About Kyle

Kyle Wood created Bootcamp Ideas in 2010 when he was hunting around on the internet for workout ideas. He runs a successful bootcamp in Victoria, Australia and spends his spare time managing this site, adventuring (or lazying) with his girlfriend and hanging out with his two cats, Boris and Peaches.

6 Mistakes Bootcamp Trainers Make When Planning Their Sessions

I think about workouts a lot running this website. I can’t walk past a group training session in a park without stopping for a moment to work out what kind of drill the trainer is running.

As a result I’ve started seeing some patterns between highly successful bootcamps and their workouts and other bootcamps that are struggling.

Now some bootcamps will do well in spite of how the trainer runs their session, but if you are struggling to get numbers then you are not one of these people.

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So check below and make sure you are not making any of these common mistakes:

1. Using a stop watch all the time

You should not be watching a stop watch, you should be watching your clients.

Successful bootcamps feel personal to their clients. You want to be out there correcting technique and motivating.

Buy yourself a Gymboss if you need to or start planning workouts that don’t require a timer.

2. No session planning

Don’t just rock up to a session with no clue what you are going to do.

This is highly disrespectful to your clients as it shows you don’t value their time and results enough to actually think about what you are going to do with them.

If you have clients with injuries, different fitness levels or conditions (like being pregnant) then you must plan your session so that you can cater for them.

3. Don’t allow enough rest

Not every workout you run with your clients needs to leave them feeling like jelly on a plate.

In fact, my favourite sadist moment is when a client leaves one of my sessions saying that they didn’t feel like they worked hard enough only to come back to me two days later asking why they can’t sit on the toilet.

The body is made of different muscle types and energy systems. Including adequate rest in your workout plans and using other methods to vary intensity is essential in making sure your clients keep getting fitter and stay injury free.

4. Allowing too much rest

This was a problem I had early on as a trainer and I think other beginning trainers share the same problem.

If your clients have done other group fitness classes then they are probably used to an hour of non-stop exercising (which is why I think many of us make mistake number 3 – we try to do the same). So if they come to your workout with lots of long rest breaks they may start looking for something else.

It’s not your fault, it’s just the way they are used to exercising.

Here are some ways to reduce rest in your workouts:

  • Plan your sessions (see #2) so that you aren’t stalling while thinking of a new exercise
  • Include active recovery breaks of running, walking or core training
  • Don’t do too many different drills – this will result in too much time spent setting up and explaining new exercises during the workout. Ideally you want to do all of this at the start.

If you are running a strength or power-style workout that requires a lot of rest, you could just take a few minutes at the start of the session to explain to your clients why it is they will be resting a lot this workout.

5. No gamification

gam·i·fi·ca·tion
noun
the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, to encourage engagement with a product or service.
“gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun”

A key element to any long running, successful bootcamp is the community that exists amongst it’s attendees.

Need proof? Just look at the Crossfit community.

A great way to build community in your bootcamp is to include games. Of course, you still need to train people, but adding games to your warm ups or point scoring to your workouts will build amazing camaraderie in your bootcamps.

6. The trainer joins in the session

I know for a fact that many trainers who read this website do this. This is going to piss you off but please don’t take it personally. I still like you and think you are awesome, we just disagree on this point.

This is a big mistake. One of the things that distinguished my bootcamp from a typical gym class was that it was not instructor led.

I was not up the front of the class where I can’t see you. I was by your side coaching you; correcting technique, encouraging you and making sure your partner was pulling her weight.

I have tried joining in with sessions before and it just doesn’t work. You can not effectively coach your clients and exercise with them at the same time.

Sure jump in with them for a few reps or a sprint to get them motivated, but just remember why you are there, to train people not to get a workout in.

No wars

I love this community and it’s acceptance of everyone’s different training styles.

I wrote this for beginners and people struggling as a way to avoid some common mistakes. I did not write it to start a war.

If you would like to comment politely below, please go ahead. I would love to discuss the points above with you.

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Image: Will Scullin

Starting A Bootcamp Business

Two months ago I got fed up.

I got fed up reading about trainers waking up at 5am to find to 2 clients at their bootcamp. I got fed up reading about clients who love what they do but were so disheartened that they were ready to quit. I got fed up getting emails from clients telling me they had left the industry to get a ‘real job’.

Why was I so fed up about these things?

Because I had been there myself.

