[EDIT: In June 2015 Trilogy Bootcamp closed and I continued the Ravenscourt Park group as Ravenscourt Bootcamp.]
Some time ago, Ben Plenge – then a personal trainer at Gymbox Westfield, where I was teaching spin classes – approached me about joining the trainer team for his new bootcamp business, Trilogy. The year was winding its way towards winter and my response was something along the lines of ‘You want me up at what time of the morning…?’
Time passed. Ben hired other trainers and built his business. I kept teaching, eventually crashing up against the inevitable reality that, for me, this could not be both a financially and physically sustainable single income source. I needed to diversify.
So I completed my Personal Trainer qualification and took a job with a gym. It wouldn’t say it went brilliantly. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly suited to working in a gym all day. But I needed to do those months to get some solid experience, see other trainers at work and, excuse the hippy-speak, find myself as a trainer.
You see, there are a LOT of PTs being churned out of courses at the moment. I’m working in a film where every other extra seems to be one, and there are a couple of hundred of us on set. To make this job work, you have to define and nail your specialty, your target client base and know exactly what it is you can offer them – and then make sure they find you instead of the hundreds of other local PTs jockeying for their business.
Of course as a new PT, you don’t always have the answers to those Big Questions, so tend to generalise and then, if you’re anything like me, end up feel totally overwhelmed by a subject area as excessively massive as a massive thing of excess.
So I did some finding of self, and finding out a lot about clients. These were, by and large, unexpected discoveries. But I really, really missed teaching. And I started to think about bootcamp again.
Now like many people, I initially thought it would go something like this:
You know. Militant. Muddy. Murderous. It’s no secret the military would tip me out on my rear end within a week. But although Ben is ex-army he completely lacks ass-holiness so I trundled down to Ravenscourt Park to check this thing out. That was where I discovered that bootcamp can also look something like this:
More specifically, it looks a lot like people variously running around, squatting, lunging, planking, burping and collapsing in turn, but laughing throughout and apparently, to all intents and purposes, really quite enjoying themselves.
It turns out that for both participants and trainers, bootcamp – at least, Trilogy-style – is a very attractive compromise between group exercise and PT, with the added bonus (and I realise, being October, I may soon wish to retract this sentence) of being held in the glorious great outdoors.
So Ben asked me to take over his 7am Ravenscourt Park bootcamp in October.
I said: You are SO on.
Needing a few flat, I found a place near the park and moved mountains to make it my home. This was September, I’d left my current clients when I left the gym and I needed work asap.
Voila: one of Ben’s trainers left unexpectedly. Thank you Lady Serendipity.
Suddenly I was running around at 6:45am three days a week in Brook Green, Hammersmith, for the month before taking over Ravenscourt Park. Well, I say running. There certainly was running, and plenty of it, just mostly done by other people. Unlike taking group ex and closer to PT, bootcamp requires more in the way of striding and stomping about and shouting and stuff. I reckon I can handle it.
It’s been a great month, and though I’m struggling with the ‘getting early to bed’ part of the ‘getting up really really early’ deal, I am reminded that there are few better ways to start the day than with a bout of running around outside – an admission I also coax out of my campers as often as possible, for they all confess to enjoying higher levels of general awesomeness on bootcamp days. Because let’s be honest: it’s real easy to forget that when the alarm goes off and it’s still dark out.
And with Trilogy it’s not just the morning sessions that make the bootcamp a powerful tool for positive life change. In an increasingly educated and competitive health and fitness industry, prescribing and inflicting acts of exercise on people will not be enough. Coaching them through lifestyle is likely to be the next boom phase of the business. Tapping into this, Ben has designed Trilogy around an eponymous triple-edged philosophy that encompasses exercise but also lifestyle and nutrition.
Ok, so I am still failing Week 1’s Lifestyle adaptation (Get More Sleep – ref polar bear image above), sssshhhhh.
And that, my friends, is what is missing in being a group ex teacher: I certainly get to rock out people’s fitness with fun, but that 45-60 minutes and a brief chat before and after is the extent of my influence on the lives and health of my class members. What Ben has done is package a more holistic approach to health, the better to help people achieve powerful life change beyond the sweat (and optional tears) of a workout.
So it’s easy to deliver bootcamps built on these three tenements for living an empowered, healthy life. In an excellent recent interview, top PT and all-round super inspirational dude Dax Moy forecasted life coaching as the future of personal training. I’m not much for just smashing clients into the ground – though obviously happy to oblige on request. But I am all for building people up to feel more physically, mentally and emotionally resilient. To be more educated about why they come to be in the state they are. Dax talks about the necessity of not just exercising off excess weight, but of understanding why that weight is there in the first place. Sometimes it’s a matter of nutritional education. Sometimes it’s more complex than that. But that is where personal training gets really interesting.
Let’s be fair though: PT is not in the financial range of everyone. This is where a lifestyle-based bootcamp like Trilogy can be really helpful to get folks moving and thinking about their health beyond limiting patterns such as calorie counting food packets against calories counters on exercise machinery. I’m hoping to run online bootcamps once I get tech-ed out at the new place, but there’s no substitute for being outside in a challenging, supportive and educational group atmosphere.
You lot in the southern hemisphere have no excuses, embrace the summer! We of the northern hemisphere have the choice to use the weather as a limiting factor… or to wo/man up and just do it, Nike style. Bootcamps are vogue right now; certainly in London you can’t walk through a public park in the morning without dodging one or two.
If you’re thinking you’d like to get more active, need an efficient time structure to fit in with a busy life and want to start understanding more about your body and lifestyle, get yourself down to one or two for a trial session.
If you find a good one, you’re going to find results.
TRILOGY BOOTCAMPS operate in London (Brook Green, Ravenscourt Park, Ealing Common and Radnor Park) on 4 week rotations of three sessions/week (Mon, Wed, Fri) with drop ins also available: http://www.trilogybootcamp.com/
If you’re interested in online bootcamps from the comfort of your own lounge with camera link up, drop me a line: [adele at adelekirby.com]