Fitness Bootcamp – pay someone to shout at you!

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It seems a week can’t go by and a glossy mag can’t go on the shelves without another (overweight) celebrity huffing and puffing in a park, face contorted in pain as a (very fit) personal trainer puts them through their paces. 

If it’s not Kerry Katona – who seems to be at it every other month – it’s weather girls, TV presenters, former A-listers (now D-listers) or anyone either hoping to shed a few pounds for an upcoming TV appearance or get that next best-selling fitness DVD out for Christmas.

Unfortunately for us normal folk, not everyone can afford the services of said (very fit) personal trainers as they usually cost an arm and a leg, albeit toned ones.

But it doesn’t cost a penny to work out in your local park, especially if the weather is good. Though having the willpower or motivation to actually put yourself through the same energetic paces a personal trainer would can be the first stumbling block.

But it seems the answer to our prayers has been springing up more and more all over the country in the form of group-based park workouts.

Many market themselves as fitness camps, others as group training sessions, others again as bootcamps and there are quite a few in London alone.

While the bootcamp tag might be far from accurate, they do tend to give a good, all-over body workout and are a great way to meet people. 

But the premise of a ‘bootcamp’ may put off the more exercise-shy, body conscious of us all as it conjures up Full Metal Jacket-like images of drill sergeants roaring in your face, exercising in mud and rain until you are sick and being called things like dirtbag and despicable while you put yourself through a torture you thought should only be saved for your worst enemies.


But whether it’s marketed as a bootcamp or otherwise, group fitness classes are a good way to get a varied and beneficial workout – exercising on uneven ground works muscles better than any gym and has the added benefit of being less boring. 

It is also a great way to meet new people as many there will be like-minded souls whose end goal is the same – shedding a few pounds and gaining a few friends – and it is also great for motivational purposes.

One outdoor fitness class that started out in London’s Hyde Park and now has locations across the UK – all the way from Aberdeen to Brighton – is British Military Fitness.

BMF is a lot less scary than it sounds. They insist they are NOT a bootcamp as they do not want people to be put off by aforementioned Full Metal Jacket images. The scariest thing about BMF is that all their instructors are all serving or former members of the armed forces. To say this is initially a little daunting is an understatement.

But it needn’t be. Yes the instructors are from the armed forces and they look and act the part – complete with army cargo pants and military tattoos – but they are all very friendly, enthusiastic, funny and effective.

The guys know people are there to lose weight and get fit and this is exactly what they will ensure happens. Barking things like: ‘Ladies you’re here to exercise your bodies not your mouths’, everything is done in a very light-hearted and bantery way. Yes this is a tough workout and you will feel it the next day but the hour passes quickly and it is fun, yes FUN and effective all at once.

When you arrive you are placed into a group of low, medium or high, depending on fitness levels, and exercises are adapted to suit the level. Believe me, the low group is not the walk in the park you might think. When everyone convenes at the end almost everyone sports similar red and sweaty (but smiling) faces. It is very quickly apparent why these classes are so popular and are now the biggest outdoor exercise classes in the UK.

Who wants to stare at the same walls of the gym and the same muscle-bound meat heads or skinny girls in hotpants every week? Tired of doing the same exercises on the same machine and even getting bored with fitness classes? Keen to meet new people and have fun? Then outdoor fitness classes or bootcamps could be the answer to all your fitness problems.

Most will give you a free trial class so you have nothing to lose. Get Googling for classes in your area and your life (and your body) could be changed forever.

by Rachel Quigley


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