How Boot Camp Taught Me That I Can Be AWESOME.

My changes of speed over the course of a year of boot camp.

A while back I wrote about how losing weight and getting fit – for most of us – is not about finding that one magical moment. There’s not ONE exercise plan or ONE diet or ONE book or ONE magazine article that is going to change our lives. For most of us – it’s about the tiny moments along the way. The small moments of triumph that may be followed by a trip-up or a failure…but that gradually lead us to success.

While this is all very true for me – my year journey has had as many successes as it has failures – I do need to talk a bit about how boot camp started pushing me, and keeps pushing me, in the right direction.

I started my boot camp a year ago this week. I remember being TRULY TERRIFIED on my way over there the first morning. I was actually scared the entire first class, wondering if I was screwing up, or if anyone was making fun of me behind my back. Did Joe (The trainer) wonder what in the heck I was doing there? Did I stick out like a sore thumb? AM I THE ONLY ONE DOING THESE PUSHUPS ON MY KNEES?

After a year I know that all of those questions and fears were ridiculous. In a class of women ranging in age 60 years and in body sizes and types covering the spectrum…no one was laughing at me. Probably because they were too busy laughing at themselves, as we’re prone to do. Joe would never think anything but positive things about anyone and HELL NO, I wasn’t the only one doing the pushups on my knees.

But I want you to truly understand how scared I was. I want you to see how little confidence I had, and how my self-doubt took over every second of every thought during that first week of class.

My first week of boot camp I was struggling with 5lb weights, I did pushups and planks on my knees and I had absolutely no balance because I believe I actually had negative core strength, if that’s possible. But now, one year later and I’m using 10lb weights, I’m doing pushups on my toes and holding a plank for 3 minutes.

Why 3 minutes? Because several months ago a girl in our class held a plank for 3 minutes and I thought there is no way in hell I could ever do that. But yesterday – I did it. And for the record? I have video proof of that 3-minute plank. It’s HIDEOUS. I’m sweaty and gross and frumpy BUT IT IS PROOF. Mainly because I didn’t believe I could do it either, so I thought you wouldn’t.

So…that’s where I’m at now! Smaller! Stronger! And a WHOLE LOT Sweatier!

Somewhere along the way, boot camp did do something magical for me. Did it allow me to immediately become fit and lose weight? No. Even better: It showed me I have the potential to be AWESOME.

I’ve been my own harshest critic for so long, there was no part of me that ever believed I’d be posting video of myself exercising on the internet. (THREE MINUTES!) But somehow, with each shoulder press and bicep curl; with each set of squats and sprints across a parking lot; somehow I learned I that I had potential to be BETTER.

It was a slow transition, but eventually I found myself doing more reps and advancing to tougher techniques. I started using heavier weights and doing longer holds. I learned to sprint faster and run longer. And then, one day, something strange happened. I casually referenced something being difficult and a girl in class said, “I don’t see anything being hard for you.”

I did a double take.

What? Was she talking to me?

Suddenly, it occurred to me, new people in the class each month were looking at ME like I was at some sort of unreachable level of fitness. ME. ME? ME. One girl mentioned looking to me when she wanted to push herself harder. Another girl called me FAST. Another called me STRONG. Me? ME.

And that’s when it hit me: I AM BETTER. I always just assumed I couldn’t do it. And “it” can be anything from using 10lb weights in boot camp to running 6 miles in the rain. (Two things I did this week, for the record.) But boot camp showed me that I can keep getting better until suddenly I’m doing all of those things and more. (THREE MINUTES!) BETTER. Boot camp proved to me that I can just get BETTER. And each time I get BETTER? I’m getting further from the girl who started out. Boot camp helped me redefine my limits.

Actually? Let me be honest with you: It has helped me REMOVE my limits ENTIRELY.

Because each step I made along the way, from planks on knees to planks on toes, was a step I didn’t think I could make. And each time you make a step you thought was impossible, you start reanalyzing all of the things you call “impossible”. I didn’t think I could do 5 on-your-toes pushups in a row without dying. Now I can do 20. So…who says I can’t do 50?

And somehow, in redefining and removing my previous self-set limitations, I’m allowing myself to be PROUD. I see my accomplishments and my advances and I just tear up because I just CAN’T BELIEVE IT. I can’t believe who I am, and what I’m doing. I can’t believe I got up and went to boot camp on Tuesday at 5:30am and then ran 6 miles IN THE RAIN at 4pm.

And here is when we come to the truth of it all – The beauty of what boot camp has done in my life.

Do you know what I would say about that girl if I had seen her a year ago? If I watched her do an hour boot camp with 10lb weights, and then (less than 12 hours later) run 6 miles in the RAIN? Do you know what I would say about her? That she was AWESOME. And AMAZING. And POWERFUL. And BEAUTIFUL. And I would have said – EMPHATICALLY – that there is no way, in ONE MILLION YEARS, that I could ever be like her.

But here I am. I am her. I am that amazing and powerful woman that I would have been in awe of a year ago. And if I’m her right now…who can I be in another year? I’ll tell you who: I’ll be LIMITLESS.

So…THANK YOU, Joe. THANK YOU, Adventure Boot Camp. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

Edited to Add – I was not compensated in any way for this promotion of my Boot Camp. I do love it with all of my heart, and would accept payment in the form of Burpee Passes, but I have not been offered such a deal. YET. I am simply praising a wonderful fitness class and the coach at the helm.