I struggled with my first bootcamp and in the end had to shut it down. I know exactly what it’s like to stop the thing that you thought would change your life.

But I came back and tried again. Obviously – or this website wouldn’t exist today.

When I started again I took a different approach. I changed my attitude and started serving people instead of just running a bootcamp.

Here’s what I did:

Over the past 2 months I’ve documented exactly what I changed, along with other things that I perfected along the way.

I’ve tried to keep it interesting with a nice blend of stories and actionable tasks.

I know that my way isn’t the only way to a successful bootcamp so I reached out to several other trainers and asked them to share their stories too.

The result is the Little Bootcamp Book of Starting a Bootcamp Business.

I want to help you by learning from my mistakes and I don’t want money to get in the way so I’ve priced this book a little differently from previous books.

Learn how to get it for free and read more about what’s inside it.

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How to Start a Bootcamp

I don’t want to take anything away from this story by Rob Jones. So I’m just going to hand straight over to him, I’ll see you at the end.

How I (terribly) found my location

Months before my bootcamp even began I was searching for the perfect location. Everytime I headed in, out or around town in my clapped-out van I’d be checking parks and green spaces, picturing myself working out with a group.

The problem was, there were already a ton of bootcamps in my town and they all seemed to congregate in the same parks and seafront spots. But I wanted to be something different. I even wanted to call myself something different from a ‘bootcamp’, but I’ll talk about that another time.

Part of me didn’t want to compete against the other established companies. I thought I’d embarrass myself bringing my tiny new group right next to their burgeoning bootcamps, which seemed chock full of bib-wearing types. The other part of me wanted to set-up somewhere new, untouched by fitness. I wanted to grab myself a niche.

So, I set up in a small park, away from the other bootcamps. In a location in my town I thought there was a need for a bit of outdoor fitness. Oh and it was right next to where me and my bootcamper friends lived – that always helps. I checked with the local council and there was no problem me setting up, so I set a date and it started.

Things went okay, of sorts. But the location just didn’t feel as fabulous as I’d kind of expected it would. Looking back with wisdom (not much mind) the park, although small and pretty, was missing some key all-year bootcamp elements. Plus, a really key one to think about when marketing an outdoor bootcamp, no one could see us – we were invisible to my key audience, bar dog walkers and a few crusty old park-dwelling types. I realised then why no one had set up there and why others had congregated elsewhere.

So, hesitantly, I upped-sticks and moved my bootcamp somewhere else. This time I properly evaluated the future location and it ticked all the boxes. It had space, was fairly flat with decent grassy bits, good street lighting for dark wintry nights and was beside a main thoroughfare so plenty of people could check out my fun sessions.

The location? That’s right, right next to the competition. Thankfully I had a few bootcampers by then so I could put up a good show. It was the best decision I could have made.

How I found my first clients

I made practically every mistake in the book when I started my first bootcamp. But through mistakes come great things, or so I’ve heard…

My group fitness classes began life whilst I was working both at a busy PR office and for the local University as a cardiac rehab coach. A few of the guys in the office had heard I’d just earned my fitness instructor and personal trainer qualifications so encouraged me to start teaching bootcamps after work. So I did.

Early workouts

When I think back at the workouts I created at the start I kinda cringe. They were all so basic and not at all inspiring – just simple circuits with some really strange exercises I’d dug up from old manuals. Week after week my workouts began to get stale and the size of the classes diminished. I was doing something wrong, but what?

I’d also deluded myself that I needed equipment to run a make a bootcamp great. So many people still think that. Purchasing the latest fitness kit doesn’t automatically translate into great class – in fact, in some cases, just the opposite.

Both experience and guidance is what I needed most. So when I finally stumbled upon Kyle’s website, his great books and Garry’s training materials I breathed a big sigh of relief. By that point I had kinda got my a** in gear and was running fairly decent classes, but these guys provided little tweaks and awesome team workouts that injected some serious FUN into my bootcamps – which now ROCK I might add.

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Kyle here again. Rob’s story is one of half a dozen starting stories included in my new book, Starting a Bootcamp Business. Rob now runs his successful outdoor training business called StrideFit.

Portrait cover v2Starting a Bootcamp Business is a manifesto about, you guessed it, starting your bootcamp business.

I’ve compiled my experiences of the past 4 years of running bootcamps and deconstructed it into useful information.

The book is one part motivation, one part how to guide and one part mini business plan.

