Boot camp a boost to workout routine
SALISBURY — Mike Mangum only got through about 30 minutes of his first boot camp class two years ago.
“I just kept coming back, and after the third class I was able to make it all the way through,” he said.
For the past year, Mangum has been at the front of the class, leading a group of people who once felt just like him.
“Typically when folks come in who are new, I tell them to do what they can and listen to their body,” he said. “Just keep coming back, do as much as you can, but don’t ever give up.”
Mangum, who teaches boot camp twice a week at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA, said the intensity of the workout, which includes a 5-minute warm-up before jumping into cardio, abs, upper body and leg work, can be too much for even regulars.
“I’ve got folks who have been taking my class for a year that have to stop to rest or go get a drink of water,” he said. “Even the instructor feels intimidated. I still don’t feel like I’m worthy of doing it, but I keep doing it and folks keep coming, and everybody’s getting healthier.”
Ester Marsh, the Y’s associate executive director for health and fitness, said classes like boot camp are becoming more popular because of the “high intensity, but easy choreography.”
“Right now, anything pretty intense is hot,” she said.
That includes obstacle races like the Spartan and mud runs.
“With correct training and knowing where your limits are, it can be a great way to exercise and (have) fun racing experiences,” Marsh said.
Marsh said the Y is hoping to start a Spartan training class in the future.
“We like people to be prepared for it, it’s not something to just jump into,” she said.
The Y is also looking into starting Y Fit, which would be similar to the popular Cross Fit core strength and conditioning program.
Marsh said people should begin a new workout at their own pace, regardless of what it is.
“People do need to understand that when the intensity goes up, your chance of injury rises too,” she said.
Get in, get it done
Rayna Gardner, general manager of The Forum Fitness, said boot camp is popular at her gym because of the short time it takes to work the entire body.
“You’re getting cardio and strength training in one hour and you’re done,” she said. “It’s popular to get in, get it done and get out.
“People have so much going on that they’ve got to use their time wisely and really increase the intensity of their workout.”
The rest-based workout called Metabolic Effect is another popular choice at The Forum, Gardner said.
“It’s a 5-minute warm-up, 5-minute cool down and 20 minutes going at it as hard as you can,” she said. “You push yourself to the absolute edge then rest for a minute and jump back in.”
Gardner said if people do the class correctly and avoid simple sugars and alcohol for 24 to 48 hours after, they could get by with doing just Metabolic Effect.
“That way you’re not spending so much time in the gym,” she said.
Gardner said the gym recently started a Metabolic Effect cycling class with the same philosophy and hopes to start an outdoor class soon.
Regular cycling classes are also a hit, Gardner said.
“You can burn a lot of calories in a short period of time if you push yourself,” she said. “The intensity is high, the resting is limited and you’re just pushing and pushing to get it done,” she said.
Boot camp for everybody
Torrey Trexler, who teaches boot camp at The Forum on Wednesdays, said although the class is intense, it’s designed for people of varying fitness levels.
“As a class, we all start together and finish together,” she said. “People can vary their workout based on their own strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s definitely doable for anyone who wants to come challenge themselves.”
Mangum said he’s had people of various ages and body types be successful.
“I have folks in there who are 60 years old who are plugging right along,” he said. “The biggest thing I find is the people will stand out in the hallway and say ‘I can’t do that.’
“Once they get in there and realize people aren’t looking at you, they are focused on trying to get their workout, they just do it.”
Trexler, who took boot camp for about five years before she started teaching, said the class never gets boring.
“I like that it is never the same class every week,” she said. “It’s great because it helps people develop endurance, stamina, strength and speed.”
Trexler said there is often a misconception that boot camp instructors will be screaming and blowing a whistle the entire time.
“I don’t stand over people or point anyone out,” she said. “I’m instructing while I’m doing the class. I’m not going to be in your face.”
Those who have never taken a boot camp class should come hydrated, Trexler said.
“Its probably a good idea to start drinking water the night before,” she said. “Also eat a light meal an hour or so before class, something like yogurt and fruit.”
Mangum said good, upbeat music makes the workout less taxing and more enjoyable. “The hour is over before you know it,” he said.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories in which the Post will be highlighting various intense exercises classes throughout the next several weeks.