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Will a boot camp-style workout work for you?

This training can improve your strength, core, endurance and body composition–but make sure it’s safe and right for your needs


If you can only devote 30-60 minutes, three days a week, to your exercise program, you might want something that will help you lose fat faster, build muscle, and at the same time improve your endurance, core, strength and flexibility.

Training for a race might answer most of your cardiovascular and leg strength needs, but it still lacks muscle-building and core benefits. A popular dance workout can help you burn more calories and even tone your body by incorporating dumbbells, but an instructor might not always be available at your preferred time.

Boot camp-style training might work for you. This fitness workout will remain popular because it adapts to the latest fitness trends in terms of exercise type, fitness equipment and updated studies.

According to an American Council on Exercise-sponsored study, an average exerciser can burn 9.8 calories per minute, which is equivalent to almost 600 calories per hour after a typical boot camp workout.  Aside from the weight-control benefits, there are also muscle-building benefits from doing resistance training moves like push-ups and squats. This training can improve your strength, core, endurance and body composition.

A boot camp workout offers simple moves, unlike most fitness classes. Also, exercising with a group can challenge you and at the same time give you a supportive environment necessary to continue your healthy and active lifestyle journey.

Is a boot camp workout safe?

It is important to know that  high-intensity military-style moves, jumps and plyometric lunges and high-knee jogs are not for everyone. Secure  medical clearance.

What to look for

A boot camp workout can be safe if you are aware of what to look for in a class:

Choose a skilled and credible boot camp instructor who can match the needs of clients. According to an article written by Jennifer Renfroe and published in the April 2006 issue of Idea Fitness Journal, it is important for a boot camp instructor to hold a national group fitness certification and to be competent in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. It is the job of a skilled trainer to modify the moves and to adapt to his/her clients, either in a private or group setting. An instructor should also promote proper hydration and recovery between workouts.

Choose a safe exercise environment that has enough space for everyone, has proper temperature and does not promote too much sweating and dehydration.

Choose a program or studio that has session options. If you want to focus on your exercise form and execution first, then try a private or small-group session with an instructor first.

As long as a circuit-type class has components of cardio, core, strength and flexibility, then it can be considered a boot camp workout. The workout doesn’t need to be so hardcore to be considered one.

Which boot camp training is best for you?

Recognize your needs and workout style and choose from the numerous types of boot camp workouts:

Athletic-style or CrossFit style boot camp—If you are cleared to do high-intensity moves using high platform benches for plyometric drills, kettle bells, body leverage equipment and free weights, and you want to improve your sports performance, then you can try studios offering this type of workout.

Indoor gym-type boot camp—your usual gym machines like treadmills and dumbbells can be used by your group to create a boot camp workout at your very own fitness center.

Outdoor boot camp—this type of training can accommodate a big group of people, and is cost-effective because you don’t need to pay for air-conditioned studio fees, expensive fitness equipment and gym membership.

Aqua boot camp—your usual aqua-aerobics class can be converted to a boot camp by alternating between work and rest periods of aqua-cardio moves or between cardio and strength moves.

Other specialty low-impact or fusion boot camps—some studios offer yoga or Pilates boot camps.

Personalized home boot camp—you can create your own boot camp workout using basic drills you have learned from fitness classes. Cardio moves can be punches, kicks, jumping jacks, jogs, step aero or dance moves. Strength and core moves can be basic body weight push-ups, squats, crunches, lunges and planks. If you want to improve upper body strength, then do more upper body work. If you want to focus on calorie burn, then do longer cardio. Do not forget to start with a five- to 10-minute warm-up and end with cool-down and stretching.

E-mail the author at mitchfelipe@gmail.com Follow her on Twitter @mitchfelipe.

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Tags: boot camp , health tips , Mind & Body , Workout

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