When I ran my bootcamp, I saw many other group training sessions start in the same park as me and then fizzle out.

I’ve distilled the bare basics of what you need to do to start a bootcamp that will not just be around in 12 months from now but will flourish. Then I’ve carefully edited in a bunch of personal business stories and stories from other trainers.

This book is not meant to cover every possible question that you will have, it’s been written to teach you how to ask the right questions and how to get answers to those questions. Along the way I will tell you what worked for me and what didn’t.

It’s coming out next week on Tuesday (15th July).

And you can get it for free.

Yes, there will be two options for you to get the book. On your Kindle via Amazon or in PDF format via Little Bootcamp Books.

The Kindle version will only be free next week. The PDF version – which looks amazing – is Pay What You Want. That means you can enter a price you chose to pay between $0 and $1,000,000 (if anyone is feeling generous) when you get your copy.

Why have I done this?

I believe this book has an important message. I know there are trainers out there who are just starting or who are thinking about giving up and I don’t want price to get in the way of them getting their hands on Starting a Bootcamp Business.

This is the book I wish I had had when I started my first bootcamp.

Don’t miss out on it. Join the Bootcamp Ideas mailing list to be notified when it arrives.

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Images: StrideFit Instagram

Using Workouts to Fight Depression

Last week, through a series of fortunate events, I spent the afternoon with a guy who was just introduced to me as ‘Jamie who runs a non-profit’.

Later on I worked out that he was actually the founder of the charity To Write Love On Her Arms. I was familiar with the charity from Amy Clover’s 30×30 tour we supported last year.

Why am I telling you this? Because Jamie told us the story of how his charity started and I wanted to share with you.

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Back in 2006, Jamie was working his dream job in a high up position at Hurley (as in the clothing brand). While he was working his dream job, he shared a house with a friend who was a long time recovered drug addict.

One day his housemate asked him if a friend could come stay with them for a few days. She was trying to seek help for her own serious addiction and had been denied entry to a recovery centre. She needed to detox before they would accept her.

Her name was Renee and she was just 19 years old.

As he sat on the couch in my friends living living room, Jamie recalled those few life changing days spent with Renee. To keep her busy, they did different things each night; concerts, shows, basketball games and Church. He was struck by how someone so full of life could also be so depressed.

To help raise money for Renee’s treatment, he and some friends started selling tshirts. But things only really started happening after Jamie wrote his experience down on Myspace. The story went viral.

It was called ‘To Write Love On Her Arms‘. The title inspired by the scars on Renee’s arms from self-harm.

People started emailing him saying ‘I struggle with that too’ or ‘I have a brother who…’ and finally ‘How can I get help?’.

And so the charity known in short as TWLOHA was born.

Which brings me back to how I was introduced to the charity through Amy Clover. Speaking to Amy you would never guess about her past. She has one of those bubbly personalities that you just can’t help smiling while talking to her. However, in 2005 after years of struggle Amy considered taking her own life. A path she thankfully never went down because she called a suicide hotline like TWLOHA.

Watch Amy’s story (link):

Depression affects many of us in different stages of our life. I have not been immune to it myself, but maybe that’s another story.

Amy is running her project again, touring around the US to run empowering workouts and she would like the Bootcamp Ideas community to be a part of it. 

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Hey Trainers! Amy Clover here again to inspire hope and strength through movement, and I want you to join me.

If you missed it last year, I launched The 30×30 Project. To celebrate my 30th birthday that I almost gave up due to a suicide attempt, I taught 30 fitness classes in 30 cities throughout The US and Canada to raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention charity, To Write Love On Her Arms. The Bootcamp Ideas community was so supportive, offering up space to host us and donating to the cause.

This year, we’re doing it all over again, but I consider it more like 30×30 all grown up. :)

We’re hitting major cities throughout the US this Summer and Fall to put on huge fitness and wellness events, and giving 50% of our proceeds to To Write Love On Her Arms. Our mission with these events is to empower participants to rise out of struggle–inside and outside of the gym–with the help of fitness.

I teach intention-driven, HIIT-inspired bodyweight classes that root people in their motivation to push through the pain and start creating strong bodies, lives and mindsets that follow them into everyday life. With mantra incorporation and motivational guidance, I encourage people to experience the pain of a hard workout, and use it to grow stronger.

