Like most locals, Kelly Orbeck and Alex Chavira steer clear of the Strip the way a camper steers clear of poison ivy or grizzly bears.
Yet here they are, standing atop the Wynn Las Vegas garage at the ungodliest of hours -- 7 a.m. -- on a Saturday, no less.
Surely it is something really, really good that lures them, along with 30 others, out of their cozy beds, down to the one place locals avoid on the weekends. Money? Free food? A scholarship? A new car?
Alas, no. These crazy folks gather to exercise.
"Good morning, everybody. Welcome to Boot Camp Las Vegas," Julie Johnston, fitness trainer and founder of the outdoor exercise business, says to the sleepy-eyed group.
Usually, she offers her classes in community parks. In June, she decided to add a weekly class on the Strip, "because they're used to people using the garbage cans for what they were intended: puking," she says, half-joking.
The Strip is a central part of the valley and a good meeting spot for Boot Campers who like to do weekend challenges, says Johnston, 28. Plus, it shows people that something associated with unhealthy activities can also be good for you.
It is not unusual to see a jogger getting in an early morning run on the Strip. In fact, the Boot Campers pass several during their workout. But the large group running in unison, then stopping to do crunches, burpies, push-ups and froggers on Strip sidewalks draws many incredulous stares from tourists.
"Boot Camp?" a guy wearing a U.S. Army ball cap scoffs, reading a runner's T-shirt as the group passes. "Yeah, right."
Red-eyed tourists Emily Burton and Chris McGillis stop to watch the runners.
"What was that?" Burton asks. She and her companion have been up all night and are headed back to their hotel room to get some sleep. No one should be that alert and active on a Saturday morning, McGillis says.
"Who are they? Why are they doing that?" Burton asks, shaking her head. "What a way to wake up."
Indeed, what a way to wake up. The group starts their three-mile run at the top of the Wynn garage. They run through tourists and sidewalk construction, up escalators, across pedestrian walkways, past honking cabs. There is no walking in Boot Camp, not in front of Johnston, who barks at her group like a drill instructor to new recruits. And stopping is not allowed unless it's to throw up or pass out.
"Ladies, you're right in front of me. Do not walk!" she yells at a couple of Boot Campers lagging behind after hopping up the staircase in front of Fashion Show mall. Five times.
"Oh my God," one moans, while Jennifer Estanilla, 29, grimaces. "My knees are killing me," she says, panting.
If they're so miserable, why are they doing this?
"I feel like I'm a quitter," says Estanilla, who has attended all three Strip Boot Camp classes. "I never thought I could run down the Strip like this. I joined for motivation, because I think it transfers across other parts of your life."
Call them crazy, Chavira says, they don't care. They're crazy fit. Chavira, 30, joined Boot Camp three months ago and has been taking three classes a day. He broke his leg a few months ago and gained some weight. Boot Camp forces him to get active again; he has lost 40 pounds and plans to lose another 20. The Strip class is a challenge to him.
The group has encountered no resistance since starting a few weeks ago, Johnston says. In fact, cars honk in support and some people have asked how to join. It's a hit, drawing from 25 to 100 people, and Johnston plans to expand it to five or six days a week.
It's all over in about an hour and, at the end, they are a sweaty but happy group. They say they feel like they've accomplished something so, with their exercising done for the day, the Boot Campers set a course for their next obstacle: breakfast. At the Original Pancake House.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564.