Crossfit vs. Bootcamp


_42422268_ap416varnaIt’s spring and you’re ready to make a change. Your out-of-shapeness and complete disdain for your reflection have hit an all time low – you are ready to find the old you. The you that previously didn’t own so many chins or cottage cheese thighs. But where do you start? There’s certainly no shortage of options to try.  If you’ve eliminated ZUMBA, Yoga, Triathlons, road biking or running marathons as exercise options then maybe Crossfit or Bootcamps are for you?

Um. Crossfit is okay if you like that ripped, chiseled look.

Um. Crossfit is okay if you like that ripped, chiseled look.
(can’t find a photo credit but these are Redman, Hugo, Matt and Leon, The Naturaletes)

Crossfit, the wildly popular choice among 30-40 year olds that are ready to recapture their physiques is the top trend right now. You’ll hear everyone from out of shape moms to mega superstars attributing their success to signing up at their local box and ‘killing themselves’ and loving it. It’s an intense program with great team support and gives you back your mojo. I’ve been a Crossfit instructor for the last 5 years and I’ve had super success and helped lots of people find at least one ab and sometimes more. What’s not to like?

Some people think it’s a bit pricey at $140/month for a membership but the classes are small and the trainers are there to help you. It’s still cheaper then hiring a personal trainer which can cost between $40-$100/hour depending on where you live.

Some people say the workouts are intimidating which can be true if you show up at the gym to witness fire-breathers throwing down 2 minute fran times. If you walk in on handstand, weighted pull-up day, you might walk out with the idea that you aren’t ready for monkey-like, chin-ups but that’s why crossfit has an introductory class program.

Some people would say they have prior injuries, Crossfit is going to make them feel worse. This might happen but if your instructor understands what you’re up against they will help you scale down the workout so it’s manageable.

Sounds like Crossfit would be perfect for anyone. But I’m going to say, it’s not. It’s not ideal if you have chronic back or shoulder injuries, it’s not great if you are over 65, it’s probably not a good fit if are self-motivated and don’t need to fork out the coin to have someone make you work hard. But it is super, awesome, fantastic if you love to push yourself, are relatively injury free and enjoy being part of a group with a common goal of getting fitter, healthier and more confident with every workout.

Oh look, they're resting. No wait. It's bootcamp planks.

Oh look, they’re resting. No wait. It’s bootcamp planks.

Okay, let’s say you aren’t quite ready for pull ups and clean and jerk. You know you want to get fit, you enjoy group comraderie and you like a good butt kicking – welcome to Bootcamps. They are fast, easy to find and affordable. Lots of people attend these indoor / outdoor group training sessions. They use less weight training and more body weight based programs. Often you can pay as you go and the structure allows you to jump in without learning any complicated moves.

Some people will say there’s no accountability because the classes are so large. This may be true but check around and see if you can find one that has a maximum class size and remember $8-$10 is still an affordable way to get started.

Some people say that they can’t even keep up with the easiest group. This might be true but you can always walk or rest when the workout is too tough. A good instructor should be able to give three option levels for every exercise.

Some people say it isn’t hard enough. This may be true but you can always intensify by pushing harder on each exercise section.

So maybe bootcamp is the answer? Or maybe not. Bootcamp is a great way to get started but it’s not nearly as defined in how it willl help you. For some, there is just too much cardio and they would see greater benefit from lifting weights. You might be a person that doesn’t like to get yelled at and some bootcamps offer a lot of yelling. There are less options so the workouts might become repetitive or boring. Bootcamps fit a broader range of starting types but without the defined goals of other programs you may be left wanting.

So which is better. Neither. Bootcamp might be a stepping stone to restart your exercise program. Crossfit might be a stepping stone to getting back into a sport. A personal trainer might be what you need if you want a direct approach to your end goal.  Each one has it’s place and value to the individual. Be wary of any program that claims to be perfect for everyone. This just simply isn’t that case for anything in life.

Baby number three. We call her Monkey.

Baby number three. We call her Monkey.

I did crossfit regularly for 3 years but after having our third baby, I needed something a bit easier on my body. Body-weight workouts (squats, push ups, pull ups and interval training along with once or twice a week yoga classes) were what I needed to get my fitness in check.  I have lots of clients that just want personal training and there are plenty that love the Crossfit atmosphere. Other’s start with the bootcamps because they learn so many easy ways to replicate programs they can continue on their own or branch off into another sport.

I recommend that you always start with your end goal in mind. Choose the result, focus the effort. Talk to someone that can guide you to a starting point that will help you get the results you are seeking.

And now I will wait. Wait for the emails from 70 year old crossfitters that have never felt better and Bootcamp attendees that have never been bored and lost 80 pounds and maybe even a personal training client that was saved by their trainer and it was worth every penny. And I say bring it – because all I want for you is success no matter how you choose to get healthier.

What’s your vote? Bootcamps, Crossfit, Zumba, Triathlons, personal trianers? Let me know and if you have any questions shoot me an email!



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