An Alternative To The Gym

Boot Camps To Go is a unique workout program based on military training 

Squats and Lunges and Push-ups! Oh, My!

By Erica Bailey 

Beep, beep, beep … groan. It’s “oh-dark-hundred,” and my alarm clock jolts me from a sound slumber for my first day of Boot Camps To Go. It’s a comprehensive workout program inspired by the military, and it’s still dark when I head out to begin my 45-minute session. Because I went through the Navy’s boot camp 10 years ago, my editor – not my favorite person that morning – gave me the assignment to see if this version is anything like the real deal.

What I remember most about the first boot camp was a lot of push-ups, sit-ups and running. So I wasn’t too thrilled to hear that Tallahassee’s Boot Camps To Go employed the same tortuous exercises – while adding squats, lunges and pull-ups. I got there early, knowing that anything styled after the military was going to be a stickler for time. Since it was the first class of the session, our small group of five got a brief introduction to the four-week regimen.

Then the workout began. There was an alarming amount of squats and lunges, but overall it was a really good workout – and thankfully, the time flew by. Since I was assigned only a week for the program, Monday was the only day that I had to be up early. For Wednesday and Friday, I was allowed to go to the more reasonably timed class at 5:30 p.m.

I was pretty sore for Wednesday’s class, so when I discovered that circuit training (a modified version of baseball in which each base is a station for push-ups, jump squats, mountain climbers and various other exercises) was in store, my body almost went on strike. Friday’s workout involved an uncomfortably steep hill where we were required to do sprints and lunges as well as sideways squats. We also had to do push-ups and sit-ups facing both uphill and downhill.

I was worn out by the end of the week, but I have to admit that it felt really good to be pushed that extra step. By Saturday I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be.

So how does it stack up to the real boot camp? I wasn’t very physically fit the first time, so I found this one to be easier and a lot more fun. It still was hard, though. Being physically fit isn’t a requirement for Tallahassee’s Boot Camps To Go. Blackburn has each participant fill out a health form prior to starting and takes into consideration all fitness levels. No need to be intimidated by the “boot camp” title – Blackburn wants to help all participants get into shape, and she is willing to work with each of them to reach their goals.

The upside to the small class size is that you still feel like you’re getting one-on-one training – an added bonus if you’re the type who is tempted to quit. 


Fitness Training à la Military

Laurel Blackburn started the Boot Camps To Go program a year and a half ago seeking to offer an alternative to the gym. She and her brother, Mike Alvarez, provide a mix of strength, endurance and cardio training in each workout.

Blackburn and Alvarez have a good cop/bad cop routine that works well. Blackburn (good cop) encourages each participant to do as much as he or she can and Alvarez, a retired Air Force firefighter, has that military bark perfected and keeps an eye on everyone to make sure there’s no cheating.

Both Blackburn and Alvarez are certified as personal trainers by the International Fitness Professionals Association. They get together on Sundays to plan the week’s workouts. Finding unique and creative ways to work out is their primary goal, and they say they haven’t repeated anything in a year. Even though the workout is the program’s main focus, Blackburn also invites a dietician to come and talk during each four-week session, as well as offering advice and setting goals for each person in the group throughout the session.   

Blackburn carved herself a small corner at the Gym Force Cheer Center and stocked it with gear – from old ammo containers to kettlebells and PVC pipes filled with sand to simulate rifles. With all that equipment being used both indoors and out, workouts are never boring.


Ten-Hut! About Boot Camps To Go

Owners: Laurel Blackburn, Mike Alvarez

Location: 2860 Industrial Plaza Drive, off of Capital Circle Northeast

Web site:

How it works: Each four-week session utilizes a combination of squats, lunges, push-ups, pull-ups and running. Classes last 45 minutes.

Schedule: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5:30-6:15 a.m., 6:30-7:15 a.m., 9:30-10:15 a.m., 3:30-4:15 p.m. and 5:30-6:15 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday 5:30-6:15 p.m., 6:30-7:15 p.m.

Cost: $145 for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, $125 for Tuesday and Thursday

Class size: Maximum 16 people 

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