As some of you might know, I used to be a bootcamp coach. At that time, bootcamp was slowly becoming sophisticated, but there were only three main players: Chief’s Original Bootcamp, Original Bootcamp and Rebel Bootcamp. I worked for the last.
Bootcamp can be one of the most fun and intense fitness adventures you experience. Personally, I think if it weren’t for the huge bootcamp boom, running events and obstacle races would never have become as popular as they are now. This is because many boot campers began running in events as a form of motivation.
But let’s talk about bootcamp!
What is bootcamp?
Okay, here’s a piece that I wrote on bootcamp awhile back. It’s pretty well-researched (at least I think so), so you can take a read of it and I won’t add anything to it.
What I can add will be things I learnt as a participant and also things I learnt as a coach.
Things I learnt as a bootcamp participant
The most important thing I learnt that everything is a mindset. Discomfort because of rain and mud? It’s a mindset. Think you can’t run another 500m? That’s a mindset. Another five push-ups will kill you? It’s a mindset.
Mental strength doesn’t necessarily correlate to physical ability. Often, you are capable of much more than your mind tells you. I’m saying this from the viewpoint of a participant, not a coach. Before I became a bootcamp coach, I had to get to ‘Alpha’ level or higher and I wouldn’t have got to that point (I began as a ‘Bravo’ dude) if the Sarge’s hadn’t yelled at me and worked me to the point when I thought I couldn’t go on more and surprised myself by going on.
So this is where I began to learn that the mental process is very different from the physical ability (I learnt more at Mysore practice). I learnt that I could run (even though I didn’t particularly enjoy it). I learnt that I could do 70 push ups in one minute. These things are all in the mind.
Later on, as a coach, I think the best example of watching mental strength take place was during the Six Hours In Hell event, when participants had to exercise from 5 in the morning until 11, on the beach on Sepang Gold Coast.
That was a real exercise in mental strength for me as coach, notwithstanding what the participants think. I remember I finished work at 9 pm on a Friday night, had dinner, packed to go to Sepang Gold Coast, had the car boot smash my forehead, got eight stitches, was off to the beach by midnight, reached the chalets by 2 a.m., on the beach by 3 a.m. setting up, and then coaching by 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. I remember after that I just had lunch and slept all the way back home and even more!
Mental strength or tenacity is incredibly important, not just on the field on road, but also in life. This, as in most things fitness-related, is experiential. I can’t explain it and you can’t know it until you experience it. Just don’t be afraid to try, fear is one of those things that will hold you back.
Things I learnt becoming a bootcamp coach
Where do I even begin?!? Everything I learnt becoming a bootcamp coach under Jason Moriarty was valuable in my fitness career. Okay, first was the honing of the body and the mind discussed above. Secondly, was the amount and care and diligence taken in actually presenting the session.
And yes, I purposely picked the word “presenting” because we learnt that the whole session is almost like a show: everything needs to flow smoothly, from the warm up all the way to the cool down. Unlike a show though, everything isn’t perfectly scripted and it is like a show with the audience included in the performance. So all the coaches need to be clear on the vocabulary and their roles.
Lead instructors should know what they are supposed to do; assisting coaches need to know what is required of them; and every coach needs to be watchful for things like exercise execution, safety precautions and measures, ability to see and be everywhere and have eyes on everyone. In the early a.m.s, this took some getting used to but in the end all this was learnt and performed to the best of my ability.
Another thing I learnt is using my voice from the diaphragm. This took ages, and I recall that I had to read articles, watch YouTube videos, practice in the car until it finally came. Nowadays, I rarely ever need a mike, even in yoga class. Okay, some yoga teachers might say you can “whisper” in the mike and not yell everything out, but personally I believe it is because those yoga teachers don’t know how to use their diaphragm when speaking to their class, but that’s just my opinion…
Anyway, just so many things I learnt on the way to becoming a bootcamp coach: from the setup and safety; from the work as group instructor to personal trainer; from bringing up the energy of the whole group (even when your underwear and socks are wet, and you’re miserable and cold and wanna be in bed); all of these things and so much more.
Bootcamps in Malaysia
I don’t do bootcamps anymore, for many reasons, but not because I don’t enjoy the energy or the people. But if you want to try out bootcamps, here are a list of a few that I you might wanna join:
- Original Bootcamp, Malaysia
- Rebel Bootcamp
- CosmicFit Fitness Bootcamp
- Chief’s Original Bootcamp, Malaysia
- The Bulldozers (a small outdoor fitness group that I helped to start but am not active with anymore – contact me for more details)
Are you a bootcamper? What’s your experience like? Let me know in the comments!