Sunday, 17 February 2013

Give 'fitness' camps the boot!

Boot camps.  No longer associated with places where unruly teens go to find their manners, but a place to go to push your body to the extreme in order to lose that extra stone lingering around your midriff. 
The camps have become something of a ‘celebrity’ craze and not a day goes by without a C-lister donning a skimpy, unforgiving tank top and wincing as they hurl a tyre over their heads.
Every park and open space in the entire country seems to be filled with groups of panting, sweating and growling people being put through their paces by ex-military trainers. 
Boot camp weekends, weeks and even holidays are advertised everywhere promising guaranteed weight-loss, and pronto.
At first glance the grimaces and look of pain on the willing participants’ faces would have you believe that they were having an awful time and regretting ever signing up.
However these boot camps are becoming ever-more popular with people scrambling over each other to secure a place like they are gold-dust. 
Far from being a method of torture, many describe the experience as ‘euphoric’ as they see the results of their hard graft almost immediately, with many participants losing seven pounds on the usual seven-day stints. 
Reality TV stars are cashing in on the appeal of the camps, with numerous TOWIE stars embarking on rigorous regimes from the help of boot camp trainers to lose the ‘wine pounds’ before a holiday.
The expression ‘No carbs before Marbs’ is routinely heard on the show in the run-up to their annual Marbella trip, even though the stars admit they haven’t seen the inside of a gym since their last visit. 
Pictures emerged of TOWIE’s Frankie Essex and Lauren Goodger as they were put through their sweaty paces in Ibiza, and we were kept up-to-date with their rapid weight loss while they shamelessly plug the company on Twitter. 
It seems that the camps are becoming a pre-requisite jotted on the ‘to do’ list along with the bikini-wax, so that you can have the bikini body to die for without the slog of weeks of going to the gym.
Although the camps are great for losing those stubborn few pounds in time for a special event, for those that use the camps for quick fix weight loss it could be the exercise equivalent to the yo-yo diet.
This presents its own potential health risks as well as the negative effects it has on self-esteem and confidence.
Some participants lose up to two pounds a day on these intense courses, with most daylight hours dedicated to exercise and not much time for muscle recovery. 
It’s no wonder that the results are clear in the mirror after only a few days, but what happens when the bags are packed and the mud is washed off when you get home?
Keeping up a weight-loss of two pounds a week is unhealthy and unrealistic. 
Busy work schedules and social lives don’t allow for endless hours of exercise and even if the camp inspired you to undertake an exercise regime, that feeling of ‘euphoria’ is difficult to maintain as the pounds don't fall away as easy as they did before. 
This only leads to many slipping back into a sedentary lifestyle and so, just like the reality TV stars, it’s back to boot camp when the next holiday is booked.
This can create a vicious cycle of weight loss and weight gain as fitness and health take the backseat in favour of a quick, trim bikini body. 
Boot camps can be a great way of kick-starting a regime when stuck in a fitness rut and the feeling of comradery can give you an instant confidence boost when you lack the willpower. But you need to take that willpower home with you. 
In many cases little aftercare is offered and this coupled with hefty price-tags of up to £1600 a week, it seems that some are relying on returning clientele.
As someone in the fitness field, I encourage new fun, fresh ways to exercise and that consistency is the key to successful long-term weight management.

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