Urban legends have it that you have to get in shape before you workout with a pro. This is false. You do not need to pre-train for a personal training session, and the same goes for bootcamps. In fact, when you and your workouts have been “on a break” for a bit, you may actually run less of a risk of injury because your muscles are fresh and not over-used.
But when the idea of huffing through a bootcamp paralyzes you with fear of crippling pain or extreme pratfalls, you might want to try these tips from Chicago bootcamp instructors. Whether or not to brave the spandex is up to you.
- Tip #1: Stretch – before AND after. There is a difference between muscles that are not over-used and muscles that are not used at all. Unused muscles do not like being messed with and to protect themselves, they pull together like they have some serious money riding on a game of Red Rover. Calm them down by coaxing them into working for you before, and then smoothing them out when you are done. Antonio Velez, of Chicago Fitness Training says your pre-bootcamp routine should start with some small plyometric movements, like jumping jacks, to ready yourself for an intense workout. Rolling out of bed and driving to a bootcamp without warming up is a recipe for vomiting.
- Tip #2: Channel your inner flamingo. Because many bootcamp exercises are done with body-weight only, instructors maximize the resistance by using unilateral exercises. This way you are pushing your whole weight with only one side of your body at a time. This means you may have to balance yourself on one foot more often than you normally do. To get that cardiovascular intensity that bootcamps love so much with body-weight only, instructors also use some fancy footwork in their running drills. Unless you are a dancer, a tightrope-walker or a yogi, it may be time to practice some balance moves. Healthy Progress Systems owner and personal trainer, Ralph S. Klisiewicz suggests strengthening your core first with an exercise like plank.
- Tip #3: Know your limits. You are the only person in your class who can tell you when it’s time to stop, sit down or drink some water. Bootcamp instructors will keep pushing you because that is their job. They can’t know if you are in real pain or if you are about to pass out because that is your job. Overuse injuries happen when you push yourself too hard, and this extends to what you do outside of bootcamp. Your body does not forget things like when you ran an extra mile on Saturday or when it hasn’t had a rest day for two whole weeks. Bootcamps are designed to work the total body to fatigue in every session, so plan your light workouts and rest days around your bootcamp schedule, and if you experience pain during a session, do not push through it. As Bulldog Bootcamp Fitness Program puts it, “stop when your body senses something is wrong.”