For years I avoided taking a bootcamp style workout class because the name alone was intimidating! That all changed after I saw a friend achieve incredible health goals with the help of an all-female High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) bootcamp program. I tried my first bootcamp class about 2 years ago and have never looked back! In fact, I became a part-time instructor at one of my favorite gyms because I am so addicted to the amazing workout and the community that each bootcamp offers. In an attempt to convince you to give HIIT bootcamp classes a try, here is a summary of what to expect from a typical class and why this exercise form is so efficient in building serious strength without transforming you into a bodybuilder…

While no two HIIT bootcamps are the same, there are some universal characteristics of a traditional class, such as:

  • Alternation between high intensity cardio drills and strength training circuits – This is what really gets your heart-rate pumping, your muscles engaged and your body sweating! A typical combination could include jump rope followed by push ups, and then burpees followed with bicep curls. By combining calorie blasting cardio moves with strength training, you get a full body workout that over time results in lean muscles and impressive stamina.
  • Timed workout intervals – Most gyms will have you work closely with the clock for periods of 15-60 seconds, depending on the exercise. It’s nice to work against a timer because then you can focus all your energy on completing the moves properly and not worry about keeping accurate count of reps, etc.
  • Station and partner work – This is where you meet friends and form your fitness community! More often than not, a bootcamp class involves working around different exercise stations or through circuits with a partner. It’s nice to learn your partners name before you begin so you can encourage one another and ask for a reminder about form or sequence if needed.
  • Use of many different pieces of equipment – as evidenced by these photos, it’s common to as many as 10 unique types of gear in class. Frequent items I use as a trainer and when a student in other bootcamp classes include: jump ropes; dumbbells (5-25 lbs.); kettlebells;  TRX suspension straps; medicine balls; resistance bands and bosus.

Now that you have a sense of what to expect in terms of class structure, here is how to prepare for an awesome workout:

  • Show up early – make sure you show up to class early to introduce yourself to the instructor and get a lay of the land. Once the class starts
  • Wear structured shoes – you’ll be doing a lot of lateral movement and jumping around, so make sure your toes won’t slide off the slides of your sole insert, and that they have ample support underfoot.
  • Hydrate –  Of course you’ll be able to drink water during class, but also focus on good hydration before your workout so you can enjoy the most endurance and focus.
  • Don’t be afraid to sweat – I have the most respect for new students who come to class and go for it with no concern for sweating a ton or asking a lot of questions. Try to attend class with a “give it my all” attitude and I promise you’ll feel like an accomplished badass by the end of the hour.

And now some final FIT tips that should make you as obsessed with HIIT bootcamp as we are:

  • Try different gyms and/or instructors when first starting out, everyone responds uniquely to different coaching styles so find the right match for you.
  • Elect to try the “challenge” option the instructor provides for one move of each class. This will keep you interested in the workouts and keep force your muscles to respond to new movements, which helps with definition and strength.
  • Bring a friend or colleague!

Images by HonestlyFIT