I created this movement because this is the process I personally used to overcome my clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. After finding discovering fitness as my empowerment tool, I am better able to cope with the emotions when they arise. I truly believe that they won’t swallow me whole and most importantly, I can continue to live an empowered life in spite of pain and struggle.

amy tour 1

Many of you out there know exactly what I mean. Maybe you’ve used fitness to let out pent-up stress or emotions. Maybe you feel a little down if you skip a few workouts in a row. Maybe you train clients who struggle with depression or mental illness, and you see their potential even if they don’t see it themselves.

We can open their eyes. We can show them that there’s hope in sweat.

Physical strength has a lot more to do with mental strength than we give it credit for. Empowerment can start from the outside just as it can from within. The harder we push our limits physically, the more resilient we become mentally and emotionally.

My goal is to convince people out there who might be on the verge of giving up, that they are stronger than they know. I want to teach people how to fight and that they are worth fighting for.

If you believe in this movement and you want to fight on the front lines with me, I ask you to join me in amplifying it.

If you want to help, here are the ways you can do it (pick one or all of them if you wish):

  • Visit the indiegogo (like kickstarter) and donate and/or share.
  • Share the indiegogo with your clients, friends and family across social media with #siotour and in email (after donating, you’re prompted with easy ways to do this, but there are also click-to-tweets and Facebook share copy in the updates of the indiegogo here)
  • Bring your bootcamp as a team to the event near you! We’ve officially announced the first 4 cities (Portland (OR), San Francisco, Milwaukee & Denver) with more to come soon. Come as a team and we’ll sweat out the struggle together. Click here to see the list of all the cities we’re going to and working on setting up.

Thank you for your time today, and for all the work you do inspiring strength in those around you. I hope to see you out on the tour route!

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The other day a trainer commented that one of her clients stated ‘You never train with us!’. Well if you never get to train with your clients, drag them along to one of Amy’s workouts. You are not only supporting a great cause but also building a stronger relationship with your clients.

I will be at the Portland and San Francisco workouts so if you come, we can train together too!

P.S. This still isn’t the secret thing I was telling you about, more info coming tomorrow.

3 Seriously Helpful Things That Minimalism Can Teach Us About Running A Bootcamp Business

Some of you may have heard of this thing that has been making its rounds across the internet over the pass few years and lately even into print media. It’s called Minimalism.

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Minimalism is all about reducing what you have to the bare essentials. It’s often mistaken as simply throwing everything you own away and living out of a small back pack, but that’s incorrect.

Minimalism is about just having things that add value to your life and not holding on to or purchasing extra things that don’t.

For example: If a car adds value to your life because it allows you to get your family to important events, then that is fine. However, if it’s just you and your wife and you own a car each, both take the train to work but occasionally both need to drive somewhere on the weekends, maybe your cars aren’t adding as much value as you thought. Just expenses, maintenance and stress.

I first got introduced to the idea of minimalism around 3 years ago. My wife (then girlfriend) and I had been living together for only 6 months, yet somehow we had managed to fill every cupboard and space of our two bedroom unit. Also, we both had cars even though the PT studio we both worked at was only a 10 minute bike ride away or just a matter of getting the timing right to travel in one car.

We hadn’t gotten to this point intentionally, we had just ended up with a lot of stuff that stayed in boxes and we didn’t need. Over the following few months we sold one car and cleaned out the unit. Later when we moved house (into a smaller space), life was made easier by the fact we had already gotten rid of so much stuff.

Then when we decided to pack everything up and move overseas, again we were able to remove the unnecessary and just take a suitcase and backpack with us. We also didn’t have to pay for an expensive storage unit that would just allow things to collect dust while we lived abroad.

And now, as someone who has been living out of a suitcase for the past 3 months, I can tell you that following minimalism principles has been a lifesaver.

But minimalism isn’t just good for your personal life, you can apply it to your business to help reduce increase your confidence, reduce stress and spend less money.

Here are a few things minimalism can teach us about business.

1. Offer a minimal number of pricing options

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Stop confusing people with ten different pricing options for your Bootcamp. You don’t need memberships, courses, drop ins AND packs. Actually, I will go out on a limb here and say that most of your campers are probably all on the same 2 or 3 plans/options anyway. Am I right?

Throughout the life of my bootcamp I only offered two pricing options:

  • Twice a week or
  • Three times a week.

It made life so much easier for me and the client because they only had to choose between two options. It was also less systems for me to keep track of as everyone renewed at the same time rather than some people being on PAYG and some being on 10 packs others still being on memberships. Less options = less confusion.

