One of the things that I absolutely LOVE about training groups of people is that I get to experiment.
Some experiments turn out great others turn out…not so great. I was working on a fitness related project the other day and during my research turned up some information on Bean Bags. You know, the little sealed bags containing dried beans, PVC pellets, polystyrene, or polypropylene? Of course, I always run items like this through my bootcamp brain and voila, in this case instantly came up with several fun drills that you can use in your bootcamp.
- During a warm up, have everyone do a relay race all going at once to a marker 20 yards out and back. The bean bag must be on their heads the whole time. If it falls, that person starts over again. Put a time limit on the drill so that no one is standing around too long. Or score a point for each completed round and the team that reaches a certain point total first…wins. Can you imagine the chaos?
- Partner up and do the same drill as above. They must link elbows or hold hands during this same drill. They score one point per completed round. Who scores 5 points first? This would be 20 yards out/20 yards back. A total of 200 yards.
- Each person gets a bean bag. They walk out 10 yards and back. The bean bag must stay on their shoe the entire time. If it falls, they start over. Who crosses the finish line first?
- Partner up. Each person gets a bean bag and has to quickly walk out 20 yards and back. Oh, by the way – they hold the bean bag between their knees! If they drop it, they BOTH start over again. Who crosses the finish line first?
- Partner toss. Each 2 person team gets one bean bag. They start out facing each other 5 yards apart. They toss the bean bag to each other. For every completed catch, they take one step backwards (or reverse lunge). If they drop the bean bag, they take a step forward. Which team gets the furthest in 2 minutes?
- Partner throw and burpee race. Each 2 person team gets one bean bag. One person throws the bean bag as far they can. The other person sprints out to retrieve it and brings it back. The person who threw it gets one point for each burpee that they do before the other person returns. Who scores the most points in 2 minutes? Keep track of your bean bag – it may get mixed up with other teams if you have a lot of people.
- Bean bag burpee parachute race. OK this one is a little weird but it has the potential to be tons of fun and will not be forgotten any time soon! (That’s the point, right?) Attach a toy parachute to your bean bag. Here’s how to make a parachute at home. You only need ONE bean bag parachute in this version. The bootcamp instructor (that’s you) throws the parachute up as high as he or she can – or choose someone if your bean bag parachute throwing skills are a work in progress. Everyone does as many burpees as possible before the parachute hits the ground. Who wins? Who cares? They had a blast doing this.
- Bean bag toss (sometimes called cornhole in the Ohio Valley and the Southern States of the United States), is a game similar to horseshoes and quoits, played with bean bags and two goals. (wikipedia)
- Footbag (also known as Hacky Sack, a trademark) is a type of ball-shaped bean bag that is used to play various games. (wikipedia)
- Bean bags are often used for a game similar to dodgeball where small square bean bags are slid across the floor with the object to hit the opposing team’s players in the foot. The game is particularly popular in American elementary schools as a safer alternative to dodgeball. (wikipedia)
What are some other ways you can think of to implement bean bags in your bootcamps? All of the above are great for warm ups, dynamic drills and time fillers. They give your bootcampers a change of pace, guarantee laughter and cannot be done in your local big box gym.
You can currently find bean bags on ebay for $4.99 (includes 8 bean bags) plus $2.99 shipping.
It’s easy to get caught up in trying all of the fun bootcamp partner drills.
We did them as kids, they were fun and now that we’re adults we should do them again. Our clients will love them, have fun and get results.
Unless they get injured.Take shoulders for instance. You use your shoulders directly and indirectly at every bootcamp workout for exercises such as push ups, dips, presses, burpees, punching, pulling, slamming and swinging. Now all of a sudden somewhere along the line you or a client has a nagging shoulder pain. Maybe it was a result of overuse, an awkward angle, too much weight, too many reps – you’re not exactly sure when or why, but something is different. A nagging pain won’t go away and you can barely lift your arms above your head.
AVOID THIS EXERCISE
In my experience, one of the absolute worst exercises for the shoulder area is the partner wheelbarrow. You may remember this from “Field Day” in elementary school. One person holds the other persons legs while the other person “runs” forward with their hands. Sometimes I’ll hear about people doing this exercise not only forwards, but laterally, backwards and God forbid, jumping. A plyometric wheelbarrow.
Sure, we got away with it as kids because we were…kids. Now that we’re older, some of us are heavier, some of us are less flexible,and less coordinated and our bodies may not move as they used to. It’s important to have a list of “Do Nots”. Do you have a list of “do nots”? This exercise (the wheelbarrow) goes on my list.
As you know, certain exercises are beneficial to the shoulder, but there are others which may place the shoulder at risk for injuries and pain – especially for older, overweight bootcampers.
