Pam LeBlanc works out with Motiv8 Fitness. Photo by Kristen Turner

A few weeks ago I dropped by a Camp Gladiator bootcamp with a co-worker.

Iím a swimmer. I bike to work most days. Iím a runner, too, but Iíve been sidelined by plantar fasciitis lately.

Bootcamp, I thought. A good way to diversify my fitness regime. Iíll check it out.


Pam LeBlanc joined Camp Gladiator for a bootcamp workout recently. Photo by Matthew Fedor

The hour-long camp, held at 6:45 p.m. at the top of a parking garage next to an apartment complex off of Riverside Drive, reminded me that anytime you try a new workout, youíve got to overcome a learning curve. Sore muscles, too Ė and a good heap of humiliation.

I scrambled to keep up, and felt pretty scrawny when I had to modify some of the exercises, which included penguins, squats, rope slinging, leg lifts, burpies, sandbag flinging, crunches and some light weight work. About 25 people, mostly in their 20s or early 30s, participated.

Pros? Close to work. Hour-long session. Lots of Camp Gladiator locations around the city. Good coaching from Matthew Fedor. A good mix of exercises, done at stations set up on the top of the garage. Variety makes me happy.

Cons? I prefer my exercise in the morning, when Iím full of energy and when itís cooler. The session included a lot of jumping and running, which is hard on a foot with plantar fasciitis. Also, I need more warmup. This one started with the dial at 11. Plus, it took me a few minutes to catch on to each exercise. (My inexperience, not the campís fault.) Also, I dropped in at the end of a four-week cycle. I should have gone during Week 1 for a better intro and less muscle shock. Timing is everything.

But that camp fired me up to sample other bootcamps around Austin.

This week, I dropped by a 5:30 a.m. Motiv8 Fitness camp at Dick Nichols Park off of South MoPac Boulevard (Loop 1). It was still dark when I arrived, and the sun rose during the 45-minute session, attended by about a dozen people, mostly women in their 30s and 40s. The workout included lots of planks and core work, plus some short bursts of running, iron crosses, squats, dumbbell lifts and other light weight work.

Pam LeBlanc, right, worked out with Motiv8 Fitness this week. Sheís shown here with co-founder Ty Reagan, left, and instructor Kaolin Young, center. Photo by Kristen Turner

Pros: Small group. Incorporates yoga, which I need to do more of. Got to watch the sun rise. I like a morning workout. Lots of friendly support from group members and coach Kaolin Young, who sends out weekly emails informing participants of extra activities like the June hydration challenge, which encourages members to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

Cons: Yawn! Iím an early bird, but setting the alarm for 4:45 a.m. (!) felt cruel. I had to make a 25-minute drive from my home in Allandale to get to camp on time. (The camp offers other times and locations, but I was meeting a friend.) The workout only lasted 45 minutes. I prefer an hour.

Iím planning to try other bootcamps as the summer unfolds.

Iím a big believer in mixing it up, in doing things that youíre not used to. It keeps you interested, and reawakens muscles that you may not have used in a while.

Got a favorite bootcamp you think I should try? Post here, telling me more. Maybe Iíll check it out.