Is a boot camp workout for everybody?

Fitness boot camps often appeal to individuals looking for a more intense workout. Boot camp exercises usually involve ballistic, rapid movements that can be too challenging to those who aren't already in shape. But if you have a strong foundation of strength and aerobic training, you're probably ready for boot camp. Before you sign up, though, ask how the program is structured and if there are any prerequisites to assess if it will be a good fit for you.

If you are older than age 40, are pregnant, haven't exercised for some time or have certain health conditions, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting a boot camp class or any new exercise program.

It's also important to let your instructor know if you have health issues or special needs. And be sure to tell your instructor if you have difficulty with a particular exercise. If the movements in the class are new to you, take it slower at first to ensure that the way you are moving is correct. Stop if you get fatigued or tired to the point where your technique breaks down. Skilled instructors are attentive to proper form and technique and can adapt exercises for you.

Does boot camp deliver results?

Opinions are mixed, but boot camp workouts have many fans who say this type of workout is great for improving overall strength and conditioning. In addition, this type of high intensity aerobic interval training burns more calories in less time compared with moderate aerobic activities.

Finally, a well-structured boot camp workout can help you meet the recommendations for physical activity in healthy adults. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness plans, specifically:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity a week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week

Signing up for boot camp

To find a fitness boot camp, check local fitness centers and gyms. As you consider your options, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the instructor's qualifications?
  • Is the class a good mix of aerobics and strength training?
  • What do people who've taken the class have to say about it?
  • Is this class a good match for my fitness goals?
  • Have I established a base level of strength, conditioning and proper movement patterns to prepare me for the class?

Boot camp may not be for everyone. But if you're looking for a high-energy workout that offers variety and camaraderie, boot camp may be just what you need.

March 25, 2016 See more In-depth