Sure, you can head outside for a run, hit the treadmill or slip in that workout DVD you’ve done so many times you practically have it memorized. But if you need a bit of extra motivation to get moving, consider signing up for a fitness boot camp — a regimented program that combines challenging exercises with a fun, social atmosphere, plus instructors who know how to push you to give it your all and help you see real results. To help you find a class that fits your skills and needs, check out this list of 10 creative camps around the U.S.. Each one blends traditional drills with a unique, fun focus.
Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp, Brooklyn, NY
While jogging from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge and back, participants of this intense class stop and do quick strength training drills on benches and against railings. The inspiring river views can’t be beat, and trainer Ariane Hundt fosters a supportive, fun atmosphere. Still, they don’t call it New York’s toughest boot camp for nothing: Designed for all fitness levels, from beginners to triathletes-in-training, it’s definitely an intense 60 minutes. The payoff: Hundt says participants burn about 800 calories per session while toning up all over. (During winter, classes are held next to the bridge in Brooklyn, then move back to the bridge itself starting in early spring.)
Bundoran Surf Boot Camp, Donegal, IrelandThe surf’s up on the west coast of Ireland, and since 1990, Bundoran Surf Boot Camp in Donegal has delivered action, adventure, and a cardio fitness program for boarders of all levels, even beginners. Each weekend-long camp (it runs two full days, Saturday and Sunday) starts off with a beachside run and warm-up, goes into an extended surfing session where the basics are taught by seasoned instructors, and then winds down with a yoga class. Wet suits and gear can be rented on site. Classes run from March through October.
Barry’s Bootcamp, Los Angeles, CA; Nashville, TN
No drill sergeants, no military fatigues, no being humiliated in front
of the class. Instead, Barry Jay’s boot camp is like a workout in a
nightclub, with strobe lights and blaring pop music to trick exercisers
into thinking they’re at a party, not at a gym toning up and slimming
down. Participants start with 20 minutes of challenging interval
training on a treadmill, then move into a 20-minute strength-training
session with free weights, bands and bars before a 10-minute cooldown
closes out the session.
Barry's Bootcamp was created to be a party in a gym with pop music, strobe lights and a variety of experiences. Here Joey Gonzalez puts a client through some moves.
Each class includes a different mix of moves, keeping things fresh and exciting while delivering results. Hollywood celebs go to Barry’s in LA, but there are classes in New York City, Long Island, New York and Nashville, Tennessee.
Mount Tabor Runners Boot Camp, Portland, OR
Build lean muscle, crank your endurance and torch hundreds of calories by joining this program, which takes you along the scenic trails along Portland’s Mount Tabor — a former volcano that’s more of a large hill than a steep mountain. Small-group sessions are held in the winter, spring and fall, and the invigorating running drills led by trainer Natalie Wessel blend cardio, strength training and conditioning with an eye toward having fun. The program is open to all fitness levels, from weekend warriors to experienced runners, cyclists, climbers and other athletes looking to go the distance.
Ballet Boot Camp, Branford, CT
Ballet-based fitness classes are super trendy these days, and no wonder — what woman doesn’t crave a dancer’s lean, toned body? With this in mind, trainer Robyn DiNatale starts off her women-only boot camp by teaching traditional barre exercises, such as plies, before pumping up the pace via hard-charging cardio dance moves and center floor jumps that build core strength and improve flexibility. Each 75-minute session is designed for newcomers and more seasoned athletes, and absolutely no dance skills or experience is required.
Slaughter Boot Camp, Detroit, MI
Inspired by the hardcore training given to elite Special Forces units such as the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers, this military-drill program calls itself Metro Detroit’s most physically challenging fitness class. Each hour-long session consists of straightforward, no-gimmick drills, such as running up a hill carrying sandbags or lifting giant logs overhead dozens of times. The classes, divided into beginner and more advanced sections, will make you grunt and sweat, but don’t let the intensity scare you: Supportive trainers encourage participants of all fitness levels and emphasize giving each drill your best shot.
