It was about 6:20 am yesterday and I was standing in front of a plywood box, maybe 2 feet high.
I was poised in a half-crouch, half- squat, elbows back, hands at my sides, head up, trying to catch my breath and waiting to hear a boxing bell.
"And go!" said the trainer.
I quickly thrust my arms forward and up for momentum, pushing through my legs to leap up on the box, both feet landing - softly - at the same time in the same crouch-squat position I just left.
Rewarded with a soft cat-burglar-like thud, I carefully stepped back down, one foot at a time, and reset to jump again. Whoosh! Land. Reset. Repeat.
(Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure I don't actually Whoosh! when I jump, but I like to think I do. I'm also convinced half the exercises in bootcamp are designed to turn us into cat-burglars. Strong, fit, flexible criminals.)
Anyway, that's a box jump, and when I started bootcamp 6 months ago I did not like them. At all.
I was anxious. I didn't like to jump. I weighed over 200 lbs. A) Jumping was not easy. B) What if I landed weird or caught the edge of the box and fell or looked stupid? And, let me tell you, "Don't look stupid" was my cardinal rule when I began and, actually, still is now that I think of it.
When I had to learn how to box jump in the spring, well, first I picked the shortest box possible. And when I landed, it sounded like a piano dropped from a rooftop. No soft thud, think big bang.
But, gradually, my confidence built and I learned to land better, softer, absorbing the impact, perfecting my form. Then I started choosing a taller box. Then a heavier medicine ball, stronger tubing, tougher weights. I sprinted faster, shuffled between cones smoother and eventually made it through warmups without stopping, banging out jumping jacks like I was on Paris Island.
And that's pretty much the story of bootcamp: Gradual development every class until you're doing things you never thought you could - or wanted to - do.
I've always joked that if bootcamp were a DVD, I would fast-forward through 75% of the circuit. The majority of it was outside my comfort zone, way outside my comfort zone.
There's a quote, something to the effect of, "True change doesn't begin until you leave your comfort zone" and I've found that to be very, very true.
I stepped outside my comfort zone into bootcamp and I've been greatly rewarded.
Bootcamp, Day 1 I wrote: "I can only imagine where I'll be in 6 months. I will have Batman-like strength and fitness."
Day 2: "And I should be able to dead lift a Kia by fall."
I'm not a superhero and I can't quite hoist a compact car, but I tell you, I am in the best shape of my life. I am stronger and learner. I have much-improved endurance and balance. I know if you throw a medicine ball really hard, you should catch it or else you get hit in the head. And I know how to get down with a physio ball, but, um, you really shouldn't follow my lead on that one.
I've written a lot about bootcamp, so I won't rehash everything here (feel free to go read, though).
But, I want to encourage you to do two things:
1. Consider strength training.
Whether it's bootcamp or free weights or whatever you like, do it. You will firm up like nobody's business. It really isn't all about the scale and building lean muscle will only help - not hinder - your weight loss efforts.
2. Try something outside your comfort zone.
Whatever it is - a new hobby, exercise class, whatever - just try.
One of the reasons I was so anxious about bootcamp is I would be in a class with other people. I was worried I'd look foolish or be the subject of derision.
But I quickly learned something: No one in class is paying attention to you. It's 6 am, no one's quite awake yet and no one pays money and comes out in the cold, dark predawn to watch me push a weighted sled across a gym.
Curious, I checked my weight records for my 6 months in bootcamp. When I started I weighed 207 lbs. I now weigh 163. Fourty-four lbs (and 4 sizes) in 6 months - and that's after I already lost 70+ lbs.
My friend Deb got me interested in bootcamp. She raved about it and told me the only problem I'd have was I would love it and get addicted to it.
I didn't believe her.
Think I owe her something...