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Outdoor Boot Camps

Kick-start Your Workout

Bootcamp. The very word inspires visions of draconian drillmasters reducing grown men and women to blubbering masses of self-pity, prostrate on the floors of gyms and open fields. The mere idea of waking up in the wee hours to have your body and self-image stretched to their limits might fill most people with dread, but honestly, there’s no better time to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to scratching a few New Year’s resolutions off your list.

Here’s the lowdown on two high-intensity, high-impact outdoor fitness programs in town. So bust out the calipers and your favorite running shoes, and — even if you won’t be doing a triathlon anytime soon — prepare to unleash your inner jock.

BootCamp SF

There’s no better way to get push-up ready than doing it in a manner that allows you to soak in beautiful scenery simultaneously. That’s where BootCamp SF comes in, and few establishments with that kind of appellation quite compare. Exposure to the great outdoors? Check. Variety versus monotony? Check. Compassionate coaches accustomed to training both athletes and neophytes? Check. A supportive community of people who, in six short weeks, will most likely comprise some of your favorite friends and workout buddies? Not a problem!

Launched by fitness instructor Keith Wohlwend, BootCamp SF convenes at a variety of locations throughout San Francisco and at one location in Oakland. It also includes morning and evening workouts, just in case you’re wary of sunrise sweating. All boot camps are organized in six-week sessions: one hour a day and four days a week, with an optional Saturday class in Crissy Field.

Don’t worry about getting lumped in with the gung-ho fitness aficionados if you’re more of a gym procrastinator. Everyone is grouped together according to his or her fitness capacity, and groups always tend to be small and intimate.

At the start and finish of each boot camp, your trainer will assess your health and fitness levels in terms of flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular strength, which will help you set and measure your individual goals along the way. The best part? Every day is different. Expect a little cross-country running, some hill workouts, and running the best flights of city stairs.

VyAyr Fitness

When personal trainer Kristi Dowler founded VyAyr Fitness in 2006, she was fixated on the marriage between “vitality” and “air” — hence, the unusual name of her brainchild. Dowler’s love for the outdoors, joined with her belief that fitness is the key to giving people the kind of optimal energy that is so necessary to their daily lives, is what led her to develop a boot camp especially for women.

While VyAyr offers personal training, yoga, pilates, and nutritional counseling to both men and women, boot camps are designed to get women of all fitness stripes out on the field by fostering a fun, non-competitive, team-oriented approach to exercising. Dowler and team’s rigorous yet affable approach to their work is one that’s all about building personal relationships — a plus when it comes to rousing interest among women.

Programs take place at both Crissy Field and South Beach. All boot camps have a four-week duration, and you can opt to come in for three, four, or five days a week. A wide swathe of clients favor the workout year-round.

Partner exercises abound, but you’re also encouraged to push yourself where you see fit. The workout is liberal with lunges, squats, obstacle courses, jump rope, weightlifting, and other activities designed to challenge all of your muscle groups. Don’t forget to breathe!