Moving to a new city with a thriving culinary scene is both a blessing and a curse: for a self-proclaimed foodie it is a godsend, but it can also wreak havoc on your waistline. I decided a change was in order to balance my proclivity for Mexican food and signed up for a round of fitness classes. Extensive research has proven that even a small amount of exercise is greatly effective in improving your mental well-being as well as improving general health and preventing disease1-2. To test this theory, Dr. Jenny Eastabrook and I embarked on a Groupon-fueled fitness journey and compared two current, popular workout regimes: boot camp and Kangoo classes.
We cautiously signed up for 30 days of boot camp classes led by former U.S. Marine Drill Sergeant, Tony A. Each class was accompanied with yelling and screaming as you squatted, crunched and held yourself in the push-up position until you thought that the quivering sensation in your bones was normal. Boot camp is an intense workout combining cardio and weight training that challenges every muscle in the body with little rest in between each set. I look back on my first meeting with Tony fondly: he threatened to kick us out of his class if we didn’t give every workout our all. Whether I worked hard in each class out of respect or out of sheer terror was hard to discern. There was no doubt that boot camp was the toughest workout I’d ever encountered, but one pleasant aspect of the class was the friendly staff and sense of camaraderie between my fellow fitness pals. Some activities required you to (literally) carry the weight of your team members as you hoisted their legs up in the air as they did push-ups on a body bar, supported by two other team members. The scary sense of not knowing what to expect at every class was both terrifying and exhilarating. All I knew was that I could expect an intense full body workout and muscles that ached for days. Although I don’t expect to be brunching on weekends with Tony anytime soon, I was grateful for his no-holds-barred approach and found that it helped in keeping me motivated during the workout.
Our next fitness challenge was Kangoo. These classes utilize a hybrid ski and springed boot allowing you to perform rebound exercises that supposedly reduce body fat, tone and firm the entire body, increase agility, and strengthen core muscles. Before our first class, I spent time watching videos of Kangoo workouts on Youtube and felt the excitement mount. The kid in me was excited by the prospect of basically being strapped to two Pogo sticks. However, my fears did include falling on my face, rear or breaking bones while attempting this class. The first time on those shoes was a challenge. The only way I felt balanced was to be in a constant state of bouncing. By the end of the class I had worked up quite the sweat and my cheek muscles (no, not those cheek muscles) were also burning from the permanent grin that was plastered on my face. Kangoo incorporated a sweaty cardiovascular workout of interval training where simple movements were repeated at different intensity levels; altogether a different workout than boot camp.
All in all, both boot camp and Kangoo delivered a fast paced and heart pumping workout! However, I would have to say that I preferred the variety offered at boot camp, even if it was accompanied with a side of fear and dread. Ending the work day with a burst of physical activity has had a positive impact on both my mental well-being and my waistline. Despite the nervousness I would encounter before and the yelling I would experience during each class, I’m a little sad that boot camp is over. Although I walked home drained and sore after each session, I also felt an immeasurable amount of pride that I had survived. I’m also happy to note that it is probably thanks to the grueling boot camp training that I was able to successfully complete my first 5K run!
1. Kenneth R Fox (1999). The influence of physical activity on mental well-being. Public Health Nutrition, 2: pp 411-418. doi:10.1017/S1368980099000567.
2. P.H. Fentem (1994). ABC of sports medicine. Benefits of exercise in health and disease. BMJ, 308(6939): pp 1291-1295.