Although the outdoor fitness market has its negatives and critics, there are also some good news stories, a few of which are highlighted below.

Daily Mail

In 2010 the daily mail (Fry, 2010) posted a somewhat unfavourable portrait of boot camps, decrying one in particular (see Common Misconceptions section).  However, in 2002 the Daily Mail (Coleman, 2002) posted a favourable portrait describing it as “the great new way to shape up [and] converts include Angelina Jolie, the Appleton Sisters and Robbie Williams.”  Other comments include “To be fair, the emphasis with BMF is on team spirit and overcoming new challenges – rather than being reprimanded [and] In fact, you’re more likely to find yourself collapsing in giggles…”

Community Work 1 (Turning Point)

Working with Westminster Council’s drug and alcohol action team (Lombard, 2008), several hostel residents initially responded poorly to being pushed to the limit, because of their chaotic lifestyles.  However, the residents’ hard work was rewarded with improvements to their health and self-confidence.  One external worker, employed by the charity Turning Point, noticed a “massive reduction” in the use of drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine since classes started in April.  Three residents became completely clean.  The project suited their physiological needs, the external worker explains. “The natural high of endorphins through exercise takes away the need to use stimulants like crack cocaine.”  The external worker further explains “Some of them are reducing their methadone by request. It all stems from a feeling of physical self-worth.”

Community Work 2 (Turning Point)

Former drug users in central London are being helped to get their lives back on track through military style exercise and have now completed the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge. The programme is aimed at boosting the confidence of people previously dependant on drugs and putting participants through their paces as they rebuild their lives and leave drugs and alcohol behind them.

NHS Website (Live Well Section)

Personal view by Gary Fletcher (Fletcher, 2010). Comments include:

  • “I was surprised by how popular it was,” says Gareth, “but also that most of the participants were women. I’d imagined military fitness was a very male thing, but I was wrong.”
  • “Each session lasts an hour, including a warm-up and stretching at the end. There are three levels – beginner, intermediate and advanced – and I tried the beginners’ class to start with.”
  • “The exercises were all very simple and the instructors demonstrated everything first.”
  • “There were lots of team exercises and partner work too, which could be anything from relay races to arm wrestling. You keep switching partners throughout, so you get to meet lots of different people.
  • “Having an instructor there is really motivational, and everyone in the group is encouraged to cheer each other on. And, although it’s based on military training techniques, the instructors aren’t too harsh or strict, and the atmosphere is very lighthearted.”
  • It should be noted that the website carries the following caveat: British Military Fitness sessions involve high-impact exercises and activities that may not be suitable for everyone. If you currently do little or no exercise, it is a good idea to gradually increase your everyday activity levels before trying these classes.

GreenSpace (Parks and Green Space Institute)

States that “Parks provide a much needed space for people to take part in organised or informal sports and provide recreational opportunities for those unable or unwilling to join a gym or leisure centre. We all know that a walk in the park can help clear the mind and the mental health benefits of parks and green space are well documented” (GreenSpace, 2010).  The leading national boot camp provider is also referred to in a case study.

Finally, a number of military qualified boot camp providers also carry out projects for their local communities and participate in running and other events in order to raise money for various local and national charities.

References

Fry, L. (2010) Why Army-Style Fitness Workouts are All Pain and NO Gain. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1309646/Why-Army-style-fitness-workouts-pain-gain.html&gt; [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].

Coleman, N. (2002) How To Shape Up Military Style. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-74072/How-shape-military-style.html&gt; [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].

Lombard, D. (2008) British Military Fitness Puts Ex-homeless Through Their Paces. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/25/09/2008/109482/british-military-fitness-gets-ex-homeless-into-exercise.htm&gt; [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].

Fletcher, G. (2010) British Military Fitness. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Pages/get-fit-military-style.aspx&gt; [Accessed: 08 November, 2012].

GreenSpace (2010) Who We Are. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.green-space.org.uk/about/whoweare/index.php&gt; [Accessed: 02 December, 2012].

Turning Point (2012) Drug Users Climb Road to Recovery with British Military Fitness. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.turning-point.co.uk/news-and-events/news/drug-users-climb-road-to-recovery-with-british-military-fitness.aspx&gt; [Accessed: 02 September, 2013].

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