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What I learned on a weekend boot-camp

What I learned on a weekend boot-camp

Mindset – Consistency and Determination

A few weekends ago a couple of friends and I went on a “Forces Fitness” boot camp. It was certainly not for the faint hearted as we were treated to such delights as early morning runs, boxing sessions, military circuits, kettle bell and TRX suspension workouts and tabbing, not with a heavy backpack thank goodness, but nevertheless over some pretty hilly terrain. We lifted logs over our shoulders, dragged tyres and had lots of fun with some energetic team games.


It wasn’t the way I normally spend a whole weekend and it was definitely a way of finding out how much I could push myself physically, but it also made me realise how important having a positive mindset is when you face a tough challenge.


Over the course of the two days there were a couple of times when both of the instructors told me (albeit kindly) that I didn’t have a positive mental attitude about a particular task.  For someone who thinks that they are on the whole a pretty positive person, that was quite tough to hear. They were right of course, I was talking myself out of being capable of doing something even before the task started, before I had even tried it.  Partly the reason for this is that I had previous experience of doing similar things and I made an assumption that I’d get a similar outcome.  The other reason was it just didn’t sound like very much fun and so my monkey brain was looking for a fast exit strategy. But whatever my logic, surely it would have been better if I’d just tried it first and then if I failed at least I gave it a good go. You never know I might even enjoy it!


I also realised that I like to have a bit of a moan, it (sort of) takes my mind off things, but then I will generally still try to push on if I physically can. The only problem with this as a coping strategy is the potential impact my “moan” might have on the rest of the group, and on myself. Why on earth am I moaning anyway, I signed myself up for the weekend and I knew exactly what was coming. The instructors are always going to push you hard, that’s their job and they are very good at it (unfortunately for us!).


So I had two big takeaways from the weekend, to be more mindful of any negative self-talk and not to talk myself out of succeeding at something before I have given something my best effort.  I think that this is something that I can try to apply across my life as well, not just in terms of any future physical challenges.



Mindset is everything.  In all the challenges that I’ve ever done, have I been doing myself a dis-service by not giving myself my best mindset? And if so, why? Is it to stop myself being disappointed if I fail and therefore do I set my expectations lower than I should because of this?


For example, I label myself a snail-paced runner, and yes, the fact is right now, I am a slow runner. But if I practised more, if I ran more often then eventually, I am more than likely going to get quicker. How do I know this, because when I first started jogging I could only run as far as one side of a rugby pitch before I felt out of breath and had legs like jelly and I did build up to run 5k, then 10k and eventually I ran(and walked) a half marathon.  So if I want to be a quicker runner over shorter distances then I need to push myself, I need to find ways to improve my speed and to stop dismissing myself from making improvements by holding myself back or making excuses.


“If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges” – Pat Riley



One of the other problems that I face in achieving my fitness goal is consistency. Well to be honest, all of my goals, not that I have that many (I am of a less is more mindset and as I’m getting older I can’t remember too many at a time!).  I know that I have to make a consistent effort at least three or four times a week if I’m going to get as fit as I want to be and yet I really struggle with that week in week out.


What is helping me with this at the moment, (I am acutely aware it’s the middle of summer so I have yet to test this strategy over a winter season), has been getting into a routine. So, I am as much as possible, sticking to set classes on specific days and times and I pack my kit the night before. It’s very rare that I’ll talk myself out of going when I have my kit with me. I also found it helpful to work on incremental improvements, so working up to adding in extra sessions per week or trying to do one more push-up than I did the last session. That has been a bit easier than trying to make a lot of changes all at once.


Sometimes your mind says comforting things to you, (well mine does), like “Do you really want to go and get soaking wet and freezing cold doing a boot camp class in the rain?” This is just momentary because you know that when the class is over, you’ll be really glad you made the effort to go. It all comes back to awareness; being aware of the way you talk yourself out of doing something in the moment that would benefit you in the longer term. Once you start to become more aware of your own behaviours, you can develop ways to work around them and achieve more consistency to make the positive changes you want to see.


“It’s not about perfect. It’s about effort, and when you implement that effort into your life….every single day, that’s where transformation happens. That’s how change occurs, keep going. Remember why you started.” – Jillian Michaels



On the boot camp weekend there were plenty of times that we all had to dig really deep to finish a task and I saw plenty of examples of determination plastered over the faces of everyone with me and to see that and have the group encouragement and support was brilliant.  Having a bit of accountability to the group also meant that you were much more likely to try your best and work harder than you might have done if you only had yourself to worry about.


I like to think that I am a pretty determined kind of person, but the weekend showed me that I am still very much a work in progress in that department and that’s ok.  I’ve got loads more awareness of the things that derail me now, like talking myself out of things before giving it a good go or that negative little voice in my head saying that I’m never going to make it all the way around the course. If I’m going to grow my determination then I’m going to work on those few things to start with. Ignoring the negative voice in my head (with great pleasure); if I don’t feel like doing something I’m going to just give it a go for 5 minutes at least and give it my best shot; cut out complaining and moaning (did I really just say that out loud!) and keep my long term goals firmly set in my mind.


“The difference between who you are and who you want to be…is what you do.” – Bill Phillips


Although going on a weekend boot camp might not appeal to you, you could find a new activity that will push you that little bit out of your every day comfort zone. Something that gives you a chance to see how you react to a challenge, to reflect and to give yourself a different perspective on your life.