‘Boot Camp’ - a real fitness challenge

Sarah Cliss begins her weight-watching fitness boot camp at Westwood Junior School in March.
Sarah Cliss begins her weight-watching fitness boot camp at Westwood Junior School in March.
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“COME on”, “just one more” and “the more you put in the more you’ll get out” are words that have dogged my steps - and occasionally my dreams - for the past six weeks as I’ve been put huffing, puffing and, occasionally, painfully, through my paces at Finesse Fitness Boot Camp.

The words are called out by instructors Hannah Dawson, Sarah Snow and Emma Jamieson as they put the ‘recruits’ through one of the most gruelling get fit classes I have ever tried.

Three one hour sessions a week, for six weeks may not sound much of a challenge, but for someone fast approaching 50, who has become more a couch potato than athlete in recent years, it is big.

Signing in for the first time, I truly did not know what to expect.

‘Boot Camp’ has military overtones, but then in the past I have tried aerobics, step aerobics, water aerobics, I have jogged, played tennis and even enrolled in a gym - so I’m used to physical exercise.

How hard could it be?

The first 15 minutes or so saw each ‘recruit’ weighed, measured and have their blood pressure taken - easy,

Then it began - our fitness test.

The aim of the game was to see just how fit we all were to start with - and it was a real test of stamina - and I’m sure there are rookie soldiers out there, who would have found it challenging.

We had to do as many of a multitude of set exercises as we possibly could in a minute. We started with jogging on the spot (not too bad), moved on to burpees (What? I couldn’t do more than one and then only badly), star jumps, sit ups, penguins and a whole load more - basically non-stop exercising for the rest of the hour and it was hard work.

That turned out to be just the start; from then on it was work, work and more work at each session. From the moment the recruits arrived to the moment they left at the end of each hour we were on the move and exercising.

Some sessions were more gruelling than others, but none could be described as easy. And all were accompanied by ‘encouraging’ shouts from the trainers designed to ensure maximum effort - slacking was not an option.

One particular Friday saw us trying to complete 1,200 exercises in the hour. Basically if we managed to complete every single sit-up, star jump, zombie, penguin, squat, lunge and so on in the time allotted we would have done 1,200 exercises.

Trying to count, whilst gasping for breath is not easy so I calculated (I lost count so many times) that I probably achieved around 900 - 1,000 of the total .

Walking the next day, was a challenge in itself, but to be honest as the sessions were ticked off and the weeks past I began to ache less, feel more toned and definitely fitter.

And the proof was definitely in the pudding (metaphorically speaking because ‘Boot Camp’ is about eating sensibly as well as exercising), when at the end of the six weeks we were all weighed, measured and put through the fitness test again.

I was proud to discover I had lost around 4lbs in six weeks, my measurements had all dropped - all be it by just a 1mm or 2 - and my fitness was literally leaps and bounds better.

For a start I could actually do a burpee - for the uninitiated it is where you have to jump up, jump to the ground, jump your legs backwards as in a press up, jump forward and then jump up - they were definitely my nemesis throughout the whole of the six weeks - but by the end of ‘Boot Camp’ I could at last do some.

Would I do it again - definitely, in fact I’ve signed up for the next two. I have made new friends, who proved very supportive throughout. We worked hard and had a lot of laughs along the way.

Without a doubt ‘Boot Camp’ has been one of the best forms of exercise I have ever tried, it is challenging, hard-work, muscle aching and there were times when I did think I wouldn’t survive the hour - but it was worth every minute and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to tone-up and improve fitness.