Viewed from above, Basic Training’s fitness boot camps look like a track meet designed by worker ants. On the ground, participants bound over hurdles, crawl through obstacle courses, and wield heavy objects such as sandbags, sledgehammers, and beer kegs. In actuality, these workouts are designed by a human fitness expert: Rodney Carson, a drill instructor who has trained at military bases such as the Army National Guard Camp San Luis Obispo and the United States Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.
Based on the Marine Corps physical-training regimen, his boot camps propel participants toward fitness goals while boosting their confidence and breaking their bad habits. Many workouts draw from his experiences preparing for track-and-field events, such as the International Masters Track Circuit, where he won three gold medals for his speedy footwork. Calories melt during his boot camps’ sprints and fartlek runs, and bodyweight exercises make muscles more ripply than an ocean preparing a shaken martini. During field-meet days, dodge ball, kickball, and tug-of-war battles jump-start workouts with an extra dose of fun.
Experienced instructors lead each session, inspiring the group with friendly shouts, hearty claps, and tips on form and technique. In addition to helming camps for civilians of all fitness levels, Rodney and his crew train first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, and soldiers, during special-operations sessions.
Upon entering the 25,000-square-foot Club Fit USA facility, guests are greeted by a sea of cardio equipment whirring beneath the glow of TV screens. Past the ellipticals, treadmills, and StairMasters lie Hammer and Icarian strength-training machines alongside Olympic bars and more than 6,000 additional weight plates to help guests carve out chiseled physiques. Within the combat ring, instructors lead boxing, MMA, and professional-style wrestling classes throughout the week, as well as cardio-intensive Civil War reenactments. The instructors also lead groups in myriad exercise classes, and for more personalized fat-burning routines, they work with clients in one-on-one personal-training sessions to draft custom fitness plans. Beyond the gym’s walls, the trainers strive to keep clients healthy with online nutrition tips and articles.
Twenty-five years in martial arts and sports training will get you a chiseled body and a cool nickname. Just ask Chris "Knuckles" Jones, a one-time professional MMA fighter who now draws on his experience to spread the gospel of muscle at Knuckles Fitness. Chris?or "Knuckles," rather?only trains students in one-on-one sessions or in small groups, as undivided attention is among his several keys to success. Another key is variety, which is why he keeps bodies guessing with classes that range from mitt training to high-intensity speed and agility workouts. One of his most popular options remains the women's kickboxing boot camp, in which ladies tone their muscles by kicking bags, picking them up, and carrying them to the E.R.
Having been a personal trainer for many years, Veronica "Bean" Harrah found herself tired of the same old gym experience. So, she decided to start her very own gym, offering workouts that kept her excited. With her business partner Sara Harrah, Bean founded Urban Flex Fitness. She and her staff teach TRX suspension training and spin sessions. The extremely versatile TRX harnesses help students build strength, core stability, and flexibility by leveraging their own body weight. Spin classes focus more on increasing cardiopulmonary fitness, simultaneously strengthening the heart and lungs to ensure neither becomes so powerful as to usurp the brain. Urban Flex Fitness also offers boot camps and boxing.
During her college years, Kristin Walton—like most students—gave into the lure of alcohol and fast food, which led to the dreaded freshman 15...and then some. With her jeans fitting a bit too snuggly, the former competitive synchronized swimmer knew she needed to make a change. She started with yoga a few times a week, but it wasn’t downward dog that sparked her weight-loss—it was a local boot camp. From there, Kristin cleaned up her diet, enhanced her muscle definition, eventually shed 40 pounds, and gained a NASM personal training certification.
Today, she returns the favor by running her own boot camp and personal training facility, where she coaches students of all ages and athletic abilities through circuit-style training that uses body-weight exercises, kettlebells, and TRX training machines. Unlike traditional boot camps, Kristin trades in a hoarse throat and steam-emitting ears for heart-pumping music and constructive motivation; she never lets a student perform a move incorrectly and always helps less experienced exercisers make adjustments. She also doles out one-on-one advice and motivation during personal training sessions and directs clients to a blog full of healthful recipes.
When Sandra Augustin started training for her second Tri-Fitness competition, she needed a change of pace. She began working out outdoors, jogging along the beach, lunging through parks, and scaling the flag poles at local elementary schools.
She drew a crowd. Friends and passersby started joining in, inspired by her enthusiasm and charisma, and soon a regular Sunday group formed, dubbing themselves S.A.S.S. (Sandra Augustin's Sacramento Sisters). The unexpected support group transformed her training into a motivating, communal experience that Sandra wanted to extend the community. Thus, her gym was born.
Today, Sandra keeps that same spirit alive in group fitness classes and personal-training sessions. She makes use of body-weight resistance exercises, cycles, and cardio-intensified yoga—a style she designed herself—to help her clients sculpt their bodies and rehabilitate their energy levels. She continues to compete internationally in fitness competitions, and organizes a local Hero Challenge obstacle course, an event that pits civilians against the tests used to train police officers, firefighters, and batmen.