“One, two, three, four,
What the heck is BOOT CAMP for?”
“Five, six, seven, eight,
I don’t know, but I think to loose weight”
Have you ever watched the marines when they drill? They are awe inspiring as they move physically perfected bodies in synchronized symmetry through a demanding routine of cardiovascular exercise. I’ve wondered, “are they live or Memorex?” and I liken them to the male equivalent of the “Stepford Wives”. Up until recently the secret to their amazingly fit physiques has been limited to those brave individuals willing to commit to the core. So when I learned this summer that they were offering their famous “BOOT CAMP” (or at least a form of it) to civilians…… I cautiously committed myself.
Under the auspicious guise of a great way to meet guys who actually care about their bodies I lured my 19 year old daughter, Katrina into joining with me. A quick look at their web site, getfitwichita, provided us with information on location, times, contacts, forms to fill out and we were ready……or so we thought.
Initially we attempted the 6am class. Although I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun rise, the idea of exercising outside in the cool crisp morning air as the stars gave way to the sun was enough motivation to drag me out of bed at 5:30am. Our first class seemed reminiscent of scenes from the movie “Private Benjamin”. The instructor was dressed in fatigues, boots and a black t-shirt with an Arnold Schwartnager physique and a stoic terminator expression to match. Feeling slightly intimidated I joined the ranks of those in the back row.
We began with stretching, that seemed easy enough, but that was only the beginning. The instructor divided us into groups based on our current ability. Katrina could do 25 push-ups in one minute, she was put in the red group or the very, very physically fit group. The next level was the blue group, or the red want-to-bees. I could only do 5 push-ups in a minute, so I was sentenced to the green group, better known as the group whose get up and go was gone, (though we out numbered the reds and the blues).
Our instructor demonstrated the proper way to perform each exercise as he called out the number of repetitions each group was expected to complete and the names of the exercises. I knew I was in over my head when an exercise, named for its end result, consisted of falling face down onto the ground, jumping into a squat position, then jumping into the air, was affectionately known as a “BURPEE”. Another creative exercise was the “MONKEY SQUAT.” Placing our hands around our ankles we were instructed to raise and lower our rear ends. Although the results for this exercise are amazing I strongly recommend backing up to a wall or a tree…..its just not a very attractive exercise.
Along with the exercises we played creative running games that often combined different exercises. The hour passed quickly except when we did leg lifts and the word “rest” was used to indicate holding our legs 6 inches above the ground, (see dictionary). Perhaps the most striking difference to the other exercise classes I’ve endured was the individual attention given to participants and the resultant camaraderie.
Instructors walk around and provide guidance to make sure the exercises are done correctly. Although this meant I received a lot of unwanted attention it was provided in a very positive and supportive manner. We were constantly encouraged to keep trying and the reinforcement was contagious as we began encouraging each other.
During the one minute breaks we some instructors would tell us stories of their work-out challenges. We even learned the term “stupidly sore” which is what one feels if one over exceeds one’s limits. One instructor, Dustin Stalter, impressed us with thought provoking quotes, while we continued to exercise of course, “Humans are not physically normal in the absence of hard physical effort……..exercise is substitute cave-man activity, the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century.” Mark Ripppetoe Our instructors made this philosophy their way of life and it showed. My curiosity got the best of me and I decided to find out where BOOT CAMP came from.
Matthew Everhart is the commander of Blackhawk fitness and he answered the following questions:
Tell me about your background and the history of boot camp?
I enlisted in the Army in 1997 as a Russian linguist in the analysis and intelligence field. Much of the instruction I received was in the areas of Drill and Ceremony and physical fitness…training under a fledgling program called “Junior Leadership” It was in this program I learned I had an affinity for physical fitness and where I received my first “unit level” physical fitness certification. I served in that capacity until 2000 when I returned to Kansas State University under the ROTC program to complete my degree and receive my Commission in the Army as a 2nd Lieutenant.
When I moved here in 2006, the first thing on my mind was to get a boot camp brought to Wichita. We literally started with a A-frame sign and word-of-mouth. Since then we have expanded from one location to four, with eleven instructors, 200 participants, and some VERY exciting things rapidly approaching on the horizon.
Why is it called boot camp?
Unlike other programs who use the term “boot camp” because of it’s heavy MARKETING draw, the term Boot Camp for me and for all of my military instructors is a draw upon what we know from our experience in Basic Training. Some of the most down-to-earth, effective workouts we have had in our military careers were during Basic, of course which is known as “boot camp
Why do the instructors wear boots?
