I believe good fun warm-ups are one of the key elements of truly great bootcamp. Not only can games be both motivating and effective at prepping the body the main bootcamp workout(s), but they can also help develop cohesiveness and competiveness between campers.
I use the following games as warm-ups but they can also be adapted to become fun finishers, making sure bootcampers leave your sessions with a smile!
Note from Kyle: This article today is from Rob Jones. Rob runs his group fitness business, StrideFit near the beaches of Brighton, UK. You can read more about Rob and how he started his business here.
1. Knee defenders
In this game you’ll be trying to tag the knees of your opponent to score a point, and they of course can tag yours for a point too! The difference between this and a normal game of knee tag, however, is that both you and your opponent can protect your knees against tagging by defending with your hands. Here’s how it’s done:
- Get bootcampers to partner up with people of roughly the same fitness level and build. Ask partners to face each other with their hands on their knees. Instruct that they can only score a point when their opponent has taken hands off knees – this usually happens when people are moving around or when they are trying to tag each other.
- Set your timer for 90 seconds, shout “GO” and stand back watch a group of grown adults weirdly hop around each other bent over with hands on knees. Points are usually scored in this round when one person tries to lure the other into tagging a knee by releasing their own hands from their own knees.
- After a short the round take a short rest break then get bootcampers to find a new partner and play for another 90 seconds.
- For the final round open the game up to the whole group. Now you’re not just tagging a partner but tagging any camper – it’s every man/woman for themselves. Again, set your timer for 90 seconds and stand back and watch chaos ensue. Tactics on this round change as opponents will be coming from any direction.
2. The colour run
This running focused warm-up works best with a bit of space, here’s how:
- Mark out a large circle using ten coloured cones (or witches hats), six of one colour and one each of four different colours (if you don’t have different colours mark four of the cones with the numbers 1-4)
- Make sure the circle is large enough for all campers to run around with room for speedy ones to overtake. Each of the four coloured cones (or numbered) cones should be spaced well-apart from each other in the circle.
- As campers jog around clockwise shout out a few drills such as high knee running, butt kicks, side shuffles, fast feet, prisoner lunge walks, high skipping (deer leaps).
- Every so often randomly shout out one of the four colours (or numbers) at which point all bootcampers sprint to that colour and get into a plank position (they have to run around the circle in any direction, not across the centre). The last two people to plank head into the centre of the circle and perform five penalty burpees (or more for the fitter amongst the group) as the others start jogging again anticlockwise. If like my own bootcamp your campers are a mixture of fitness levels, you can skew the warm-up slightly by making the fittest in the group work harder shouting the colour furthest from them.
- Keep campers running for 5-6 minutes to make sure they’re all thoroughly, nicely warmed!
3. [Insert name here] says
Although this warm-up is as old as time, as I’ve not spotted it on Bootcamp Ideas I thought I’d type it out ready for sharing. At its core this is basically the school yard favourite ‘Simon Says’. But in this variation you insert your own name instead of ‘Simon’ (for example, I could say “Rob says jog on the spot”).
I quite often start with this one because you can pretty much get your bootcampers to do any drill or exercise as part of it – you can be as inventive as you like! Here’s how it works:
- First gather bootcampers around and let them know you’ll be shouting out orders throughout the game, but only the orders prefaced by “[Your name] says…” should be obeyed. If any anyone is caught following an order without “[Your name] says…” then they must perform five penalty burpees.
- First get campers moving. If you have space get them to run around clockwise in a circle (don’t bother marking out a circle of cones just keep it free and easy, you’ll see why in a second). If you’re indoors and don’t have space just get them to line up and jog on the spot. The start is the perfect time to catch people out – get them jogging round then quickly penalise the whole lot!
- Next it’s up to you what you want them to do, from planks to squats to running, insert any drill or exercise you think will help them prep for the workouts to come. Just make sure you stand back and watch from a point where you can see them – you don’t want anyone to miss out on their penalty burpees now do you?
- As campers wise-up to the game start making your commands more inventive. I like to layer up commands and get them to do multiple things to keep it interesting. For example “Rob says do five squats, touch one bench come back to me and plank”.
- My final trick is to shout “Okay guys stop – that’s the end of the warm-up”. If anyone obeys and stops then – yes you guessed it – more penalty burpees! To stop the game properly you, the instructor, need to say “[Insert name] says the warm-up is now finished”.
4. The human knot
You’ll need about 10 or more people in order to run this excellent crawling game. It requires a little flexibility and some relatively soft ground/floor. It can get quite up-close and personal, so it may not suit all sessions.
Although I’ve included as a warm-up, I mostly use this as a finisher after a good solid team workout session – it really helps teams bond!
- Split your campers into two evenly matched and numbered teams (if not already done – you may need to jump in if numbers are uneven), then get teams to line up one in front of the other beside the other team. Make sure the front person of each team is level with each other.
- Now ask each team member to stand with their feet wide and reach back with their left arm and reach forward with their right arm to join hands with the person in front and behind them – the exception being the people at the front and back of the line who will only join hands with one person.
- Starting from the back on the shout “GO” each camper drops and crawls through the legs of the team WITHOUT letting go of the other’s hands. When they get to the front they stand and the person behind them then crawls through to stand in front of them, and so on…. It’s called the ‘human knot’ as pretty soon teams become tangled, but you must remember they need to keep holding hands throughout – they can step over each other’s arms to untangle but the hand-to-hand link must remain intact.
- As the game progresses each team will inch forward slowly. The winning team will be the one that gets the furthest in five minutes.
I’m Rob Jones and I’m a trainer and owner of StrideFit based in Brighton, UK. I originally set-up StrideFit in 2011 when I put together group training at a nearby park for some friends, which then turned into some friends-of-friends, then snowballed into some friends-of-friends-of-friends. My sessions emphasise the fun element of training and obviously have hit the spot, because since then my group training bootcamps have grown from just one weekly class to four at three locations plus weekly adventurous trail bootcamps on the nearby national park.
Rob is one of Bootcamp Ideas’ new contributors. If you would like to contribute regularly to Bootcamp Ideas you’re in luck, I’m looking for people to join the team right now. Read how to apply here.