The popularity of military-style fitness training has grown considerably over the last few years; from the original military fitness boot camp format they have developed out of all recognition. Opportunities range from a morning session in the park to a full fitness boot camp ‘holiday’ for a week out in the wilds. The fact that boot camps have been around for a while now, and training providers continue to expand, demonstrates that they are a long term solution and viable business model.
The benefits of boot camp physical training programmes are numerous, and for many people represent a great way to get out of the rut of the same old workouts. Of course, there are some disadvantages of boot camp style training. There are also elements that a boot camp ‘must have’ to operate safely and ‘red flags’, which should warn consumers off that particular training provider.
It should be noted that the following lists are not intended to be exhaustive.
You may want to look elsewhere for a boot camp session if your training provider does not offer any or all of the following:
- Safety: instructors should be providing group-based and individual teaching points during the session to ensure that the group and individual’s are completing the exercises in a safe and effective manner;
- Medical Screening: your instructor should ask if you have a specific medical condition, limitation or injury and tailor your session with these concerns in mind. If they are not comfortable working with your particular condition, they should offer to work with your medical professional or refer you to someone with more experience of your condition;
- Education and Qualifications: ask about the instructor’s education, qualifications and experience providing fitness training programmes. At a minimum the instructor should have a recognised qualification in fitness, as well as basic first aid training;
- Try Before You Buy: most organisations offer a free trial in order to make sure you feel comfortable with the way the programme is structured and run;
- Warm-up and Cool-down: your session should always begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down; and
- Exercise Modification (Adaptation and Progression): boot camp workouts are good for a variety of fitness levels as long as the instructor is able to offer modifications to make each exercise easier or more difficult depending upon the individual’s level. The instructor should also be able to suggest modifications of the exercise to accommodate beginners, intermediate and advanced exercisers, and those with specific limitations and also be welcoming to all participants.
You may want to look elsewhere for a boot camp session if you experience any of the following red flags:
- The instructor cannot or does not answer your questions;
- The instructor states any of these common fitness myths:
- No pain, no gain
- Exercise can fix all your health problems
- Excessive sweating while exercising means you are not fit
- If you stop exercising your muscles will turn to fat
- You can increase fat burning by exercising longer at a lower intensity
- If you exercise you can eat anything
- If you do not workout hard and often, exercise is a waste of time
- To build muscle requires massive amounts of protein
- The more exercise the better
- The instructor encourages you to work through pain or injury;
- The instructor also sells a variety of vitamins, supplements or herbal products. While there may be value in some supplements, you should check out any product and ingredients with your medical professional or nutritional specialist before taking them. Fitness professionals should have an appropriate nutritional qualification and also explain how these products would fit into any balanced dietary programme, specific to the individual; and
- The instructor diagnoses and recommends a treatment for your pain and injury rather than recommending a visit to an appropriate health professional (this is subject to the instructor not having the appropriate training, qualifications and experience).