Friday, August 29, 2008

I am a bootcamp graduate!

I have to admit that, after the first class, all I wanted to do was quit. I felt like, “Okay, that was fun to try… now on to my next adventure!” 

But fortunately for me, one of the first things our instructor at Real U Boot Camp told us that initial day was that she had only two rules: No unexcused absences, and no quitting.

I first discovered Real U via Chris Zdeb's 'Real People' article in the May 24th edition of the Edmonton Journal, and I figured that if a pregnant woman could do it, surely I could do it too... right?? I even toyed with the idea of signing up for the advanced version of Real U, Soldiers of Fitness, which is the be-all-you-can-be of military-run boot camps here in the city.

However, after a briefing from my friend Cindy -- an SOF regular -- I quickly established that Real U would be a much better fit for someone of my physical capabilities.

Although she was incredibly positive and reassuring about there being SOF members at varying levels of fitness who were managing just fine, all I could focus on was the one comment Cindy made about herself: "Before this, I was working out about 7-9 times/week, and I'm definitely finding it a challenge."

Ahem. Seven to nine times per week? That was the deal breaker for me; Real U Boot Camp would have to be my starting point, not Soldiers of Fitness.

And although I never expected this beginner's boot camp to be easy, I also never expected it to be as difficult as it sometimes was. 

We met three times a week, at 5:30 in the morning, for an hour each time. (None of us dared to be late for a session, for fear of our instructor then punishing the entire group with a series of much-hated burpees.) 

Mondays were all cardio. We ran through Laurier Park's trails and out to the stairs (they were a killer!) by the Quesnel bridge. Once there, we did different exercises.... hill training..... racing up and down the stairs several times..... different sprinting drills, etc. Basically, it was constant cardio, and we were timed on certain drills... just so that we could then do everything all over again in an effort to beat our own times. Loads of fun! (I always arrived home dripping sweat, my hair soaked.... and yet it felt so good!!)

Wednesdays and Fridays were very different. We usually warmed up with a 20-minute run / walk / series of exercises, and then our instructor had us do different drills that involved both running and weight training and things like push-ups, squats, crunches, etc. Definitely more my style, given that I struggled most during the running-intense sessions.

My favourite class was by far last Friday -- Buddy Day. If you know of anyone who is currently registered for either Real U Boot Camp or Soldiers of Fitness, definitely ask if you can join them on their Buddy Day. It's free to attend, and you get a taste of whether or not this boot camp stuff is for you. (And did I mention that it's free?? Take advantage of this while you can!)

I've been blessed with a husband who has suffered through the U.S. Army's basic training and early-morning PT sessions for years, so of course he was more than willing to join me on Real U's Buddy Day. So off we went last week, me and my victim fitness partner. 

And he was actually very impressed with it.

At first during our warm-up run, he was just running alongside me, which of course was far too easy for him. I told him not to worry about me and to go at his own pace so he would at least still get something out of it.

So off he went.... running laps around the rest of the group, haha. (Show-off!!)

Plus, when we did push-ups, he used proper form, not the girly version with his knees on the ground. (Read: the only type I'm currently capable of executing with any real consistancy.)

So I guess even though he's in better shape than me, he still got a really good workout out of it because he pushed himself and worked up a sweat just the same.

Today was my final session, and although it was incredibly difficult at times, I'm really going to miss Real U. We had such a wonderful, supportive group, and although it sounds cliched, we really were all in it together -- regardless of our personal levels of fitness. I'm going to miss the early-morning (and as of late: pitch-black-outside) meetings, and I'm especially going to miss my body's natural release of endorphins that followed each class.

Many of my classmates signed up for next month's session as well, which is a testament to the instructor and to the program itself. But because I've decided to wait until June before doing this again, my biggest fear now is that I'm going to become complacent and lose all this progress I've made over the last month.... 

... which is why I'm now going to sign up for the Running Room's Learn to Run clinic instead! The main thing I struggled with at boot camp was all the running -- aside from that, everything else was definitely doable -- so for now I really need to concentrate on being able to run without struggling and falling behind everyone else. (Plus, my friend Carla and I volunteered at the ING Marathon earlier this month, and I won a Running Room gift card, so I really have no excuse not to join. Yes, I think it was a sign from God.)

[Jo's Note: A teammate of mine from Real U (who had been taking this class for a few months now) mentioned that, although we signed up for the beginner version, our instructor was actually putting us through the intermediate training instead, which made me feel sooo much better about myself, haha. One of the girls in her last month's class missed a session, so she went to another instructor's class to make up for it..... and she said it was much easier compared to what we were doing. Now I don't know all this for fact -- this is all just heresay -- but I guess whichever instructor you sign up with can make a bit of a difference with regards to the intensity of each class. Personally, I'd like to believe that we were actually doing the intermediate boot camp training; the fact that I could still do it even though it was a little more difficult than the beginner's level is a very good feeling!]

Extra Stuff:

Although there's not a lot of info out there about the Real U Boot Camp just yet, you can find plenty of Soldiers of Fitness references that will hopefully provide answers to some of your boot camp curiosities:

- For a personal account of the SOF experience, check out this blog from Goodwill Carlos in Calgary. Truly inspirational!

- And for video footage of other SOF members being put through the paces, check out this video clip, courtesy of YouTube.