Monday, February 10, 2003

BootCamp assaults holdout flab

For advanced fitness, class may work for you

By Llee Sivitz
Enquirer contributor

Who goes to exercise class at 6 a.m.? I asked myself as I drove, bleary-eyed, to BootCamp Bodies. Evidently, at least 22 people do, because they already were assembled for "boot camp" when I arrived at the Columbia Parkway Branch of the YMCA.

BootCamp Bodies is a one-hour class which focuses on core (torso) strength and cardiovascular fitness. The class includes calisthenics, free weights, jump rope, crunches and push-ups - plenty of crunches and push-ups.

We awaited our marching orders from Marcia Yager, 46, a certified personal trainer and spinning instructor, who founded the program to give individual attention to exercisers in a group setting.

"I thought there had to be something better than being a personal trainer, where I could reach more people." Ms. Yager says. "Most people I know just want to get rid of some body fat and gain self-confidence and self-esteem. And they have a lot of obstacles."

  BootCamp Bodies is taught at the Columbia Parkway Branch of the YMCA, Columbia Parkway and Delta Avenue in Columbia Tusculum.
  Reach instructor Marcia Yager at 533-0747; e-mail   A Web site is under construction:
• Beginners - Nine-week program (prepares you for advanced class). Cost: $450 (includes reading materials). Class times: Tuesday and Thursday, times vary. Call for details.
• Intermediate Advanced - Challenging, but one level below Advanced. Cost: $18 per session. Class times: 1-2 p.m. and 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday.
• Advanced - Highest intensity. Cost: $18 per session (includes monthly body fat composition test). Class time: 6-7 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
• BootCamp Bodies For Kids - Starting in April. Call for details
Wyoming resident Beth Doran recently turned 50 and is "not too depressed about it, thanks to this program." She started a year ago and attends three days a week.

"I thought I was in pretty good shape. I ran and biked, but when I started here, I found I was just fair," she says. "Now my strength, flexibility, coordination, everything has improved."

BootCamp Bodies is not for everyone.

"This is an advanced class," Ms. Yager says. "If someone has been sedentary for years or is really overweight I would not encourage them to attend. I don't want them to be intimidated or injured."

Ms. Yager meets with all participants to learn their fitness history and assess their fitness goals.

The routines are fast paced. Ms. Yager roams the room, checking participants' form and effort.

"How about trying the 12 pound weights this time?" she urges one exerciser. Then she's down on the floor next to another, demonstrating proper technique.

"I know each person's abilities, how much weight they can lift, how far they can go," she says.

She never uses the same workout twice - that "promotes boredom and you'll never meet your full potential." Her credo is "expect the unexpected."

  Marcia Yager's favorite BootCamp Bodies moves:

• V-ups - Works lower abs. Lay on back. Push lower back into floor as if doing a "crunch" and lift your torso (with hands at your head) and your legs off the floor, one knee bent. Bring opposite elbow across your chest to bent knee, twisting to work your obliques. Lay back down. Repeat other side.

• Roman Chair Squats - Great for shoulders, abs, thighs. Hold a free weight in each hand. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Go to squat position (with knees over feet, as if sitting in a chair) and hold the weights straight out in front of you for one second, keeping abs contracted and shoulders back. Lower weights slowly to your sides as you return to a standing position. Repeat.

• Military Presses - Helps rotator cuff and upper body strength. Standing with shoulders back and abs tight, hold a dumbbell at each ear and lift both weights high over your head. Lower to ears and repeat. Do several repetitions. Then lift by alternating sides for several repetitions. Repeat a set, lifting both arms at once.

• Beach Burners - Bonus Points! 26 sets of 25 V-ups with 15 push-ups between the sets. This equates to approximately 600 V-ups and 400 push-ups in 35 minutes.

Natalia Kokalj, 28, of Mount Lookout, has been in the class for three weeks. Among her fitness goals is to complete a "duathlon" - running, biking and running again in one race. She credits BootCamp Bodies for her "overall strength improvement."

One major benefit for Cathy Sarky, 40, of Hyde Park, is the mentoring Ms. Yager offers outside the gym.

"Marcia will call and leave a message, `Hope you are coming to class,' " she says. "She knows what's going on in our lives so she can keep us focused on our goals. It's a total fitness program."

David Charter, 42, of Covington, agrees. After being in the program for 16 months, he has reached his goal of reducing his body fat from 28 percent to 14 percent. "I want to do an Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run) in July and I got myself into fairly decent shape on my own. But I plateaued and needed help to get down to my goal," he says. "Working with Marcia and coming to this class got me there."

Is Ms. Yager a drill sergeant with no mercy?

"I have no excuses," she admits. "No matter what, they can try. `You don't ever give in, you don't ever give up.' They like that.

"In one class, you're not going to know what this is. This is so much more than just taking a class."

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