A few weeks back, as the weather was getting warmer, my ass and I sat down and had a chat. Yes that’s right, my ass and I discussed how we’d both like to get not only into last summer’s shorts… but also into a bikini. Apparently my diet of PBR, burritos and Chinese takeout along with my lighting-a-cigarette, searching-for-the-remote workout regime hadn’t worked the wonders I’d hoped for.
With a little research I found a solution to my problem: Stacy Berman’s Boot Camp. Stacy Berman is the top female trainer for New York Sports Club, whom after going through a Navy Seals boot camp decided to start one of her own. I didn’t really know what to expect from the class but I coughed up a month’s worth of beer money, $250, and decided to give it a go.
Day 1: When I arrived in Central Park I was a little surprised at what I found, or rather didn’t. What, no camo? No dog tags, no whistle? Is this aerobics in the park? How wrong I was. At 7:30pm sharp, Stacy had the 15 of us — men and women from uptown, downtown and Brooklyn — run through Central Park. I thought the class was going to be full of yuppies but instead it was a mix of young and old, hipster, former athletes and ex-"Krispy-Kremers" like myself. It was an hour of intense "military-style" exercise that included push-ups, pull-ups, squats, abdominal work, jogging and jumping jacks. Even though the exercises were basic it was the toughest thing I had done in a long time. I realize now that Stacy was going easy on us that first day.
Day 2: 9am, Saturday Morning I made it, hung over, sleepless, but alive, thinking "running, sit-ups, I can handle this." But Stacy, relaxed, rested and ready, smiled as she informed us that every class would be just a little different, to prevent our muscles from getting used to a routine… and increase the possibility that I would lose my Jack and Cokes from the night before.
A few million quick sprints ended the session, leaving me collapsed on the ground, panting. "Why am I doing this to myself?" I asked. "Just to fit into some pants or look good in a bathing suit?" I blamed society.
Day 3: After surviving week one, I thought I could handle anything, until Stacy, clapping and smiling, said, "Alright everybody Suicide Drills!" They’re called that cause if you survive without vomiting you want to kill yourself. During the drill, my heart pounding in my ears, barely able to breathe,, I wanted to give up, but then one of my classmates yelled, "Come on, you can do it, just a little farther!" It sounds hokey but having someone else, or 15 other people, tell you how great you’re doing really makes a difference. It was a tough workout, but I hadn’t gone drinking the night before, and I’d been eating healthier without even thinking about it. I found my desire to be unhealthy quickly dissipating.
Day 4: We were all working a lot harder and for the first time finished our run without faltering. Whenever I wanted to stop I heard Stacy’s voice: "It’s all in your mind, your body can handle much more than you think." But I also couldn’t stop thinking about the garbage bag and backpack she told us to bring the next class…
Day 5: While I could feel myself getting healthier and stronger, I just couldn’t give up my Friday nights — so there I was again, red-eyed and exhausted.
Running proved extremely difficult, and at one point Stacy had one of my classmates carry me on her back uphill. ‘Are you kidding me?’ I thought, ‘you want me to hop up on this tiny girl’s back?!’ And I did, all the way to our destination — a huge sandbox. It was then I realized where the backpack and garbage bag came in.
"Ok everybody, fill your bags up 15 pounds!" Stacy yelled out.
We filled the bags and ran with them over our heads, arms extended. We incorporated the bag into our workout of lunges, squats and yes, even our sit-ups. My abs did things that day I never knew were possible.
Day 6: I had begun to notice my clothes getting looser throughout the bootcamp… specifically when I almost lost my shorts. It was testing day and not only were results apparent in my weight loss, the same could be said for everyone in the class’s. We were all running faster, stopping less, doing more sit-ups and pushups, and pushing each other to do more.
Day 7: Just when I thought Stacy had exhausted the physical torture handbook, she proved me wrong yet again: Running uphill? Old news. Bear-crawling up steps? Snore. But imagine sprinting and having a fellow boot camper jump on your back while you run laps? And if you dropped them during your run you both had to do pushups and then switch. True story. The class ended with all of us very tired and very curious as to what our last day held in store, but also a little sad that it was coming to an end. Who would have thought that I actually could look forward to going to an exercise class, let alone "boot camp?"
Day 8: The last day, and sadly my last Saturday, of boot camp. We got to class and Stacy ran with us to the Central Park fountain. When we got there we did all the usual but using the steps in ways that "no piece of gym equipment" could work for us. We did sideways bear crawls up the steps while tourists looked on and snapped photos of the crazy people in the park. Class ended and some of us exchanged emails and we all chatted with Stacy a bit.
Boot camp was hard work, but I learned that you really can make progress without a fad diet or ridiculous exercise equipment. I’m also convinced that by taking us out of the bars on key nights, like Thursdays and Fridays and replacing the beer and burritos with exercise anyone can succeed. As for Stacy’s boot camp… I’m thinking about signing up for another session.
To learn more about Stacy and bootcamp check it out at www.stacysbootcamp.com.