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Sync Fitness Owner, Sara Dean (Image: Rebecca Mongrain/Seattle Refined)

A Beginner's Guide to Boot Camp

We've all seen the gaggles of boot camp enthusiasts running up and down the hill at Gasworks, grunting as they complete what appears to be a mountain of push-ups or doing squats on the shores of Greenlake. I've done my share of boot camp but never for long periods as they always feel a bit too stringent. Lately though I've been in a bit of a malaise with barre and searching for a new workout so when I discovered Sync Fitness's Boot Camp after listening to the Shameless Mom Academy podcast, I knew I had to check it out.

I headed to my first class with apprehension and excitement. I was worried that the trainer would announce that we'd be completing 1,000 burpees (full disclosure: I absolutely loathe burpees) while simultaneously running up a steep hill before squatting our body weight. My fears were for naught.

Sync Fitness Boot Camp classes are a compact 45 minutes of full body moves that incorporate strength training and cardio. Owner Sara Dean told me, "I see women waste a lot of time working out on their own - thinking they need to do 30 minutes of cardio and then 30 minutes of weight training. That isn't true. You can do it all at once!"

I'm a big fan of efficiency in my busy life so the short 45 minute workouts are compelling. I wondered though, why boot camp? Dean was quick to answer my question, "It's more effective and efficient than most other workouts. The community aspect is amazing. The results are fantastic. The varied workouts allow you stick with it for years without getting bored. The health benefits are incredible - you are burning fat, improving your metabolic rate, gaining lean muscle mass, improving your cardiac function - all while having fun. This beats so many other workout options!"

Sync Enthusiast, Julia Holden agrees. "For me, boot camp is the most effective form of exercise. I have tried all types of exercise, but this is what I find the best results with and actually look forward to. I believe this is due to the wide variety of workouts - cardio, HIIT, tabatas, etc. You never know what challenge a trainer will come up with. This forces (encourages?) me to do things that I would never try on my own. Also, having someone tell me what to do and for how long is key. Left to my own devices, i'd spend half the time trying to figure out what i feel like doing."

After my first class at Sync, I was ready for more but I wanted to know what are boot camp's benefits over other forms of exercise so I reached out to Dean for an explanation. "The ability to incorporate strength training and cardio into the same workout is huge for getting excellent results in a short amount of time," she told me."Additionally, working out with other people in a fast pace environment is extremely inspiring and motivating."

The gym at Sync reminded me a lot of a classic Crossfit space but I noticed a few differences. There weren't any barbells or other large weights. There were plenty of dumbbells, kettlebells, ropes, yoga balls and steps though. There is also a large steep hill next to the gym which the trainers love to make use of. "We share some workout principles with CrossFit: a focus on getting stronger, a love of community, the embracing of sweat and badassery," Dean said. "But we do not use barbells and the more technical Olympic lifting techniques in our group environments. Given the size of our classes and the diversity in the ability of our members, we don't feel that is a safe way to serve our members."

Sync Member, Natalia Dotto joined the gym last October and has already reaped the benefits. "Not only do I feel physically stronger, but mentally stronger too. I know that I can do anything for 20 seconds, 30 seconds, okay 45 seconds," said Dotto. "The trainers at Sync really are a good combination of someone who knows how to inflict pain and inspiration at the same time."

First time boot camp attendees should come ready to sweat with a good pair of shoes and clothing that wicks away dampness. Dean also advises, "The first time you come to class you should work at a level that is appropriate to your current level of fitness AND will allow you to want to come back. We do not want people to cripple themselves in that first workout. There is no badge of honor for being painfully sore for a week. Pace yourself during that first class so you can come back two days later and enjoy another workout!"

The supportive and non-competitive environment will encourage you to come back again and again. You'll be working out with mainly women (though there are men who attend classes too!) of all different sizes, shapes, ages and abilities. Sync trainers are, "exceptionally talented when it comes to helping meet the needs of our entire class population," added Dean.

Dean recommends doing boot camp three days a week on non-consecutive days for the best results.

About Sync Fitness:

Sara Dean has been a personal trainer in Seattle since 2003. In 2009, she shifted her focus away from personal training to build her boot camp program. Seeing the amazing results and the camaraderie among her members, she knew she found something special. She ultimately stopped personal training to build Sync Fitness into a full boot camp based program. Since 2009, she has helped hundreds of women lose thousands of pounds (well over 10,000 pounds at this point.)