Fitness Bootcamps


So I decided to go through the ins and outs of boot camps because it is driving me absolutely mad seeing people day in day out that are injured during one of these group fitness training sessions.

“But I got injured because I was weak right?”

Wrong! In fact, you should NOT get injured when you are training. That’s why it’s called training, your body is adapting to a training load and it takes variable time for different people. If you follow the rules you shouldn’t get injured.

While boot camps provide us with an interesting, social, invigorating experience, like anything else, they have their negative side too.

Let’s look at the benefits of boot camps first.

Boot camps require little to no equipment, and offer challenging and varied workouts. It’s a sociable way of exercising which is a great motivating factor. Due to the HIIT nature of the training it yields results.

Now that we know all the great benefits of boot camps, let’s have a look at the disadvantages.

One size fits all approach

We are all different, have different health and fitness goals and most important of all our own unique individual needs. Quality training programs need to be carefully mapped out with specific goals in mind. Most importantly they need to be progressive, as we all start at different points. People can progress very quickly without injury when the program addresses their specific needs. It’s not just about changing the weight, it’s about developing a strategy to achieve a goal.

High injury risks

Incorrect body biomechanics combined with incorrect exercise technique is a recipe for injury. When the emphasis is on intensity and volume, more than correcting existing deficits, then an injury will occur. It is important that your mobility and basic movements are correct before you embark on the boot camp journey.

Excess high intensity cardiovascular training

The measure of success for any training program should not be based on how much you sweat. Cardiovascular training has a place in almost every workout program but it needs to be specific to the individual in terms of intensity and volume.

Structured towards group ability

The programs are structured with the group’s ability in mind and may not cater for an individual’s ability level as well as a one on one session. If you have not got a good foundation you will dramatically increase your injury risk.

So who is it for?

Boot camps are absolutely for you if you are looking for an intense, social workout that leaves you feeling like you have kicked butt (you should feel like this with any training, not just HIIT)!

However, you do need to have a strong foundation of strength and aerobic training. If you lack this, there is a high chance that you will lose technique during the workouts and put yourself at risk of serious injuries.

Things to consider:

  • The qualifications of the instructor. Instructors may or may not have appropriate specialist qualifications (e.g. back pain, obesity, other health problems and injuries).
  • Tell your instructor if you have difficulty with a particular exercise.·     
  • Master the new movements at a slower pace to make sure that you are moving correctly.
  • If you are at the point where your technique breaks down, you need to stop.
  • Pick a class suitable for your level of fitness.
  • Establish a base level of strength, conditioning and correct movements first through focused one on one strength and aerobic training.