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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Local Boot Camps for Women: Making Workouts an Adventure

Nov 02, 2010 12:29PM ● By Beth Davis

At 5:30 a.m., while others are nestled in their beds, Natalie Lahnan and Sue Meredith are playing the role of Southwest Florida drill sergeants. Here, women of all ages, sizes and fitness levels brave the early morning hours to take part in an increasingly popular workout for overall fitness--Adventure Boot Camp for Women. Lahnan runs the Naples and Marco Island camp, and Meredith heads the Fort Myers camp.

The term, “boot camp,” often elicits visions of camouflage suits and a screaming drill sergeant, but this one offers the support and encouragement many women need to reach their goals. It reflects a growing trend: fitness boot camps have spread across the country as a resource for total body training that burns lots of calories and trims fat from problem areas.

Lahnan and Meredith’s Adventure Boot Camp comprises four weeks of energizing outdoor activities, combined with fitness instruction, basic nutritional counseling and motivational training. Usually held early in the morning, the one-hour sessions are designed to help participants gain strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, balance, muscular endurance and self-confidence. Meredith says the camps get back to exercise basics like running, squats, sit-ups and push-ups; she and Lahnan ensure the routines are being done correctly.

“Adventure Boot Camp is really about positive encouragement and re-powering women,” explains Lahnan. “We want to help each and every person achieve their peak wellness, physically and emotionally.”

For many women, outdoor boot camp is a fitness solution that aligns with their busy schedules and also provides an ideal setting for more private workouts. Often, women aren’t comfortable in a gym; they may feel self-conscious about their bodies or level of fitness, and fear being ridiculed. “Generally speaking, this situation doesn’t arise, as we offer a friendly, supportive and encouraging atmosphere for women of all shapes and sizes,” notes Meredith.

The opportunity to socialize and bond with other women in a similar fitness situation is a great advantage of the camps, but Meredith and Lahnan emphasize that the workouts are challenging. Because the sessions differ from what is available at a typical gym and take place outside, anything is fair game for training, so every workout is an adventure.

The camps are held rain or shine, unless lightning, high winds or other dangerous weather conditions arise. “These are not women who are afraid to get their hair wet,” comments Lahnan. “They are here for a purpose, and most are completely committed to that purpose.”

The workouts, although fun, are intense, and participants burn a substantial number of calories in a short period. According to Lahnan and Meredith, it’s not uncommon for women to lose two or three pant sizes during the four-week period.

Both women are certified National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) boot camp trainers, with strong backgrounds in the fitness industry. Offering more than just a “fitness” camp, they promote overall wellness, from proper nutrition to stress management. They hold a nutrition seminar at the beginning of each four-week session, giving women the opportunity to set goals, and then be held accountable for meeting them. “That is not something you can get at the gym,” advises Meredith.

Lahnan and Meredith agree that it’s important to avoid procrastinating about starting a wellness plan. They also note that leaving the comfort of one’s bed and getting to boot camp is half the battle.  “When that alarm goes off, you must be disciplined and committed to just get there,” says Lahnan. “Once you’re there, you start to realize why you’re there. You push yourself to the end, and although you may be tired, you feel highly energized. The drive home is a proud moment. You are on your way to a better you.”

For information about the Naples and Marco Island Adventure Boot Camp, call 239-776-2162 or visit Classes start at 5:30 a.m., Monday-Friday, at Cambier Park, in Naples and at 5:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday, at Mackle Park, on Marco Island.

For information about the Fort Myers Adventure Boot Camp, call 239-220-2269 or visit Classes begin at 5:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, at Gulf Coast Town Center, in Fort Myers.

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