Boot camps were brought to the UK by Robin Cope, a retired British Army officer, in 1999 “as an alternative form of group training to gyms” (BMF, 2012). However, Wikipedia suggests that the fitness boot camp concept did not reach our shores until 2005 (Wikipedia, 2012). The idea of British Military Fitness (BMF) was to get people of all fitness abilities outdoors training in parks, with motivation provided by military trained and qualified fitness instructors.
However, BMF states that with this form of military fitness “It was never the intention to make this a ‘boot camp’ but a fun and effective form of training using the highly professional skills learnt in the military to get people fit.” (BMF, 2012).
BMF started in Hyde Park, London, in April 1999 with just three people: “two nurses, and a wannabe commando who turned up in his own uniform.” (Startups, 2011). Just three years later members numbered in the thousands, which is not bad for a ‘passing fad’ as some fitness professionals described it at the time.
By 2011 BMF had over 25,000 members, spread across more than 120 parks covering the length and breadth of the UK (Startups, 2011). Turnover was reported to be £12 million, with profit in excess of £1 million. BMF has already expanded into South Africa, and has plans to expand into other international markets.
From 1999 to approximately 2005, BMF remained the sole provider of boot camp or military-style fitness training. The years 2005 and 2006 witnessed an explosion in the number of training providers offering boot camp and associated products, with well over 200 different boot camp and military-style fitness training providers by 2012. Unfortunately, the industry was slow to develop suitable qualifications and training courses for fitness professionals engaged outdoor fitness with these only being available from 2012.
BMF (British Military Fitness) (2012a) How It Started. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.britmilfit.com/about-bmf/how-it-started/> [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].
Wikipedia (2012) Fitness Boot Camp. Available from World Wide Web: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_boot_camp> [Accessed: 10 November, 2012].
Startups (2011) Robin Cope: British Military Fitness: The Ex-officer Tells Us How He Used The Forces to Create a New Kind of Exercise Class. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.startups.co.uk/robin-cope-british-military-fitness.html> [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].