Why ‘bootcamp’ is dead! Long live smart group training….

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I was driving past the local park the other day and saw a bunch of people doing a ‘bootcamp’. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to see people burning up some energy and getting in to it but the world of fitness is changing and I thought you might like to know a few things about this.

I believe fitness training or coaching as it perhaps should be known is getting smarter. You know, just because you are training in a big group doesn’t mean you should all be doing the exact same exercises for the simple fact that everyone has different capabilities. The reason I call it coaching is because our job is not just to ‘train’ but to coach movement and help people move better before they move often. I have ‘stolen’ that little phrase from Gray Cook a US based physiotherapist who has done some amazing things in our field to improve what is offered to the general public who are keen to turn their health and fitness around and do it safely. This desire to start doing some regular exercise is great but the biggest de-railer is getting hurt. This is why I believe the bootcamp as it  has been delivered for perhaps the last 10 years is dead or should be. This is unfortunate because it is often the entry point because of the low cost, for people who need it most. A lot of the time in this world, you get what you pay for. But that’s another conversation.

Large group fitness training (aka bootcamp) has a lot going for it however. It is usually outdoors in the fresh air which is great and the vibe one gets from working out with others can be fantastic. If you currently do ‘bootcamp’ training I advise you to appraise how yours is being done. If you haven’t been screened or assessed before you start and then given individualised exercises that suit your current movement capabilities, then I think you can do much better. A big clue as to whether it is being done right is this. If EVERYONE is doing kettlebell swings for example and keep in mind that this is a highly complex move that needs lots of coaching before executing, it is highly unlikely that everyone in the group can do it properly. Besides this, I really don’t like the risk reward ratio on that exercise for the average person. If it is done well it is a great power based exercise developing hamstring, lower back, glutes, core, shoulders and arm strength. If it is done badly, well let’s just say physiotherapists and chiropractors see a lot of people where the swing didn’t work for them. An exercise that has a high chance of hurting you is probably not worth the risk when there are others you can do that will be beneficial.

So when you see ‘options’ given in a large group training situation, where the instructor has as SYSTEM to easily identify, on the run, who should be doing a corrective exercise (because the exercise cannot be done safely by a particular person), the standard exercise or the advanced version,  then you are seeing something well done and intelligent.

So look perhaps bootcamp isn’t actually dead, it is just the old version of it that should be. I like the idea of ‘functional bootcamp’ or ‘smart group outdoor training’. This type of approach by the way is Best Practice.

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