It's 6:22 am on a Friday and my face is about 6 inches from the bright green Astroturf as I'm desperately waiting for a bell to ring.
"10 seconds!" sounds the trainer.
I'm in a push-up hold, trying to hold myself in the bottom part of a push-up without collapsing onto the floor.
My arms are wobbly from fatigue and whatever sweat isn't dripping onto the floor is running in my eyes. It's 72 degrees outside with 92% humidity, and it feels about the same inside the gym, which is actually a converted warehouse.
I want to hold the position for the last 10 seconds. I've broken it twice in the past minute, but I just want to hold it for this last push.
"Switch!" yells the trainer.
I drop to the floor, relieved that is over. I have 17 seconds to "rest" until I have to push a weighted sled the length of the gym and back for 1 minute.
Welcome to bootcamp.
It's hard to believe I've been going to bootcamp for 3 months. It feels like I just started, yet also that I've been going forever, if that makes sense.
In my experience, bootcamp is not like what you see on TV. When someone asks what I do for exercise and I reply, "Bootcamp," it's usually met with a weary "Ooohhhhhh...." as if I said, "Swimming with sharks."
I think bootcamp gets a bad rap because what you see on TV are trainers yelling and screaming at the participants. It's all very dramatic and makes for good TV, but it's not what I see. And it's rather silly.
My trainers are more like coaches. They don't need to yell to motivate us as everyone in my classes are adults paying good money to work their assess off 6 am. If you're there, you're plenty motivated. You don't need someone yelling at you to "PUSH IT! ARRRRRRGH! BLARRRRRRRRRGH!"
Our trainers are encouraging and knowledgable, and they don't need to resort to theatrics to get you to do a lunge the right way.
I checked my weight loss records and three days before I started bootcamp I weighed 207 lbs. Last week, three months later, I was at 183. But it's not so much about the numbers, although I like them very much.
When I stated bootcamp I was just fitting into size 16 pants. Now, 14s are getting loose and 12s are in the near future. I feel more fit. I feel like I've firmed and toned up quite well over a short period of time - benefits I would not have gained with jut cardio.
All the strength training has also greatly strengthened by glutes, hamstrings and quads, making me a pain-free, better runner. No more agonizingly sore glutes. No more limping, stiffness or Ben Gay patches.
Although, I still get sore from bootcamp. It's always funny waking up the day after, rolling out of bed, seeing what's sore. Oh, so that's the area the exercise was targeting. Ah ha.
The biggest surprise benefit I've received from bootcamp is self-confidence. After pretty much a lifetime of obesity, my self-confidence when it came to anything physical was nill. Now I feel myself challenging myself more. My attitude is more, "I'll give it a shot" rather than "No way I can do that."
Some things I'm good at, some I'm still at Square 1. But I can feel incremental improvements every time, which is pretty encouraging. The 6 lb medicine balls are now too light. I can hold a plank longer than ever. I can box jump to the medium-height box, something that scared the crap out of me for the first few weeks. I can run the hurdles faster without worrying about breaking an ankle.
Yet I still can't do a full push-up. And I continue to hate any exercise that ends in "jump" or "hop." But at least I'll try my best.
Overall, it's been a remarkable endeavor, the most effective workout I've ever encountered. I can't wait to see where I'll be at 6 months in - I'm looking at you push-up.