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Boot-camp workout: A pumped up version

It’s autumn already and luckily we still have some beautiful weather to enjoy. Get the most out of the clear and sunny days left by exercising outdoors, whenever you can…even if it’s just a fast walk at lunchtime. An outdoor boot-camp workout need not be limited to the beach on summer days. When you can, get outside before it cools down and starts to get dark (around 6 pm).

A fast track to fitness is to combine classic strength training moves, such as body weight exercises (back-to-back with limited rest) with short aerobic intervals to keep your heart-rate elevated for about 20-30 minutes, a variation of the traditional boot-camp workout. To minimize fatigue, alternate upper and lower body moves. Not only are there dozens of body weight exercises to choose from, but they are effective and require no equipment or accessories.

Focus on choosing compound strength training exercises or moves that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Big movements that involve large muscle groups burn more calories. Think of a boot-camp workout taken up a notch. The goal is to keep your heart rate elevated (peaks and valleys) throughout the workout by performing 3 to 5 ‘sets’ of exercises in rapid succession. For example, one ‘set’ might start with walking lunges (the full length of your back yard). Before you turn around to walk back, perform 10 to 12 crawl out straight leg push-ups. From a standing position, with straight legs, touch your palms to the ground in front of you and, keeping your legs straight, inch your straight arms out and away from your toes, until you are in a plank position. Perform a full push up, crawl your hands back to your toes, stand erect and repeat.

After performing another set of walking lunges, proceed straight into a cardiovascular set. Do a full minute of kettlebell swings or try incorporating challenging “burpees” into the set. To perform a “burpee,” begin in a standing position. Quickly drop down into a squat with your hands on the ground and kick your legs back into a push-up position. Perform one push-up and jump back into a squat position to complete the movement.

Of course proper form and positioning is key to ensuring a safe and effective boot-camp workout. Squeeze in at least a few of these workouts before the really chilly air sets in!

Boot Camp Fitness: Choosing the Right One

Choosing a Fitness Boot Camp

In gyms and local parks all across America, fitness boot camps are giving exercise enthusiasts something different to talk about. The term boot camp is based loosely off of military training camps which utilize jogging, sprinting, plyometrics, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and other forms of callisthenic exercises to prepare new recruits for duty, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The high intensity intervals performed in fitness boot camp classes helps to maximize caloric burn while promoting lean muscle growth, both key components of weight loss. These classes can be effective, fun and engaging. It’s easy to see why these military-style boot camp classes are catching on. With this increase in popularity since they first appeared in 1998,  more boot camps are popping up nationwide every day. While they offer an exciting alternative to aerobics classes, one must use caution when choosing the right boot camp.

Besides the obvious decision on price/affordability, there are several other considerations to keep in mind regarding how to choose a fitness boot camp class.

Location, Location, Location!

First and foremost, make sure the boot camp is held at a location that is within a reasonable traveling distance, whether from work or home. If you have to spend more time traveling to and from the fitness destination then actually working out, chances are it will be easier to blow off later on down the road and thus harder to stay dedicated!

Boot Camp Instructor

Make sure your boot camp instructor has some sort of credentials, such as a degree in Exercise Physiology or a related field, possesses a certification in personal training or group fitness instruction from a nationally recognized and accredited institution and/or has letters of recommendation from past employers or clients. Just because an instuctor is in good shape or may have an athletic background does not mean that he is qualified to teach a (boot camp) fitness class. It takes a watchful eye and a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to lead a group of individuals through a boot camp-style workout. That said, a certification does not automatically yield a gifted instructor that is compatible with your needs.

Take it for a test drive!

Any trainer/instructor confident in their ability to lead a quality (boot camp) fitness class should have no objection to someone participating in a free ‘trial class’ if the potential client has any reservations. This enables the potential client to see if the class is a good fit in terms of toughness and level of difficulty. It is not unusual to simply not like the instructor…some personalities just don’t mesh! Do not however, use this as an excuse to skip out of upcoming fitness commitments!

Comfortable and Capable

Most boot camp classes are designed to push participants past their comfort level while providing support with a team-like atmosphere. You still have to be able to perform the exercises without any pain or irregular discomfort. If the instructor expects you to perform a push-up, lunge, squat or run a mile – you should make sure you are capable of performing such tasks. If you have any past shoulder injuries or knee problems then a boot camp class may not be for you. It is always a good idea to communicate with your instructor prior to the sessions about any issues or concerns. The only other important considerations are to be ready and willing to physically and mentally make the commitment to get fit!

 

Functional training: 2012 fitness trend

There are quite a few new ‘buzz words’ and key trends in the fitness industry. One of the most talked about this year is functional training, also known as personalized functional training. Unlike many ‘fitness fads,’ functional training has been a continually growing trend originally used by physical therapists for years. A physical therapist, working with a client that suffers from a chronic injury (knee or back) needs to be shown creative ways to exercise without aggravating their condition. These exercises should help the client not only strengthen the target and surrounding muscles through force-resistance, but improve how the client performs everyday activities, such as bending, squatting, reaching and kneeling. After all, this should be a main motivator behind smart strength training.

Functional Training: What is it?

Functional (strength) training involves performing work against resistance, like your own body weight or resistance bands, in a way that the improvements in your strength directly enhances your performance of everyday activities, or those that are a part of daily living. The desired result is that these activities are easier to perform. Think of functional training in terms of moving through a series of smooth, rhythmic motions in the three cardinal planes of movement (frontal, transverse, and sagital). A frontal exercise would be a forward lunge, a transverse exercise would be a side leg lunge and a sagital exercise would involve bending or twisting in the core area.

Some of the movement activities you may perform (routinely) during the day include walking, running, jumping, reaching, lifting, bending, pushing, pulling, twisting and turning, climbing and lunging. functional training is all about transferring the improvements in your strength gained (in one movement) to enhance the performance of another movement. Functional training affects and involves your entire neuromuscular system. Another goal of functional training is to enhance the coordination and relationship between your nervous and muscular systems.

Functional Training: Significance

The difference between regular personal training and personalized functional training programs (some boot camps and Crossfit programs) in that the client does not perform movements until he/she is ready to handle it. It is an alternative option to the standard one-size-fits-all approach to fitness training. A client is screened and assessed by a certified personal trainer to observe his unique movement patterns, and then a very individualized, appropriate fitness program is designed for that individual. The program is designed according to the client’s current fitness level using a series of ‘purposeful’ exercises.