Top 5 Things You Need to Know to Start Your Outdoor Boot Camp

Outdoor boot camps can be a fun field trip for your existing clients, or a complete stand-alone business. When I started our outdoor boot camp program in 2004, we were the first ones in our area and quickly grew to 99 classes per week all over town. Our Outdoor Boot Camp won the Best Of Las Vegas and was featured often in magazines, newspapers, and on television. We fought for years for the right to have fitness groups in the local parks, and one of the reasons we won is that we always put the good of the community ahead of our own personal interests. Exercising outdoors in the local parks helps the local community and fosters a happy, healthy environment for other park goers.m

Before starting your outdoor boot camp, you will need to hold a Physical Fitness Trainer Certification and liability insurance. Then, you will be ready to launch a website where you will provide boot camp meeting times, locations, waiver, and online registration. Beyond that, based on my experience, here are the 5 most important things to do before starting your own outdoor boot camp:

  1. Look up your city or county codes to see if exercise groups are allowed in your public parks, beaches, and city streets. Exercise groups are normally allowed, however, exchanging money on park grounds, loud music, and certain equipment may not be. Permits may be required by law, but all you have to do is head down to your local parks office to get those permits.Camp Rhino boot camp
  2. Be adaptable. When you show up to teach your class, the entire park may be full of families, kids sports, and dog poop. Even if you pay for a permit to use a certain space in the park, you will not want to displace any park-goers, or else you will have disgruntled citizens complaining about you to parks and recreation (with good reason, it’s their park!). This means you need to be ready to use parking lots, tennis courts, sidewalks or any other open areas to conduct your class.
    • Early morning classes usually work the best because the parks are more empty and available.
    • Have multiple workout plans just in case you don’t have room to conduct your original plan.
    • Be prepared for brutally hot weather with shady spots scoped out in advance and an ice chest full of ice water for bootcampers to dip their towels into and wrap around their necks. Bring enough towels so bootcampers don’t have to ‘re-dip’ their towels and wash them every night.
    • Be prepared for rain or snow by planning on working out under the picnic awnings. You can teach a whole class of stationary exercises under an awning without ever having to cancel a class.
    • List the location for your outdoor boot camp as a ‘meeting place’ just in case you need to take a field trip to somewhere less populated. The local park may be your meeting place, but the World can be your playground!
  3. Camp Rhino Boot CampWrap your vehicle and wear your logo. Vehicle advertising can cost as little as $100 for vinyl stickers to over $3,000 for a professional full body wrap – and is worth every penny! As the trainer, your shirt should match your vehicle and say COACH or TRAINER to present the most professional look possible. Here are just a few reasons this made the top 5 list:
    • If you are not easily identified, your clients may not find you by the time class starts.
    • Clients will feel comfortable knowing you are running a professional operation instead of feeling like they are meeting a stranger at a park.
    • Advertising! You will attract other park-goers with your positive group and fun-looking workouts. If your vehicle has your logo, they know how to look up your website.
  4. Keep the workouts varied and buy durable equipment. Outdoor workouts have so much more room for activities! As the trainer, you can refer to your outdoor classes as the “Workout Without Walls” and get your bootcampers excited about the amount of space you have to use. Spread your equipment out for stations, courses, and circuits the bootcampers get to sprint to. We are still using the same cones and hurdles we bought years ago from Power Systems, and love to keep adding new ‘toys’ for our bootcampers. Keep in mind that outdoor boot camp equipment gets beat up more than any other equipment, so invest in durable accessories and don’t bring anything outside that you mind getting dirty.
  5. Lead by example. The outdoor workouts may have hot/cold weather, problems with passersby, and other hazards you don’t have indoors. You and your trainers need to be prepared to always put forth a positive attitude no matter what happens.
    • If it is hot outside and the trainer starts the class with ‘Wow, it’s so hot out here,’ then everyone in the class will start thinking about how hot it is. Instead, the trainer needs to be an example to the members and say ‘we are going to get a great sweat on today, I brought towels to keep you cool!’
    • If a passerby yells derogatory things at your class, just laugh and tell your class you love them!
    • If someone steps in dog poop, tell them how tough they are, that even dog poop can’t steal their workout.
    • If a portion of the park that you planned on using is no longer available because of park maintenance, say “I have something even better planned!”
    • Always be courteous to other park goers and especially maintenance staff.
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Julie Johnston

About Julie Johnston

Julie Johnston is the founder and owner of Camp Rhino, a first of its kind boot camp, indoor obstacle course, and Rhino CrossFit affiliate, in Las Vegas, NV. Over the past 14 years, Johnston and her team have grown Camp Rhino from one of the first outdoor boot camp classes to a one-of-a-kind fitness experience with two (soon to be three) locations. With 14 years experience as a physical fitness trainer and 17 years experience as an entrepreneur, Johnston stays ahead of the curve with never-seen-before fitness programs and business ideas.