For those of you who don’t want any part of this minimalism hocus pocus, there is actually a famous study that backs this up. It’s called The Jam Study and was done by Professor Sheena Iyengar.

In the study, on two separate Saturdays, the organisers set up free samples for jams in a well known store. Once you tried the jam, you could of course buy a jar of it.

On one day they set up just 6 flavours of jam and on the other – thinking more is better – they set up 24 jars of jam. Sure enough on the day that 24 jams were out on display, more people stopped to have a taste.

But here is the kicker, on the day with less jam, 6 times more customers made a purchase.

Why? Because making a decision from lots of options is stressful and most of us get overwhelmed and choose to just opt out. To not buy anything.

With less choices though, we are more confident in our ability to way each choice and select the ‘right’ one.

So reduce the choices available for your bootcamp and watch how easy it is to close new clients. You can still keep a hidden cache of other choices if you like, just keep them in the drawer for clients who ask.

2. Only work with clients that add value to you

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Like I said earlier, minimalism talks about only keeping things that add value to your life. In business, that includes your clients.

Don’t worry, if you aren’t into minimalism I have a good non-minimalist based example for you to follow again.

The famous (or infamous) book The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris talks about something called the 80/20 rule. It’s a funny ratio that appears again and again in the world. Sometimes it appears as 90/10 or even 95/5.

It was originally noted by Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto in the late 1800s and is now highly referenced in business and marketing circles. Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by just 20% of the population.

We see this pattern in other aspects of life and business too. Once I show you some more examples you won’t be able to UNsee it.

  • 80% of your time socialising is spent with the same 20% of your friends.
  • 20% of the stuff in your home is what you use 80% of the time.
  • 80% of the worlds wealth is held by just 20% of the population.
  • 20% of your clients will cause 80% of your client induced headaches.

Are you starting to see the pattern?

The last example I included is the one we want to focus on today. If you had a bootcamp like mine, 80-90% of you clients paid on time, showed up to most of their sessions and always brought a good spirit with them. The other 10-20% paid late (or not at all), rarely showed up for bootcamp, complained that they weren’t seeing results, refused to do certain exercises for no reason other then they didn’t like them, distracted other clients during your sessions and just generally were a pain in the ass.

These people take up 80% of your time spent dealing with clients, yet they are only 20% of your revenue. So rather then wasting most of your time on that 20%, why not shift more time to your 80% that want to be there, that support you and refer you to their friends.

(Another example: I bet 10% of your clients bring in 90% of your referrals.)

Garry Robinson did a great video on this very topic that I recommend you check out. Attract More A-List Fitness Bootcamp Clients.

3. Buy equipment that is versatile

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Take a minimalist approach to what equipment you use at your bootcamp.

Every gym, studio and trainers house that I have been to has a dark and dusty corner that is filled with random pieces of fitness equipment like the Tornado Medicine Ball, shake weights, vibration belts, cheap broken medicine balls, various roll out ab wheels and strange stick and band combinations.

This stuff was bought on a whim at a store or some fitness convention and after one week of use started collecting dust, unused.

When buying new equipment, instead think about the variety of exercises and drills you can do with it.

Great minimalist pieces of equipment are:

Also, when planning a session, rather then using medballs, dumbells, ropes, kettlebells and sandbags all in one session, try to think of how you could run the session with just one or two of those pieces of equipment. (Unless of course you are running Bootcamp Monopoly.)

Using less equipment will keep the workout focused and will save you the hassle of transporting a lot of different pieces of equipment.

How to put it into action

Minimalism isn’t some crazy cult. It’s about reducing the unnecessary so you can focus on the important.

Implementing one or more of these strategies will help reduce unnecessary stress and will also help your bottom line. It’s a win-win.

  1. Reduce the number of options that you offer new clients. Make it easier for them to choose and for you to manage.
  2. Spend more time on the 80% of your clients who are awesome clients. Fire the other 20% or stop trying to re-enroll them.
  3. When your about to buy a new piece of equipment ask yourself, ‘How much value will this add to my clients and my business?’. If it can only be used for one purpose, don’t buy it.

Now it’s your turn. Do you already follow some of these principles? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.

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P.S. That new thing I was talking about on Sunday is still coming. More info next week.

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Images: Shoes | 55Laney69, Jam Jars | Valarie Everett (CC)