Overview of a Fitness Boot Camp
The goal of a fitness boot camp is to get you in shape fast with high-intensity exercises. Weight loss is secondary, although many participants enroll in fitness boot camps to shed a few pounds. An experienced fitness instructor leads each class through a series of vigorous workouts in indoor or outdoor settings. A typical class lasts 50 to 60 minutes, and many boot camps give you the option of attending morning, afternoon, or evening sessions.
Fitness boot camps usually combine cardiovascular and strength exercises to help build your overall endurance and strength. They can be temporary or long-term commitments, depending on the program. In addition to independent fitness instructors, gyms are also expanding their services to include boot camp workouts. As the name implies, boot camp exercises are more intense and challenging than the average workout, and many rely on interval training to strengthen your body over a short period of time.
Overview of Weight Loss Camps
Unlike most fitness boot camps, the primary goal of modern weight loss camps is to slim down and lose weight gradually. Often called weight loss resorts, they offer an all-inclusive experience that usually includes three restricted meals, a variety of traditional and alternative workout options, and lodging. A month-long stay can cost upwards of $28,000. Other camps adopt a more comprehensive approach that includes:
- Cooking and nutrition classes
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Other therapeutic exercises
From Vermont to California, weight loss camps are located all over the country, usually in a scenic setting conducive to guided hikes and other outdoor workouts. Amenities may include:
- Workout/fitness clothing
- Workout equipment
- Spa treatments
Pros and Cons of Fitness Boot Camps
In general, fitness boot camps are more accessible, variable, and flexible than weight loss camps. They may last one to two months or an entire year, making them suitable for long-term fitness goals. In large cities, you can usually find a good selection of specialized programs, including senior, bridal, and pet-friendly boot camps. These camps don’t always require a firm commitment and may allow you to pay daily or weekly, which means you can shop around for the best fit.
Most programs, however, encourage you to attend regularly for optimum results. They’re also known for their group camaraderie and supportive atmosphere. While effective for quick and sustainable results, high-intensity interval training isn’t for everyone. If you have knee or back problems or major health conditions, boot camp exercises could lead to further injuries without supervision.
Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Camps
Weight loss camps can propel you toward your weight goal after years of unsuccessful results. They let you set aside external distractions and focus simply on losing weight by accounting for all of your basic needs. You won’t need to worry about preparing meals, counting calories, or finding time to exercise. The right camp also teaches the mental, emotional, and physical skills you need to recreate the camp’s structure at home and prevent relapses into old eating and exercise habits. However, not all camps take this comprehensive approach; studies have shown that the majority of weight loss camp participants experience weight gain soon after leaving the structured life of the camp.
Additionally, some camps make participation in daily exercises optional, which could be counterproductive for someone who desires strict guidance. The camps’ expense excludes most people on a budget, and the overnight requirement can conflict with real-life commitments, such as work and family.
The body of scientific evidence from studying weight loss camps is small but positive. One study found that the participants of a Florida residential weight loss center experienced a 4 to 5 percent reduction in body weight and improvements in their cholesterol levels and blood pressure readings. Other studies have examined the effects of weight loss camps on overweight and obese children. These studies reported positive changes in body weight, BMI, and systolic blood pressure. According to one study, weight loss during stays at camps may not be permanent in adults. Researchers looked at attendees of Hilton Head Health and discovered that less than 25 percent managed to keep off 10 percent of their original body weight.
How Effective are Boot Camps?
Among fitness trainers and health experts, fitness boot camps enjoy a reputation for being highly effective workouts that train the entire body. The American Council on Exercise supports boots camps, reporting that a recent study shows you could burn 10 calories per minute in one session. While they’re not ideal for all fitness goals—such as bulking up—boot camps deliver a complete workout and can help you lose weight.
Which Should You Choose?
Weight loss camps can be successful for short-term weight loss. The challenge lies in sustaining your progress, which studies have shown may be more than difficult than expected. Overall, fitness boot camps are a clear winner over weight loss camps. The exercises they incorporate have been proven to burn calories and get you in shape while helping you shed pounds or maintain your weight. If one of your goals is to lose weight, a weight loss fitness boot camp may be a better fit for you than a weight loss camp.
Weight Loss Camps: Things to Know
- Weight loss camps are usually residential, meaning you sleep, exercise, and eat at the camp. Keep in mind you’ll have to suspend work and personal obligations to attend a residential camp.
- Some camps restrict wireless access to narrow your focus.
- Expect to pay an average of $2,000 for every week you stay. The priciest resorts demand up to $8,000. Typically, higher prices deliver more luxurious accommodations.
- Luxuries include beautiful landscaping, such as on-site waterfalls and gardens, golf courses, and full-service spas.
- Residential weight loss camps provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’ll most likely be restricted meals designed to lower your daily caloric intake. Some camps provide vegetarian options and attend to other dietary needs.
- Exercise will most likely take place indoors and outdoors. Participation isn’t always mandatory, so consider if a low-key, relaxed atmosphere is right for you.
- Alternative treatments may include music therapy, shiatsu, meditation, and counseling.
- You may have to share your room with a roommate.
- Some camps offer scholarships for children to help offset costs. Health insurance may also cover a portion of your stay.
Fitness Boot Camps: Things to Know
- Fitness boot camps are usually available locally. They don’t require overnight stays, although you can find luxury fitness resorts with pricing similar to weight loss camps.
- One-hour classes are the norm. They’ll usually start with a warm-up, proceed to a series of exercises, and then end with a cool down.
- Classes are conducted in small groups. Many participants enjoy the group support.
- Look for certified and accredited instructors for the safest experience.
- Outdoor boot camps are extremely popular, and many instructors will hold classes come rain or shine.
- Many boot camps are modeled on high-intensity interval training, which intersperses bursts of vigorous exercises with less intense ones.
- You can burn over 500 calories during one class.
- Some programs take place all year long, and you can sign up as often as you want.
- Most boot camps integrate elements of cardio and strength training.
- Your gym probably hosts a number of fitness boot camps.
- The cost of a boot camp depends largely on its popularity and where it’s held. Some gyms and instructors charge between $45 and $70 per class. Many offer cost-saving packages that include multiple classes.
- Some budget boot camps offer a name-your-price option.