A great fall outdoor boot camp

As summer draws to a close it is time to consider a fall workout plan which may include a fall outdoor boot camp. Since the weather is still beautiful during the fall months, outdoor programs are very enjoyable, so take advantage of an outdoor boot camp on a cool fall morning before you take off for a day of hiking through the forest as the leaves change or going on a leisurely bike ride on a country road.

Just about everyone claims to offer a version of an “outdoor boot camp,” but there are some important elements that an outdoor boot camp should include in order to differentiate it from an indoor version. Check out these elements below before registering or attending the outdoor boot camp in your area. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

• Does the coach/trainer have to be in the military or former military? Of course not, although there are definitely coaches and trainers who are; however, this does not guarantee they are a top-notch coach/trainer. Look for a certified group exercise instructor/personal trainer, who possesses the level of education and motivational skill sets required to design a safe and effective outdoor boot camp format and is an expert at modifying outdoor boot camp skills and drills “on the spot”.

• Outdoor boot camps are usually 4-12 weeks in duration, goal-oriented and structured. So, you should expect a logical progression and improvement of your performance over the course of the camp.

• Do you have to wear fatigues? No, in fact, dressing in comfortable, breathable clothing suitable for the camp terrain, is suggested. However, make certain you have good quality athletic/trail shoes, a pair of gloves such as weight lifting gloves or cycling gloves to protect the hands, hat/bandanna to help keep the sweat from getting in your eyes (oh yeah, you are going to sweat!), sunscreen, a towel and water. A small pack may be needed for some camps — so check in advance.

• Do you have to be super fit? It depends. When in doubt, you may seek out a beginner outdoor boot camp or just locate one that opens their doors to everyone and has the expertise to welcome you and modify the skills and drills for you throughout the program.

• Most outdoor boot camps will feature all five components of physical fitness which includes cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength/endurance, flexibility and body composition. However, be prepared for skills and drills focused upon improving power, balance, stability, mobility and agility.

• While we may utilize fitness tools such as agility ladders, ropes, sandbags and cones, the vast majority of the camp concentrates on the utilization of body weight training using the natural challenges of the great outdoors (i.e. hills and thrills).

• The outdoor boot camp might be held in a parking lot, park or on a hiking trail so be sure you are familiar with the venue as this will have a direct effect on whether it is the right camp for your expectations, goals, skill level and limitations.

• Cost? Most health clubs will define outdoor boot camps as “small group training” classes, charge an additional fee and require registration, so ask for details.

• Then, get outdoors and get fit!

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