By Coshandra Dillard
A group of 11 people followed Christy Dunton, owner of Breaking Barriers Boot Camp, during their hourlong session on Wednesday. They worked on chest and arms, using dumbbells and pushups.
They were motivated and not distracted by the café almost adjacent to the box gym that sells fried catfish and the constant whiff of fried chicken from another restaurant nearby.
Mrs. Dunton is a former Marine, so her military background, discipline and fitness level is what keeps her 50 or so members, whom she calls recruits, motivated. She taps into her military customs, using military time, and the Marine chant, “oorah.” Her toughness also grabs the attention and respect of her class.
She has operated the boot camp for more than two years in Whitehouse. Fitness boot camps like Breaking Barriers made The American College of Sports Medicine's top 10 fitness trends list for 2011, and it appears it will continue to be a popular choice for individuals who want to shed weight fast.
According to the American Council on Exercise an individual can burn an average of 600 calories per hour during a boot camp-type workout.
Quick drills, burpees, squats, lunges and running may not be for the faint at heart. However, people with all fitness levels are able to participate because they can adjust the exercises.
“It's because it is a challenge,” Mrs. Dunton said. “A lot of people are scared of boot camp initially but then when you learn you can modify things, it makes that difference and it give them that confidence.”
The key to success at boot camp is switching up the routine. Breaking Barriers utilizes programs such as piyo, kickboxing, cross training, yoga, strength training and running.
“You've got such a plethora of exercises you can choose from,” Mrs. Dunton said. “You're not committed to only a certain structure. It's always changing.”
The variety and camaraderie is what keeps Mendy Souter, 39, coming back. She's lost 100 pounds during the past two years, some of which was a result of the boot camp.
“You don't want to quit because you have somebody telling you, 'You can do it,'” Ms. Souter said. “I don't like to work out on my own because I would do 10 pushups and go home.”
Mrs. Souter attends the classes three times a week. Before she shed 100 pounds, it only took seeing herself to make some changes in her lifestyle.
“I saw a picture of myself. … I didn't want to look like that,” she said. “I wanted to be healthy for my kids. They're active in sports. and I didn't want to be the mom that can't go with them.”
Running and pushups were intimidating at first.
“I never did a pushup in my entire life until I came here,” she recounted.
With a new lifestyle and a dedication to working out, Mrs. Souter feels that a boot camp structure fits her best.
“This is my thing, my favorite,” she said.
Mrs. Dunton's goal for Mrs. Souter and other recruits is to be healthy, not “skinny minnies.” She's inspired by people who improve their cholesterol and blood pressure numbers.
“My favorite stories are the ones who get off of medicine,” she said.
Mrs. Dunton also has been a Fit City partner, looking for ways to contribute to the wave of healthy living promotion going on across East Texas. Her message, she said, is straightforward.
“It is just so simple to get healthy and some people think it is so hard.”