Bootcamp, Bootcamp, Bootcamp

Now that I have started leading a bootcamp one day a week (soon to be two) at SmartCore Fitness, I have really tried to wrap my hands around the term “bootcamp” and all of the competition in our beloved fitness fueled city.  It seems like every where I look there are “bootcamps”.  How does one distinguish between which one is best for them?  I have taken some time to explore several options in Charlotte.  I still have a lot to go.  However, I thought I would start with several options (Part 1) and do a second post several months from now showing even more options (Part 2).  Let’s start with the “Free” options and build to the more expensive.

Females in Action (FiA) and F3 

10487361_10103563946524453_7774651761354712784_nCost – Free

Advertised Actual Workout Time – 45 or 60 minutes

Actual Workout Time – By the time you warm up and stretch, 35-40 minutes for a 45 minute workout, 50-55 minutes for a 60 minute workout.  These girls try to keep things moving.  They are limited on time.

Class Time Options – Early.  Sorry.  Most workouts start at 5:15 AM or 5:30 AM during the week.  There are some 6:00 AM workouts.  Weekend workouts typically begin between 6-7 AM.

Locations – Several.  Check the website for workout times and locations. OR


Instructor Qualifications – None.  This is a peer led workout group.  While leaders are required to attend a “Q” school prior to leading their first workout, the disclosure for participating in this group is that the person running the workout is not certified to train.

Other Info – FiA is an all female workout group.  F3 is all men.  Most of the individuals participating and leading these workouts are working out early because they have a lot on their plate.  While I have built some solid friendships through my workouts with FiA, there isn’t time for a lot of chit chat.  The ladies want to work.  The website will indicate which workouts are “bootcamps” and which are running workouts.  The website also lists higher intensity workouts.

My Opinion – For a free, non certified workout, using the outdoor elements, this is a great group to work out with early in the morning (especially if you are female who is looking for a running partner when it is dark out).  I try to incorporate these workouts into my routine a few times a month.

Stax Bootcamp with Randy Moss and Emily Breeze Ross Watson


Cost – Free

Advertised Actual Workout Time – 60 minutes

Actual Workout Time – With a variety of fitness levels and breaks – approximately 45 minutes.

Class Time Options – Wednesday, 6:30 PM

Location – Stax Crossfit


Instructor Qualifications – I am a huge fan of “Breeze”.  She is incredibly tough.  Her credentials range from yoga and mobility certifications to Crossfit and personal training.  She has definitely acquired quite the following.  Clearly Randy Moss has an incredible athletic background.  While Breeze is ultimately demoing the exercises and really driving the workout, Moss and her work well together to split things up.

Other Info – At least for now, expect heat.  Bring a towel and water.  The majority of the workout is outdoors.  While it is advertised as being held at Stax, you will likely spend most of your time outside.  Many of the exercises are geared towards running and Crossfit – think sprints, burpees, squats, pushups, and power.  You need to arrive early to sign a waiver.  Don’t be surprised if there are 50-100 people.  Space is not limited.

My Opinion – I attended a closed “preview” of the bootcamp.  It will open to the public in the next few weeks.  There is no behind the scenes payoff here.  Randy Moss and Breeze Ross are offering this bootcamp as a way to give back to the community.  That said, expect large crowds. Ultimately, it’s SUPER hard for me to work out at night, making it difficult for me to scrounge up the energy to work out with so many other people.  The class reminds me a lot of old school down and dirty athletic conditioning workouts at the Dowd YMCA.  Lots of young, good looking people.  While I will try to drop in at least once a month, I would recommend this workout to those who enjoy getting a good sweat in the evening hours.

Dowd YMCA Athletic Conditioning

photo 4-13

Cost – Free with paid membership

Advertised Actual Workout Time – 60 minutes

Actual Workout Time – 55 minutes

Class Time Options – Varies throughout the week and day.  Check out the website.

Location – Almost all Greater YMCA’s in Charlotte offer the class, however, I am specifically referencing the Dowd YMCA.

Instructor Qualifications – All Dowd YMCA instructors are required to be Group Exercise certified.  Most also have additional certifications.

Other Info – You won’t really go outside in this class.  Classes can also get pretty full (depending on the instructor and time of day).  Like anything, people have their favorites.  You can really make these workouts as hard or as easy as you want to.  Like I said above, there are usually a lot of young, good looking people there.  Don’t let this intimidate you.  Space is not limited.  You could be working out with up to 100 people.

My Opinion – Have I mentioned before that my husband used to teach athletic conditioning at the Dowd YMCA?  Did I also mention that we met through his class?  I will always hold a special place in my heart for the Dowd Y.  If you are already paying to be a member of the Y and you can handle plyometric exercises and running, you should check one of these classes out.  The instructor typically breaks the class up into groups – essentially making it easier to keep everything moving while offering a variety to the participants.  Since it is held in the gym, there is enough equipment on hand to mix cardio with some strength training using weights.

