The Boot Camp Diaries

In an effort to ditch the baby weight, I recently started taking boot camp classes.

The classes take place in one of those industrial, open-space gyms that I thought only existed in my nightmares, and are a mixture of crossfit and pure, unadulterated hell.

Nestled above a Chinese restaurant on one of Toronto’s busiest strips, the gym is a large, windowless box with concrete walls and little ambiance. Across the rubber-padded floor rest various, increasingly imaginative torture devices- from giant tires, to sledgehammers, to dangling gymnastic rings. A thick strip of astro turf runs inexplicably, terrifyingly, down the middle. 

The central radio unleashes a steady onslaught of adult-contemporary hits, and a single metal fan provides the only, pitiful source of ventilation. Near the front of the room is a chalkboard, listing each day’s unique menu of misery. Exercise terms like “Power Cleans” “Weighted Jacks” and“ “Inchworms”  taunt you like creatively-named death sentences, exacerbated by the insane numbers of repetitions scrawled in the margins. 

Needless to say- the combined effect is my own, personal torture chamber.

My general philosophy

Alas- this baby belly isn’t going to eradicate itself, so twice a week at 7 am, Stephen- a fiery welterweight with seemingly boundless energy- leads us through an hour of cruel and unusual punishment while I internally weep and say silent prayers to St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

A typical workout consists of three “rounds”, and although they vary each day, it’s a pretty safe bet that each will contain some combination of the following exercises:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Push-Ups
  • Pull-Ups
  • Lifting heavy sh*t
  • Some form of Crawling or jumping;
  • generally wanting to die; and- the WORST:

My boyfriend and I (yes, he’s in on this too. Misery loves company, people) have been going for a few weeks now, and we’re starting to recognize a regular cast of characters. There’s the overly-opinionated middle-aged lady who unreasonably believes everyone is “stealing her free weights”, the tatted-up gay couple who are impossibly ripped (and impossibly cute), and a few former university athletes who boastingly sport the swag of their respective alma matters.

And then there’s us. While we’ve run a few 10ks and consider ourselves reasonably fit (mistaken pregnancy notwithstanding), we certainly weren’t prepared for this type of workout. After our first class, we both couldn’t move for nearly a week. (Although, I do consider the time we spent massaging one another’s calves and writhing in pain while watching Diners Drive –Ins and Dives a true bonding experience.)  

To his credit, Stephen, has been incredibly patient and encouraging with both of us; explaining each exercise and instructing on proper form. He’s also been a terrific cheerleader- especially with me.

Guys, I am not exaggerating when I say I am the WORST at boot camp. I am invariably the last one finished each round, and that’s even AFTER modifying all of the exercises. (Don’t look at me like that. I’d like to see YOUr a$$ do a real pull-up).

Given I am competitive in nature and generally think I am the best at everything, being confronted with my own inadequacy is somewhat devastating. It would be OK if I thought I was getting better, but I honestly feel like I might be regressing. Every week I seem weaker and weaker. I’m like the Benjamin Button of exercise.

The other day in class, I was sitting on a giant tire lamenting my inadequacy, when Stephen came over to me. “How you doing?” he  asked “good?”

“Yeah…” I responded quietly

“It’s ok to take breaks. Don’t worry about what they’re doing,” he said, pointing to my fellow boot camp members, “don’t compare yourself to them. Just think about you. If they’re not taking breaks, they’re not working hard enough. I think you’re doing great”. 

It felt like I had somehow been transported into a scene from a motivational sports movie. Like Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid- Stephen had inspired me to get up and flip that tire once more- this time with the heart of a champion.

The whole thing was sort of emotional.

Anyhow- I still suck at boot camp, but now when I want to give up, instead of doing this:

I just listen to Stephen’s voice back in my head saying:

… and if that fails, I just close my eyes and think about pizza.

Mmmm. Pizza.

Question of the Day: What is the most challenging workout you’ve ever done?


20 thoughts on “The Boot Camp Diaries

Add yours

  1. I applaud the effort you put into you’re putting into your posts these days; if only you could transfer that motivation into boot camp, eh?

    Years and years ago I used to do kickboxing, with each session lasting two hours. The first hour would kill me, leaving me struggling for the second hour. It was rockhard and I always had a good night’s sleep afterwards.


  2. The gym I go to now – all class based like kettle bells or TRX or something called a gravity machine. I think some of the ab exercises on the TRX are actually impossible – but i pretend/try to do them every week. My instructor keeps saying next week it gets easier but it doesn’t. It doesn’t help that only fit and thin people go to my gym so I don’t want to be the pudgy quitter.


    1. omg YES to all of this. I also feel like some of the exercises we do are actually impossible but I just do something that looks sort of like it and hope I get away with it! Good for you for killing it though! PS I laughed to myself again when I saw your comment and thought about the “Adraub” moment


  3. YOU ARE A BRAVE SOUL. It sounds nice to tackle something like this with your partner…but seen as mine can run 20k and I’ve never moved a day in my 20-year-old life, it might be unrealistic. Keep it up 🙂


  4. Why? Why do we (not me) put ourselves through this? Look what it’s called: “Boot Camp.” BOOT CAMP! That is not a fun thing. When in your life are you going to need to flip a truck tire? Never, that’s when.
    Walk, bike, eat sensibly, the end.
    I should be a demotivational speaker…


    1. I hope I will never have to flip a truck tire but you just never know what life has in store, do you? I’ve also been doing yoga which is a nice counterbalance. My favourite part is when you lie on the mat for 10 minutes motionless at the end, and then get up “using as little effort as possible”


  5. My hardest workout is putting down my whiskey and flipping the channel on my remote to the news channel. I guess that is why I’m losing the Fat Ass Dads Challenge here…


  6. Running1/2 mile intervals was like powerlifting in the running world…or like getting punched in the gut. And taking a Spinning class for the first time was unforgettable. (I can do this, I can do this, I can do this) My legs cursed me for days!


  7. Challenging workouts I’ve done but ultimately enjoyed were anything from the Go Ruck training plan. There is a 6 week training plan you can find for free on their website ( Some of the workouts can last 90 minutes which is annoying but its all military inspired and uses lots of bodyweight so you can do some of it without needing to go to the gym!


  8. Oh god. Everything about this sounds just AWFUL!
    Must make it easier knowing your boyfriend is suffering with you, though.
    I think that is awesome that your trainer is so encouraging – and he’s right, you can only compete with yourself, or you’ll just give up on the whole thing.
    I think that’s one of the reasons I have never considered boot camp, it automatically brings army sergeants into my mind, and I don’t want to be that girl who cries at the gym.


    1. haha me neither- but I have come mighty close on a number of occasions!! It does help that hes there too, and it gets me out of the door in the morning. I don’t think I’d even go if it weren’t for him lol

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When I started training for Mud Hero, I thought I would die…and it was a group of Moms in the church basement! But I kept going, here and there at home, and I survived the run. I keep thinking I should do it again…

    Does eating cheesecake count as a workout? It would be more fun…


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