Looking for a new way to blast your bod into shape? These boot camps offer all the motivation and results you need without the intimidation factor
In name alone, boot camps can be intimidating, conjuring up visions of six-packed military commandos barking out commands while trembling participants shake through weak-armed pushups.
In Vancouver, however, it turns out this image is far from true, and many of these kick-butt classes are as fun as they are intense. And those merciless instructors? Turns out they’re actually pretty darn nice.
Vancouver offers a wide array of boot camp classes for every fitness level, whether you're looking to shed those excess holiday pounds or put a new spin on your fitness routine.
If you’re looking to lose weight, tone up, and meet new friends along the way, check out these boot camps available throughout the Lower Mainland.
Dancer's Body Boot Camp
Instructor: Alice Howell is one of several instructors who run the Dancer’s Body Boot Camp, which is offered both as a morning and an evening class. After teaching the class for 2.5 years, she has yet to make anyone run from the room crying, instead, she keeps the energy positive with the sass and supportiveness of an older sister.
Boot Camp Breakdown: Howell describes the coveted “dancer’s body” as: “Not bulk, but more long, lean and toned. Strong.” If you’re looking to get lean, this class’s focus is placed on posture, strengthening your core, and working a wide variety of muscle groups while toning, squeezing, shaking, and of course, sweating. She recommends attending three classes per week, plus participating in one more cardio exercise group to achieve results.
Do this Boot Camp If: You want to take your secret kitchen dancing to the next level. The studio’s non-intimidating environment also makes it easy to bring your sexy back—no matter your dance experience.
Location: iDance Studios have locations in Langley, North Vancouver, and the edge of Mount Pleasant.
Tough Factor: The boot camp’s high-energy environment, combined with poppy musical accompaniment (think Beyonce) help disguise how hard you’re working. Your calves will remind you the next day though. Overall, 6/10.
Bootylicious Factor: iDance Studios offers a wide variety of classes at various times throughout the week, including Neo-Burlesque and Bellydancing—so you can go from office to working on your obliques easily.
Get More Info: iDance Studios
Haché Fitness Group Training
Instructor: Former correctional officer and Knee Knackering (that epic 30-mile race) participant Serge Haché is well aware of the stigma surrounding the “b” word, and insists on calling his workout “group training”. Haché, however, is the opposite of intimidating, instead providing supportive encouragement to motivate you up those last few stairs.
Boot Camp Breakdown: This outdoor-only group training runs every Saturday morning at 9:30 and uses Vancouver’s beautiful backyard as its gym. It combines cardiovascular conditioning with an emphasis on technique improvement. “You will leave knowing how to do the exercises on your own,” Haché states.
Do this Boot Camp If: You love small group workouts in the great outdoors. And mud. There may be some mud involved.
Location: UBC Pacific Spirit Park (rain) or Connaught Park (shine)
Tough Factor: The workout is “as hard as you want it to be,” says Haché, but with a small, supportive environment you’ll find you’ll push yourself as much as you can. It can involve anything from running uphill on trails, to water view lunges, to obstacle wielding field sessions. Overall, 7.5/10
Bootylicious Factor: The friendly fitness group vibe has a large social aspect to it, and if you’re lucky, you might even get invited to brunch afterwards.
Bondi Body Boot Camp
Instructor: Michelle Watkin runs the Bondi Body Bootcamp every Saturday at 12 pm (bonus for those who like a sleep in pre-workout). With her background in kinesiology, Watkin provides those with injuries a breakdown of proper alignment and reintegration.
Boot Camp Breakdown: Originally started by an Aussi employee, the Bondi Body Bootcamp will jumpstart your fitness so you'll feel confident enough to strut the sands of Australia’s most famous beach (or along English Bay). Watkin describes the “Bondi Body” as athletic with “no jiggling”. The class switches things up each week, and is high-intensity and mostly circuit-based, with an emphasis on improving cardiovascular abilities. Also, with an average of 6-10 attendees, you’re guaranteed some one-on-one attention.
Do this Boot Camp If: Your speedo is already packed and you’re moving to Australia. Or if you like versatility, using different equipment, and are keen to learn technique while improving overall strength.
Location: Kalev Fitness Solution in Crosstown
Tough Factor: 6.5/10
Bootylicious Factor: The space has a unique, urban feel. Its large windows and beams are compliments of the Beaux-Arts inspired Sun Tower Building.
Get More Info: Kalev Fitness Solution
Beginner Kickboxing Boot Camp
Instructor: Eric Marcina filled in the day we tried this class (he usually teaches the Intermediate Kickboxing Classes, and rumoured “crazy intense” Sunday class). Apparently he is a bit tougher than the regular Thursday instructor (Tara), and this was apparent during his surprise sets and firm and feisty encouragement.
Boot Camp Breakdown: The one-hour, no-rest-for-the-wicked class begins with resistance strength training and ab work, and finishes with the basics of kickboxing for newbies, including jabs, kicks and hooks. It also involves a lot of partner work, so even though you’re being pushed heavily by the instructor, you’ll almost always get a high-five after a set.
Do this Boot Camp If: You want to burn calories and work out your office/love life/family/friend frustration. It’s also a more disciplined class, so if you need someone to kickbox you into shape, this is the boot camp for you.
Location: The West End and Richmond
Tough Factor: As one regular put it “You’ll either love it or hate it immediately. There’s no hiding—it’s fake it until you make it. You will not stop moving.” Overall, 8/10.
Bootylicious Factor: Urban Fitness offers Beginner, Immediate and Cardio Kickboxing Boot Camps, so you can challenge yourself to move up a bootcamp. Also, check out its Self-Protection Boot camp, offered on Monday nights.
Get more info: Urban Health Club
Bosu Ball Boot Camp
Instructor: Natalie Sheh has been teaching fitness for 10 years, and runs this boot camp out of the downtown Steve Nash club on Thursdays. Don’t let her petite frame fool you—she keeps the class going with her large-and-in-charge energy. One of her favourite moves? “The burpee.” Yikes.
Boot Camp Breakdown: This 45-minute class will leave you feeling like you’ve just worked out for hours. It focuses on core, stability, balance and agility. It’s a mix of high-intensity cardio and strength training. One minute you’ll be lifting weights while balancing on a bosu ball, the next you’ll be using it for hardcore pushups.
Do this Boot Camp If: You want to improve your skiing or snowboarding stance, or are working to build up a past injury. It also adds an extra element to the regular idea of boot camp, because you’re constantly clenching, balancing, and bosu-ing.
Location: This boot camp is offered at the Downtown, Richmond and Surrey Steve Nash Sports Club locations.
Tough Factor: Sheh offers alternatives to the harder moves, but don’t be surprised if you lose balance on more than one occasion. The more classes you attend, the more you will begin to feel stable with your newly solidified core. 9/10.
Bootylicious Factor: Steve Nash Sports Club is currently offering a free 8-day pass—so you can decide if this boot camp is for you.
Get More Info: Steve Nash Fitness Club
One can only do so many boot camps. But if you still haven't found the one that suits your unique needs, here are a few more worth checking out:
- SwordFit Boot Camp – Yes, it uses swordplay. Located in Gastown and offered in February.
- Crossfit Boot Camp — Offered weekdays at the West Vancouver and downtown CrossFitBC locations. This is one for the hardcore fitness enthusiasts.
- SUP Boot Camp — Stand up Paddleboard Boot Camp is a workout on the water! You can join an already established group or organize a private group boot camp for you and your friends. Located in Surrey.