If your mental image of boot camp is rows of grunting men in camo performing endless push-ups, you're a little behind the times. While the military still has their own version meant to test the physical and mental fortitude of new recruits, the fitness world has rebranded their format into boot camp workouts.
Similar to many other mainstream high-intensity workouts, these classes combine cardio and strength exercises in one full-body workout. Boot camp workout are extremely versatile, often taught in gyms, parks and even pools and you can even find a boot camp that supports a cause you care about.
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We've rounded up seven of your options, so you decide which one you'd like to try (of if you want to give all of them a shot). Ultimately, the best boot camp workout for you is one that gets you excited about exercising so you keep coming back class after class.
1. Indoor Boot Camp Workouts
Indoor boot camps are typically offered in gyms or standalone studios that specialize in this fitness trend. The main benefit is that they usually come with all the bells and whistles of having a physical location — lockers, showers, towels and lots of different types of equipment.
For example, the boot camp classes at Atlanta-based True Fitness use TRX suspension systems, battle ropes, plyo boxes, medicine balls, power wheels, gliders, agility ladders, resistance bands and stability balls.
Then there's boot camp workout pioneer Barry's Bootcamp, which relies on standard strength training equipment as well as treadmills for the extra calorie burn that comes from running intervals.
Are They Right For You? Indoor boot camps are a good choice for you if you like a lot of variety and having a roof over your head.
2. Outdoor Boot Camp Workouts
More outdoorsy types may enjoy boot camps held outside the confines of the four walls of a gym. These classes don't provide as much equipment — sometimes no equipment at all — so you'll run and do a lot of body-weight exercises while enjoying the fresh air.
One drawback of these classes is that they may not be held year-round, depending on the climate you live in. When they are in season, though, you can expect variable weather conditions — rainy in spring, hot and humid in summer.
Are They Right For You? If you like the variety of changing weather and terrain and you want to feel like a kid on the playground again, an outdoor boot camp is a good choice.
3. Aqua Boot Camp Workouts
The tougher step-brother of water aerobics, water-based boot camps are harder to find, but if you live in a major city, you might be lucky enough to have this option. While working out in water provides less impact than working out on land, it also provides greater resistance.
Midwest gym chain Genesis Health Club's aqua boot camp is a tough, one-hour water workout at an intermediate to advanced level. As such, this particular class might not be a good choice for beginners, but other aqua boot camps may be better suited for newbies. Or, you can build up a base of fitness on land, then make your way into the water.
Are They Right For You? If you have joint problems or you're rehabbing an injury, but you still want a challenging workout, check out this boot camp varietal.
4. Online Boot Camp Workouts
Introverts and homebodies, rejoice! You don't even have to leave your house to work up a good sweat. Online streaming services like Studio Sweat on Demand offer boot camp workouts you can do from the comfort of your living room.
Some of Studio Sweat's creatively named workouts include "Butt-Kicking Bootcamp" and "Unicorn Unilateral Ucandoit Bootcamp." (You know you want to check that last one out just because of the name!)
While you don't need an actual unicorn, you will need some equipment, including dumbbells and an exercise mat. If you don't have equipment, you can try this no-equipment 30-minute boot camp workout with celebrity personal trainer Adam Rosante.
Are They Right For You? Love working out solo? Don't have time to drive to the gym? Want a less-expensive workout option? At-home boot camp workouts sounds right up your alley.
5. Military-Style Boot Camp Workouts
You don't have to enlist in the army to train like a soldier. Military-style boot camps for civilians provide training that's almost as tough as the kind you might receive before going off to war. (It's not free like military training, but you don't have to engage in actual combat, which is a bonus.)
Northern Firearms Training Academy in Vanderbilt, MI, claims to be "the best, most realistic military training you can get without enlisting." Its level 1 program includes a 24-hour endurance course called "Hell Night," based on the Navy SEAL "hell week" training, as well as rappelling/climbing and fastrope, a survival course, defensive hand-to-hand combat and first aid training. Courses are taught by veteran military and advanced law enforcement combat training instructors.
Are They Right For You? If you've been working out for a while (i.e. not a workout newbie), you're looking for a challenge and you're tough as nails (or want to see if you are), consider trying a military-style boot camp workout.
6. Prison-Style Boot Camp Workouts
Created by ex-con Coss Marte, ConBody is modeled after the workout Marte did while in prison, which he executed in his 9-by-6-foot cell using no equipment. Conducted in a slightly larger space (but not by much) in his New York studio, classes include a mix of cardio and body-weight strength training exercises that promise to toughen you up.
The prison-style decor and the sound of an iron gate slamming shut played at the beginning of each class add to the tough guy (or girl) vibe. Classes are taught by ex-cons, and you can even get a mug shot photo after class. Or opt to work out at home with their live online workouts for $5 a month.
Marte's goal is to not only get you in fighting shape with his trend-setting concept, but also to raise awareness of the difficulties ex-cons experience trying to get back on their feet after incarceration.
Are They Right For You? Give these workouts a shot if you're the kind of person that takes a no-nonsense approach to fitness and you're short on space and/or equipment.
7. Boot Camp Workouts for a Cause
Exercise your body and appease your altruistic nature at boot camps that give back to charity and promote good causes. Many of these are like any other boot camp — a good way to work up a sweat and meet your fitness goals — but you'll feel good that your fitness routine is helping you giving back.
Boot Camp With a Cause in Largo, FL, supports local charities serving families in need with ongoing boot camp workouts that you can attend by donating money, supplies or clothing. Other organizations offer repeating or single event boot camps to support causes such as Lyme disease or mental health awareness.
Are They Right For You? Want your workout endorphins with a side of warm, fuzzy feelings from doing something for someone else? This workout is for you.
- Bootcamp Military Fitness Institute: What are Bootcamps?
- True Fitness
- Barry's Bootcamp
- Genesis Health Club: Aqua Bootcamp
- Studio Sweat on Demand: Bootcamp Workouts
- PopSugar Fitness: 30-Minute No-Equipment Bodyweight Bootcamp Workout | Class FitSugar
- Northern Firearms Training Academy: Boot Camp
- ESPNW: We Tried It: ConBody
- ConBody: Prison Style Bootcamp
- Blue Cross for Pets: Work out like a dog
- Blue Cross for Pets: Workout like your dog!
- Boot Camp With a Cause