Getting the Gear
While your gym might offer a boot camp workout, most independent programs are outside, meaning you’ll want to dress in layers. If it's cold outside, wear a base layer with breathable fabric (as in, not cotton), along with a shell and pants/tights. Working out in the heat? Well, then less is definitely more—but even if you're wearing just a sports bra or cami, you'll want to bring a T-shirt to make sure you have full coverage for any exercises that might have you moving your core across a mat or hard surface. Also bring a water bottle, towel to wipe your sweat and training gloves if you’ll be using weights.
Most importantly, before you add a boot camp to your workout schedule, get fitted for the right sneakers. Properly fit running shoes are your best bet—so head to your local running shop to be fitted. Aerobic shoes, cross trainers or other sneakers are a no go.
Know What to Expect
Each program will have its own boot camp workout—so there's no uniform group of exercises that you can expect. There are, however, certain categories, like "military style" boot camps designed after the real deal at U.S. Army camps (which, not surprisingly, tend to be very competitive). Other types include stroller boot camps for moms, bridal boot camps and general boot camps (although be sure to ask if it's co-ed or women only if you’d rather work out sans guys).
Almost all boot camps include exercises like jumping jacks, squats, sprints and more—which are then geared toward the specific type of camp. Here are a few workouts you can expect in a general boot camp:
- Obstacle courses: This can include anything from small hurdles to an agility ladder to running around cones. The point is to keep moving throughout the course while completing various exercises set up at stations—and yes, be prepared to drop and do 20.
- Jumping exercises: In one of Miranda's agility workouts, participants line up single file, five feet apart, and get into plank position. The last woman in line hops up and then jumps over the feet of all the other women before getting back down in plank position.
- Relays: One of the biggest perks to a boot camp workout is that you have plenty of people to work with—but instead of just running laps, many boot camps have partners work together to complete a series of exercises back and forth while the clock's ticking.
See the Results
Why do boot camp programs tend to yield top results? Easy—you've got yourself a coach and teammates. Despite the term "boot camp," most programs are designed to be a fun, motivating experience where you'll tone up and meet friends—all at about a third of the cost of many personal trainers. So get moving!