I often stop and ask myself how come I’ve managed to lose weight when so many people set the same goal and fail. I had failed to reach my own weight loss goals before and then one day, it stuck. I’ve reached a few conclusions – and I’m convinced that one factor in my success is the fact that I will force myself to try anything at least once. It was in this mindset I forced myself to try a “Bootcamp” class at my gym, today.
Now, I have nothing against group fitness – hell, I did zumba almost exclusively for months and months – but the more fit I become, the less the idea of group fitness classes appeal to me. After all, “Hardcoreness is not achieved in groups. Hardcoreness is achieved via a journey into the sweating painful depths of yourself. Hardcoreness is achieved alone.” So how did I accidentally wander into bootcamp today?
Flattery. I am a sucker for flattery and it’s as simple as that. How could I resist when the personal trainer who teaches the class came up to me last Friday and said “Hi, I’m Kristy. I teach a bootcamp class on Monday nights and I’m trying to get some fresh faces out. I see you here a lot and you seem to know what you’re doing, so if you’re interested in trying something new, you should come out.” And of course, since I am a sucker, I felt obligated to give it a try. I’m supposed to be seizing the day and trying new things and all of that other mumbo jumbo.
The class: I had never been to a bootcamp class before, so I tried to research what I was getting into before I showed up at the class. As far as I can tell, “bootcamp” is just a generic term used to refer to a group workout class that incorporates strength and cardio intervals. I’m guessing that every bootcamp is different and depends a lot on the training philosophies of the instructor. In my case, we did supersets of isolation exercises in a circuit for 1-minute intervals. Ugh. It pains me to even type that phrase.
The good: I train for strength. Endurance isn’t even on my radar and when I suddenly decide that I should do some conditioning work, I always end up being a total baby and giving up because endurance is hard! And I get all sweaty and out of breath! I mean theoretically endurance is a good thing, although off the top of my head I can think of approximately zero reasons why – but I may be biased. And I’m always lamenting the fact that I wish I was more muscular, so doing some exercises for hyptertrophy is probably exactly what I need. Having people there to tell me quit being such a pathetic wimp and just keep going for more than 5 reps was a definite benefit.
The other thing that this class had going for it was all of the goddamn burpees that I had to do. Since the PT alternated burpees with all of her isolation work, I know that I easily did 200 burpees in that hour. Burpees suck. But there is a reasons that big strong fucks like Johnny Pain endorse burpees: they work. For the sheer number of burpees involved in this class, it would be impossible for me to say that today was a crappy workout.
The bad: There are some things like conditioning work that I hate, but I still know they’re good for me. There are other things that I hate because I know they’re a waste of my time. Isolation exercises are a waste of my time and for most people with a moderate level of fitness they will continue to be a waste of time. When you’re picking up a giant rock or replacing the jug in the water cooler, your muscles aren’t working in isolation. I am totally an advocate of compound movements and doing a ton of isolation work is just an ineffective approach to getting stronger.
I also have an issue with doing reps for speed or time – in fact, it’s one of my main beefs of with crossfit. Working past the point of good form is just stupid – and even though my endurance sucks, trying to squeeze as many reps as possible into 1 minute is just asking for an injury.
Finally, my biggest pet peeve with this class was the use of the bosu ball. We did bosu ball step ups. Bosu ball crunches. Bosu ball mountain climbers. Bosu ball push-ups. 1-handed bosu ball push-ups. I’ve basically fulfilled my yearly quota for the bosu ball, which is basically the antithesis of a burpee. Do you think Muhammad Ali ever worked out with a bosu ball? Fuck no. The bosu ball is a gimmick. Fitness hipsters use the bosu ball, when they could easily opt for some variation of a bodyweight exercise that is equally or more effective and looks a million times more badass. I feel like I have to question the training philosophy of an instructor who makes me do 5 million reps on a bosu ball.
The verdict: If I were the type of person who measured the success of their workout based on their level of sweatiness, this would be the best workout in the history of the universe. But instead, I’m the type of person who believes an effective workout involves not doing an ineffective routine and so I’m left with mixed feelings. I didn’t expect to love or agree with everything we did today and I think this was the appropriate mindset for going in. I did get some benefit from the class and would consider going back in order to focus on my body recomposition goals, but it won’t be replacing squats and deadlifts, that’s for sure.