Ask the experts: do boot camps really work?

If you’re cutting out booze, chocolate… fun for Lent, you may be pondering a boot camp to keep you on the straight and narrow. But do they really work? Will you drop a dress size? Will it help you hit a race PB? Is it worth the money?

Q. I’ve been considering gong on a boot camp but they’re chuffin’ expensive, are they actually worth it?

Simone B

A.  Joe Ayo, Owner of Back 2 Basics Boot Camp in The Lake District.

As  founder of a boot camp, you’re probably expecting me to say ‘yes, of course, best thing you could ever do’! But while for some people the answer is yes definitely, for others, in the long term, it’s no.

A boot camp may give you some pretty amazing results but whether you’re able to maintain those results afterwards is down to you and the instruction and help you receive at camp. Like everything with fitness, you need to put in the effort to get results.

Before you start splashing the cash do a bit of research and work out what type of boot camp is going to be most beneficial to you, your short and long-term goals. There are two main types of boot camp to choose from, residential and non-residential. Here’s a bit of a lowdown to help with your decision.



Back 2 Basics Boot Camp, Lake District

Back 2 Basics Boot Camp









What’s it all about? Usually a weekend to a week in duration, at a residential boot camp you surrender everything to the trainers. They control what you eat, drink, and even the time you go to bed.

What results can I expect? Residential boot camps aim to get you as fit as possible, and to lose as much weight as possible in a short space of time. Most people aim to drop a dress size. Typical results can be anything between 2lbs and a stone in weight loss in a week (obviously this varies depending on how much weight you have to lose in the first place).

Who’s it good for? As well as being a good weight loss kickstart, residential boot camps excel in getting you fitter, quicker. I see a lot of 10k, half-marathon and marathon runners knocking minutes off their race times after just one week at a residential boot camp. They’re also great for helping you beat fitness, weight loss or motivational plateaus, or just a good excuse to get away from your everyday life, have a fit holiday – there are plenty of residential boot camps in swanky overseas locations – and not have to make any decisions for a week.

The cons? Residential boot camps can be pretty pricey, but when you think you’re not having to pay for any of your food, you have trainers on tap and you’re not going out shopping or drinking, it doesn’t seem so costly. Once you leave boot camp it’s up to you. If you continue with your new eating habits and keep up with the fitness regime then you’ll continue to lose weight and become fitter. If you don’t… well you won’t. Check whether the boot camp you you fancy provide post camp support – some do and some don’t.

Non residential

Boot camp






What’s it all about? Non-residential boot camps are fitness programmes lasting anything from a week to three months, often taking place in a local park or fitness centre with a few sessions a week. Instructors will usually make suggestions about healthy eating and lifestyle choices but they have no direct control over what you eat and drink outside the boot camp sessions.

What results can I expect? Generally, clients aim to lose 1-3lbs a week. Due to their longer duration, non-residential boot camps can be seen as transformation programmes and usually focus on helping you drop a dress size in around 28 days, with greater results the longer the boot camp lasts.

Who is it good for? You don’t need to take time out so non-residential boot camps are easy to fit around every day life commitments such as work and family. On longer boot camp programmes, you’ll have the support of instructors and access to their expertise for a longer time but at a lesser level than at a residential boot camp. Great for long-term goals, such as getting in shape for your wedding or as an addition to your existing fitness regime.

The cons Non-residential boot camps rely on you taking full ownership of your eating and attendance meaning it’s a lot easier to quit. If you’re not dedicated, then you’re not going to get the fitness results and weight loss you want.


In conclusion then, whether a boot camp is worth it is up to you. Studies show that both types can and do work, and achieve fantastic results. However the effectiveness of the programme depends on your drive and mind-set. Boot camps are challenging and you need to embrace the plan and carry on the journey once boot camp has finished to get the results you want.

Back 2 Basics Boot Camps residential boot camps start at £520 for a week.





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