Welcome to our new series, investigating the latest fitness trends and giving you the inside information on how they suit you.

At the moment there are outdoor group training classes (or ‘bootcamps’) popping up on every field and park; all promising hard work, a no frills attitude, and results.

So what’s the deal?

Are bootcamps the best thing since Jane Fonda donned her leotard or just another fitness fad?

In a nutshell

A bootcamp workout is a fitness class designed to build up strength and endurance through high intensity training. While the original bootcamps were military style operations, as time has passed there are many more civilian style formats that suit more.

Varied, challenging and fun exercise programmes in a supportive team environment that usually run in four to six week blocks

Bootcamp for beginners

Just as each gym or class is different, so is bootcamp. Many classes use equipment similar to what you might see in the free weights section of a gym such as medicine balls, bands and weights. Many also use natural terrain (such as steps and hills) or bodyweight (think push ups).

Pros and Cons

  • The outdoor setting is great for those who don’t like to work in a gym
  • The 4-6 week block can suit those who aren’t ready to make a long term commitment or just want a quick boost in fitness
  • Outdoors means wet weather too, not for the faint hearted on a cold and windy morning, although bootcamp devotees claim this is half the fun.
  • A full on bootcamp is hard work; those who haven’t exercised for a while may struggle with the intensity.
  • Bootcamps are usually held VERY early in the morning or after work; while the thought of waking at 5 to workout frightens many of us, it’s a great way to get it out the way before kid duty begins for those of us with older offspring.

Choosing your bootcamp

Gillian Christian from Happy Bodies bootcamps in Wellington has some advice for those looking at starting an outdoor fitness programme

  • Choose one that has fitness testing before and after the 4-6 weeks programme and that does a thorough health screen.
  • If you are new choose a programme that has ten or less people in it to ensure your trainer can give you the support you need.
  • Talk to the trainer prior to signing up to make sure their training style is the right fit for you

If you are looking for something that will challenge you and can make a commitment over a relatively short period of time, then bootcamps might be for you.

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Julz Darroch provides education and resources for those who want to get fit and introduce exercise into their lives but aren’t sure where to start- the exercise allergic are her speciality! Julz is also mum to two great kids who help keep her moving. You can find out more on her website.

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