Bootcamps- Bah humbug

Let me be frank. Better yet, let me be DeeAnn and speak directly and honestly to you about bootcamps. I wrote this post about 7 years ago and have decided to revisit it, because I feel as strongly today about bootcamps as I did 7 years ago. My intention in writing a post like this is to get us to think about what we are doing and not doing, and how we have blindly followed an industry that has led us right into an epidemic of diet-related disease and sickness and physical breakdown because they refuse to stop doing the same broken weight loss formula over and over for decades. As a result, the diet, fitness and health industry has led to mass confusion, apathy and the steady decline in health and fitness in generations of men, women and children. In fact, bootcamps, in and of themselves, are the end result of a complete fragmentation of self, the misunderstanding of exercise and a genius marketing campaign built on making money off our confusion surrounding health, muscle and exercise.

Okay, maybe I have a little anger towards bootcamps. Perhaps, it would be honest to say that I have growing contempt for bootcamps, because they have continued to undermine our understanding of health, prevent us from practicing the basics and distract us from a growing epidemic of diet-related disease and sickness that cannot be solved or effectively addressed in a gym. Truthfully, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of why I hate bootcamps. Yes I said it-Hate!

I left the gym about 7 years and after a 15 years of working in the health and fitness industry. Over the last 22 years, I have watched the steady decline of health and fitness in my friends, fitness club patrons and population at large, while watching an entire industry make no adjustments other than offer more extreme classes and employ more extreme trainers with little to no understanding of how the body works and should be instructed to work and thrive in our every day lives. Consequently, this type of nonsensical training has done nothing to stop or prevent diet-related disease and sickness, but has, from look of it, done everything to help further the fragmentation and dumbing down of our understanding and sabotage any real gains in health and fitness in the mass majority of Americans.

I have to think that we haven’t thought about bootcamps and why they are really the absolute worst of what the health and fitness industry has to offer, and why we should refuse any and all bootcamps if we are really wanting to transform our “health.” Below are just a handful of reasons why I believe that bootcamps are not only dangerous, but useless to prevent, reverse and treat the diet-related disease and sickness affecting 88% of Americans.

Reason #1: A “specific exercise program or workout” is not something that should break you down. Instead, an exercise program or workout should be well thought out and based on your daily life. It should include specific goals to carefully work you through a full range of motion with well planned exercises that strengthen and stretch the entire body simultaneously to improve foundational movements and foundational strength. The right exercises done correctly with proper timing, posture and alignment should help a person’s daily movements become better and more efficient over time, because these exercises will help correct timing, posture and alignment.

Reason #2: The fitness industry is flooded with “trainers” who don’t know how to create the right program for you, because they only know what they experienced from their own high school sports careers or from somebody else’s sports career.

Reason #3: When you have an industry flooded with people who need to make money, then their bootcamp must be “different and insane and that only the toughest and most dedicated people can handle.” This type of requirement sets up a disaster from the start.

Reason #4: Most trainers are ignorantly and arrogantly promoting and making money off men and women who think that “muscle confusion” is a real thing.

Reason #5: Bootcamps are based on the failed theory that you CAN out-exercise a bad diet and the more you kill yourself, then the more you don’t have to watch what you eat. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “I did my bootcamp today so I’m ok to eat this crappy food”…I’d be ridiculously rich. Every good and bad trainer knows that exercising for an hour or bootcamps of any severity on their own DO NOT make a difference in weight-loss. In fact, the good trainers know that if you really want to help your low back pain and give your knees a break, then quit eating crap and for the love of Nikes -quit doing burpees, planks and jump squats when you have serious weight to lose.

Reason #6: Bootcamps do the right exercises wrong and the really dumb exercises wrong too (burpees, anyone?).

Reason #7: Bootcamps never address or train an individual’s foundational level of strength, posture or alignment. And to put either Mary the stay-at-home mom who can’t sit, stand or walk correctly or Phil who sits behind a desk for eight hours a day, through the exact same complex moves and strenuous exercises like burpees, box jumps, overhead presses, deadlifts and bar squats… is nothing short of insanity.

Reason #8: Bootcamps breed an atmosphere and mentality that is all about “killing yourself.” Who cares if your form sucks during a 100 rep bicep-curl challenge or if your knees and back are compromised in your max-out deadlift competition? In this competitive “grind it out, no pain no gain” atmosphere, your body should hurt because pain is no longer a signal or indication that something is wrong. Instead, pain means that exercise is working as it should.

Reason #9: Bootcamps don’t teach you how to take care of your body. In all seriousness, how can you learn to listen to your body and understand how it works when boot camps aren’t concerned with those things? How can you tell if you’re learning to do an exercise with proper breathing, posture, form and alignment, if you have a different routine every day or you being timed and trained in a group of people?

Reason #10: Bootcamps are about mental confusion to keep you believing that really stupid exercises are a good and necessary part of a daily exercise routine. Most bootcamps are built on a handful of exercises that are thrown up on a board without any understanding of how the body works or how a person needs to move in their daily lives, and these exercises do absolutely nothing to encourage, nourish or help exercise become the gift that it is designed to be to help you remember who you are and how you are naturally designed to be healthy, whole, holy and human.

Reason #11: Regular everyday and normal person exercises should never be something that primes you for injury, breakdown or to stop exercising.

I wonder how many shitty and stupid bootcamps have scared millions of people away from exercising and discovering the right ways to take care of their bodies.

Yes, I am saying it…Bootcamps are not how you are designed to exercise and should never be part of a daily, weekly or monthly exercise routine.

Boot camps… bah humbug.

Finally, a new year is quickly approaching and before it starts let’s make a plan to go a new way to discover the gift of exercise and create the space to receive and give this gift to nourish not just our bodies, but our spirits, hearts, minds and relationships. This is what real exercise does, it moves us to give our time, talents and truths to love and encourage ourselves and others.

Join me in January!

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