Boga Boot Camp, Long Beach, CA
Mix classic yoga poses with hard-charging army-style exercises like burpees and squats and you end up with Boga. Participants of this year-round outdoor program breathe, focus and sweat through a series of moves designed to boost flexibility and balance. Trainers Kim Purdy and Shannon Paul have created a challenging mind-body workout basic enough for beginners to follow but also good for athletes prone to injury, as the movements are small, tight and all about building joint and muscle strength rather than burning lots of calories or building big muscle.
Bridal Boot Camp, Jersey City, NJ
Whether you’re a bride or bridesmaid hoping to shape up for the big day, or a woman who simply wants to drop a few dress sizes while getting fit and healthy, this female-only program will do the trick. It’s designed for fitness devotees as well as newcomers, and the cardio drills focus on decreasing body fat while building muscle, strength and overall health in a positive team atmosphere. Trainer Daris Wilson describes each hour-long class as “in your face but supportive” and the program includes nutrition counseling as well — so results will be easier to maintain after the wedding is over. Sign up with several members of your wedding party, and everyone scores a discount.
Original Bootcamp, Sydney, Australia
When you hear the term boot camp, the Original Bootcamp is the kind of program that comes to mind. They offer four weeks of military-inspired outdoor group training sessions (held three times per week) led by ex-Australian army members who expect participants to give each class their all. These guys have been getting Australians into shape since 1991, and the program, open to all fitness levels, guarantees results in as little as two weeks. Expect the intensity of the workout to increase at each class, but the payoff makes it worth it: less fat, more muscle. There are locations all over Australia.
Insane Kickbox Camp, Long Island City, NY
Ever dream of being a superhero? This empowering class, which is set to a pop-music soundtrack, will show you how. Trainer Tara Faye mixes high-intensity intervals of cardio kickboxing with a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners military-style delivery. “Insane” refers to how intense it is; it’s not a regimen for beginners but is geared toward more advanced workout enthusiasts who want to achieve a tighter, more toned body. Expect 45 minutes of nonstop sweating, plyometrics with lots of kicks and punches into the air and some old-fashioned pushups and lunges thrown in for good measure. Classes are limited to 10 people, so you can expect lots of individual support.
Gut Check Boot Camp is designed to help people learn to love being active.
Gut Check Boot Camp, San Diego, CA
“This is not your granny’s exercise class,” boasts trainer and former military man Joe Decker, of Gut Check Fitness, which gets its name from an army term for finding out how tough you really are. The men and women who sign up for this hardcore program endure 60-minute sessions of running and other high-intensity old-school exercises taught by instructors who focus on motivation and muscle-building, not humiliation. If you decide to try it, you’ll sweat buckets and burn hundreds of calories, but Decker designed the program so it’s more about getting healthy and learning to love being active than spot-reducing or reaching a goal weight. Voted “Best Boot Camp of San Diego” by a local magazine, this tough routine is not for the faint of heart. But trainers get high marks for encouraging students and emphasizing a team-based atmosphere where no one is left behind.
Fitbox Boot Camp, London, England
Leave the indoor cardio machines behind and come out to one of these group boot camps held in different parks around London (Battersea, Clapham Common, and Wandsworth Park in Putney). You'll throw punches against pads and master basic boxing techniques, as well as do high-intensity cardio and resistance drills so you strengthen the core muscles used in boxing: abs, glutes, and shoulders, says Scott Laidler, a personal trainer who cofounded the program. It’s a tough workout with an emphasis on fun, and no actual sparring is allowed. Sign up, and you can attend classes at any location any time of the week.
Booty Boot Camp, Sacramento, CA
Sarai Jones, the trainer who developed this program, is serious about helping women lift, shape and sculpt their glutes. Though beginners are welcome, she makes it clear that the body conditioning drills she leads during each 30-45 minute class — a series of squats, burpees, stationary sprints and kettleball swings, among other butt, hip and thigh exercises — can be challenging and intense. What keeps her gym packed is that booty boot camp works. You can expect to see a more toned tush in three weeks, plus big gains in stamina and muscle strength. Nutritional counseling is included, and each class has two trainers in charge, to make sure everyone is doing the moves right and achieves the best results.
Do you have a favorite exercise regimen? Tell us in the comments below!