“Orientation for the Boot Camp fitness training is on Thursday.”
“What’s the dress code?”
“Just wear something loose.”
Right, buddy. If my clothing was loose, I wouldn’t need to sign up for a Boot Camp fitness program.
My dress size has always been up and down the scale, partially from the stress of long work hours and continued spouse deployments, but mostly because my Spirit Animal is the Noble Slug. I’d be perfectly happy at my current weight, but my doctor and my blood pressure say otherwise.
The classes are led by a guy whose accent tells you his nickname before he does, but to preserve anonymity, we’re gonna refer to the cadre as Delaware and His Gang of Really Fit Women. The orientation was packed with people just like me (fat), and when Delaware mentioned the average age was 49, it was the first time I was ever happy to be below average. I spent most of my time during orientation estimating who was in worse shape than me, because that’s the person you want to stand next to during class.
The first day of class began with a lot of crying and groaning, and that was just when the alarm went off at 4:45. The class requires a minimum commitment of 3 sessions a week for six weeks, so I told myself I could do anything 18 times. I reminded myself that I’d survived Army Basic Training, and ignored the voice in my head telling me that was three decades ago.
Boot Camp classes involve a lot of circuit training, which has the advantage of making a 1-hour workout feel like it’s only 60 minutes. Since my primary exercise in the last two years has been climbing the corporate ladder, I was a beet-red, sweaty, gasping mess by the end of it. The 72 year-old by my side did her best not to laugh as she passed me on the circuit, but I could hear her telling her friends she was going to stand next to me every time.
During my attempts to breathe, I couldn’t help some of the comparisons rolling through my head – Civilian Boot Camp vs. Army Basic Training:
|Civilian Boot Camp||Army Basic Training||Advantage|
|Instructor||someone yelling||someone yelling||push|
|Work-out attire||spandex||reflective safety belt||push|
|Commitment||6 weeks||10 weeks, but OSUT is 14-16||Civilian Boot Camp|
|Who’s paying for this?||you||US taxpayer||Army Basic Training|
|Equipment||water bottle & towel||weapon and tactical gear||Army Basic Training – the gear is heavy, but you get to shoot something|
|Location||air-conditioned gym around the corner||Fort Jackson in August or Fort Leonard Wood in January||Civilian Boot Camp|
|Commute||rush-hour traffic||marching||Army Basic Training|
|Can I quit before my time is up?||yes||not really||Civilian Boot Camp|
|Where do I go when I’m finished?||work||overseas||There’s an equal chance they both suck|
|Feeling when it’s over||runner’s high||unimaginable euphoria||Army Basic Training|
I’m a week in, which means 15 more classes to go. My stamina and strength are improving, so at the current rate I can expect to actually complete one of the circuits by the time six weeks is up. In the meantime, I’ll keep my chin up, my water bottle handy, and my alarm set on ‘scare’ mode.
And I’m telling that 72 year-old to stand somewhere else.