Do you run fitness boot camps?
One of the biggest challenges is this: How do you deal with Ms. Jones who hasn’t exercised in 20 years and Ms. Smith who just finished her third sprint triathlon?
This is one of the most common issues boot camp owners encounter.
Many will try to create beginner through advanced sessions, but this can be a scheduling nightmare. Who gets what time slot? Do you give prime time to advanced clients? Beginners? How do you know how to schedule things?
How have you solved this?
I’m Shawna Kaminski and I run very successful fitness boot camps in Calgary, Alberta. I’ve found some cool ways to solve this issue that I’d like to share with you.
First up, you should know that your clients WANT and even expect a challenge in boot camp, but obviously this can be difficult when you have a variety of fitness levels in one group. Boot camp owners need to provide just the right challenge. One that makes your clients push themselves but not deflate them. You want to set clients up for success.
How can you do this?
Enter ‘timed sets’.
This is the best way to address a variety of fitness levels in one group. The marathon runner can train next to the grandma. Everyone can be challenged. Everyone can succeed at their own level.
Here’s a great challenge workout for your group. You’ll pair strength and cardio sets back to back. Ask your clients to count their reps in the first set and then try to match their reps for each subsequent set. This helps clients create their own challenge and helps them maintain their intensity through the course of the set.
- Weighted squat/Burpee
- Push up/mountain climber
- Renegade row/squat jump
- Bicycle crunch/skater jump
- Plank recovery (30 seconds)
Repeat twice more (total of three times through for 15 minutes of sweaty fun)
The best part of this sort of workout is that Ms. Jones can modify exercises and her training volume will be considerably less than Ms. Smith, but they’ll be training side by side. The reps each of them get their first set will be a ‘doable’ challenge for them to try to reach for in subsequent sets.
Compare this to a workout that requires a rep scheme. First of all, Ms. Jones, if faced with 10 push ups may curl up into the fetal position, already feeling like a failure. She may not have done push ups since grade school and even then may have failed. But, if given 30 seconds and provided with a variety of modifications, she’ll feel she can succeed.
On the other hand, Ms. Smith can push herself to possibly new levels, certainly past the 10 reps suggested in the rep scheme scenario. She can set her own challenge and you won’t put a cap on her achievement.
As well, there’s the whole timing issue. What happens when Ms. Smith is done and Ms. Jones is only half way done? Sure, you could end that portion of the workout, but again Ms. Jones feels unsuccessful because she only did half the work that Ms. Smith did. She gets an unbalanced workout too since she may have only gotten to the upper body exercises or the core or whatever. How ever it’s structured, she’ll miss a good portion of it.
We all have clients that seem to ‘count by 2’s’. That is, if given a rep counting style workout, they’ll be done in no time flat. The only way they’d be able to have completed it is if they counted by 2’s or 5’s. By using timed sets, rep counting is only done for personal accountability and it’s less likely that people will ‘cheat’ since they have to beat or match their own scores.
I’ve been running my own fitness boot camps since 2007 and when surveyed, my clients prefer timed set workouts best. It frees them up to concentrate on form and not on the number of reps they need to do.
I highly recommend using timed sets with your boot camp clients and small groups.
If you’re looking for challenges for YOUR boot camp, take a look at Challenge Workouts: Boot Camp Edition and see if it’s right for you. You’ll find all kinds of fitness challenges to add to your boot camp to up the excitement and results in your camp.
Shawna Kaminski is a retired schoolteacher of 20 years who’s found her passion in the fitness industry. She’s parlayed her ability to teach and her love of training into programs like her fitness boot camp. Shawna consistently has over 100 clients attend her boot camps monthly.
She’s retained many of her clients for nearly a decade. Shawna is in her late forties, is a mother of two teenagers and understands how busy life can be. In addition to running her fitness boot camp, she does online coaching and training as well.