  • Allison

    And I am so so so so super proud of you!! Crying over here out of pure excitement for you!!! Congrats girl on realizing your own potential!!! 🙂

  • Amber

    This is totally awesome! You are rockin’ it 🙂

    Last Saturday, I PR’ed in a 10k and that was an awesome feeling but totally not as awesome as what you have done. WAY TO TO!

  • Beth

    You are amazing! I watched the whole video and cheered you on as if I was there with you, which is probably quite annoying and better that I wasn’t actually there.

    • Zoot

      Anytime you want to try it, let me know! You can be my “guest”! Only ONE person has ever taken me up on that offer 😉

  • Mandy

    YAY for Miss Zoot! How exciitng and wonderful for you. I really need to take this as inspiration to get me going. CONGRATS!

  • kdiddy

    Seriously got kind of teary reading this. It’s awesome. YOU’RE awesome and so, so inspiring. I’m around a 40 minute 5k right now, too, and while I’m still immensely proud of that, considering a year and a half ago I couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds at a time, I know that I can do better, but I think I’m afraid of making a fool of myself in front of people who are further along than I am. I think they’re rolling their eyes at me. And maybe some of them are, but the majority of them are probably just busy pushing themselves past where they think they can go. And that’s what I need to focus on.

    That 3-minute plank is so effing HARDCORE. And I love the indifferent moral support of your pets. My cat, who looks almost identical to yours, would probably have tried to knead my back, knocking me off my balance.

    Now to figure out how to fit boot camp into my schedule…

  • Cait

    I’ve been reading you for a few years now and have never commented on anything in all that time, but I have to let you know that this post and your fitness journey have inspired me. I just signed up for a boot camp in my area and I start on Tuesday. I am beyond nervous.

    • zoot

      CAIT!!! That’s so awesome! I was sooooo very nervous when I started mine, so I totally understand. I hope you fall in love with it like I have!

  • bad penguin

    You are awesome and it has been so cool to watch you on this fitness journey. Congratulations on all that you’ve accomplished and all those limits you’ve blown through 🙂

  • Sarah Lena

    I was looking at Hot Yoga again and thought, “Well, it’s not as good as Boot Camp, but..” and then I was all like, “WHY WOULD I DO ANYTHING NOT AS GOOD?”

    As I mentioned yesterday, Boot Camp agrees with you. Ready to get back into it. See you mid-October!

  • Jana Frerichs


  • LizScott

    Oh, I loved this.

    I used to joke that I was an “adult onset athlete” — I never thougth I could “sports” or “althetic stuff” …and man, do I totally GET that major fear and anxiety behind just getting started. It’s SO HARD! SO. HARD. (What’s that quote from the Runners World columnist? “The miracle isn’t that I finished, it’s that I had the courage to start?” I love that.)

    It’s amazing to me when people at Crossfit look at me like I know what I’m doing, like I’m good at this stuff, and I feel like an imposter. I’m working just as hard as I ever was (what’s that other quote? “It’s doesn’t get easier, you just better?”) but it’s amazing to think about how far I’ve come.

    I loved reading this. You’re so awesome. Congrats on your year of boot camp!!! Can’t wait to see what this next brings.

  • Stacey

    you are so awesome!! can i be like you one day? i wish i could afford boot camp, i have been wanting to go for so long……will keep up with the bike riding and walking. gonna start running soon.

  • Laurie

    You are really awesome.

    Reading this and seeing you in class (I’m the one that has a hard time showing up) has REALLY motivated me to step it up. You are right, I looked at you as the uber fit person I couldn’t be when I first started. Now, you are the uber fit person I aspire to be. Looking forward to class next week (could kick myself, had to be in Bham for a couple of days).

  • Libby

    Joe’s awesome like that, raising your dorkiness levels that is.

    He’s awesome in a lot more ways too, but CONGRATS because you are AMAZING AND FABULOUS!

  • Kim

    YOU ARE LIMITLESS! WOW, the transformation is so amazing and yet, you’ve always been Kim. The awesome Kim you never thought you were. You were there all along! Luvs.

  • Dawn

    I never would have thought you to be insecure because I see you in class as the person to look up to, the person that out works us all! What an inspiration you are … and awesome article to boot!! It makes me want to continue with Joe and Boot Camp to see just where I can be in a year. You ROCK!!

  • Joe

    The ultimate compliment is when people can not believe you were ever out of shape. I eco everyone else’s opinion. You are awesome. You are a shining light whether you are at boot camp, covered in mud at the Warrior Dash, or just sitting around talking. I feel so lucky to have you in boot camp. Zoot zoot! I can up the dorky, best believe.

  • Michelle

    I have been reading you FOREVER “(i.e. before your daughter was born) but I have never commented. Not even once.

    I just wanted to let you now that you are amazing! You have given me a new perspective on fitness and pushing my personal limits.

    Good for you! You are awesome!

    • Zoot

      Thanks, Michelle! And thanks for saving your first comment for this entry…I honestly feel like boot camp is sometimes more challenging than a baby 😉 At least a baby smiles once in awhile!!!! 🙂

  • Shawna

    You go girl! (Am I showing my dorkiness with that saying?)

    I know exactly what you mean – in first year university I couldn’t believe one of the guys in my dorm ran 10Ks for FUN. With NO ONE MAKING HIM.

    I’ve run 8 myself now, and I’ve been a fitness instructor for almost 9 years. Growing up rocks!

  • TheBookMamma

    So now I’m getting all teary. Reading this has made me glad I signed up today and hope it has as big of an impact on me as it did you. Thanks!