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Get fit, breathe in some fresh air and meet new people with an outdoor bootcamp class

STROLL THROUGH THE PARK on a weekend and you’ll often spot a group of people of all ages and sizes attempting press-ups, sprints and squats at an outdoor bootcamp class. Blossoming around the UK, getting fit in the great outdoors is a sociable and fun way to exercise and an hour in the fresh air easily trumps pounding the gym treadmill.

Army-style outdoor training is bound to be intimidating at first but persevere and soon you’ll be dipping and lunging like a pro. Your instructor will assess your current level of fitness and assign you a personal programme. For the best results, you’ll need to train three to four times a week and, if you’re really serious about changing your physique, then be prepared to train for a good three months. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain!

1. Feelgood factor

‘Data suggests working out in a natural environment can help you stick with regular physical activity because of the feelgood factor,’ says HFG expert David Stalker, CEO of ukactive. ‘The oxygen boost you get from the fresh air gets the serotonin flowing. And it’s not just about feeling good. The natural environment puts extra demand on the body, meaning you need to work harder to perform the same exercises.’

2. Challenge yourself

‘Your body quickly recognises and adapts to any exercise or training session you complete,’ says Mark Wood, head trainer for British Military Fitness (BMF) bootcamp. ‘To progress you must continually make it guess – and challenge it in different ways.’

3. Get a total workout

Master the fundamental exercises such as squats and lunges while using the correct form and technique to ensure your workout is properly effective. Don’t be afraid to check with your instructor if you’re worried you’re not doing the exercises correctly. While your fitness instructor may seem stern, it’s often all part of the act. They are there to help and love results!

4. Enjoy the outdoors all year round

If you love watching the seasons change, getting fresh air and don’t mind working out in the rain or even snow, then bootcamp is perfect for you. Don’t dress up in your best designer gear as it’s going to get trashed. Just sling on your old kit and be prepared to get down and dirty. It’s all part of the fun.

5. Practice makes perfect

‘You get what you put into it,’ says HFG contributor Hannah Ebelthite. Being yelled at by a man in combat trousers wasn’t Hannah’s idea of fun, but two days after her first BMF class her muscles were aching in all the right places. ‘The social side seems to keep people coming back,’ she adds. ‘No one was shouted at, no one cried, no one gave up. They were a pretty inspiring bunch.’

6. Make new friends

Attending classes is a great way to meet new people and the sense of camaraderie will encourage you to keep going, even when your body’s protesting. ‘The shared experience seems to mean clients make friends quickly,’ agrees Si Allen, head instructor for BMF.

7. You don’t need to be superfit

Don’t be put off if you’re not fit as a fiddle as the classes cater for all levels. Keep attending classes and you’ll soon be moving up the ranks as your fitness levels improve.

8. Surprise yourself, it may even be fun

Despite the word military, bootcamps have a focus on fun and dropping press-ups alongside your fellow bootcampers will really motivate you. Whatever your worries – hate exercise or have no stamina – by the end of the hour’s session you’ll have overcome them.

9. Boost your confidence

After your first class, your body will feel the effects big time, but a few sessions in you’ll probably have lost weight. Keep going and soon you’ll be glowing with health and confidence – and maybe drop a dress size.

10. The first lesson is free!

Stop talking about getting more active and just give it a whirl. The first lesson is free – so there are no financial excuses – and hopefully you’ll have a blast into the bargain.

No one was shouted at, no one cried, no one gave up. They were a pretty inspiring bunch


Find out more

BMF one-hour classes take place in parks around the UK. Led by military-trained instructors, they cater for all fitness levels. Prices vary, depending on region and membership options. Go to to find one near you.