A Dainty Diary of Lifting

Adventures in Fitness: Braving Bootcamp Redux

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I needed some recovery time after my meet, so I decided to skip my regular lifting session. My mind and body are feeling a little beat up after a whirlwind of a weekend. I’m working on writing up my meet report, but it’s a little long winded. In the meantime, I decided to check out something new with my coach Caitlin. She is currently under orders to avoid heavy squats and I needed to work off some of the 12 000 calories I ate on Sunday, so we decided to check out the bootcamp class offered at our gym on Monday afternoons.

Now, I’ve written before about my experience with bootcamp. Caitlin was attending a decent bootcamp style class over the pond, but maybe the Europeans need to export their fitness philosophies because last night’s class was pretty lame. Luckily, it gave me a great opportunity to flex my ego.

The last bootcamp class I went to consisted of three people, including myself and the instructor. Imagine my surprise when I arrived to find about 50 people at last night’s class, running laps around a gymnasium. It was just like high school phys ed, which is an experience I’m sure everyone over 20 is rushing out en masse to repeat. (Not.)

After our warm-up, the instructor demonstrated each of the 10 stations in a circuit. We did the entire circuit twice, spending 45 seconds at each station. I tried to keep an open mind and consider this my “conditioning” for the week. But then she started talking. Let’s take a closer look at how functional each of these stations, shall we?

Jump Lunges: We started with this station because it brought back old memories of New Rules of Lifting for Women that we did when we were baby lifters. I hated these then and still hate them now.

T-pushups: The most legitimate exercise we did.

Mountain Climbers: It wouldn’t be a true bootcamp class if we didn’t look like we were in a Jillian Michaels’ DVD.

Goblet Squat: This station provided a constant stream of some of the worst “squats” I’ve ever witnessed. There were good mornings. There were people doing toe touches.  There were some indescribable full body spasms. I know I need to work on increasing my squat for Provincials, but somehow I doubt that 20lb goblet squats are the prescription the doctor ordered.

Squat to Push press: If I don’t even break a sweat with 8lb dumbbells, I’d hate to think what the 200lb guys in the class are thinking. I’m disappointed I didn’t wake up with the tonest of toned arms this morning.

Lunge w/Twist: Boring.  

Bosu Ball side squats: I think I’ve made clear in the past that I think the bosu ball is a ridiculous piece of equipment. Today was no exception. I refused to jump over the ball, even when the trainer came over and said “Jump up. Jump over!” Meanwhile, Caitlin was beside me chanting “This is a recipe for disaster.” All I can say is that anyone who breaks their ankle on the bosu ball probably deserves it, and hey, at least if you’re in a cast you’ll have an excuse to stop coming to this ridiculous class. 

Tricep Dips: This station fulfilled the quota for mandatory tricep isolation work that is so rampant in commercial gyms.

Side Lunges: The 5lb dumbbells at this station were a thoughtful touch.

Dumbbell Rows: I found this last station to be particularly offensive. The instructor told us to pick a weight that was heavier than we would normally do, and then provided 10 lb dumbbells. Caitlin said we were doing “Pendlay Juniors” but I think that’s kind of insulting to Pendlay.

On top of the circuit, there was some random planking and v-sits thrown in for good measure, and at the end the instructor had us do a plyometrics ladder. I was left looking around in confusion at one point when she demonstrated a side lunge and called it a squat. I think that speaks for itself in terms of the quality of instruction, but the instructor also told us she was “working on getting certified” which I guess means she was about as qualified as I am to lead a class.

I think the joke’s on me because I stuck around and did all of these things. And I pay for a membership at this gym, so they can continue to lead people through this ridiculous routine every week. And there people who go to this class 3x week for years!

I can’t understand why anyone would subject themselves to this type of class repeatedly. It’s the type of class that appeals to beginners who don’t know what they’re doing, or people who feel obligated to workout a few times a week but otherwise lack motivation. So they force themselves to go to the gym and reward themselves later with a doughnut because they had such an intense workout today and then they wonder why they never make progress. The last group of people who were present seemed to be the fitness hipster crowd: “I’m so fit. I go to bootcamp 4x a week and we do squats and lunges and I work so hard and I feel like I’m gonna pike afterwards.”

Since I am not one of those people, I ended up sneaking out before cool-down and I won’t be going back. The workout sucked.  Yes, I could probably do more conditioning, but I want it to have a purpose and be challenging – not just make me sweat for no reason. I think I need to accept that I can not seem to drink the kool-aid of commercial gyms and keep doing my own thing. And I can stop trying bootcamp classes, because all they seem to be good for is working my smug sense of superiority.



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