Spring is here, Buenos Aires is heating up, and everyone is already thinking about where to go in the summer. But how do you shake off the effects of all the Malbecs and milanesas that got you through the winter?
You could join the gym, but then you’ll probably just feel bad for not going. Or you place yourself at the mercy of Katrina Petney and her Boot Camp BA, an outdoor fitness club launched this month.
Eight times a week, Petney, a biochemistry graduate and qualified personal trainer from New Mexico, leads an intense hour-long group training session in the green spaces of Puerto Madero and Palermo. It’s a useful option for people—whether short-term travellers, expats, or locals— who find it difficult to make time to exercise in their schedule. And it’s a great place to combine a work out with a bit of socialising.
Petney, who also co-runs Buena Onda Yoga, tells me that the group classes are not only more fun, but also provide the accountability and motivation that are so hard to maintain when you train alone. “If you go to the gym, you often find yourself getting into a routine—you’re not fully focused and you’re always working the same muscle groups,” she explains. “This way helps you get the benefits in a shorter time”.
Short But Sweet
The structure of each session—8-10 minute bursts of intense activity that work the cardiovascular system and targeted muscle groups—is designed to ensure each person gets the most out of the workout.
In my boot camp debut, after a warm up jog, we alternated between shuttle runs and an exercise that was decided by a deck of cards (the suit and number representing the activity and repetitions, respectively). A joker, which fate dealt me on two occasions, meant twenty reps each of all four exercises.
This is typical of Petney’s approach, cramming a lot of different exercises into the hour, with the focus rotating between cardio, to lower body, upper body and core. The variation and fast-pace keeps things interesting, while ensuring you train all your muscles.
In between circuits, everyone takes their heart rate to check if they are hitting the optimal range for training (when you sign up you are asked to provide your resting heart rate), adding an element of personalisation to the group session.
Accommodating different fitness levels and physical capabilities is important to Petney: “I don’t want the boot camp to be one-size fits all but tailored to individual needs and with open communication… it is hardcore—you are pushing yourself as far as you can go. But it’s also accessible for whatever fitness level you are at.”
Petney encourages everyone to speak up about any injuries or niggles so that she can provide an alternative exercise that doesn’t strain the weak spot. She also offers a higher impact version of each activity, so that more athletic types are still challenged. And all the while her expert eye is watching to ensure consistent form and alignment.
If is effective? Well, having been forced to do more squats and plank holds than I ever would voluntarily, the day after my boot camp I was aching in parts of the body I’d never used before. If that’s what you are looking for in a work out, and you enjoy being active outdoor, then Boot Camp BA might just be the place for you to kickstart your summer.