Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Few, The Proud, The Marine Workout: Review of Warrior Fitness Bootcamp

Lately I have been wanting to try workouts that are out of my comfort zone, and since that category would most certainly include military-style bootcamps, I decided to check out Warrior Fitness Bootcamp!

Warrior Fitness Bootcamp, as it's name implies, is a hard-core bootcamp which includes running, circuit training, free weights, calisthenics and a complete obstacle course designed to ensure that you are trained like a marine. You know they are not kidding around when you discover that your instructors will be former marines Alex Fell and Ruben Belliard.

I arrived at it's midtown location early and signed a waiver. I started to laugh when I came to the line stating that 'death and dismemberment can occur.'

The receptionist, noticing me laugh, assured me, "Nothing like that has ever happened." I kept chuckling as I signed my life away.

I spent the next few minutes surveying the space. It was remarkably clean. When I think "military bootcamp" I think grungy, and dirty, but this place was nothing like that.

I then saw the monkey bars...

Hmm. I moved on.

Next up? Some hurdles, arranged in ascending height order, that looked like I would have to vault over very soon. And some tall-ish walls which looked as if they would require some scaling shortly....


There was also a climbing rope...

A stack of tires...

And an area containing free hand weights, medicine balls and body bars.

In between the weights and the body bars there was what appeared to be a large, green backpack...which looked rather heavy.

This was not looking good, and, admittedly, I was a little nervous! To ease my nerves I chatted with the other bootcamp participants. It was a small class and there were five of us in total. All the others were regulars and told me that while this was a really hard class, they loved it. Okay, I thought, let's get this party started.

At 930am on the dot, Alex, our instructor, came in and told us to start running laps around the obstacle course.

Bootcamp was in session.

In the next hour I did many laps around the obstacle course, at times sprinting, at times side-stepping and at times bear crawling (this was brutal). I also ran up 10 flights of stairs (twice!), scaled some walls, one of which must have been a little more than 6 feet high and traversed two sets of monkey bars. In between these endeavors  the group would gather on an area demarcated for floor-work and we would do sets of jumping jacks (30 or 40 reps/set) where we would have to loudly count each repetition. We would repeat the pattern when we did push-ups (25 reps/set), jump-squats and mountain climbers, counting each repetition out aloud as we struggled and grunted.

At one point we lay on a large tire and did overhead chest presses using the free hand weights. Later, we were partnered with each other and had to do 100 sit-ups simultaneously, facing each other, while passing a medicine ball back and forth between us. Good times!

Often people are turned off by the yelling that goes on at bootcamps. Yes, there is some yelling in this class but it was all very good-natured and motivating. I never once felt singled out. Alex, our instructor, was like a personal trainer. He kept an eye out on every single member and provided individual modifications, making things tougher for the more experienced and easier for the newbies like myself. I also really liked the other class participants. Even though it was my first time there I felt such a camaraderie. Everyone was cheering each other on. We were all on one team and were in it together.

The Good:
1. The workout: I think this is a fantastic workout. You will go through intense cardio drills, lots of resistance training and learn to build endurance. Whether you are looking to lose weight or just gain strength, you will find it here. It's also a lot of fun, and the workout is switched up a little in every class so you will not be bored!

2. The instructor: I thought Alex was great. He was tough, but encouraging and tried to push us to our maximum ability without it ever being too much. I also really appreciated how he watched over everyone, whether it was to adjust someone's form or encourage someone else to push further.

3. The space: The studio is very clean. Also, it's in a very central location, smack in Herald square so it's easily accessible.

The Not-so-Good:
1. Expensive: It isn't cheap but you are getting what is practically a personal training session at a fraction of that cost.

I enjoyed this class a great deal. It was hard as hell but I absolutely loved it!  The hour flew by without me even noticing and I left with a huge endorphin rush. In the past I have always shied away from military-style boot-camps for a number of reasons. The yelling. The drills. The fatigues. I just never found it appealing. I am so glad I decided to throw out all my preconceived notions and try this class. Because for one hour I was working out like a marine and it was awesome!