Addressing mind, body and spirit: This isn’t your typical gym workout.
Women join exercise programs for a variety of reasons. Many simply enjoy the work out. Others may want to shed an extra 15 pounds for a class reunion. Some want to tone up for a milestone birthday. Most, at one point or another, have baby or change-of-life weight to conquer. These weight-loss goals can be attained through commitment, diet and exercise.
For some women, however, weight is a life-long issue, or at least a stubborn albatross. Perhaps some “hold on to their weight’ for psychological reasons. Whether affected genetically by nature, or influenced by how we were nurtured, or caught in a cycle of self-destructive habits, women can accumulate extra pounds in unhealthy or even life-threatening ways. In short, having the wrong foods in the wrong quantities for the wrong reasons, combined with a sedentary life style and lack of exercise, is a recipe for ill health. The question is, “What do we do about it?”
Karen Mones is well aware of the motivations and stumbling blocks facing women today. As a program director for Houston Area Adventure Boot Camp, she knows that weight loss can mean more than just burning calories. “Getting fit is a mental, physical, and spiritual challenge,” says Mones. “It’s a familiar story. It becomes too easy to accept where we are in life. We can sabotage ourselves through dread, denial, and procrastination. Sometimes just getting started is the key to changing our lives.”
Getting past the social pressures
Consider society’s role in sabotaging the health and fitness of women. From a young age, females are susceptible to indoctrination by the media. Portrayed unrealistically on television, cat walks and magazine covers, some girls and women hold themselves to an impossible standard. The struggle with “size” in an image-driven society can affect anyone from the underweight to the morbidly obese. Sometimes the situation spirals out of control into food addiction and manifests in eating disorders. Combine that with the temptation of fast food and a busy lifestyle, and health can be further compromised.
So what about pounds, scales and uber-thin bodies? “Simply put, your ideal weight is your healthy weight,” says Mones, whose job is to put it all into perspective. “Why lose more than you need to just because some magazine says so?” she asks. “Why should we try to compete with some distortion projected by the media? Instead, we should focus on why we are eating and remember that while food can be celebratory, everything in moderation is the best way!”
No, we aren’t Drill Sargeants
And because God created our bodies as an efficient machine, built for movement, that’s where the concept of ‘boot camp’ comes in. For those who have tried gyms and failed, don’t be discouraged. Boot camps may by just the remedy you have been seeking. Surprise! They may not fit the preconceived notions people have.
“No, we aren’t Drill Sargeants. We don’t yell. No one crawls through the mud, and you don’t have to have any particular fitness level. What we do is find creative, fun things to get you moving, regardless of your current abilities. We are here to accommodate you, right where you are in life, and we’ll take it from there. Outdoor exercise and obstacle courses are exhilarating and can challenge our bodies in different ways than a typical gym. We meet at parks and outdoor locations in and around Houston.”
Boot camp comes in increments of four week fitness programs offering instruction and motivational training. The goal? Reduction in body fat, weight, body measurements and an increase in endurance, relaxation, improved posture, and self-confidence. “Non-jocks are welcome. We practice contact skills, coordination, and an incorporate fun activities that are much more than just pushing weights around,” assures Mones. Being in God’s great outdoors seems to be a big plus, setting boot camps apart from the rest. There are side benefits, as well.
The group motivates the individual
“We have had a client that lost 100 pounds. Not everyone needs to lose that much, but anything can be achieved through perseverance. 5 a.m. in the morning may seem awfully early, but you are done at 6 and it takes you through the rest of the day,” says Mones. “There are also evening classes, and coed classes. Men have weight issues, too. In fact, I think I was called into this work in part because of my father. He has struggled with weight and has had Lapband surgery. I have watched him try to deal with weight and ‘comfort eating’ my whole life, and it has given me a unique perspective. I’ve learned what works. An environment where we hold each other accountable really makes a difference. We have one another to support, encourage and inspire. Boot camps are like that. The group motivates the individual.”
There are many success stories for the hesitant to consider. “The number one health benefit from boot camp is lowered cholesterol. Our program also helps with blood pressure and heart health,” says Mones. Studies also show that a reduction in Type 2 Diabetes can result from exercise and diet. “I have received remarkable feedback, such as a piano player whose teacher commented that she was playing better and stronger. Many things have been attributed to boot camp, like the lady who sang longer notes with more breath control. We didn’t originally set out to make better singers or piano players. But it happens, and we do strive for self-confidence, stress relief, and a renewed spirit. Our groups will hear, “Come on kids, give me one more minute!” They will get 4 minutes of funk, plus other innovative workouts.”
There is something about heaven and nature . . .
As Christ renews our spirit, exercise renews the body that God gave us. “Once we realize that weight loss and health are within our reach, we become aware. At time we may wish that we were ignorant again, but once the awareness sets in we are accountable. So what do we do with that? Well, we have to take steps and realize, ‘I have control over myself. I can stop trying to control everything else and just focus on my own actions,’” says Mones. Being under God’s great heavens, working out in the midst of nature, and breathing fresh air gives participants an appreciation of exercise in a whole new light. Perhaps prayer is to the soul what exercise is to the body? And often the effects snowball. Appetites and caloric intakes adjust to new mindsets, further spurring weight loss and improved health.
The first classes of 2010 starts on January 11, with locations and times all over Houston and the surrounding areas. Houston Area Adventure Boot Camp offers classes at various times, so check out their contact information below and website.
Karen Mones, Program Director – Inner Loop and Cypress Camp locations
Stacy Agee, Program Director – Sugarland, Katy and Westchase
Phone: (713) 858-4397
Locations and times:
West Chase: “Women only” 5 a.m. session; Coed 6:30 p.m. session held M, W, Th.
Terry Hershey Park, 15200 Memorial Dr., Houston, 77079
The Heights: “Women only” 5 a.m. session; Coed 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. sessions.
Spotts Park, 3621 Willa St., Houston, 77007
Sugar Land: “Women only” 5 & 8:30 a.m. sessions.
Lost Creek Park, 3703 Lost Creek Blvd., Sugar Land, 77478
Cypress: “Women only” 5 a.m. session; Coed 6:30 p.m. session.
Jersey Village Cy Falls High School, 9811 Huffmeister Rd., Houston, 77095
Katy: “Women only” 5 a.m. session.
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch, 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd., Katy, 77494
Museum District: “Women only” 5:30 a.m. session; Coed 6:30 p.m. session.
Herman Park, Herman Circle Dr.
Midtown: Coed 8:30 a.m. session; Coed 6 p.m. session.
Elizabeth Baldwin Park
1701 Elgin St., Houston, 77004