Boot camp guide

Everything you need to know about outdoor group training.

Boot camp guide


A path to strength

If your idea of outdoor group training involves being yelled at by a human hulk in combat clothes, whose goal is to punish you for being slow before sending you home dishevelled and demoralised, then you’ve missing a few pieces of the picture. Although outdoor group training programs often borrow their name from the military (ie bootcamp), in reality they can build confidence, strength and endurance that will enhance the quality of your life.


Yes you will feel it

You’ll step, sprint, squat or lunge outside your comfort zone but you’ll do it with the support of fellow participants and the instructor, whose job is to guide you and push you to achieve your goals. You will learn discipline, perform exercises you may have never done before, types of training you might usually only associate with elite athletes and military. You will leave the session feeling that you worked harder than you would have by yourself and motivated to come back for more.


Tough enough already?

Even if you think you train hard already outdoor group training uses a variety of training techniques and exercise programming to push you to your limits. The goal of your outdoor group training instructor is to push you both physically and mentally, applying strict exercise programming and technique, as well as positive reinforcement, helping you train harder and more effectively than ever before.


What to expect during a session?

If you’re new to outdoor group training, there’s no need to hide at the back of the group. A well-run session should cater to all fitness levels and you should not get lost in the crowd, small groups of 10-15 are ideal. The outdoor group training instructor will gauge your fitness levels in your initial sessions and pair you up with training partners with similar goals and fitness levels, ensuring that the intensity of the session is appropriate for you.


The idea of bootcamp may frighten some but there is little doubt that you come out the other end as a more resourceful, agile, powerful and motivated human being.


What will you actually be doing at outdoor group training?

Most sessions will involve:

1. Cardio bursts
These might be sand sprints at the beach or racing up and down hills, interspersed with bouts of skipping or boxing. This type of interval training gives your large muscle groups a good workout, which will increase overall fitness and trim your physique.

2. Compound exercise
Get set to sweat! Compound exercises include things like step-ups, squats, dips pushups and lunges that work multiple muscle groups. This help develop overall muscular fitness and strength, increase your metabolism, as well as build bone strength – vital for women.

3. Hold positions
These include planks, bridges and squat holds to name a few. Challenge yourself by timing how long you can hold the position and try to beat it next time.

4. Resistance work
You may carry heavy objects, such as sandbags, logs or weights, or be resisting against your own body by doing floor work like sit-ups and push-ups. This also could involve resisting against a partner while exercising, so your body has to work harder. These kinds of exercises help build and maintain lean muscle tissue, which in turn helps with weight loss.


For best results

Tackle outdoor group training two or three times a week and mix it up with different exercise sessions, such as yoga or Pilates, using different styles of training to give your whole body a great workout. On top of improving cardiovascular health, strength, balance, agility and endurance, outdoor group training has plenty of other unexpected fitness benefits, according to Dr Timothy Fairchild from the faculty of Health Science at WA’s Murdoch University. “Boot camp and outdoor group training teaches you to make use of the equipment around you, such as a picnic table or backyard step. This makes it easier to continue doing those exercises without an instructor.”


Your biggest investment is you

The sense of achievement is an effective method for boosting confidence levels. “Often, you’ve been pushed to try activities you haven’t done before and walk away feeling uplifted. You can see tangible progress,” Dr Fairchild adds. “At the start you may struggle to run up and down stairs or lift a heavy object. But, by the end, you can see (and feel) the improvement.” While the idea of bootcamp may frighten some there is little doubt that you come out the other end as a more resourceful, agile, powerful and motivated human being.


Your pre boot camp checklist

With so many forms of outdoor group training and boot camps on offer, Dr Rhonda Orr, from the University of Sydney’s Exercise and Sports Science department, recommends:

1. Having a thorough check-up with your GP before starting a new fitness program, like outdoor group training.

2. Asking yourself what you want out of the experience. To improve fitness, lose weight or get stronger?

3. Finding out what’s involved with your chosen outdoor group training. Will it be military style or more relaxed?

4. Checking out the instructor’s background and qualifications.

5. Having a trial session to check you’re comfortable with both the instructor and level of intensity. It should be motivating, not torture.