Outdoor workout Women like it that boot camp-style program gets them out of the gym

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian special projects reporter

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Trainer Stefanie Fisher shouts orders at seven women running laps around Esther Short Park just after 5:30 on a recent December morning.

“Keep going,” Fisher said, her native German lending an authoritative accent to her commands. “Listen to your body.”

For the next hour, Fisher pushes the women to their limit as part of Adventure Boot Camp for Women. While gyms throughout Clark County offer boot-camp-style classes, participants in Fisher’s program enjoy it because it’s not at a gym.

“It isn’t the typical indoor gym experience,” said Tina Eifert-Anderson, a 47-year-old Ridgefield resident. “I love that it’s outdoors. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it’s changed my attitude about Northwest winters.”

She and others in the class stick with their outdoor workouts despite harsh weather conditions, including the below-freezing temperatures of earlier this month. Whether it’s 13 degrees or 43 degrees, for an hour before dawn, the class jogs, hops, lunges and duck walks around the park.

Amanda Quintero hates the duck walk, in which the women bend their knees deeply and propel themselves forward in an awkward waddle. But she does it.

And that’s the reason Fisher’s class gets results, Quintero said.

“There’s lots of things I don’t want to do. If I were exercising at home, I wouldn’t do them,” said Quintero, 30, of Vancouver. Since she started taking Fisher’s class in April 2008, she’s lost 95 pounds.

Given that the class costs $299 a month for five days a week and $199 for three days a week, now that Quintero knows the drill, why doesn’t she do it on her own?

“If I could, I would have,” she said. “Paying makes me accountable. Stefanie makes me accountable. She keeps pushing me further and further. I told her she’s my Bob from ‘Biggest Loser.’”

The American Council on Exercise, or ACE, studied boot camp-style workouts and found that they burn an average of 600 calories an hour.

In a story about boot camps in one of ACE’s pubilcations, Cedric X. Bryant, ACE’s chief science officer, put it this way: “There’s a certain element of getting back to the basics and a more functional-training approach. People are looking for different experiences. With boot camps, you’re giving them something outside the traditional club environment.”

The format, especially for a fee-based class, helps exercisers stick to the program.

“It does increase accountability when someone signs up and pays something,” said Terry Harper, the fitness coordinator at Firstenburg Community Center, which offers a two-day-a-week boot camp class for $48 a month. “They are more likely to come because now they have paid, and they become friends with the people in the class. It’s a lot more fun to have company when working out.”

The Firstenburg class sometimes goes outside, but Adventure Boot Camp for Women meets exclusively outdoors.

It makes working out a much different experience, Fisher said. For one, exercisers are not confined by space, and can achieve a greater range of motion. Fisher also said she’s suffered fewer colds since starting the outdoor boot camp.

“Most people don’t get out enough,” Fisher said.

Quintero said she feels invigorated after her morning, outdoor workout. When she first started, Fisher had her tone down some of the moves. Quintero kept pushing ahead.

“It takes a lot of hard work. If you just show up and think the pounds will melt off, it’s not true,” Quintero said.

The first week, she soaked in a hot tub every night and popped painkillers.

“You get through that,” she said, “you don’t look back.”