Instructor Choice

The instructor plays a major role in motivating boot camp participants. Correct instructor selection is the most important factor for a successful boot camp and cannot be overemphasized.

Abier Burgul is a 30-year-old participant in the boot camp program at Gold’s. Burgul feels that “the team atmosphere makes it very motivating.” Does this A-team boot camp participant ever feel like staying in bed on cold winter mornings? “Yes, but if you have a good instructor, you hear them in the back of your mind so you get up!” Burgul replied. “Our instructor has always been very motivating. If it weren’t for him, I certainly wouldn’t be running up stairs with a 10-pound sack of bricks.”

While Lewis, a boot camp instructor for Fitness & Image Results, exhorts his female troops to work hard during cold winter mornings, he is certainly not the stereotypical, in-your-face drill sergeant. Lewis loves motivating people to be the best they can be. “If I can change a person’s physical appearance, I am sure this can translate into other aspects of their lives,” he says.

Frog’s Allman says, “The main quality I look for in an instructor is that they be good with people. The same personal qualities apply as in other group exercise classes.” Trader adds that, “A good instructor should be reliable and dependable — you shouldn’t have to worry whether your instructor will turn up on cold mornings.”

While discipline is important, the more aggressive approach associated with real military boot camps is frowned upon. Both Trader and Allman agree on a more humane approach to exercise.

“Any yelling, shouting or insults are done very much in a joking fashion. There is a smile behind every command,” Allman explains. “We certainly don’t have our instructors go around calling everyone maggots,” adds Trader.

“While prior military experience may be an advantage, instructors should also be qualified in first aid and have a background in exercise science,” says Allman. First aid certification is definitely essential. The group may be quite a distance away from the club setting where first aid supplies are not available. Exercise science knowledge and a certification are also sound requirements for boot camp instructors. They should be able to determine appropriate intensity levels for individuals within the group and to prescribe the correct exercises in extreme temperatures.