Online bootcamp case study

Online bootcamp case study


Zoom Bootcamp

A ‘normal’ bootcamp session with Bamburgh-based fitness experts Northern Bootcamp…but it’s taught online, so you can get involved from your lounge. Perfect for these lockdown times. Previous keen bootcamper Stephanie Klockner gives it a go.

Northern Bootcamp, the leading fitness and weight loss bootcamp in the North, was founded in 2010 by husband and wife team, Caroline and Dan Smith. Dan’s experience working as a PT instructor in the Armed Forces and Caroline’s passion and skill in health and fitness make for a winning combination. Over the last decade, over 3,500 campers have benefitted from their expertise and helped them to lose an impressive 8lbs on average whilst on camp.

Unable to deliver residential bootcamps at their base in Northumberland or their Bootcamps Abroad in Lagos, Portugal for the foreseeable future due to the Covid-19 virus, there has been an unexpected silver lining of the lockdown. For the first time, Caroline and Dan are now offering live bootcamp fitness classes online. Which means that anyone across the UK (and globe) can join in with their bootcamp sessions – a bonus for me given I live almost 300 miles away from the North East .

The sessions are live and interactive and varied and it is all done by Zoom video conferencing which is simple to use even for the most stubborn of technophobes.

How does it work?

Having gone online to check the weekly class table, I sign up and pay for my selected classes on The instructor emails me a hyperlink before the start of each class. I click on the Zoom link and can then see Caroline or Dan live in their bootcamp stretch room, ready to go. And they can see me and the other (up to 15) participants allowing them to both teach the class and watch our positions and ensure they are correct through individual feedback to everyone – the sessions feel fully interactive.

Where should I do it?

Recommend choosing a spacious room with a firm & even floor, and one that offers the best wi-fi at home. If you can keep the children out during the session, even better but as all participants are on mute once the classes begin, it’s not the end of the world if your children jump on you mid-exercise (as my two young kids tend to do).

What do I need?

A good non-slip mat if you have one and a chair is occasionally needed for some exercises. If you don’t have any resistance bands or weights, it is easy to improvise with household items. Or as I did, filling up old 4 and 6 pint milk cartons with gravel. You can certainly take part in the sessions without owning any official gym kit.

How the classes work?

The classes range from 30 minute HIT sessions to longer strength and functional work-outs (of up to 45-60 minutes). Suitable for all levels and age groups, each session has been carefully planned by Dan and Caroline. Because you are watching the instructor on a small screen, there is definitely an advantage if you are familiar with the exercises but it is not essential as they talk you through and demonstrate each one.

What I find fantastic is the modified non-impact alternative version of each exercise for those who have existing injuries (damaged knees and recovering from a recent hernia operation in my case) or whose fitness base is low to begin with. Everyone can take part in all of the exercise sets.

Each class starts off with a warm-up and finishes with stretches to cool down. Both Caroline and Dan’s passion and enthusiasm is infectious and their expertise and determination to help me improve my fitness and strength comes through my Zoom screen in every session. They know just how to encourage maximum work rates from us all without ever being overbearing or too militant. The classes have been a highlight of the lockdown for me. And even better, many of the sessions are available for free on the Northern Bootcamp You Tube channel so if I do miss a day, there really is no excuse.

Anything special I need to do with my laptop?

It is worth angling your laptop (or ipad/phone) so Caroline and Dan can see your entire body as you work out which enables them to see your form & check that you posture is correct whilst you do each exercise.  It’s possible to choose the view you see on your screen during a class. I prefer to go for ‘gallery view’ as I find it motivating to see others working ‘alongside me’ but a one-to-one view with the instructor only is an option.

What to remember?

A full drinks bottle close by. To log into the class 5-10 minute early to ensure it can start promptly on the hour. To mute your microphone at the start if you are likely to have family members coming in and out of the room.

Any technical issues?

None so far. For those with weak wi-fi at home, if they experience screen freeze, it is easy to click back on the Zoom hyperlink and re-join the class.

How does it compare to going on a residential bootcamp?

Having completed a number of inspiring four-day bootcamps up in Bamburgh with the excellent Northern Bootcamp team, the atmosphere of doing a class at home is obviously very different. What I especially miss are the delicious and healthy meals cooked by their chef Carla (although I have been able to recreate some of my favourites using a copy of their healthy recipe book ‘Bootcamp Kitchen’). It takes some willpower for me to work out in my own lounge and not notice the need for a quick hoover in there whilst mid plank position. And I would definitely love to be back up north, surrounded by the gorgeous Northumberland coastal scenery. Whilst I can’t experience some of the inspiring and adrenaline-pumping activities that you do on a bootcamp (from sea kayaking, abseiling, coasteering, aqua aerobics and the like), their Zoom Bootcamps come a close second.

For me, the enforced lockdown has definitely created more time to exercise at home and alongside my love of a good bike ride, the opportunity to try out these bootcamp sessions over the past few weeks has been positively life-changing. The sessions have been great for my core, strength, improving posture and my cardio fitness, not to mention a priceless stress reducer during these anxious times and days taken up with the challenge of ‘home schooling’. Left to train alone, I find it hard to motivate or push myself to the same levels that I achieve each session ‘alongside’ Caroline and Dan. I am definitely a convert and a big fan of these new online sessions especially as they have provided another way to stay in touch with friends who are also doing the classes with me.

Once the lockdown is lifted, I hope to be able to book straight onto a residential bootcamp with Caroline and Dan to really make the most of the fitness gains I have made in the past few weeks.

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