Our instructors do wear fatigues and boots and that is purposeful. We want to make the experience as motivational and productive as possible. Tough-looking instructors in that black shirt, boots and fatigues adds weight to their expertise and sets them apart as the authority on physical fitness.
How long has this been available to the public?
The program has been open to the public since July of 2007. We were working for months before that making sure our outline for the program was appropriate and that what we wanted to bring to the table would not scare people off. What we produced was a happy medium with just enough gruffness for people to take us seriously, but ample amounts of spirit, motivation, and advice to make the experience worthwhile and productive!
Did it start in Wichita and whose idea was it?
Blackhawk Boot Camp Fitness did begin in Wichita and, while it was dreamed up by me, I could not have brought everything together without my Chief Instructor, Jared Reyes, a trained LPN and retired Combat Medic in the Army. As I mentioned, the idea itself is not unique, but I believe the program we have put together IS unique in its blend of physical fitness, camaraderie, and challenge. Our drive is not to make money by producing an outdoor aerobics class, but rather bringing fitness knowledge home to Wichita. We easily reproduce results again and again through our cross-training, varied routines, and intense effort in all our classes.
What are the goals, rules, …what makes boot camp different from any other exercise program? (Except for the fact that I’m still sore.)
Our program is unique in Wichita because we provide knowledge first, and motivation a close second. All of our workouts are on our website, and MOST of those workouts don’t require any equipment. Anyone can look for the workout routine by going to getfitwichita and run through it themselves if they wanted. Our product is knowledge, motivation, and the understanding that the man or woman next to you in line is suffering just as much if not more than you are right now…when it’s over, though, our cadets have a sense of accomplishment, they know they have really done something great. On top of that, they are acknowledged for it. When was the last time you were at any local gym and you received praise or even acknowledgement for breaking a new personal record? For lifting a new maximum, for doing five more push-ups? My guess is never.
Our goals are simple:
1) Set reasonable expectations
2) Try your best, never say “I can’t”
3) HAVE FUN!
People come to us all the time expecting to lose 40 or 50 pounds during one or two of our 3-week Blocks. That’s not a reasonable or healthy expectation. It took a long time to pack those pounds on, it’s going to take a while to shed them….but we WILL get you there if you let us help you.
How has boot camp grown?
Our first test class was 30 people. When we started asking for money, that immediately plunged to 10 people…but as soon as word started getting around about out program, what the results really were, and how much we encourage people, we really started to explode. We went from 10 to 20. Then 20 to 50. Pretty soon it was regularly in the 100 range. These last two cycles, we’ve been in and around 200. It’s very exciting to see the grassroots movement take hold and inspire the people of Wichita to get out and do something.
Where do you see it going?
We have several new programs we are actually launching right now. The Boot Camp is in the infant stages of expanding outside of Wichita. We are working closely with Chris Rangel in Newton to bring Blackhawk Boot Camp to Ultimate Martial Arts up there in the coming months. In addition, we have also brought Army-renowned Combatives instructor Jeremiah Sample (Staff Sergeant, US ARMY) to Wichita. SSG Sample is in the early stages of building our Army Combatives certification course; a 40-hour course that will actually end with an official Army certification document to any one taking the course (open to anyone and everyone over 18).
Another very important announcement for us is our new Crossfit certifications and the Crossfit gym we will be opening next month here in Wichita. Crossfit (http://www.crossfit.com) is the ultimate in physical improvement. It emphasizes varied training and extremely intense levels for just 10 to 20 minutes per workout. The results (seen on their website) are phenomenal. This is not another diet fad or the next dancing-to-fitness workout. This is free-weights, hard core exercise that produces stunning results. Crossfit is the next step once you feel like you’ve conquered the boot camp!
How are your instructors trained?
Our instructors all come to us with a variety of backgrounds in physical fitness education. Most are certified in the civilian world, but all of them are qualified and certified to training physical fitness by their military components. We only hire military instructors with a background in physical fitness and our feeling on the matter is that almost anyone can go on the internet and get a piece of paper saying they are certified in something; our backgrounds and hands-on experience speaks for itself.
Along with exercise classes, guidance and encouragement, boot camp offers a diet plan that includes snacks, 3 meals a day and a day to cheat. I knew it might be asking too much to expect the marines to turn me into an Olympic athlete, but I did win a gold medal. For the first time in years I can wear my skinny girl jeans! I don’t seek to cause my aging body any more pain than nature throws at it, but if an hour a day can make me feel and look this much better I strongly encourage it. They can be reached at 316-768-4097
Article copyright © 2007 Anesthetic and Plastic Surgery PA and Paige Intyme
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