In this series, I’ll be taking a hands-on approach to classes at H2L. After taking each class, I’ll interview the instructor, do a little research, and report back on what gives each one its own type of magic.

I’ve seen enough military movie montages to develop a healthy fear of drill sergeants pushing me past my civilian physical limits. Naturally, bootcamp seemed like the best class to get out of the way first for the H2L blog. If I could succeed in this class, I could do anything.

Not only did I find this theory to be true, but I also found that it carried through the rest of my day!

Early Riser

bootcamp in mechanicsbug sunriseDeb Barry’s Bootcamp class is held at 6:00AM, setting the tone for my whole Tuesday. Knowing I’ve conquered my most difficult task before my family has even woken up begins an inertia that makes everything else feel a little easier.

By that same token, one act of self-care begets another. Bootcamp unleashes a domino effect that has an impact on everything else I do. I’m not just taking a shower; I’m exfoliating, moisturizing, and taking the time to use full-body SPF. I’m not chugging a barely satisfying coffee in my car on the way to drop-off and calling it breakfast; I’m preparing myself eggs, whole grain toast, and a handful of blueberries AND I’m taking my vitamins.

Is it revolutionary? Not necessarily, but this is the kind of morning I envision for myself when I think about living my best life. By 9:00AM I’ve taken care of the children, chickens, cat, dog, and myself on top of crossing off half the tasks on my to-do list for work. My confidence and enthusiasm for getting through the day is off the charts. I’ve even captured a gorgeous sunrise in the H2L parking lot.

Meet the squad.

When I walk into class, I immediately notice the thing that makes H2L so distinctive among fitness studios from Mechanicsburg to Timbuktu. There’s a real sense of camaraderie between the students, and the teachers are friendly. Even when everyone is focused on getting down to business, there’s a general sense of support that permeates the room.

I’m one of seven or eight attendees who have tricked their bodies into moving before dawn. The competitive, territorial vibes that can come along with trips to the gym are absent, and that eases the anxiety I have walking into a new experience. Other students who are old hats at the class even advise me what kind of weights I’ll want to try out. (In my case, I opt for one set of 5 lbs and one set of 10 lbs. I’m looking forward to increasing those numbers with more time spent at bootcamp!)

bootcamp instructor mechancisburg Deb is exactly who I want teaching my bootcamp class. A former body builder, you can tell she knows what she’s doing. She’s a perfect blend of no-nonsense and warm and encouraging, so she doesn’t lose the motivating edge you need to keep you powering through a tough set. She also has a killer music selection. Jams can make or break a class for me. In this case, a mix of New Wave classics and modern pop distracts me from my own internal resistance to the exercise. My favorite moment thus far has been Falco pulling me through a particularly challenging set of push-ups with “Rock Me Amadeus.”

The Action

I’m including the work from two separate classes here to give you an idea of what happens at Bootcamp. Occasionally, the directive is to complete a certain number of exercises, but more often, you’re working with a timer. This is nice for those of us who are beginners or using modifications.

The pressure is on doing your best within the time rather than rushing to a certain number. Each set of exercises is repeated three times, just enough to make the next thing seem like a huge relief no matter what it is. Most of the exercises are done using free weights or your own body weight, though each student is set up by TRX straps which may be incorporated.

Sample Class 

(This is from Deb’s sequence.)

Squat Shoulder Press
Deadlift Row
Curtsey Lat Raises
Renegade Row Tricep Kickbacks (My favorite of the day!)
Skull Crushers
Mountain Climbers
Low Squat Bicep Curl
Windmill Side Lunge
Push-Up Alt. Arm Plank Drop

The Benefits

After class, I ask Deb what drew her to Bootcamp. She explains that during the worst of the pandemic, it was an exercise people could do outside with just their mats and their bodies. It became her go-to for a great workout for staying distanced and using minimal equipment. 

She also loves that anyone can do it with infinite options for modifications. If you can’t jump, you can walk it out. Exercises usually done from plank can be performed from hands and knees. You can choose how much, if any, weight you want to use in your workout.

Deb notes that Bootcamp hits all of your body parts. It’s a great way to get cardio while building muscle and burning fat. It checks all the boxes for both seasoned athletes and fitness novices. It’s constant movement and variety that keeps you sweating and working hard for the full length of the class.

I’ll be the first to admit that my whole body is sore the day after a Bootcamp class, but it’s the best kind of sore. I’m noticing muscles I never even think about and improving areas I struggle with targeting in my other workouts. Deb highly recommends switching up your workouts to maximize their benefits. I’ve found that Slow-Flow or Restorative Yoga is a great follow-up to a day that starts with an intense workout like Bootcamp. H2L also offers them Tuesday and Wednesday evenings respectively!

Roll out of bed and over to camp!

Ultimately, Deb and I agree that one of the biggest draws of Bootcamp is that it makes you feel like a badass! I can’t reiterate enough how great that feeling is to start your day. If it sounds like something that might hit the spot or a challenge you want to meet, head over to H2L in Mechanicsburg to join the crew!

Click here to sign up for this week’s Bootcamp!

About the Author: Christina Lengyel is a writer, editor, and mom. Love for hoopdancing, yoga, and endorphins have turned her into a reluctant fitness student, overcoming years of gym class nightmares. Her new motto is: Sweat. Write. Repeat.