If Kim reads this, I’m in trouble. Kim Kokesch of Synergy Core Fitness is our trainer, and I’m about to write about how much I love boot camp.
To see why this could be a bad idea, check out what happened at one of our recent training sessions:
- Irene, fellow boot camp trainee, finishes running the UNBC courtyard stairs early. I didn’t see Irene’s face, but judging by what happened next, she must have been smiling (madness!).
- Kim: Irene, I want you to run and find 12 light poles and touch them all. That’s what you get for being energetic. Also, you were sauntering!
We’re a group of about 15 Prince George women, mostly from Northern Health, who plan to do the 5K Spartan Sprint outdoor obstacle race at Sun Peaks this fall.
Pre-boot camp, I was into cross-country skiing, completed a couch-to-5k running program, lifted weights now and then, and thought I was in good shape for a 52-year-old.
I now realize I was a wuss. Boot camp has pushed me harder than I ever pushed myself. It’s by far the most effective training program I’ve ever done, and I feel stronger and more energetic than I did in my twenties.
I went for a 4k run last weekend, and it felt too short. When I started boot camp, I could manage three real push-ups; now, it’s 23 (but that’s nothing compared to what some of my teammates can do – I am so in awe!).
Unexpectedly, though, what I most value from boot camp isn’t the fitness or the connections with the other women – wonderful though those are – it’s the attitude shift.
I now know that I’m capable of much more than I normally ask of myself. I hope and believe that if I ever had to (God forbid) pull someone from a burning building, I’d have a fighting chance of succeeding, and more importantly, I’d have the confidence to try.
And that’s what it’s really about: functional fitness. Not doing the Spartan Race, not fitting into smaller pants (though I really, really love that part!), but extending my healthspan. Old age is getting closer, and I want to be a tough old lady with biceps and attitude.
I used to postpone workouts if I had any little aches or pains, or if the weather looked iffy. Boot camp taught me that 20 minutes of running scares most aches away, and that I can churn out 100 tricep dips despite rain, heat, or armies of caterpillars (recall the recent Prince George caterpocalypse!). My fellow trainee, Denise, who actually swallowed a caterpillar during one session, just spat it back out and kept on running without breaking stride.
My favourite Kim-isms:
1. At Rainbow Park, where we usually have to run up that steep hill 15 times during the course of the workout:
- Me: “Oh, I thought we were doing the small hill!”
- Kim: “If you thought that, Anne, you’re in the wrong boot camp! Now RUN!”
2. The group has just finished a brutal, brutal one-hour running workout on the UNBC hill. We’ve ended up, exhausted, at the bottom of the hill.
- Kim: “Great job, ladies! Now run to the top and do ten burpees.” And we did.
3. Everybody’s planking and somebody collapses.
- Kim: “Pop it up, sunshine, you’re not done yet!”
4. I am the proud possessor of the weakest upper body in the entire group. Kim gives me two 10-pound hand weights and tells me to do shoulder raises with them.
- Me: “At home?”
- Kim: “Yes, at home! And in the car, and at the mall.” (PS: It worked!)
5. (During caterpocalypse): “Remember, ladies: friends don’t let friends leave boot camp with caterpillars smeared all over their butts!”
6. We’re doing leg taps for one minute. This only sounds easy.
- Boot camp trainee, groaning: “I can’t believe we’re paying for this!”
- Kim: “Suck it up, I haven’t cashed your cheque yet.”
Five tips for boot camp success:
- Wear gloves – you never know when you’ll have to climb monkey bars or crawl under a picnic table. There are 41 picnic tables at West Lake, and I’ve crawled under them all (thanks, Kim!). Fingerless bike gloves or weightlifting gloves work fine for training. My teammate Jennifer, who we’re all in awe of because she completed a Spartan race in Vancouver this June, recommends full gloves for the actual race.
- Wear old workout clothes. You do NOT want to tear your Lululemons climbing over a fence (or crawling under that picnic table).
- Bring lots of water.
- Don’t plan a trip to Costco right after boot camp. You’ll be bright red, sweaty and adorned with grass/twigs/caterpillars. You will scare small children.
- And never, under any circumstances, let Kim hear you say “That was easy!” (but don’t worry, it won’t be!).
About Anne Scott
Anne is a communications officer at Northern Health; she lives in Prince George with her husband Andrew Watkinson. Her current health goals are to do a pull-up and more than one consecutive “real” push-up. She also dreams of becoming a master’s level competitive sprinter and finding a publisher for her children’s book on colourblindness. Anne enjoys cycling, cross-country skiing, reading, writing, sugar-free chocolate, and napping -- sometimes all on the same day!