Following are 3 bootcamp exercises to be leery of- they might just be the culprit for shoulder problems:
1. The Wheel Barrow: The shoulder is loaded with compression and is made to move too fast with too much weight and sometimes in multiple directions. Why? What’s the point of risking injury? If the ground is uneven or if the pusher is going too fast, an injury can occur in a split second. The shoulder is a “hanging joint”. Treat it with care and cross this “exercise’ off of your list.
2. The Hand Stand Push Up: Leave this one to the kids and Crossfitters. It loads the rotator cuff in a potentially dangerous position and can lead to rotator cuff injuries. There are other exercises with equal benefits and less risk.
3. Overhead Exercises Like Bottom Side Up Kettlebell Exercises: This exercise requires A LOT of concentration, coordination and balance – something that newer bootcampers may not have mastered yet. Too little benefit, too much chance of injury.
What are some of your “Do Not” Exercises?
If you or your clients find yourself with shoulder pain, there are therapeutic exercises that will help treat any shoulder problems – from tendonitis to bursitis. If the shoulder area is inflamed, then rest and possibly medication is required. Therapeutic exercises consist of motion, strengthening and conditioning exercises and can be utilized in a bootcamp when a client is hesitant to work a part of their body due to a tweaked muscle, etc.
Isn’t it ironic how the same thing, exercise, can either heal or harm you? Below is one of my current favorite experts that I turn to when I need to address a muscle tweak or some sort of pain. His name is Kelly Starrett. He’s a chiropractor, trains with weights, does Crossfit and has a huge following on YouTube. His best selling book, “Becoming A Supple Leopard” is a must have for long term health and flexibility. Below is a YouTube video of Kelly in action. This guy can get you and/or your injured clients back to Superman status in no time.
P.S. If you are a fitness professional, you must check out “Fitness Video Profits”. Kelly Starrett has catapulted his career as a result of his YouTube channel. He travels around the world giving seminars about maintaining correct posture and living a healthy life. He is the author of a best selling book, has appeared on the TV show, “The View”, runs a Crossfit Gym, is married and is a father.
P.P.S. I’d rather do this drill! It’s safer!
While working on a YouTube project with a friend of mine, he mentioned the name Oleg Kechko. Oleg is an Olympic weightlifting world champion who lives in my city and originates from Russia. Oleg has cleaned and jerked over 450lbs at a bodyweight of 169lbs. As a kid, Oleg used kettlebells regularly as part of his training as well as just goofing around while having fun.
Kettlebell exercises are in their nature holistic; therefore they work several muscles simultaneously and may be repeated continuously for several minutes or with short breaks. This combination makes the exercise partially aerobic and more similar to High-intensity interval training rather than to traditional weight lifting. In one study, kettlebell enthusiasts performing a 20 minute snatch workout were measured to burn, on average, 13.6 calories/minute aerobically and 6.6 calories/minute anaerobically during the entire workout – “equivalent to running a 6-minute mile pace”.(1)
One of the fitness games that Oleg and his friends would play as kids was a sort of kettlebell toss. You and your partner stand about 4 feet across from each other and gently toss the kettlebell towards your partner who then grabs the handle, swings it and tosses it back. You can do this with one hand or with two hands. You can alternate hands each time or stick with the same hand for a certain number of reps before resting that side and working the other side. You’ll want to do this on a grassy surface and as mentioned in the title, it is an advanced move.
How can you use it? Tons of ways.
- As a warmup – benefits include increased focus and concentration
- As a time killer, who ever drops it first does 10 or more reps of an exercise
- As part of a main workout
- Vary the weight – start with a small, light kettlebell and progress up to a 35lb (16kg) size
- Have 3 people per group instead of 2
Below is a YouTube video of Oleg demonstrating one of these drills:
Because this is an advanced drill that can hurt someones toe, foot, etc, you MUST repeat to your group to be careful. Once we get past the danger aspect, we realize that this looks pretty darn fun. I’ll definitely be trying it but right now all I have to partner up with is a 1 1/2 year old and/or a 5 year old. Probably not a good idea.
Another fun looking drill is “kettlebell juggling”. See this is the type of stuff that I love to try when I’m waiting for a bootcamp class to start or have a couple of veteran bootcampers who need to do something while they are waiting for the next activity.
Here’s a video of kettlebell juggling in action:
Lastly, if both of these exercises (kettlebell toss and kettlebell juggling) are a little too unusual, here are 7-KB-Drills from Enter The Kettlebell that I found that you can have with no strings attached. Download them and use them in your bootcamp or coaching classes. Another way to say “thank you” for being a regular reader of this blog.
One of the biggest challenges in fitness bootcamp or group training is dealing with people who are just standing around.
Maybe they have finished the current drill before everyone else or maybe they’re waiting for their turn in a fitness game or challenge. How do you deal with this? I get this question regularly and I’m sure it’s something that you’re always aware of in your own bootcamp training. When you’re a new trainer, this may be the last thing that crosses your mind as you’ve got a ton of things to already keep you busy such as:
- Learning everyone’s name
- Learning everyone’s fitness level
- Making sure you have everyone’s paperwork (liability waiver, Doctor’s medical release, etc)
- Learning the tendencies of the group, i.e. are they runners or not? Are they in love with burpees or not? Etc.
