So there you are at 7am on Saturday morning stumbling out of [insert your favorite Strip casino here], still drunk from the all-nighter when you are almost run over by a pack of thirty joggers all of whom suddenly drop to the ground and start doing pushups. On the Strip. At 7am. On Saturday morning. They are all groaning but they blast through the pushups, get up and start running again.
What the hell just happened? Boot Camp Las Vegas, that’s what.
I spent the last half of 2011 in a rut and just couldn’t get myself motivated to exercise anymore so I signed up for Boot Camp Las Vegas about a month ago. I haven’t done the Saturday Strip workout yet, but I have shown up at 6am every weekday at a park in my part of town and pushed myself to the limit with a group of fellow boot campers for a solid hour – no breaks. If you’re not doing an exercise, you’re running. If you’re doing a circuit workout, you run to the next exercise station. “There’s no walking in bootcamp!” barks John, our trainer, and he stays on us for the entire hour, forcing us to give it everything we’ve got and then some. He watches us closely and really gets to know each and every person’s fitness level so that when he has us do competitive activities we are matched against people who are equal – or very close to – our own level. It’s a very smart system and it works like you wouldn’t believe.
There’s a common misconception that programs like this are filled with mostly young people, primarily male, who can handle the intensity of the workouts, but the reality – at least in my experience – is that the group consists mostly of women of all ages from early twenties to late forties (maybe older, but I’m not about to ask…). There was even a seventy-year-old woman who did Boot Camp Las Vegas for a while then went on and traveled the world. Besides myself there are three to five other men aged from early thirties to early fifties. Most of these people have been coming to this class for years. Y-E-A-R-S. And it shows. The spirit of these folks is amazing and the endurance they demonstrate every morning is humbling and very motivating to me. Many of them tell me, when asked, that they’ve lost thirty or forty pounds or they’ve increased their 5k time by five or ten minutes. It’s really astonishing what a person can do when they put their mind to it.
On my first day (a “legs” day), after doing a half-mile warm-up jog around the park (which is nice because it’s usually chilly), I was immediately told to wrap a tow-strap around my waist and pull the tractor tire on the other end as fast as I could for as long as I could across the empty parking lot. Because of that workout I could barely walk for the rest of the week. In fact, I avoided stairs as much as possible and opted instead for handicap ramps and elevators as much as I could as I went through my week. It was hell, but in a good way. Now, nearly a month later, I’m able to handle the tractor tires a little better and I don’t get quite as sore, but every day, without fail, I wake up feeling the workout from the day before, no doubt about it. It’s totally worth it though because I’ve never felt better physically and mentally and I sleep like a baby for eight full hours every night. It’s exactly what I needed.
Yeah, I hear you; this is absolutely nuts. I won’t argue with that. Boot Camp Las Vegas is definitely not for everybody. It takes a special, almost warrior-like, mental toughness that most people, frankly, just don’t have – or at least they don’t think they do – to keep coming to these workouts, but if you’re willing to just show up, the rest takes care of itself. You’d be surprised what you can actually do, especially when you’re part of a group that is doing it right along with you. It’s a very liberating feeling when you finally beat that voice in your head that says you can’t run any farther and instead of stopping to rest you break out into a sprint and pass the person in front of you. Your body can go much farther than your mind says it can, trust me. Why just this morning my mind was telling me that I couldn’t carry that medicine ball up and down the hill another two times, and it was right; I did three more.
If you’re ever in town and you feel like maybe you want to work off that week-long Strip bender or, more realistically, if you’re in town on business and need a better workout than you’d get at your hotel’s gym, I strongly suggest you check out Boot Camp Las Vegas. You can drop in for a single day if you want or hit it up every day while you’re here if you think you’re, as they say, “boot camp tough.” In the meantime, enjoy your Stripwalking and I promise we’ll try not to run you down on Saturday morning.
You can learn more about Boot Camp Las Vegas at their website or on Facebook.