Camp Gladiator Experience

If four weeks in an increasingly difficult functional fitness boot-camp sounds painful... That's because it is! And I decided to try just that - three days a week, outdoors in the Texas summer heat, with a whole bunch of people who had WAY more practice than I did!

Sneakers of people running on pavement in a race.

When a Facebook friend told me that Camp Gladiator was doing what may be their only ever free month promotion... I knew I had to sign up. I was in a bit of a wellness rut, and I hoped that the experience may be enough to get me off my ass. Energy and motivation were things I desperately needed, having been taking online classes and working all summer so far. Not to mention the five pounds I'd put on in the month since my birthday. I needed a push.

If you aren't familiar with Camp Gladiator, it is a functional fitness boot camp. Each camp is led by its own trainer, and they meet in parks and parking lots. The camps run in cycles of four weeks, with a fifth week exclusively for Bold members. The first week is focused on building endurance, the second week is focused on increasing strength and agility, the third week is focused on interval training to reach maximum heart rate, and the fourth week is focused on pushing past any plateaus and reaching your peak. The fifth week varies, and since I didn't join as a Bold member (spoilers), I have NO idea what it looks like!

I missed the first day of the promotion, because that's when I found out about it, but when I signed up, I did so under a location that met three mornings a week, pretty close to where I live, in the parking lot of my sister's church. I was really, really, REALLY anxious about it. I knew NOTHING about what I was walking into. Nothing about the people who would be there, nothing about the types of activity we'd be doing. I get nervous going to the plain gym. I have a really lean body type, and not a lot of strength (basically, I'm a toothpick), so I was already self-conscious about how poorly I'd perform. I assumed (correctly) that most of the other campers were seasoned pros, and I knew I was going to look weak, and I feared judgement.

I showed up for (my) first day with my yoga mat, water bottle, and a rag. I didn't think I would need it, but boy was I wrong! Endurance week involved a LOT of running for our group! I was wiping sweat off my face every few minutes. I discovered very quickly that my yoga mat was not going to hold up to that kind of abuse, so I went out later that day to get a sturdier mat. My free camp experience was costing me $20, so now I really needed it to be worth it! (Side note, if I didn't actually do much yoga, I think my yoga mat would've been just fine.)

I wasn't entirely sure I would be able to function the rest of the day. The soreness was real, and it was intense. I made it through, survived the even worse second-day soreness, and for some reason decided to go back to the next session. If I thought the first session hurt, the second one was worse! And it didn't stop hurting until I'd finished the first session of strength and agility week. I don't know what magic happened during that session, but I hear it might be this thing called "consistency" that can be really helpful with fitness goals. Who'd've thunk it? 

Each session was just as grueling as the last. I never felt like I was improving. What I needed to realize was that it wasn't a lack of improvement on my end, it was the workouts getting harder. By the end of the camp, I was able to do things I would NOT have been able to do at the start. I'd lost those five pounds I'd gained. My sleep schedule was better. I thought maybe I was seeing the start of abs, maybe my butt was a little perkier, or my arms were a little more toned.

I did notice that while we definitely did dynamic warm ups before each workout, it was rare that we got more than a minute of stretching at the end, if we got that. I renewed my Water Dog Floating Yoga Mermaid Squad membership, and I feel like the two go REALLY well together. My Mermaid Squad membership is lasting longer than the camp promotion, but I think in the past week since camp ended, yoga has still been a key player in being able to keep the same energy that I started building with Camp Gladiator. 

All in all, Camp Gladiator was an amazing experience. I wrote down all the workouts (I only missed two!) so I could run through them again afterward, and I fully plan to. I'm excited to see how much better I do. If it was more in my budget, I definitely would've "gone bold" to keep going, but it just isn't practical right now. Gotta love that self-employed college student budget! But money aside, my health is valuable, and the changes I noticed while going to camp were positive changes. Remember that consistency thing I mentioned? THAT is going to be the next hurdle! I'll get back to y'all in a month to let you know how I do with that, but in the meantime, drop me a comment with your favorite way to get moving, and share with a friend you think needs to step outside their comfort zone!