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Choosing how to teach your sport conditioning or boot camp class ultimately depends on your personality, teaching philosophy, and clients’ response to various formats. Your background as a group exercise leader and perhaps as a personal trainer will also influence how you teach your class (Vogel 2006). It is rare to find any two classes that are formatted the same way. Typically, sport conditioning classes use the equipment available within the group exercise facility. For example, McMillan (2005) decided to turn her step class into a sport step class. She noticed that many participants had drifted away from traditional step classes because such classes contain complex choreographed movements that require a lot of skill. To appeal to a different audience, McMillan called her classes Power Step and Sport Step. She made her movements feel like sport moves by incorporating variations such as adding a reach toward the ceiling during a basic step, imitating a jump shot in basketball. She also changed some traditional step names, for example across the step became man-to-man defense. Changing a few simple moves and using creative and purposeful cues made all the difference in her class. Baldwin (2007) suggested an H2O Boot Camp style class combining athletic training formats in the water in order to bring the boot camp format into the aqua environment.
McLain (2005) used a different approach and created an outdoor boot camp class. He held the class in neighborhoods and parks rather than fitness facilities. His goal was to create a club without walls by taking programs out of the facility. This concept is what many health educators are suggesting in order to reach the general public more effectively. Francis (2012) envisions fitness professionals reaching out through community organizations, faith-based community programs, and other local neighborhood groups to reach more people who might not venture into a fitness facility. Many of these participants begin their movement experiences through participating in a boot camp or sport conditioning neighborhood class. Rather than expecting participants to drive to a facility, many contemporary professionals consider going to the people and using public resources and facilities, such as local parks and open green spaces, for sport conditioning and boot camp classes. There are issues with this concept, such as addressing liability concerns and obtaining appropriate informed consents, but ultimately the outdoor boot camp concept has been a proven success for McLain and others.
Some professionals purchase equipment or provide outdoor facilities to enhance the sport conditioning or boot camp experience. Crews (2009) took her baby boomer class outside and ran a Zoomer Boot Camp class. She focused on balance and rotation exercises using the BOSU ball for balance exercises and a medicine ball for rotation exercises. The equipment you use will depend on what is available to you and what population you are serving. Many fitness professionals prefer to use little or no gym equipment, relying instead on body-weight and plyometric moves; some of these ideas are discussed in chapter 9, “Functional training principles.” In this chapter, “Sport Conditioning and Boot Camp Equipment” provides equipment ideas for sport conditioning or boot camp classes; various types of equipment are shown in figure 13.7.
See online video 13.1 to get an idea of what sport conditioning equipment you can use in your classes. Notice how the instructor in this demonstration teaches the class differently from the way traditional high-low impact step, or kickboxing classes are taught.
Another important organizational element for group sport conditioning and boot camp classes is to have placards that help inform the interval or workout stations (figure 13.8).
Often instructors will move around the room, explaining the various movements at each station, and then start the workout. This can make it difficult for participants to remember which movement is to be performed at which station. A detailed explanation of the exercise, placed at each station, will assist participants in understanding how to perform the movement correctly. For a brain activity while moving, you could eventually turn over every other placard after moving through the first round, but we recommend for safety to have cues and pictures available for participants during the first round of movement options. Products, designed by physical education vendors, are available to help make station labeling easier. Two products we find useful are cones that have insert sleeves for instructional pieces of paper and rubber bases that contain sleeves for inserting placard instructions (shown in figure 13.9).
Having a plan, with your exercise options clearly written out, is key to offering a professional sport conditioning or boot camp class.
Per Olof Astrand coined the term functional training in a landmark article titled “Why Exercise?” He stated, “If animals are built reasonably, they should build and maintain just enough, but not more structure than they need to meet functional requirements” (1992, p. 154).