I went to the gym during my 30s but I didn’t do any classes of any sort – and although I did this up to four night a week I don’t think I ever really pushed myself or knew what I was doing.
Five years ago, whilst staying with a friend in Cornwall I joined him on a military boot camp session. It almost killed me but I loved it. I came back and immediately set about finding a boot camp session. I found a boot camp run in Bramcote Park –but there were only 5 or 6 or us and unfortunately, this came to an end but not before finding us somewhere else to train.
Then four years ago, enters Jake Wood’s Boot Camp.
I can remember the first Monday night session at Bulwell – there must have been 40 or 50 people there. It was tough and Jake had (and occasionally still has) his side-kick rottweiler with him (Leon) shouting at us from the sides. Jake also ran Saturday morning sessions in Strelley Park and these were smaller groups but were very challenging. We often started with crawling through the cold wet grass and mud, and then spent an hour dragging massive tyres up hills and attempting to climb ropes up into the trees without using our legs. We also ended the session with a race around the track which was brutal. Thursday nights were introduced down at Bramcote park and these were truly horrible and remain so to date. Hill and sprint running – it not only pushes your body to its limits but tests your mental strength as well.
Bootcamps were the mainstay of the training week but Jake began to ramp things up to another level by getting us to enterX runner, Tough Mudder and Rat Race events. My first one was Water Wipe Out at Holme Pier Pont. With hindsight this was a bit of a stroll in the park compared to the hell that is Rat Race. The ambition is to do the dirty double – some already have the tee shirts and mental scars to show for that. For these events there is group training but also a lot of solo training and discipline required in getting out on the road and putting the miles in. This is made a little easier as everyone is keen to track their training and post them on Strava. There is no hiding place and everyone loves putting in a big run and sharing it!
More recently things have escalated to another level – Cave Training. Words can’t express the fear and dread that builds at the sight of the assault bike. It’s a bit like fight club rules – and three times around this intense circuit, lifting and pushing and pulling more than half your body weight on gruesome but fabulous machines at six in the morning is another level of training altogether.
Why do you regularly attend bootcamp? Because it’s there, and it’s a massive challenge and a distraction from long hours at work and because none of us wants to get old and fall apart. In my head I’m still 21 not 51 and I want to keep up with the really strong and fit people in the group and as new people join the stakes keep getting higher. The result of all this is that I’m probably fitter and stronger now than when I was 21.
I also do this because we are lucky enough to have Jake running this massive fitness campaign from the front and making each of us feel like he’s our personal trainer and helping us to train better and harder and go faster.
The plan for the future is to keep training smarter and acknowledge when your body and listen to it. This is really tough though when the group is training hard and doing amazing things. No one wants to get left behind – but this is Jakes’ mantra and it’s even printed on the back of the T shirts.
Talking of which – the best training days are the ones where everyone gets to celebrate your successes. First there is the 20 sessions boot camp tshirt (official armour). You’re in then – there’s no going back. Then there’s the impressive 100 boot camp T shirt. My 250-boot camp is coming over the hill at me – but hopefully I’m not over the hill yet – I just need to keep finding steeper ones to run up.