San Diego — Boot camp workouts have been growing in popularity because they provide a total-body workout that's varied, fun and challenging, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
The organization recently released a survey showing that for the second year in a row, boot camp-style workouts will be the top fitness trend in 2009. ACE annually surveys its worldwide network of personal trainers, group fitness experts, advanced health and fitness specialists, and lifestyle and weight management consultants.
"The overarching theme for fitness in 2009 is getting more bang for the buck," says ACE's Chief Science Officer Cedric Bryant. "Consumers will engage in workouts that provide multiple benefits due to time and economic limitations."
Boot camp participants can burn up to 600 calories during a session. In addition to a cardiovascular workout, participants get a strength workout through high- and low-intensity exercises, such as push-ups, squats and lunges.
"Boot camps are definitely one of the biggest draws that we have," says Val Strang, president of ROCK Workout Inc. in St. Louis, MO, and founder of Burn Boot Camps LLC. "We've been doing this now for 14-15 years, and we've got more clients doing them now than ever before because in an hour, people can get cardio and resistance training, stretching, and military and Pilates moves. We're always changing the classes, and that's the reason they're so popular, because people never know what's coming up. Sometimes our people do kick boxing or get on spinning bikes. And now they're coming in to take other classes, too, because they didn't even know they liked spinning."
Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club, Greenwood Village, CO, also offers boot camps, which draw additional members and revenue.
"Boot camps offer both significant revenue, since they're a pay-extra program here at Greenwood, and new members," says Barbara Lubbers, assistant general manager. "We open the program to nonmembers for a slightly higher fee, and many of those nonmembers do end up joining the club."
Strang says it's important to hire qualified instructors for boot camps.
"There needs to be more training for boot camp instructors than, say, a step instructor," she says. "Not that I'm discrediting step instructors, but boot camp instructors have to be so good at multitasking. We limit our boot camps to 25 people and have three trainers on hand because too often, people can get hurt."
She also says clubs must have access to outdoor space for boot camp classes.
"In my opinion, it's hard to teach a true boot camp indoors," she says. "We're in midtown St. Louis, but when it's decent out, we head outside. There's a field by us, and fresh air is good for them. Though during the winter, we lighten our load on the number of boot camp classes we offer."
Greenwood offers boot camps outdoors, rain or shine, all year long, including a Snow Camp in January, Lubbers says. The club backs up to a park, which is where most of the boot camp-style workouts are held.