Editor’s Note: "Beauty Queen" is a monthly column that sends fashion reporter Xazmin Garza out into the field to test the latest beauty products and services.
A little discipline never hurt anyone. That was my thinking when I signed up for the latest fitness craze to hit our city, Boot Camp Las Vegas. But it all depends on your definition of the word hurt.
The concept is supposed to mimic a basic training program where people pay money to show up to have a trainer intimidate them into the workout of their life. The reality, I discovered, isn’t too far of a stretch. Follow along as I take you through four weeks of hell, otherwise known as Boot Camp.
Besides the fact I hear the "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" song every time I open my closet door, why am I paying $175 for this again? I ran out of breath after the "warm up jog" around the park (.7 of a mile). Tack 50 more minutes of lunges, squats, stair climbing and stepping onto that and you have the kind of beat down only Kimbo Slice opponents have endured.
The one sign of hope came in the form of my trainer, John Johnston, who leads the 7 p.m. class. The folks who train before me take orders from a man whose guns would make Charlton Heston proud. Johnston, on the other hand, looks like the kind of guy who uses the word golly. He’s tall and lanky, but looks can be deceiving.
"If you haven’t thrown up yet," he shouted at me and a couple other stragglers as we walked up a hill, "then get running!"
To ensure I thoroughly loathed my first day, Johnston recorded my weight and body fat percentage at the end of class. He told me I registered at a poor level, but could easily reach excellent status in a year. It would take a year, he explained, because of my age (31). And the hits kept comin’.
Note to self: avoid coming to Boot Camp on Fridays. With a two-day break ahead of us, Johnston gives us something to remember him by. It’s the kind of soreness that could warrant handicap parking. We kicked things off with laps around a volleyball court made of sand. You know those dreams where you’re running hard but somehow it’s in slow motion? All eight of us starred in that dream tonight. As our partners ran, we sat against a brick wall — knees perpendicular to the floor, thighs parallel to it. Like Johnston himself, wall sits looks easy, but end up kicking your butt. Next, we strapped on harnesses to pull the weight of our partners about 25 yards.
Just for good measure, Johnston threw in some step ups with hand weights and finished with an obstacle course in the children’s park. Remember when slides were fun? Me neither.
No dignified adult should have to bunny hop half the distance of a football field. Or hop up the stairs with both legs, then just your left, then just your right. I half-expected Johnston to introduce an egg hunt tonight, too. I’ve gotten used to feeling silly here. Running with weights and climbing backwards on all fours up a hill can do that to a grown woman. The disturbing part is that Johnston participates in all these drills with such vigor. He shouts out pseudo-encouraging things like, "If I can do it, so can you," and then kills it with, "Yeah, you can stop — as soon as you have four percent body fat!"
I decided most the people who come here must be gluttons for punishment, the kind who keep dominatrices in business. Others have just completely lost their minds. I discovered tonight that three of my classmates come to the 6 a.m. class and the 6 p.m. class. As one of the girls tells me this, she adds, "Don’t worry, you’ll get there." I told her she’d never find me at more than one class. I don’t strive for G.I. Jane status; I just want to burn my Spanx.
The jog has less jiggle. Not only that, I can get all the way around the park without stopping now. Baby steps, I know, but I can faintly hear "Eye of the Tiger" playing in my head.
Since it was Monday, we worked our arms with weights. The noises boot campers make during arm exercises come dangerously close to the audio heard during a hot love scene; lots of panting and grunts of, "Oh, God!"
When we weren’t using hand weights, we used our body weight. That meant going into plank position with our legs propped on a short wall and using our arms to walk our bodies across it. I wished horrible things on Johnston (like 20 percent body fat) through every second of it.
Sometimes I want to slap the Boot Camp smile off Johnston’s face. Today wasn’t one of those days. I’m counting that as progress.
We hopped, we lunged, we wall sat. Johnston likes to make us pass weights down a line. Today we did it while wall sitting. About 15 showed for class today, which makes a total of 30 weights, ranging from 5 to 25 pounds, passing back and forth. We passed them to the left, to the right and back two more times. On a positive note, my lunge form has improved immensely. That makes me fearful of what tomorrow will feel like.
THE LAST DAY
It was doom’s day today, also known as weigh-in day. Before I stepped onto the scale, Johnston told me how much I’ve improved and that my strength gets better every day. He added that it’s the body fat, not the weight, that counts. After weeks of quizzing my fellow boot campers about their progress, I knew what he was getting at. Apparently, it’s common to gain weight during your first month, which I did. Three pounds to be exact. Yeah, yeah, muscle weighs more than fat, but I’ve gotten uncomfortably close to a number I want nothing to do with. Before I could swear off Boot Camp and Johnston forever, my body fat came in three percentage points lower than when I started.
To be fair, I already knew I’d be signing up for another month. My arms now beg for tank tops. Pre-Boot Camp the only thing they begged for was a Pillsbury poke. Sure, the discipline hurts; but it’s a good hurt.
Boot Camp Las Vegas costs from $150 to $200 a month for three to five days a week. For more information, log onto bootcamplasvegas.com.
Contact fashion reporter Xazmin Garza at email@example.com or 702-383-0477.boot camp banter These are the phrases you will initially mock, but eventually wind up using, after a couple weeks of Boot Camp. • Boot camp tough! • There’s no walking in boot camp. • My grandma can do this. • If it hurts, say ouch! • You can walk when you have four percent body fat.