By Karen Hawthorne for SheKnows.com
Need some motivation to jump-start your commitment to fitness? Boot camps not only blast fat and build strength, they break the monotony of your everyday workouts. Boot camp training doesn't require fancy equipment - all you need is your body weight and enthusiasm. Why are boot camp workouts gaining popularity? Because they work. SheKnows talked to Laura Jackson, personal trainer, boot camp instructor and co-founder of Fit Chicks, to give us the skinny on boot camp fitness.
BOOT CAMPS FEATURE HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING
SheKnows: We've heard that boot camps are more intense than other fitness classes because of the focus on interval training. What exactly is interval training?
Laura Jackson: There are various interval training methods, but the one that we have found most effective for weight loss and improving cardio is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT combines short intervals of maximum-intensity exercise - 30 seconds to two minutes - separated by longer intervals of moderately intense exercise. Because it involves briefly pushing yourself to the max of your aerobic exercise zone, it is more effective than doing a steady state of exercise where you keep your heart rate within your aerobic zone, as in 45 minutes at the same speed on the elliptical trainer.
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SheKnows: HIIT is a chosen training method for athletes. Is it really the best way for the average person to exercise?
Laura Jackson:Even though elite athletes have been using this technique for years to increase their endurance and fat-burning potential, any person can do this. Just start off slow. Combine 30 seconds of running intervals with four to five minutes of power walking. As you get stronger, increase the amount of time that you complete the higher-intensity intervals.
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SheKnows: Why did you choose interval training to help clients reach their fitness goals?
Laura Jackson: I personally love interval training for so many reasons. Not only does it burn a ton of calories in the shortest amount of time, but you never get bored. This type of training is super-fun and keeps your mind and body challenged because you are always changing the exercises - hill runs, frog jumps, sprints. Plus, this is the only type of training that really pushes people out of their exercise comfort zone so you get the fastest results and avoid the dreaded weight-loss plateaus.
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SheKnows: Convenient, challenging, good for brain health - are there other benefits of high-intensity interval training that we haven't touched on?
Laura Jackson: One of the major benefits that a lot of people don't mention is that studies have shown that HIIT appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, compared with doing a steady state of exercise for longer periods. And the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn even when doing nothing - so you definitely don't want to lose any of that.