Barefoot Boot Camp

Starting boot camp was one of those things in life that I heavily contemplated and asked myself do I really want to do this. The idea of boot camp along with the preconceived notions of the rigorous workout due to the inevitable and socially constructed military connotations and training is definitely intimidating. The more I looked into boot camp, the more I found that it was a strength and flexibility class that increases your endurance and because of that I went through of the craziness of actually signing up to go through boot camp at 8am every week.
An average boot camp recreational class takes place in a tumbling gymnastics gym where there are mats and trampolines as well as balance beams and launch pads. The odd thing about this version of boot camp is that you are not wearing shoes. You are in fact bootless in boot camp because shoes are not allowed on gymnastics maps. The class consists of warm-up runs, stretches and trampoline jumps followed by a series of unconventional across the floor activates like frog jumps, up downs and a variety of planks, pushups, pull-ups, hollow body holds, squats, lunges, wall sits and crunches. Everything is done based off of our own weight and body strength without using weights or any special training equipment. It’s a personal achievement work out which allows you to be your best self. What you put into boot camp is what you get out of it. It individualizes sports with the basic principles of skills of being and athletes and focuses on fundamental body training to put your body in its best possible condition. Boot camp is one of the best things I can do for myself because it puts me in a setting with other motivated individuals who are all different sizes and ages that just want a good work out and this one in particular kicks your ass into gear and gets you going. Even if you want to stop you resist the urge to because the person next to you has not stopped and that motivates you to keep going.
My personal experience with boot camp is based off of recreational classes and not the military training normally associated with it. I chose to do boot camp because it’s an effective and rigorous work out that helps you with your ideal body goals to keep you fit and healthy. It also gives me the sense of toughness, power and masculinity that I don’t normally feel because I have been a petite female my entire life. I danced my entire life and because of that I was used to being a feminine figure on a stage and being graceful instead of powerful. Boot camp gives me the ability to challenge myself in other aspects that dance did not. Instead of leaping, perfecting turns and hip hop body isolations I focus on jumps, pushups and core strengthening that have more masculine connotations of a work out. I do boot camp to feel more masculine and powerful and in a way badass because every time I tell people I do boot camp they seem impressed.
The first time I did boot camp I was sore for 3 days and I kept asking what I did to make myself do something so painful. The soreness was a mild frustration and the other frustrations I have with boot camp is that I could not always keep up with the entire work out routine. I felt weak and inferior and it was a horrible feeling to come up short even when I was trying my best. Now that I am about half way through the course I am able to keep up with the strongest males in the group. I associate keeping up with males as a form of success or accomplishment because I can do something men can do when it comes to the world of sports. A surprising realization I came to the more and more I think about the reason I enjoy boot camp is because I find success and pride in keeping up with men. I physically, mentally and emotionally feel tough and powerful and pushing myself makes me happy.
My experience with boot camp relates to the Olympic article of Skierinas showing the gender politics of sports and how they want to refrain women from hurting themselves during ski jumping so it was not an allow it to be an Olympic event until this year in fact woman have proven that they are fully capable of the endeavor. I feel that my experience with boot camp relates back to the Victorian Era where muscular Christianity was the new way of life and women started to become physical. I can relate to the “new physical woman” who rejected the convention of being just a house wife or mother and became active in sport. I feel that this time was characterized by the idea that women had neurasthenia or a mechanical weakness and I feel that women are still portrayed as mechanically weak. Still to this day I believe that woman in sports shakes that assumption. The masculinities associated with physical activities and sports make me realize that I enjoy sports because of how they push me and make me feel masculine and tough.

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One Response to Barefoot Boot Camp

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I’m glad you are enjoying the boot camp workout and have stuck with it despite some frustrations. I appreciate your insight into the enjoyment you get from keeping up with the strong men in the class. Such bodies are often the measuring stick of fitness and the idealized body of fitness. And, we are products of our culture and its dominant discourses, even when we try to resist them. Thus, it makes sense to me that your feelings of accomplishment are tied to being able to keep up with the idealized bodies. I have felt this myself when running and the pleasure I get from passing men in races. This also demonstrates that even in apparently individual activities where we are “only competing against ourselves,” the other bodies in the room do influence us. I hope you continue to enjoy the class and getting connected with your masculine side. (We should all be in close contact with our many gendered sides.)

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