- Coming up with a warm up, fitness game, dynamic activity, workout
- Working on getting referrals
- Building up a social media page for them to interact on (facebook)
- Worrying about waking up on time or getting to class on time
- Setting up the class – cones, equipment, music
- And lots more that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
It takes experience to look several steps ahead and anticipate the fact that people may just be standing around at some point. In a bootcamp setting, most people are there to workout, not think. It’s your job to do all of the thinking for them. This is why group training is so popular. All you have to do is show up and follow along. So thinking, in this case, is not necessary for your clients.
Two ideas that I used in my own bootcamps were to:
- Assign a different veteran bootcamper each day with the challenge of keeping the other bootcampers busy. Veterans LOVE this kind of stuff in my experience. You know your bootcampers personalities and there are those who will enjoy this kind of thing. The ones who have been with you a while, who finish all of your drills and workouts first are the ones that you want to do this.
- Work calves and the neck. Let me explain. As trainers we all know that everything is connected like a chain and if one body part is weak, structural issues can occur over time. Weak necks are everywhere. People who sit at computers all day may develop forward protruding heads due to weak neck muscles. The muscles are strong enough to pull their heads back. This is where bootcamp neck training comes in. It probably would NOT make a good product (The bootcamp neck workout) but it WOULD make a perfect drill to do with those who are standing around, catching their breath and waiting to be told what to do next. Here’s how it might go:
- The veteran bootcamp instructs those standing around to work neck and calves. The calves drill will be a killer so lets do neck first. Place you hand up against your head and apply GENTLE pressure for 15 seconds counting out loud. Switch sides for another 15 seconds. Continue for 3-4 sets. During this time, explain WHY working the neck is so important. Remind them, especially the women, that they WILL NOT get big bulging neck muscles from doing this – just like they have NOT, most likely, gotten big bulging bootcamp muscles (shoulders, triceps, legs, etc).
- Next work calves. Yes, calves get lots of stimulation with sprints, squats, jumps, etc but not like this! Find a curb or ledge. This is a 4 minute drill but can be stopped at anytime once the entire group is ready to go to the next activity. The starting position is with the heels in the air, toes on a curb or ledge. SLOWLY lower the heels over a count of 10 seconds, counting out loud. The heels should not arrive in the bottom position until the count of 10. Hold the stretch, heels are now in the bottom position for 50 seconds. Use a stop watch or count out loud. Remind everyone to focus on the stretch, keep talking to a minimal. Once the 50 seconds are up, raise the heels into the starting position and start the 2nd minute – lower the heels SLOWLY over a count of 10 seconds. Hold the stretch, heels are now in the bottom position for 50 seconds. Count out loud. Once the 50 seconds are up, for the 3rd minute, simply perform slow, rhythmic raising and lowering of the heels. All the way up and all the way down for one minute. You may starting hearing strange noises during this. Squeals of pain.
The 4th minute is done the same way as minute #1 and minute #2. Done.
As mentioned, this can be cut short at anytime or you can have the rest of the group join in as they finish their drill or workout.
Of course, wall sits, planks, and sprints all work well for those standing around.
- One minute of wall sits (or tree sits, etc), one minute of planks, 4 x thirty yard sprints
- 45 seconds of wall sits, 45 seconds of planks, 3 x thirty yard sprints
- 30 seconds of wall sits, 30 seconds of planks, 2 x thirty yard sprints
Speaking of standing around, I received this question via email a few days ago:
“I find that I LOVE games to break things up but typically the games I have purchased in the past involved a TON of idle time and my clients wont stand for that. They are not going to wait while a teammate goes by standing in line etc. So I am leery. Thank you “
The question was regarding Leon Melnicenko’s new product, Team Competition Circuits Volume 2.
Here’s Leon’s response to the question:
Team Competition Circuits are specially designed to keep your campers on their toes at all times. The workouts are very challenging, lots of fun and highly effective. Once you start to use the workouts and incorporate them in to your Bootcamp, you’ll understand what I mean. Give it a try and see for yourself, in fact if they don’t do as I’ve promised you can Contact me within 60 days for a full refund. How does that sound?”- Leon Melnicenko
As promised, below is my walk through/review of “Team Competition Circuits Volume 2”. Get it while it’s still available!
Check out “Team Competition Circuits Volume 2”
P.S. If you haven’t checked out Fitness Video Profits, what are you waiting for? Trainers all over are catching fire with all of the possibilities. I show you step by step how to leverage your trainer or coaching experience into a bigger audience, bigger paycheck and you can still get the current bonuses and lifetime access. Will you be one of them or will you be watching them? YouTube is yours, free for the taking. Fitness Video Profits will show you how to quickly get up and running. Check it out!