Being in shape means a lot to you. Whether you are already in good condition and want to hit the peak of your potential physical performance, or you are not where you want to be and need the boost, boot camps are an excellent choice for both. A boot camp isn’t just for the military anymore, although many of the boot camps out there are styled like it. You will work and train constantly, potentially like you never have before, eat a perfect diet of fuel for your body (notice we said fuel, not food. That engine needs FUEL to run!), and sleep like a log, because you WILL be exhausted at the end of each and every day. You will also end your camp (most of them are from 5 to 30 days) in much better shape than you went in. Those interested in the technical definition of a boot camp and the history of them in the civilian world, can check out Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_boot_camp
Keep in mind that there are many things out there called boot camps, such as intense training session periods for IT coders, or chefs, or mental life training, or, or, or. This piece is going back to the root of the idea, working yourself like a borrowed mule to get in shape with some instructors and a bunch of other people who are most definitely going to feel the burn.
General vs. Specific Camps
There are many types of camps out there, but they are broken down into two main categories, general camps and specific camps. The general boot camps are geared at bringing up the general fitness level of the participants, and many work with a holistic approach to provide coaching to help maintain a healthy and active lifestyle after the end of the camp. Specific boots camps are just what they sound like. They target a specific discipline, such as football, or soccer, or tennis. Most of these boot camps have a general fitness program involved as well, but the bulk of the time will be spent training in a target area. For example, the writer of this article attended a boot camp for soccer goalkeepers. Target trainings were three times a day, and there were before breakfast and before dinner general trainings as well. It was something approaching 10 hours of training a day.
For the general camps, you need to know that they can be brutal. And when we say brutal, we don’t mean like a brutal workout, an hour long, where you feel shaky. We mean brutal like getting up before sunrise and running a couple of miles, getting some breakfast, getting a shower, then going out to REALLY begin to work. Some of them are hardcore enough that you will puke multiple times a day, shake like a leaf, and be so exhausted that after a few days you might sleep where you stand. But the feeling of making your best time through an obstacle course after a few days, or looking at yourself in the mirror and seeing a very definite effect is priceless.
One thing: there are military styled camps out there. They don’t go beyond the level that most people can handle (well, most people that are looking at that type of camp), but they are about as hardcore as it gets, and are perfectly styled after basic training boot camp in the armed forces. If you are one of those that thinks you can hack it, go for it. It’s an incredible experience. Most of the personnel at these camps are ex-military, so they know what they are doing. And rest assured, you will get an actual drill sergeant. Check out two of the most hardcore boot camps. One is the Extreme Seal Experience, http://www.extremesealexperience.com/Faqs, and the other is Northern Fire Arms Training, http://www.northernfirearmstraining.com/BOOTCAMP.html, which is as about as close to Army training in the civilian world as it gets.
There are different levels of boot camps, and some are just an intro into the hardcore. Others, obviously, will be the stuff of bad dreams for years to come, and legends to others. With any level of the camp, though, you should know that there is a definite need to be prepared. Make sure in the weeks and months coming up to the camp, you really increase your cardio endurance. Combine that with weight training and some home based speed exercises, like cutting left and right between some cones in your back yard or the local park, of course at a good speed. All of these things COULD be skipped, and you could just go, but why would you want to? The point of these camps is to be able to push yourself, and preparing for them will allow you to go that much farther.
Some of the camps are competitive, and the people in them surely will be. It’s human nature and they are encouraged in some of the more hardcore camps. Many, though, continually tout the fact that the only person you are really competing against is yourself, and they are right. Many times, while there will be a fastest course time for the week, etc. and so on, it’s not like a military boot camp where the slowest person has to clean the latrine. It’s about pushing yourself to your limit, and beyond.
Not Just for the Body
Most people don’t realize that a boot camp doesn’t just improve the state of the body, that being the most obvious benefit. Mental health is also a big component of boot camps. The endorphins released act as mood elevators, and the exercise combats hypertension and stress. Oftentimes, such camps will have a large group, which acts not only as a motivator to participants, but consistently helps to form positive bonds between the participants and an instant emotional support network. This can be extremely helpful for many conditions, including depression and anxiety, to name a few.
Is It for You
This is a question that people ask about boot camps all the time, and the answer is: “Is It?” No one can know if you can mentally and physically hack a boot camp, or what level you can reach. It’s an intensely personal decision, but the benefits can last way longer than the last day of the camp. It can be a personal challenge to some, a boost to others, or a skill increaser to yet other people. Check it out, research it thoroughly, and we hope you end up crawling through the mud and climbing that rope over the wall. Many end up going from these camps and beginning a whole new lifestyle, joining contests like Tough Mudder, and the like. https://toughmudder.com/
Good luck and have at it!