A boot camp-like training session is a group exercise that focuses on improving stamina, endurance, fitness, and weight loss over a period of several weeks. It’s called boot camp due to the military style training environment, and because participants are pushed and challenged in a drill sergeant fashion by a fitness instructor, personal trainer or former military personnel.

Boot camp-like training involves full body exercises mostly with quick or explosive movements like kick boxing, swinging a weight or a kettle-bell, sprinting, jumping, as well as yoga and body weight exercises. Remember compound movements (activating multiple muscle groups in a complex movement) stimulates a greater area of muscle as well as expends considerable energy and calories. However when performed in a ballistic uncontrolled fashion it increases the forces which act on the body considerably increasing the probability of injury to multiple muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.  Further to this some people have lost the ability to perform basic, primary movements with good posture such as squatting, lunging, stepping, pressing, and pulling in good form with proper balance, coordination and flexibility. Therefore it stands to reason if your basic movement patterns are poor your probability of injury will be increased.

As an Osteopath, I see patients on a monthly basis with boot camp-like injuries. As I try and explain to my patients, even with perfect form on some of these exercises, they are still destructive on the body.

If you start to have aches and pains that are gradually appearing, it may be because your joints and tendons are inflamed from an activity. Proper exercise never causes pain during a class or training session and only produces mild soreness or discomfort in some people the following day which dissipates in 48 hours or less!

The participants of this type of circuit training are not generally instructing a bunch of athletic 18 year old squaddies/soldiers which have already passed a basic fitness test and rigorous health screening. At this age people are usually in the best shape of their lives and they may handle the rigors and intensity of boot camp without potential injury. The average middle aged man or woman who works a desk job 40 plus hours a week and a mother with kids is not a good candidate for this type of training. There are exceptions to every rule as there are people who have kept their physical conditioning at a good level and can safely participate in a boot camp-like class. But these are the exceptions and not the norm. A fitness instructor needs to look motivated and attentive and not just well qualified so that they may be perceptive to potential injury hazards.

So what’s the solution? In general traditional slow speed exercises are safer. Even if you don’t have perfect form or are doing exercises that are bad for you, at least the pressure through your body is less as compared with high speed exercises.  If you need further advice on what exercise would be appropriate for you please consult with your local osteopath or physical therapist. Prevention is better than the cure.