Establishing and running a successful boot camp program is tough, really tough, but not impossible. One of the most important decisions you make if you are going to introduce equipment into your program is what equipment you are going to use. What follows are some tips for maximizing your equipment budget and making good choices that help improve your workouts and expand your memberships.
Define your Parameters
I always make my equipment choice based on three principle criteria: How versatile is it? How much does it cost? How does it fit with my boot camp culture?
There are a couple important facets of your boot camp program you need to reflect on before making your purchase; how many people are you going to train on average and what is the overall theme of your training.
I personally stick to a more traditional boot camp theme, which means moving around the park, utilizing equipment that is mobile and durable. For this reason I use Sand Bags, Sand Balls, Pull Up Bands, and suspension trainers predominantly. However, there is a good argument for Indian Bats and Plyo Boxes, Battle Ropes & Kettle Bells, Medicine Balls & Punching Bags, Agility Ladders & Bosu Balls, but that all depends on what style of boot camp you are running.
Define your Style
Some boot camps are combat oriented, so free standing punching bags, suspension straps, and kettle bells would be a great combo. If you are going to do a circuit with these items I recommend a minimum of two of each. The reason for two is not necessarily for a selection of weight, I like to have a minimum of two people at each station in a circuit to minimize confusion, hopefully 1 of the 2 will remember the exercise at each of the stations, as well as maximize capacity
I never go over 6 stations as it is difficult for clients to remember any more than 6 exercises. With 2 each of the pieces of equipment listed, you can put 1 bodyweight station in between each equipment station and train up to 12 clients with just 6 pieces of equipment. To increase the number of clients I want to accommodate in my workout I just add one more piece of equipment to each station, turning a 12 person workout into an 18 person workout and so on and so forth.
If you choose to do a group workout instead of a circuit, I make sure that I have 1 piece of equipment per 2 clients. If I’m using Sand Bags and Suspension Straps and I want to train 12 people I will have 6 of each. I pair up clients and have them switch between the two pieces of equipment. If I’m doing a Suspension Strap only workout I generally have one person on the Suspension Strap and one person doing a bodyweight exercise and I have them switch off back and forth.
Define your Space
In the winter we are restricted by where the streetlights are and how much light they cast whereas in the summer we can use whole fields or run around the entire park if we like. For this reason I concentrate on agility oriented equipment when my space is limited, like plyo boxes, battle ropes, agility ladders, and suspension straps during daylight savings hours. In the summer I like more strength oriented equipment such as sand bags, medicine balls, kettle bells, and sand balls because we have the space to get our cardio in without the need for more defined agility devices.
Another space to asses is your vehicle. Weights are heavy, if you are just starting out sticking to lighter equipment, less expensive equipment can quickly add a diversity of exercises to your workout without straining your budget or the suspension on your car.
Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
The final piece to the puzzle is diversity. A barbel is clunky and limited in what it can do, you can only carry so many battle ropes and do so many exercises but something like a suspension strap and a sand bag can accomplish a full body workout, especially when coupled with bodyweight exercises.
Before making a purchase, make a list of all the exercises you expect to do with that piece of equipment. Are you able to give your clients a full body workout including pushing and pulling exercises, full range of motion through the shoulders, adequate abs and core as well as a well rounded leg routine? Whichever piece of equipment affords you the longer list of exercises, that is the one I would start with. As you grow your membership base and bring in more money it is fun to reinvest in more specialized equipment but when you first start out getting the most well rounded, diversified workout out of each piece of equipment is most important.
I hope this helps you in your boot camp adventure.