Training in a safe space: Get fit without breaking the bank.
Training in a safe space: Get fit without breaking the bank.
Motivational : Have fun exercising with friends. Pictures: Pexels
Motivational : Have fun exercising with friends. Pictures: Pexels
When you think of a boot-camp workout, an image of a military drill sergeant blowing a menacing whistle and shouting: “Drop and give me 20 push-ups," tends to spring to mind.

However, for a group of local fitness enthusiasts, passionately leading the charge of outdoor fitness boot camps, this picture couldn’t be further from reality.

With the escalating cost of just about everything in the consumer market, those put off by gym membership fees are opting for free, or minimally priced outdoor training sessions.

The idea? “To get more people active and introduced to healthy living”, said Shain, 33, who is one of 30 instructors at the Free GetFit Bootcamp community in Gauteng.

The trainers hold boot camps in areas around Joburg - welcoming everyone, regardless of levels of fitness and strength. Their classes are broken down to four core exercise disciplines such as flexibility, cardio, strength and endurance.

“Of the people coming to the boot camps, 90% wouldn’t necessarily go to gym. But the point was to get people doing exercises they could actually do at home, just with the camaraderie of others," he added.

"One can find a lot of exercise info online, but people just don’t like exercising alone, or they don’t have the necessary commitment,” Shain said. But, the dropout rates are also high - as with gym membership and attendance.

Karien van der Wal, a boot camp instructor in Mpumalanga, attested to the “feel-good effects” of the social element that boot camps added. She runs a boot camp targeting women and their fitness needs - charging them a nominal fee of R350.

“In 2013, I started training by myself because I wanted to lose weight. Then two of my friends, Muslim women who, for religious reasons, couldn’t train at a gym with men present, joined me. They invited their friends and it snowballed.”

What started out as “proper boot camp-style training”, limited to no training equipment and using basics like two-litre bottles filled with water for strength training, has grown to incorporate more squats, lunges and other usual high-intensity weight training.

“I found the atmosphere with training women was more motivational and it’s a safe space where they can share what’s happening in their lives,” Van der Wal said.