MADabolic (OK they don’t advertise themselves as a bootcamp, but in case you were wondering)


Cost – One session – $22.  You can decrease that cost by buying a package.

Advertised Actual Workout Time – 50 minutes

Actual Workout Time – 30 minutes (10 minutes exercises explanation, 10 minutes warm up)

Class Time Options – Varies depending on the location.  At the South End location, most days, classes start as early as 5:30 AM. The last class is offered at 6:30 or 7:30 PM.


Locations – Asheville, NC, Burlington, NC, Charlotte, NC, Mt. Pleasant, SC, Charlottesville, VA, Greenville, SC, Huntersville, NC, Raleigh, NC.

Instructor Qualifications – Not disclosed.  I scrounged the website for information on qualifications for instructors and couldn’t find it.  I assume they go through a “MADabolic” training.  It may be worth asking?

Other Info – MADabolic has their own methodology for getting the best results out of the people that train with them.  The people who go to MADabolic swear by it.  It is not only their workout but their lifestyle.  The gym promotes ways for individuals to spend time with each other both at the gym and around town at social functions.  You will need to buy or rent gloves (if you are boxing on the day that you go).  Space is limited to make sure that there isn’t too many people at the workout.  You need to make sure that you sign up online (sometimes one week in advance).

My Opinion – I’m going to go ahead and say it.  I hate boxing.  If I only get 30 minutes of actual workout time, I don’t want to be spending part of it boxing.  Sorry, I’m never going to like it.  I just like to run and ride a bike.  That said, if you can’t get your cardio in on the pavement, many of the MAD workouts would be ideal for those looking to get their heart rate up in other ways (while still building strength).  Think boxing, rowing, box jumps, etc. I like the idea of the workout, and I like the team (and many of the people that go there).  It’s worth a try!

SmartCore Fitness


Cost – $46.50 per session

Advertised Actual Workout Time – 60 minutes

Actual Workout Time – 60-75 minutes (no breaks!)

Class Time Options – Saturday 8:30 AM (Steve), 10:00 AM (Jen- that’s me!), Tuesday 6:00 PM (Jen)

Locations – 831 Baxter Street, Suite 201, Charlotte, NC


Instructor Qualifications – Certified Personal Trainers to say the least.  You know my background. Founder, Denise Duffy, and trainer, Steve Justice, have a long list themselves.  Check out the website.

Other Info – Class is super limited, allowing the trainers to demonstrate modifications for each and every exercise that they are asking participants to complete.  The exercises and cardio will sneak up on you.  You can’t muscle through some of the core strengthening balance exercises.  These are the exercises that will make every day tasks easier (without you even knowing it).  For example, my Spartan Race Training.  My pull ups.  My bucket carries.  Etc.

My Opinion – Okay, I’m biased, but I have every reason to be.  It’s expensive, yes, but after visiting several other boot camps, I can absolutely state why.  Maybe it should be described as a personal training bootcamp.  Everyone starts together, but not many people end together.  Everyone starts with the intention of doing each and every exercise as stated, but sometimes our athletic background or certain limitations make modifications necessary.  Since we are limited in class size, we get you through the same intense cardio strength workout at your pace based on your ability.  If you need to go faster than everyone else, we let you go faster.  We show you what’s next.  If you need to move slower (and take a little longer than the person next to you), we let you do that.  If something just doesn’t feel right on a given day, we find a way to still work the muscle group that we intend to hit, but we change it.  Like MADabolic, we have our own methodology that is used to get the most out of each designed circuit.  There is no rest, because you are going at your own speed, while being pushed by others around you.  On a regular basis, I train such a wide variety of people (several of which can’t run, but still want to get cardio in – off a bike).

IMG_6377A word on bootcamp.  I actually looked up the definition.  Thank you Merriam Webster.

“Full Definition of BOOT CAMP

: a navy or marine corps camp for basic training
: a disciplinary facility or program in which young offenders are forced to participate in a rigidly structured routine”

I think the term is being used loosely.  I don’t think all bootcamps are the same.  I also don’t think all bootcamps follow a “structured routine”.  That said, you have to find the one that works best for you (both financially and athletically).  Over the next several months, I plan to check out several other options (both bootcamp and not) and offer the same sort of info!   In the end, it’s really just important that we all find a workout (any workout) that makes us feel better about ourselves and keeps us healthy!


2 thoughts on “Bootcamp, Bootcamp, Bootcamp

  1. Adam Craig

    Hey JWade, it’s Adam chases old roommate. Just FYI I think Breeze’s boot camp is $5 not free from what she’s posting on FB. Glad to see you’re doing well!


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