Bringing out the fighter in all of us

Cathleen Kronemer

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT

This past weekend, many of us enjoyed a relaxing day off from work, courtesy of the federal government. Memorial Day has somehow evolved into the unofficial start of summer, complete with backyard barbecues, picnics, and the opening of public swimming pools. Somewhere along the line, we seem to have forgotten that this day was created as an opportunity to recognize, honor and thank those individuals who bravely put their lives on the line every day in order to ensure our freedom.

Entering any branch of the Armed Forces requires dedication to being in the best physical shape of one’s life. Having trained members of the National Guard, I learned much about the demands placed on their bodies as they prepare for the grueling physical tests. To that end, I’d like to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday by recommending a boot camp workout.

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Boot camp classes are designed to challenge every system of the body, from the cardiovascular to the muscular, and perhaps most important, the mental determination. Generally taught outdoors, this format combines traditional calisthenic movements with interval training and strength moves. A good boot camp instructor adopts a “drill sergeant” mentality, pushing participants well past their comfort zone in an effort to enhance performance. Trainees can expect to run sprints, perform push-ups, squats, lunges and various plyometric exercises, with very short rest intervals. Sometimes partner exercises are performed as a way of setting up friendly competition among the classmates.

The variety and intensity of boot camp exercises can make them a fun and unique challenge for those fitness enthusiasts who might feel stuck in the rut of their normal routine. Be forewarned that these classes are not for the weak-minded; halfway through the class, it is sheer mental determination that will carry you through to the end, since energy may have long ago dissipated.

Remembering that all of our United States soldiers had to conquer boot camp as part of their rigorous training, it is my hope that on every Memorial Day to come, we can honor these special individuals with our own challenging workouts, striving to push ourselves right into the next level of fitness and well-being.

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.