I still remember it clearly today, the apprehension and fear of the unknown. The feelings of ‘what if I’m the slowest in the group’ … ‘what if I embarrass myself’ … ‘maybe I should get into shape a bit first’. Starting any new public exercise can be a bit scary, for me it was Bootcamp – but I need not be afraid…

If you’re about to kick off a new health regime this year, these are the kind of unhelpful stories and ideas we tell ourselves. Why? I don’t know, and I’ll leave that up to the experts to speculate but for me I recognised a while ago that the perfect time for anything is right now and this has helped me tremendously to get better at silencing the self doubt and resistance to change.

Now I’m not new to exercise or to the gym, I’ve done extensive weight training for years and years, and from a young adult have enjoyed going for a long bush hike, a run or bike ride in my younger years and yet these silly ideas still find their way in. I caught up with Gunny, one of the Co-founders of Original Boot Camp late last year and from what she told me, I’m not the only one.

I “um’d” and “ah’d” about if I’d write this post, but even if you get one thing out of it that helps you to take that next step to be a better you, then it’s been worthy exercise. So, here are 5 things I wish I’d known before starting Bootcamp.

5. Bootcamp is 1000x worse in your head than it is in reality.

Luke Hopkins running up the sand dunes with two sand bags

Now this may not come as a surprise but I think it’s worth mentioning because despite knowing this, you probably still fall into the trap like mostly people.

As humans our minds make up stories to fill the gaps in our knowledge as to try and create a complete picture of our reality. So when we don’t know what something will be like, how hard it will be, what will you be doing, how the other people are, then your mind paints a picture, and it’s not always the quality of picture you want to put on your fridge!

This quality of being human has it’s benefits in protecting us, but it also has a downside of making us fearful of the unknown so if you find yourself thinking “it’s probably…” or “I won’t be able to do it” ask yourself, do I have evidence of that, do I know that for sure? or is that just a story I’m telling myself?

4. Benchmark. You’re only running against yourself.

Luke Hopkins with the other guys doing Benchmark

The first session of each monthly program with Original Boot Camp is a benchmark session, designed to get an accurate measure of your fitness. After all if you’re not measuring it, you’ll struggle to grow it. Your fitness that is – get your mind out of the gutter.

Benchmark with Original Boot Camp consists of 2 “tests”.

Benchmark 1 consists of a 400m run, followed by 3 sets of body weight movements. You do the whole thing 3 times over as fast as you can and your time is recorded down.

Benchmark 2 consists of a 1600m run – that’s 1 mile if you’re into measuring things in strange ways. Again, this time is recorded down in your dashboard which you can login via their website to access so you can track your progress over time.

Now whether you’re doing an OBC benchmark or another type of fitness test, the most important thing to remember is that you’re only competing against yourself. It’s really easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be the fastest or the strongest, but by doing so you’ll push yourself too hard, most likely become disappointed with your results and then give up.

Instead, aim to be better than you were yesterday, or in this case, last month. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how small the improvements you make if you’re heading in the right direction you’ll get there eventually.

3. If you feel the cold, buy some gloves so your fingers don’t fall off in winter sessions.

Luke Hopkins and OBC Cronulla crew on a cold morning in the park

Now the guys and girls that train in Canberra are probably going to laugh at me for saying this but it gets pretty cold in the winter mornings. A lot of the exercise you do at Bootcamp is bodyweight stuff, some of it static and some of if dynamic (moving).

Even though Sydney has quite a moderate climate compared to other places around Australia, in the middle of winter, at 5am and you’re in the dark doing bear crawls through cold almost frozen grass you’re going to wish you listened to me and bought some gloves.

Second tip: make sure to get rubber lined ones. If you get normal cotton gloves they’ll just get wet, then make the cold even worse.

2. No-one is judging you at Bootcamp. Everyone is incredibly inclusive and encouraging.

The OBC Cronulla crew warming up on Cronulla Beach
This was probably the thing that surprised me the most. I’m not sure if it’s by design, a result of the comradely of going through something unpleasant together, or that you, like most other people wanting to be better, and just generally nice people.

I remember my first day at Bootcamp, back in February 2016 and being blown away at how supportive and helpful everyone was and that rings true today (shoutout to Cronulla OBC). You’re up early in the morning, you’re covered in sweat, sometimes grass, sometimes sand, you’re most likely flushed bright red and you don’t smell great either and yet everyone is mostly happy and having a good time.

1. You’re going to wish you’d started Original Bootcamp ages ago.


You could argue that this goes with any kind of exercise, or even any new undertaking, but I’ve found it to be really true with Original Boot Camp.

Being 200cm tall does have it’s advantages (I can change light globes without a chair), but it also comes with it’s downsides – those being mostly that this world wasn’t designed for people of your height; it makes buying shoes difficult, it makes buying a car difficult, but worst of all because nothing is ever the right height for you, you often end up slouching a lot.

Over the years I’ve had ongoing back and shoulder issues which weren’t debilitating but definitely caused a lot of pain and discomfort and prevented me from doing weight training. I tried physiotherapy exercises and I think like most people struggled to stick to them. Weight training – if I was super careful and focused – helped to an extent but it was the dynamic movement style of training that saw the biggest improvement for my shoulders and back. After just a couple of months both were feeling HEAPS better and continue to do so till this day. It hasn’t fixed the issues entirely but it’s made them a hell of a lot better.

I also thought I was reasonably fit and strong before starting bootcamp. I could run an ok 5km time and with my weight training I was quite strong, but put together the strength with the endurance and I was flat on my face, arms burning and gasping for air. This type of dynamic training I’ve found gives you an amazing overall, real-world beneficial level of strength and fitness.

All of this to say: there’s no time like right now. If you’ve been thinking about getting into shape this year, whether that’s putting on muscle, losing some (or a lot) of fat, improving your diet or your cardio fitness then just get started! Stop with the excuses, stop with the story telling but most of all, start by being a bit better than you were yesterday.

Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear from you guys about what you’ve struggled with in your quest to be a better, healthier version of you. What do you find confusing? What habits are you finding hard to break? What do you struggle with when it comes to food? What questions have you wanted to ask but never have?

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