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Outdoor boot camps are growing in D.C.

Get the Boot

Tired of the gym routine? D.C.’s outdoor boot camps will get your heart pumping while you enjoy the view.

When it’s gorgeous outside, being cooped up inside a gym can feel particularly torturous. If you’re the type who needs the stimulation of a group class to motivate you to work out, however, you’re in luck—many fitness classes in D.C. have started moving outside. Gathering in public parks, boot-camp-style classes make use of their natural surroundings to create one-of-a-kind workouts.

At SEAL Team Physical Training (yes, as in Navy SEALs), you might paddle an inflatable raft down the Potomac River in a race against your classmates. At G’Town Boot Camp, you could find yourself jogging through the cobblestone streets of Georgetown one day and chugging up and down the Lincoln Memorial the next.

“Every day we work out with some amazing views,” said personal trainer Stephen Kidd, the founder of G’Town Boot Camp.

Although most classes rely on the same core set of exercises (expect to do plenty of crunches, push-ups and squats), each one has its own spin. Some are women-only; others cater to runners or moms. Given the “boot camp” moniker and the heavy military presence in D.C., it’s not surprising that some groups have actual former drill sergeants at the helm—but don’t let that scare you. These classes put the focus on teamwork and fitness, even managing to have a little fun with the military theme. (The tagline for The Sergeant’s Program, which has been meeting at various locations in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia for almost 30 years, is “Be all you used to be.”)

Most classes do still retain one vestige of actual boot-camp hardship, though: an early start. G’Town Boot Camp gets going at 6 a.m. every morning; SEAL Team PT and The Sergeant’s Program regularly start before dawn. (The latter does offer two evening classes—one in Georgetown and one in Silver Spring—for those who can’t function prior to sunrise.) But for many, that’s part of the appeal:

“No matter how tired you are or how bad the weather is, after you get done with a workout, you feel like you can take on any challenge that comes at you throughout the day,” reads one testimonial on the SEAL Team PT website.

The results don’t hurt, either—regular boot camp attendees report decreases in chronic pain, gains in strength and endurance, and serious weight loss. Not convinced you’re the boot camp type? Most programs offer some sort of free trial—anywhere from a day to a week—so you can give it a test run. And don’t worry if you’re not already in shape—that’s what the class is for.

“Everyone is able to work out at their own pace,” said Kidd. “Boot camps should be a challenge but fun.”

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