an unmistakable sign of progress!

Routine (Getting into the swing/push/pull of it)

At this boot camp, every workout starts with a warm up run, then stretching, and ends with more stretching. In between, each session is different, incorporating plenty of sprints, lunges, push-ups, bench dips, jump squats, keg tosses, sit-ups, leg push-downs, plank jumping jacks, and more. Some days are on the flats, other days are hill workouts.

Urban Athletics

Our fearless leader

One of the things I like is that every workout is different, so you never know what to expect next. Paul Rose (our demanding drill sergeant, encouraging leader) mixes it up, and keeps it interesting. It's a friendly session, and Paul has a sense of humor that can sometimes even coax a laugh out of worn-out people doing "another set of bench dips?"

The other thing I like about every workout is that sooner or later, it ends. :-) No matter how tired I am when I drag myself out of bed, or how tired I am after running up, down and around for an hour, I feel pretty darn good at the end of the workout!

Results (Ooooh - I can feel it!)

After 6 sessions, I could feel enough of a noticeable difference in my body, that I wanted to continue that trend, and signed up for a bunch more. Yes, me, voluntarily getting out of bed before dawn, to go get my butt kicked around the park - and paying $$ to do it! Temporary insanity again, or pure logical reasoning this time?

Food (To eat, or not to eat?)

When I got home on day 1, after seriously the hardest workout I've ever had, I was freezing cold, putting on layers of clothes and huddling under blankets.  And this is Arizona in the summer! I called a workout fanatic friend of mine, and he said it sounded like my blood sugar had dropped so much it was hard to stay warm. He advised eating beforehand (if possible), eating immediately afterward (including protein & carbs), and drinking Gatorade (the full sugar version) during the workout to keep my sugar level up. So far, that's working a whole lot better for me.

You'll need to experiment with food. It's hard to find anything appetizing at 430am. I open the fridge, and think "yuck, yuck, yuck...", but I need something, even if it's just 3 bites of cereal and some Gatorade. Some people do yogurt, others manage with nothing - see what works for you.

Lessons & Tips

Location, location, location. Some boot camps are inside, others outdoors. Of course, in some climates outside isn't always possible, but for an outdoors girl like me, every minute of it feels so much better in the fresh air, vs. inside a stuffy gym. The downside is it's weather dependent, and you'll be down in the dirt and grass doing push-ups and more. Put that detergent to the test!

Becoming a morning person (or not). Picking a workout time radically different from your normal schedule adds its own issues.  I tried going to bed early, but couldn't sleep, and hated giving up my nights (a favorite time of day)! My new system is that I stay up late and get ~3 hours sleep at night, then take a nap or two later in the day. It's actually an easier, flexible version of polyphasic sleep, compared to what I tried before. Of course, depending on your employer, afternoon naps might not go over so well! :-)

Medical stuff, etc. Every exercise video in the world says to talk to a doctor before starting a new program, so I'll repeat that oft-repeated statement.  I'm sure it's good advice, even though I never do it. It would also be smart to talk to your group leader when you're considering a boot camp, and see if it's going to work for your fitness level and needs. They also have modifications available for people, if you need an easier version of an exercise, or have an injury to work around.

Ready for a change? If you're tired of your normal exercise routine and ready for a new challenge, give this a try.  Change is good in fitness, as it is in life in general. As Ellen Glasgow said,

The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions."

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If you're in Tucson, I highly recommend Urban Athletics boot camp. (Don't let me scare you off!)  If you're somewhere else, then check Google to see if there's a similar program in your town. It's a great way to break out of that rut, and kick your fitness program into high gear.
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Categories: Life experiments · Women's fitness tips
Posted from:   Tucson, AZ      Photo credit:   US Army, Deanna Keahey

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andrea Smith // Nov 19, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Always a good read... I'll be remembering thy words when my cardio gets the huff and puff of bootcamp. Yes.. I will try it.

  • 2 Percy // Jan 3, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Hey, this seems like good idea for my new year's resolution... I've been stuck to my swivel chair last year. I just might need an ambulance ready on the first day. 8-)

  • 3 Deanna Keahey // Jan 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    It's a great workout, that's for sure! I just needed somebody to brush my hair for me the next day. LOL (-;

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