The final portion of my interview with Alise Oliver on her The Trainers Big Book of Boot Camps is really getting into the meat and potatoes of advice for instructors. What are the challenges, who does it appeal to, instructor tips, and Alise’s approach to nutrition are all central to this portion of our talk; when I spoke with Alise what stood out to me was her genuine enthusiasm and love of fitness. What shines in her truly speaks to the spirit of the FiTOUR mission and our goals as a family in fitness. I hope you enjoy her thoughts and ideas!
FITOUR: What challenges can occur with boot camps?
ALISE: A big challenge is always coming up with something new. Whether you’re doing circuits, stations, AMRAP, strength, cardio, or HIIT, always putting in time to programming creatively is critical. You also have to be sensitive in making the workouts competitive because often in class you have such a wide range of abilities. Make sure they’re competitive for everyone and that you are not leaving people in the dust during the workout. Rotating through styles so it is not always a timed, so the strong athletes aren’t always finishing first is vitally important. You do not want people to feel demoralized if they’re not of that elite athletic caliber. Timed stations, where someone is not coming in first all the time, allow all people to be equally engaged. In a group fitness class, it is challenging with a big class to make sure that everyone is doing the movements correctly. Be very attentive, take a lot of time watching form to ensure movements are correct to prevent injury. Make sure you’re cueing correctly, and scaling if necessary.
FITOUR: What demographic does the book appeal to most/who can do boot camp?
ALISE: I think boot camp is for everyone. Sometimes people are intimidated, but I believe a good instructor can make it available to everyone. You must know what you are doing to be able to scale movement and scale weight and make sure you know the capabilities of everyone in the class; I’ve had kids in boot camp, people in their 60s and every age in between. I think everyone can do it – it’s fun and I think that everyone can benefit from moving their body and having fun at the same time.
FITOUR: Have you considered a senior boot camp follow up?
ALISE: I’ve thought about this way back when I started with the JC. This instructor, who I was so crazy about, did a senior sit n strength class – most of the class was performed in a seat. That stuck in my mind, and then when I was on my three-month amazing adventure around the country I visited a married couple who used to be in my boot camp class, and the wife was the CEO of a senior living community. I spent a few days with them and we went out and we did our own boot camp and she talked to me about wanting to start a boot camp fitness for seniors. It is fascinating because I feel very strongly that as you get older you either use it or you lose it. I use my parents as an example, my mom is 84 she shovels her own snow, she mows her own lawn, she rakes her own leaves and she is vibrant. My father, bless his soul passed away about 6-7 years ago, he was not physically active and I believe that contributed to his early passing. That model is very clear in my mind; I think seniors can benefit from boot camp because they can have fun; to be able to have fun in a group, moving around with fitness improves the quality of life so much. I think it is a fascinating and undeveloped area of fitness.
FITOUR: What tips do you have for instructors of boot camp?
ALISE: I believe it is super important to make your class feel welcome and give them all the same attention: from the really talented athletes to those that are timidly tip toeing into your class. Treat them all equally, and make them all feel important. I think it is super important to learn their names as quickly as possible. To use their names when they arrive, when you cue, and when they leave. It’s such a huge thing; I’ve had people tell me I can’t believe you know my name after one class. It makes them feel special and it makes them feel important. They feel you care about them and that makes them feel like that is a place that they want to go because the instructor makes them feel special. It’s important to encourage your athletes in the most positive way, to never shame them, to never make them feel like they are not good enough. Always use positive language. I also feel it’s important in that positive way to push them outside their comfort zone: use heavier weights, run a little faster. Creating that comfortable environment and pushing them to challenge their abilities helps with retention rates.
FITOUR: How does nutrition fit into the book, if at all?
ALISE: The book is all about Boot Camp! Nutrition is a whole other ball of crazy – because there are so many directions people can with nutrition. I encourage my athletes to eat real food, that is most important. I encourage them to follow a 90/10 plan: 90% real food and 10% treat meals. I don’t say “cheat” I prefer “treat” because I don’t want them to feel badly about food. I don’t like to say good or bad, because I don’t want to people to feel guilty or shameful about enjoying their treats or something that is not a real natural food. One size doesn’t fit all – one thing doesn’t work for all --- you can go paleo, vegetarian, follow macros, whole 30, high carb low fat, there are so many things and nothing is the ONE WAY. Its whatever works for you and I encourage people to find something that works for them and is sustainable. I’ve gone myself from being pretty dogmatic to realizing that I do not know everything and I don’t know what works best for everyone so I can’t be judgmental or dogmatic about it; I have to let people find their own way and what works best for them.
When the opportunity arises to speak with and meet folks in fitness, I suggest you grab it. We are teachers of fitness, but we are also learning on our own paths to excel in this field. If you have topics you’d like more information on, but just aren’t finding the time to research those ideas, shoot me an email and I’ll do some nosing around for us all to continue to learn and grow together as one FiTOUR Family in Fitness.
In Good Health,