Where’s The Boot Camp For Your Head?


I lived in California for 25 years. Most of it in the Bay area, but I did spend five years working in West Hollywood.  Lots of folks poo-poo Hollyweird, but I’m a little weird myself, so I actually enjoyed living there.  I know five years isn’t a lifetime, but I think it qualifies me to say confidently, that underneath the Hollywood sign belief systems about fitness and healthy living might fall a bit left of center.

As proof, I offer up this online article from Monday’s L.A. Times:

Fitness Boot Camps Offer What Gyms Cannot

“When the New Year’s resolution calls for getting in shape fast, joining a gym and pushing yourself hard every day probably won’t happen. What will work? Having someone scream, “Drop and give me 20!”

I love when someone screams at me, don’t you? More importantly, who’s going to pick me back up after I drop?

“Fitness boot camps may be one of the fastest ways to go from zero to fit.”

Hey, who are you calling a zero?!  Probably not the 0.1% of Hollywood who are already fit, yet shame spiral at the sign of a love handle.

“For people willing to put in the work, boot camps enable exercisers to see results quickly, the better to stay motivated.”

Unfortunately, 37 years working with over 25,000 weight-struggling women does not support this quick-fix scenario.  In fact, when women (and I’m sure men) discover they cannot sustain a punishing, weight loss boot camp work-out regimen, they resume old, all-or-nothing behaviors which often lead to total inactivity. I mean, if you can no longer work out at a manic pace for 2 hours straight, seven days a week — why bother?

Boot camps and fat camps are quite the rage now because of the popularity of The Biggest Loser. So much so, that resorts are popping up all over offering fitness boot camp programs for those that want to get their weight off fast.

Green Mountain at Fox Run pioneered a weight management lifestyle program which proves time and again that diets and quick fix exercise programs simply don’t work. I would suggest that boot camps and fat camps fall under the latter tired model. They do not deal with sustainability. You have to develop real behavioral strategies to support any long-term, meaningful lifestyle change.

Sorry, City of Angels.

6 responses to “Where’s The Boot Camp For Your Head?”

  1. Great post, Cindy! I think many people are turned off by exercise because of the assumption that you have to be in pain, that the activity has to be incredibly intense to get real benefits. Any other activity is ineffective and pointless (sooo not true!).

    If you enjoy a bootcamp-style workout, that’s fine. But all this talk about how exercise has to be extreme is very damaging.

    The Biggest Loser perpetuates many stereotypes and myths. Personally, I don’t like Jillian Michaels’ approach of screaming at contestants and making them feel like failures when their bodies are clearly telling them they need a break! This sends the message that it’s OK to push yourself into feeling terrible pangs of pain, that exercise is only effective when it’s punishing, and like you said, it absolutely sets up an all-or-nothing outlook.

    Thanks for this post!
    .-= Margarita Tartakovsky’s last blog post..Healthy Living: Q&A with Nicole Ohebshalom =-.

  2. Cindy says:

    I agree! And if that show wasn’t demeaning enough, screaming and yelling? Screaming in NOT motivating. It’s intimidation at its highest form. Just ask any helpless five year old child.

  3. Absolutely! Instead of teaching contestants and viewers that exercise can be both enjoyable and challenging, they teach the complete opposite. No wonder people are intimidated of going to the gym or trying out fitness classes.
    .-= Margarita Tartakovsky’s last blog post..Healthy Living: Q&A with Nicole Ohebshalom =-.

  4. Cindy says:

    The other thing that bugs me is how The BL-er perpetuates the myth — fat people have no discipline, will-power, energy or at the very least can be trusted. Influencing us to believeTHIS must be the only way I’m going to be able to take off weight. Unless you take really drastic steps, might as well forget it. When the truth is, this kind of destructive thinking/behavior only exacerbates getting FATTER!


  5. Jaime says:

    I watch boot campers at my gym, and for my old self it looks risky and competitive. I’ll pass.

  6. Cindy, you’re so right! The BL themselves can’t even maintain their drastic weight loss – mainly because it’s impossible and horribly unhealthy to be working out many hours a day and eating a restrictive diet. This isn’t a lifestyle. I hate knowing that some people will think that their willpower is lacking or that there’s something wrong with them because they can’t maintain such an extreme routine.
    .-= Margarita Tartakovsky’s last blog post..Healthy Living: Q&A with Nicole Ohebshalom =-.

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