Give ’em the Boot Camp

These days, most people know what they should be doing for exercise and nutrition, but the question is — are they? With so many fitness centers providing a multitude of options such as wellness programs, group fitness classes, pools, personal training and more, the choices can be overwhelming. One option is versatile, inexpensive and fun: Boot camp-style workouts.

“Boot camp” is the traditional term used for a moderate- to high-intensity class that involves minimal equipment and focuses on building cardiovascular capacity, muscular strength and endurance. These classes can range from 30 to 60 minutes, be held virtually anywhere and have various numbers of participants at all fitness levels. Depending on where you go, many different names (often catchy ones) are used to motivate participants.

These classes are held in nearly every fitness center, on the beaches east of Jacksonville and at many different parks across Northeast Florida. Boot camps, often referred to as circuit-style classes, can be highly effective with minimal equipment. These programs succeed because of ease of administration, along with the social aspect of working up a good sweat with a group of friends, co-workers or complete strangers. People see results and have fun.

Exercise should be fun. Growing up as kids, we have fond memories of playing outdoors until it either got too dark outside or our moms yelled for us to come in for dinner. Whether playing touch football, capturing the flag, shooting hoops, jumping rope or hula-hooping, the result was always a fun time.

Just because we’re all grown up now doesn’t mean we can’t have fun while exercising, and this is why boot camp classes have become so popular. Easily portable equipment, such as medicine balls, kettle bells, battle ropes, jump ropes, cones, hula hoops, ladders and hurdles can be set up anywhere to get a great workout. You can also hold a class with no equipment at all by creatively combining body weight exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches and sprints. Many of the local parks have walking and running trails, with a variety of outdoor fitness stations including pull-up bars, dip bars, ab benches and steps, to create an interval-style workout as well.

You can have fun while exercising with little to no equipment. Whether you choose to visit a fitness center close to home or work, take your workout to the beach or frequent a park with a fitness trail, the choice is up to you. Challenge yourself or grab a group of friends to get out there and have some fun!

Burrows is an associate executive and wellness director at Winston Family YMCA in Ponte Vedra. He has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and health promotion and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Kentucky.