Going to boot camp
Fitness program offers women a chance to shed pounds and have fun
As crazy as it may sound, one of the latest fads among local residents has been enrolling in boot camp. And those joining aren't troubled teenagers or military recruits. They're middle-aged women.
Founded in early 2004, the Bay Area Boot Camp has quickly gained recognition as an effective, fun fitness program for women in the area. It runs through a course of four weeks in which participants regularly meet for one-hour sessions.
Exercises include cardiovascular and strength training, calisthenics, yoga and body weight resistance training. Elements from boot camp are also incorporated into the schedule. Sit-ups, pushups, step-ups and running are all part of the plan.
Classes are taught by trained professionals.
Participants don't have to worry about repeating the same exercise over and over again. Exercise routines vary from day to day. There have even been instances where games like Simon Says are played to keep the participants actively involved.
"It changes every single week, every single time," added Carol Ann Railey, a Danville resident who enrolled in the program earlier this year. "It makes it really exciting and interesting so that it doesn't make you seem like you're doing repetitions."
Since the members' ages range from college students to 60-year-olds, there is a wide range for exercise intensity. While the program's rigor generally lies in the middle, it also offers advanced options for those who want a challenge, said the organizers.
Classes are usually small with about five to 20 people. This offers a lot of individualized attention for each student.
"The difference between our program and others is that we try to make it more like personal training," said Heather Glenn, an owner of Bay Area Boot Camp. "We meet and follow up with people attending the program, and we give them nutrition guidance. We hold them accountable. They know they have their friends and coaches waiting for them."
Working out with others also makes the entire process easier.
"It's easier to be a part of a group," said Railey. "Being a part of a group is very motivating. It creates a nice camaraderie where it doesn't feel competitive and there is a support system."
The fitness program is held outdoors. Other local studios have also seen the benefit in incorporating outdoor hikes into their programs, such as Fit Personal Fitness Studio in Danville and ShapeXpress for Women in Alamo.
The Walnut Creek Boot Camp, which is closest for Danville residents, holds classes at Heather Farm Park.
For those who are used to working out in gyms, this change of scenery provides a breath of fresh air, literally.
"The natural sounds of the environment, the overall spaciousness of being outside, using your own resistance as opposed to machines; it's a continuous activity for an entire hour," said Railey.
"It's a pretty big park," added Glenn. "It's definitely spacious. To be outside with fresh air and an unintimidating area where people can chat and laugh is good."
It is important for women of all ages to continue exercising, noted Glenn. As women grow older, they begin to lose muscle mass and bone density. Resistance training helps to prevent this. A women's metabolism also begins to slow down as early as the 20s. Exercising keeps it up. It's also important for women in child-bearing age to keep off extra weight.
At Bay Area Boot Camp, the time members spend in the program is only part of the equation. Trainers encourage their students to embrace a healthy lifestyle even after they leave the program.
"We focus on their goals, and what they're going to do at camp," said Glenn. "For those that can't come back, we try to ensure that they've thought about what they're going to do after. We outline when they are going to work out, basically goal setting. It is important for us to gear them in the right direction."