“Knees up! Higher! Move those arms faster! Don’t stop!”
Those are the words ringing in my ears as I’m half way through my boot camp session. I can hear my heart pounding in my ears, I’m sweating from pores I didn’t know existed and I just want to sit down.
But no one likes a quitter, so instead I power on with the high knees set I’ve been instructed to do, gritting my teeth and silently praying for the fire alarm in the gym to go off so that the class can end.
A fitness boot camp is a type of physical training program conducted by gyms, personal trainers and former military personnel. These programs are designed to build strength and fitness through a variety of intense group intervals over a one hour period of time.
“A fitness boot camp is a type of physical training program conducted by gyms, personal trainers and former military personnel”
Originally popular in the US, they were brought over to the UK in 1999 and have been growing in popularity ever since.
The class was run by the enthusiastic and encouraging Gerraint Webb. With a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and work with the Army’s Oxford University Officers’ Training Corps under his belt, Gerraint definitely knows how to run a boot camp session.
My first experience of boot camp seemed to speed by, with Gerraint keeping us working non-stop for nearly the whole hour.
This non-stop workout is apparently the core of a boot camp class. “Boot camp is a fast paced class, which leads to high calorie burn and a more intense workout”, says Gerraint.
Rather than just focusing on one muscle set, boot camp saw us exercise various parts of our body in short, sharp bursts.
This included press ups, sit ups with weight plates, lunges and (my most dreaded exercise!) burpees.
“Boot camp is a fast paced class, which leads to high calorie burn and a more intense workout”
“It is this full body work out that is so unique to boot camp”, Gerraint informs me. He continues,”Whilst it can be hard, it is working all the muscles in the body that creates excellent results.”
But why would anyone choose to try such an intense workout?
After my body’s initial shock to the fast paced nature of the session, I actually started to enjoy the challenge, and really thrived off the enthusiasm of the others in the class.
It is the group element that Gerraint believes lies in the success of boot camp classes.
“This is an extremely popular class, and there are quite a few regulars who come every week”, Gerraint tells me, gesturing to a pair of very out of breath women stood next to us.
“I love the quick speed that the session is run at. Although it can get quite tough I always enjoy myself”
“I reckon that it’s the social aspect that keeps people coming, there’s definitely a nice atmosphere in the group”, he says, a smile spreading across his face.
“This is my favourite class, I come nearly every week with my friend”, a young woman called Adele confides in me, affirming Gerraint’s sentiments. “I love the quick speed that the session is run at. Although it can get quite tough I always enjoy myself”, she continues.
Having popped my boot camp cherry, I can definitely see why it has amassed such a loyal following. Once I got over the initial shock of being shouted at I really started to feel focused and I even enjoyed the tough love feel of the instructor.
Boot camp is £5 at Ufit Fitness in Cardiff.
Check the timetable for the details of classes.