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Are Fitness Boot Camps Worth It? Science Says 'Yes'

Fitness boot camps have grown increasingly popular over the past few years. But are the workouts really worth it? Science is saying "yes", as we'll show in this week's article. 


While fitness, bridal, or weight-loss boot camps may not be as strict as their military forebearers, these workouts can still bring the intensity that basic training in the armed forces is known for. They can also bring huge benefits to those who participate in them, as studies and research are starting to show. 

If you don't know what a boot camp-style workout is, don't worry. We'll cover that and the science behind their effectiveness below.

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What Are Fitness Boot Camps?

Fitness boot camps are based on the old training regimen that made drill sergeants famous — and feared. While the armed forces use these types of programs to separate the strong from the many and whip their recruits into both physical and mental shape, fitness instructors have found that the format works well for achieving the same results in your average Jills or Joes. 

The hallmarks of a fitness boot camp include:

  • Workouts are conducted in a group setting
  • They feature a mix of bodyweight, free weight, and cardio exercises
  • The workouts focus on your upper and lower body and core

As boot camps have evolved, there are now ones specifically for those who are soon to be brides or those for people who are looking to lose weight. Some boot camps even model themself after prison-style workouts, with formerly incarcerated instructors leading the class.

Are Fitness Boot Camps Worth It?

While the answer to this question is always dependant on the person asking it, a growing body of research is showing that from a scientific standpoint, boot camp-style workouts are definitely worth the time and effort its participants put into them.

One of the main ways that fitness boot camps separate themself from traditional training in a gym has to do with their focus on total-body functional training. This means they actually prepare you better for the real-world activities you're likely to face, such as lifting groceries or climbing stairs.

Fitness boot camps also improve the fitness levels of their participants and help them burn calories. One study showed that the average person in a fitness boot camp burned around 10 calories per minute. While this is below what running at a fast clip will expend, it's roughly the same as what you can expect to burn while swimming or cycling.

Another thing in boot camp's favour has to do with the way they are structured. Most boot camps blend high exertion periods with time to recover, making them, in essence, a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These sorts of workouts provide the largest gains in the least amount of time. Another study showed that the average heart rate for a boot-camper hit 77 per cent of their maximum, which is within the range that is needed to improve physical fitness. But some participant's heart rates reached as high as 91 per cent of their maximum, which is much higher than the 80 per cent threshold that is required to qualify as being HIIT.

Then there is the accountability and camaraderie that comes with working out in a group. This aspect of fitness boot camps can keep people motivated to continue with their workouts, and have them be more engaged while they are happening. 


The Bottom Line: Boot Camps Are Worth It, Scientifically Speaking

Taking everything into account, fitness boot camps can definitely be considered 'worth it'. At least when it comes to the scientifically backed physical benefits these workouts provide. Whether a boot camp will be worth it to you, however, is subjective and wholly dependant on your needs and lifestyle. But if you're looking for a fun way to get in shape before your wedding with a bridal boot camp, or want to lose weight or improve your fitness level with boot camps tailored towards those goals, then you will be well served by enlisting in one.

Should you have any further questions about the bridal or fitness boot camps we provide at Jensen Fitness, please don't hesitate to contact us today.

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Are you ready for a total body and life transformation? To find out more about our virtual and online weight loss and fitness programs as COVID-19 continues. Or to learn how our highly qualified personal trainers in Calgary can help you achieve incredible, safe, and sustainable results, contact us by calling 403-200-0199 or by filling out our online contact form.

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Q: What is a typical boot camp workout?

While boot camps can vary greatly depending on the overall goal of a specific one, most boot camps feature a blend of cardio and strength training delivered in an interval format.

Q: Does a boot camp build muscle?

If building muscle is your primary goal, a boot camp-style workout may not be your best bet. Given the weight needed to build muscle effectively, it is typically not safe to perform these type of high-intensity interval training programs using such heavy loads.

Q: How much weight do you lose in boot camp?

Results will vary, but if someone is diligent with their boot camp workouts, then they can expect to lose between one to two pounds weekly. So long as they are eating healthy, of course. 


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