Want to get fit? Try military-style bootcamp

Why are military-style bootcamp sessions gaining popularity globally, and in Dubai? Vision looks at what makes people addicted to this fitness regimen. 

Medical researchers have dubbed sitting as the cancer of our time, saying it leads to heart problems, obesity, high blood pressure and even tumors. In many cities, where a big percentage of the population works behind a desk for most of the day, it requires willingness and dedication to break away from a sedentary lifestyle. Many seek to escape the trap by joining health and fitness clubs.

The global fitness and health club industry is estimated to generate more than $75 billion in revenue per year, according to the 2013 IHRSA Global Report. In the U.S. alone, it is forecast revenues of fitness and recreational sports centers will reach approximately $28.2 billion at the end of 2015.

Military-style bootcamp is one of those fitness trends gaining popularity globally, and in Dubai, where the sports industry continues to grow. Given their affordability, compared to hiring personal trainers, and the social support and encouragement one gains from being part of a group, it is no surprise demand is increasing.

Guillaume Mariole, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Dubai-based Ignite Fitness and Wellness, brought the concept to the emirate after witnessing its popularity in Australia. Ignite started with five staff in 2010 and has since grown to a team of 30.

“Every class is different; we kick it off by requiring people to do BFA’s (basic fitness assessment) to ascertain their fitness levels and set benchmarks for them to achieve,” says Mariole. “We have a rank structure where by we reward people with a t-shirt that has a different colour based on their rank (performance from the BFA). We get recruits in ranks, files and punishments are handed out if people are not on time or if we feel they are getting a little lazy.”

It’s hard work and Mariole knows how to push participant’s limits, especially when someone slacking off means the rest of the team gets punished. But people keep coming back, hungry for results.

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Military-style bootcamp is gaining popularity globally, thanks to its affordability, visible results and access to group supportImage: Ignite Fitness and Wellness

Anil Bhoyrul, who has been attending sessions with Ignite for almost four years, says he’s become addicted to it. In a short space of time, he’s improved from running 5k in 45 minutes to doing the same distance in 25 minutes.

“The thing about bootcamp is it’s not just about feeling better, but it’s quite an addiction. If I don’t get up at 5:30 a.m., three times a week to attend the sessions, I feel something is wrong with me and I have a strong urge to do it,” he says.

“I also know from first hand experience if you don’t go to bootcamp for three weeks you are back to the bottom of the class when you return. At 50 years of age, it’s been a revelation.”

And that’s exactly what Mariole is trying to achieve. The whole concept is based on giving individuals a different experience, get them training outdoors – whether it’s at the height of summer or winter, and help them realise their full potential, he says.

“The course is effective because we take it back to basics,” explains Mariole. “Military bootcamp focuses on an individual all around health and fitness, working on the upper body, lower body, full body, cardio vascular system and core.”

He believes the secret to his company’s success and the rising demand for bootcamp lies in the results it generates. “The course has never been a fad, and continues to gain popularity because it has a track record of delivering results, whether that was to increase someone’s fitness levels, assist them with gaining strength, weight loss, to meet people or generally a lifestyle choice to keep things in balance,” he says.

Looking ahead, Mariole sees a “large growth opportunity in the market”. The company is planning to launch the Ignite App and to enter the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain markets during the first quarter of 2016.