These Boots Were Made For Running

Local boot camps help kick off New Year’s resolutions

Once the New Year is rung and the champagne is drunk, the bleary-eyed revelers are faced with the dreaded, self-imposed punishment of New Year’s resolutions. Most involve self-improvement: Read more books, eat fewer beignets, give up reality television. The most common New Year’s resolution, however, is about fitness, whether it’s losing weight, building endurance or just feeling better about yourself. The problem with lofty resolutions is that, without accountability, they rarely last. These structured exercise regimes, or “boot camps,” create a committed workout routine that is both rewarding and challenging.

New Orleans Adventure Boot Camp (292-1981, incorporates fitness, nutrition and motivation into one four-week program. “(It’s) packed with fun and energizing activities designed to help you reach your fitness goals,” says Jonas Deffes of NOLA Adventure, “whether you want to lose weight to fit into that special dress, shed the extra pounds from a pregnancy or just get fit.” The classes are designed to accommodate every level of experience, from beginners to “an avid fitness enthusiast.”

NOLA Adventure Boot Camp incorporates light running, jogging, weight and circuit training, obstacle courses, core training and more. “It’s always an adventure, and you’ll always have fun,” he says.

Deffes says that he rarely encounters people who are unable to finish the program. “In order to keep people motivated you have to constantly change things up with fresh workouts to keep them interested,” he says. Typical results include a three to five percent reduction in body fat, five to 19 pounds of weight loss, 45 percent improvement in endurance and strength, improve posture, better relaxation and “100 percent gain in self-confidence.”

Such programs “can be very beneficial in continuing long and lasting habits throughout the rest of the year. Some people call it ‘boot camp’; we call it preventative medicine!”

New Orleans Adventure Boot Camp has several locations, including Uptown, Lakeview, Mandeville, Metairie and more.

Anytime Fitness (800) 704-5004, offers two different boot camp classes: a “4-Week Specialty” class, taught by Rick Decedue, and a “Mommy Boot Camp Specialty Class,” taught by Sarah Cook.

Both classes are geared toward all fitness levels and are designed to accommodate all schedules, from early birds to busy new parents.

“Each individual is able to modify the class to fit their exercise level, without pushing the less experienced too far or taking away from the more physically fit,” says Jeffrey Bealer of Anytime Fitness. “Some in the class use this as their sole exercise program and others use this as an additional exercise program added to their regular exercise routine.”

The two programs strive to offer a diverse exercise plan. “What makes (our) classes different is that Rick and Sarah continually challenge their students by adding a variety of exercises and changing time intervals,” says Bealer. “This challenge keeps the class fun and interesting, while keeping class retention high.”

Bealer says that those looking to get in shape shouldn’t wait. “The New Year is a great time to throw away old lifestyle habits and begin new healthier habits,” he says. “It is also the time to get the ‘summer’ body you always wanted … It takes time and dedication to make a change.”

Anytime Fitness has several locations in the New Orleans area, including downtown, the West Bank and the Northshore.

Elmwood Fitness Center (733-1600, takes the term “boot camp” literally – well, almost literally. Its program is appropriately called “Military Boot Camp” and incorporates similar exercise to actual military training, offering two phases of military-style routine: Basic/Boot Camp for beginners looking to increase core strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness; and Commando, designed for Basic/Boot Camp graduates training for an upcoming event or military training test. The six-week programs can result in 50 percent increase in push-up strength, 45 percent increase in abdominal strength and a 30 percent increase in running endurance.

Elmwood also features other, non-military, programs, including a “Biggest Loser” competition and  “Power of 3,” a three-month weight loss and lifestyle management program that includes 12 group training sessions per month on specialized equipment, two nutrition lectures per month and a weekly support group meeting.

Elmwood Fitness has locations in Kenner, Metairie, downtown, Harahan and more.

Jessica Cambra of Camp Sweat NOLA (214-7970, recommends boot camp classes to “anyone who wants to workout in an outdoor atmosphere with a fun group of people who keep a positive attitude and help each other push hard.” Her classes, while challenging, are also geared toward both beginners and competitive athletes. (Cambra has even trained tri-athletes and Iron Man competitors.) “I have had people of all ages and genders come to the classes. People who do the classes are typically those who get bored with the monotony of the gym or like variety in their workout regimen.”

Camp Sweat NOLA’s boot camps combine resistance exercises for both the upper and lower body with cardiovascular and core strength training.

“My boot camp is different because I offer so many different workouts using various exercise tools such as ladders, cones, logs, tires, jump ropes, as well as the addition of kickboxing which seems to be a hit,” Cambra says.

Having people complete the boot camp has never been a problem for Cambra, who says every person that has started the four-week session has finished it. The commitment is worth it, she says. “The changes I have seen in people are unbelievable. I have seen so many improvements in people’s physical abilities and cardio fitness … I also see changes in people’s attitudes all together. People come out there very scared and timid and leave with their heads up high feeling confident to take on anything.”

At Salire Fitness (821-4896,, the philosophy includes implementing the same workout philosophy with everyone, but adjusting the degrees of intensity and difficulty. “We are sympathetic to the fact that all people require exercise but not all exercisers require the same program. Our philosophy is simple but powerful; we call for ‘100 percent movement, 100 percent of the time,’” says Nolan Ferraro of Salire.

Ferraro says Salire Fitness genuinely cares about the well-being of its boot campers. “People can sense authenticity and concern, and at Salire Fitness and Pilates we have it and we stay true to it, which allows us to serve clients without treating them as just another number.” The range of participants is certainly diverse: “I also have experience working with clients from 16 years of age to 92, which allows me the experience to tailor certain aspects of my camps,” Ferraro says.

Salire Fitness also encourages the competitive spirit by offering incentives. “We try to motivate participants by offering a Free Boot Camp Challenge, where we reward a free boot camp to the participant from each of the three camps who loses the most inches cumulatively during the month,” Ferraro says.

While the benefits of participating in a fitness boot camp are many, not everyone may be comfortable with the group environment. While some thrive on the competitive and supportive environment, another, more one-on-one option is personal training. NOLA Fit 24/7 (941-7083, offers professional personal training and “can go a long way in helping someone achieve both short and long term goals,” says personal trainer and former Mr. New Orleans Aaron Williamson of NOLA Fit. “A good fitness professional will teach you along the way, not only about exercises, but also about the importance of proper nutrition and supplementation; these go hand-in-hand.  Personal training, similar to boot camp, can hold people to a level of accountability.”

Williamson has trained both world-class athletes and exercise beginners. “No matter what a person’s goal is – losing weight, becoming stronger, competing as an athlete or simply living a healthier life – my methods will get you there quick,” says Williamson. “My personal training approach is unique, intense, desirable and gives results.

Without getting too technical, I use various principles to train my clients because not everyone’s the same and not everyone wants to achieve the same goals.”

Personal training can provide several of the benefits of a boot camp, such as quickly visible results. “My clients generally begin to see and feel results in the first one to two weeks,” says Williamson. “By the end of the program, my clients are much more educated and in tune with their bodies. As a result, they’re ready to keep the progress going on their own. Personal training can be a way to get you back on track or it can be a long term journey.”

Whatever exercise regimen you choose, starting the new year off with a healthy lifestyle is one of the best ways to begin 2011 right.

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