Boot Camp: More than just the Camo.

What are the first five things you think of when you hear the words Boot Camp? Most people would thing of pain, endurance, military men, rigid structure and difficult obstacles. When you think of someone in boot camp, you probably think of the stereotypical, fairly tall male with a chiseled body, strong arms and a short hair cut in camouflage or military gear.  There is a pre-conceived notion of men crawling under barbed wire in the mud and swinging rope to rope to a shaky platform. The most stereotypical events people generally think of is anything military and disciplined based designed to be physically taxing, emotionally draining and extremely rigid in structure, three things that most people tend to avoid in their day to day lives. It is correct to say that boot camp does take this military form of basic training required for the men and women who chose to serve in the military. However, boot camp is a much broader sport/activity than the typical military form that the general public may have as a pre-conceived notion of “boot camp.” Boot camp holds the identity of basic training for military recruits and most recruits are men and because of that the general image we picture that involves physically tough and fit men. If a male were to say they went through boot camp you would think of them as tough and strong individuals so it does contain the positive connotations of masculine behavior. If a female were to say they went through boot camp she would look “badass” because she was able to compete in a male dominated sport. My relationship to boot camp is a very atypical one considering mine has nothing to do with military training. My version of boot camp is purely based on strength and fitness that is used by gymnasts mainly, but also used as a form of cardio and strength training to keep you agile and fit. That is not to say boot camp is easy but that it is not your typical military style of training. I challenge the stereotype of who does boot camp. I am a 5’3″ petite, non-white female which is quite the opposite of a 6’1 buff, tough, white military male figure.  I find myself challenging the stereotype of the sport and the definition of traditional boot camp. For me, the term boot camp can be used to describe other types of rigid structure training techniques designed to get you in shape. Therefore I am an atypical individual participating in an atypical version of boot camp.

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One Response to Boot Camp: More than just the Camo.

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    Did the boot camp fitness craze arise from military roots, though? This is worth considering as well. Why do you think that it has grown in popularity as a fitness practice for “civilians?” Why do we want to engage in an activity that has such a brutal reputations (and a masculine one)? Is this a sign of the masculinization of fitness culture, particularly the aerobics room, which is traditionally gendered as female? Is this a sign of the militarization of everyday life? In other words, why do we like boot camp so much right now? There will be great questions to explore as this project develops.

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