They call it BootCamp

I’ve always been a skeptic, rather a critic of those classes gym’s offer. You know the ones, they are jazzercise with fancy names, Ripped, Pumped, BootCamp… Yeah, fancy names for jazzercise. Mind you, if you love jazzercise, rock it. That’s great, I just could never get into it. I think it’s the leotard and leggings that ruined it for me. I digress but admit it, you just pictured your mom or your friend’s mom in the living room doing jazzercise with leggings and leotards huh?

It turns out my apprehensions were warranted. For the sake of science, I decided, and for making an informed decision, I elected to go take one of these silly classes.

My gym offers two variations of the “bootcamp” style class. One is primarily cardio/endurance the other generally focuses on strength training. I have noticed that a third to half of the ripped (strength training) class is generally men, the other class, called bootcamp usually has one to three men out of about 20-25 people….I took the stereotypical interpretation that ripped must be harder.

This becomes my ‘scientific’ criteria for how I decide which class to take first. Jazzercise for men, okay, sign me up. The following is a recounting of parts of that experience.

At first it was just the participants filing into the room, vying for good positions, a few wanted the front row with our instructor but most of us wanted the back row. Everyone who worried about such things showed up early, me included. I secretly hope I rock it, I’m pretty confident it won’t be harder than I expect.

Our instructor has left a mat on the floor and the tools she plans on torturing us with…I didn’t know it then but that was her plan all along. Everyone files in and out of the equipment room grabbing those jazzercise benches, stretchy jump ropes, weights and these things called gliders (though they look cute and kinda like mini frisbees, don’t be fooled, these are true torture devices) Last there is a body bar or really long heavy metal bar with rubber tipped ends. Mine weighs 8 pounds…everybody has a heavier bar than me and heavier hand weights. Mine are 6 pounds but most of the women have 8 pound weights all of the men have ten or better. Can’t be too safe though, don’t want to get too confident. Saying that though, you should know that no one looks especially intimidating to me, not scary, healthy and fit but not scary.

I look around the room. The man in front of me has on a pair of khaki shorts (how hard can this class be if this guy has on non-athletic apparel?) There are about 9 men and 12 to 15 women in the room when our instructor Ann walks in. I thought about changing her name but you deserve to know who she is. She is pleasant and engaging and while she starts telling us what to expect for this particular class session, she loads her “jazzercise music” into the sound system and gets her headset. Do not be deceived, I was.

The music begins, good butt kicking music too, and we all follow her instructions, first marching then stepping up on our benches. No one is struggling too much, I got this.

“Is this the first time for any of you?” she says, looking right at me in the mirror.

I smile and wave.

I don’t remember what she said, probably ‘welcome’ or something sweet like that, but I do remember the look on her face was the same as the look on a lionesses face right before she leaps out of the grass and puts her mouth around her victims jugular. Exactly like that.

After that moment the entire class is kind of a blur. I wish I could tell you more. I remember her telling us that it was important to keep going, fatigue our muscles, not stop. I remember doing planks, slider planks, spiderman planks, squats, lunges, push-ups, this ridiculous version on burpees and squats that involve jumping into the air. I remember her calling me out when I stopped or laid flat on the floor, my face scarlet and purple,(I’d eventually just leave my 6 pound weights on the floor and pretend I had some in hand.)I remember every muscle barking at me in outrage. I remember looking at the back of the guy in front of me and seeing his redneck T-shirt soaked, heavy and wet and his khaki shorts just as wet everywhere but his buttcheeks. Finally I remember several times wondering why people come back for more of this torture.

I’m still not clear on this last thought (science can’t even convince me there is a reason) except that I would probably never push myself that hard, alone for an hour or more. It’s been four weeks and I keep going back. This week I went twice in two days. There are two instructors, Ann and Amy. Both brutal.  Both guaranteed to make you question everything in life you hold dear…like breathing. Both convincingly nice until that music turns on. If I said they’d be happy if we all left a puddle of sweat and blood on the floor, I would not be exaggerating.

I did a couple of weeks of crossfit last spring and these ladies are every bit as tough (feel the burn). One of them actually teaches crossfit.

Anyway on my fifth week what can I tell you? I am going to start going three times a week. I can tell the difference in my endurance. I have a rounded, not flat, butt for the first time since my teens (I run all the time and swim and do weight room workouts, nothing has given me a butt. Come on, you never hear anyone stereotyping the scottish/irish folk for having amazing asses) Best of all, I love feeling strong, I am addicted to the endorphins I have the next 24 hours. That and I could never push myself that hard all on my own, that’s what coaches are for.

Feeling tired and good. Have a great night.


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