Bikini Boot Camp’s intense fitness regimen will get you ready for the beach

Being a food reviewer and no longer in my party-till-I-drop days (subsisting on a steady diet of booze dancing and a gracious metabolism) recently led me to try the latest phenomenon of the fitness boot camp. You know the groups — you’ve probably seen them running around town in medium-sized packs through neighbourhood parks doing crunches on magenta fitness balls during lunch breaks or squatting for dear life after work. Ever wonder what it’s really all about? I enrolled in Calgary’s “8 weeks to Fabulous!” Bikini Boot Camp to find out. The motivation to get back into the swing of things came after a considerably difficult breakup. Feeling low both mentally and physically I needed a shake-up. Calgary’s last winter felt ridiculously long and getting outside and active was extremely appealing. In fact it was just what the doctor ordered. Let me start by saying that I used to be athletic. Over the years occasional work-outs here and there have felt like they sufficed and even though I can enjoy a visit to the gym I usually feel like an outsider there like I’m sneaking into a secret society where I don’t belong. During my initial consultation with my instructor the energetic and supportive Devon Plesuk I felt the distance runner of my youth yearning to re-emerge. She took my measurements and tested my cardio aptitude. I had a feeling of slight intimidation mixed with excitement. I knew I could be doing much more. The eye of the tiger loomed large. The eight-week 16-class course began in Sandy Beach on a beautiful 22 degrees Celsius May evening. After a quick intro to my 11 female boot camp compadres we were down to brass tacks. The kick-off? A circuit consisting of 30 crunches 15 squats armed with 10-pound weights bicep curls skipping and lunges repeated three times. In addition a massive hill climb twice. The adjustment to super human was difficult at first but by the end the rewards far outweighed my initial feelings of adversity. The second class took place at the Memorial stairs a location we often repeated. Thank god for the breeze that night which tempered the four trips up and down the stairs and the 90 prescribed push-ups. Round three happened at the Glenmore Reservoir where the drill was about the same — stairs and circuits and a rousing round of British Bull Dog. Progressing to class four at Edworthy Park the night consisted of an obstacle course amidst teens barbecuing hot dogs. Damn kids! After every class the carnivore inside me awakened. Your body needs protein after intense training. Perhaps best to skip the dog though and opt for a lean sirloin instead. With 12 classes to go some memorable sessions included a trip to Stanley Park where we experienced the hell of interval training with the deplorably named Fartlek. Pronounced fart-lick (meaning speed play) the exercise had us intermittently run for an entire class. It was exhausting but by the end we beat a rain that haunted the city for days and surpassed a big endurance challenge of the camp. My favourite session took place on the Douglas Fir Trail. The seven-kilometre run took us up lush steep inclines over grassy knolls and through pine-scented paths. I felt at the top of my game completing the run just slightly ahead of the group. Of course competition wasn’t what the course was all about — though a healthy dose of it can be quite motivating. Critics may argue that boot camps are a get-slim-quick approach to fitness. I beg to differ. Many women in the class were on their second or third sessions in need of the motivation and enjoying the results. I too am now a believer. I reclaimed my inner fitness dynamo and had fun working out in lovely Calgary locales with a small group of diverse women. By the end my cardio max and recovery were much stronger my weight and extra inches had decreased and my outlook on fitness had evolved. It was the best damn therapy I’ve ever had. Thank you to Devon and the Bikini Boot Camp team. For more information on the program visit or call 542-0790.