Everything you need to know about a bootcamp workout

Inspired by the training given to those who join the Armed Forces, boot-camps are high-intensity workouts that deliver specific results. “It’s primarily an outdoor group activity where a cluster of people who have the same goal join together,” says J. Keshav, owner and president of BootCamp Chennai, whose 12-week outdoors boot camp costs Rs12,300. The goals of a boot camp could vary, from weight loss, building stamina and endurance to general fitness, stretching, toning or strengthening muscles.

“In one word, it’s roughing it out,” says Bengaluru-based Wannitaa Ashok, an expert in body transformation. “A full-body cardio and strength workout that’s very effective for weight loss,” she adds. It can help increase lean muscle mass, and build muscular and cardiovascular endurance and strength while improving overall coordination and balance, she explains. An important aspect of the workout is limiting the rest time between each move, so the heart rate goes up and you burn calories faster. “You do circuits of intense exercises for about 30-60 seconds each, pausing for only a few seconds between exercises,” says Vesna Pericevic Jacob, wellness expert and founder of Vesna’s Alta Celo, a wellness clinic based in Delhi. The idea is to schedule challenging workouts that push you to your limits, improve your fitness levels and burn calories faster.

The fitness level required

Most fitness trainers know that people who come to them are rookies, so they scale the activities around the group’s requirements, says Delhi-based Kamal Chhikara, owner and head coach at Reebok CrossFit Robust. “Workouts are designed to use zero to no-skill activities so that they can be performed by anyone,” he adds, cautioning that you should have a frank chat with your trainer so you fit well in the group (see “Are You Ready To Join One?”). However, since by their very nature boot camps involve ballistic, rapid movements that can be too challenging if you’ve never hit the gym before, take precautions if you’re above 35 and have not been physically active for a long time, says Ashok.

“Discuss with the trainer if you are obese, smoke a lot, consume alcohol on a regular basis, or have a lifestyle disease, or consult your doctor before you start a boot camp,” she adds. It’s important that you rest well the night before, skip the late nights and prepare yourself mentally for the workout. “Make sure you consume a protein or complex snack, hydrate before you start, stay motivated and complete the whole workout, resting afterwards,” Ashok adds. If at any moment you feel pain, fatigue, giddy or nauseous, stop immediately.

The routine

The workout starts with a 10- to 20-minute warm-up, which includes exercises like walks or easy jogs, stretching all the joints, depending on the lifestyle and age group that the trainer has set a programme for, explains Mumbai-based fitness expert Vinod Channa.

“Post warm-up it consists of basic workouts like squats, lunges, push-ups, planks; plyometric exercises like jumping lunges, squat and jump, clap push-up, and jumping jacks for about 40 minutes,” he says, adding that intense sessions may contain obstacle exercises like jumping or running over hurdles and walls, lifting load and running, drills like crab walk, walking on fours or rope climbing. “Different variations of boot camp build strength, agility, speed, flexibility, endurance level and impact-bearing capacity,” he adds.

The benefits

Since the pace, type of workout and style keeps changing, a boot camp keeps you on your toes, giving you a break from boredom and the monotony of regular workout regimes, says Channa. There’s also competition. If you’re the kind who likes a challenge, a boot camp will improve your performance and motivation, he adds.

Boot camps also encourage the idea of camaraderie, which is part of the military culture. “A boot camp is not for an individual but for the entire group and it binds everyone together, which helps in unleashing people’s best efforts,” says Chhikara. The best part? The equipment comprises things like weighted balls or Therabands which are easy to carry and use in a public park.

Group workouts motivate and encourage you to push yourself, agrees Keshav. Since the workout is changing constantly, you don’t get bored with routine indoor gym-based activities. “An open and natural environment helps you inhale fresher air, burn more calories and keep you energetic even though you go through a heavy session,” he says, adding that the average calorie burn of a boot-camp workout is anywhere from 600-700 kilo-calories for an hour’s training. In addition, an intense boot-camp session revs up your metabolic rate for the rest of the day. “This means you’re burning calories post-workout too,” says Jacob.

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