Boom time for Norfolk’s bootcamps as we rethink our winter workouts
PUBLISHED: 08:35 26 September 2020 | UPDATED: 08:35 26 September 2020
Our Second Half columnist says over-45s can benefit from bootcamps in Norfolk this autumn and winter
I’ve got thighs as hard as rocks, my arms ache and getting down the stairs has been interesting to say the least this week.
I’ve also been reminded of that old Leonard Cohen lyric: “I ache in the places that I used to play,” because a few days ago, for the first time in eight years, I went to an outdoor exercise bootcamp.
You probably didn’t notice among all the hullabaloo and hot air of this week’s lockdown announcements that Wednesday was actually National Fitness Day, which this year took on added, well, weight.
Think back to March and that first lockdown when, despite losing liberties left, right and centre, we were told how vital it was to exercise, even if it was only for half an hour a day.
I made it a priority to redeem my ‘Boris token’ for a daily 30 minute run or walk and bent the rules slightly by then walking 30 minutes to my ‘local’ shop the long way round.
We’ve been encouraged by the government over the summer to lose weight and get fit as one measure of combating the possible onset of coronavirus and this reminded me of how I felt a decade ago when I wanted to give my fitness a boost and get back into shape.
Feeling lardy after a couple of years since I stopped playing regular football, I signed up for a taster session at an outdoor bootcamp and in January 2011 embarked on what was to become a life-changing fitness journey.
I say life-changing as, not only did I start attending bootcamp sessions three times a week for almost two years, but I met other like-minded people for whom fitness was a way of life.
The bootcamp itself was a brilliant way to shock my body back into fitness – I quickly lost weight, built muscle and got better and faster at every exercise I was challenged to do.
But more importantly, I was mixing again with other exercise-mad people and it was their attitude and interests that rubbed off on me and inspired me to fall in love again with keeping fit.
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I met some keen cyclists and within a year I’d purchased a road bike and was taking part in some epic cycle rides – London to Brighton, Cambridge to Norwich, the Norfolk 100 mile ride. I met runners and within two years I’d gone from hardly running to the end of the street to lining up for the start of the Amsterdam Marathon. I tried Nordic Walking, I did Go Ape, I went kayaking, I did regular Sunday morning bike rides that often clocked up 80+ miles and those choices all stemmed from starting off with a bootcamp.
So, as a springboard to fitness, it really worked for me and given this week’s announcements about how the next six months of our lives are likely to shape up, I think bootcamps will really benefit.
Do people want to workout in gyms where keeping your distance is never easy and everything needs a good wipe down? Will people want to use indoor swimming pools? Will running events come back in the near future, especially now that parkrun has scrapped its planned return at the end of October.
They all have an added degree of caution attached to them and some indoor team sports such as netball and basketball can now only involve a total of six people.
But an outdoor bootcamp, with everyone keeping their distance and respect for each other, seems like a perfect way to get in shape, particularly this winter when so many other options are limited.
So, why did I go back?
I wanted to see if it still had appeal for someone in their mid-40s. A decade on, nothing has really changed. The 12 other people there were all friendly, welcoming and a nice mix of ages, from mid-20s to certainly late-50s and all wanted to be out in the fresh air working out and getting fit.
A decade ago I thrived on the running drills, the lunges, squats and even the dreaded bootcamp-staple, the burpee, and I’m pleased to say that, having not done one in around 3,000 days, I still did 30 burpees during the 45-minute session.
I came away sweating, tired and already a bit sore, though I know that if I went regularly again that would soon disappear.
Most importantly, doing a bootcamp session once more made me realise just how great they are if you want to get back in shape and especially for those in the second half of life.
You can take it at your own pace and as well as getting that important fitness session under your belt, you could also be making new friends and opening yourself up to new challenges.
You’ll be welcomed with socially-distanced open arms so why not have a think about taking part in one especially if you’re already worried about the lack of things to do over the next six months?
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