Becky Basore is well aware the name of her No Boundaries Women's Boot Camp alone might be enough to chase away some potential clients.
And it's not the "No Boundaries" part that strikes fear in the faint of heart.
"The reason we call it boot camp is, A) we're getting outside, so that's part of where that comes from," Basore said. "And it's that kind of style: more intense. Unfortunately, some people get scared off because of that. But I always say, if we can get people to come to one, they really do come back."
The boot camp - run by Basore and fellow personal trainer Sherlyn Hertig - is a women's-only fitness program held every Tuesday and Thursday evening and Saturday morning from spring to fall at outdoor sites around Lawrence.
And while Basore and Hertig tweak the program to match each individual's fitness, there is one constant.
"It's a pain in the (behind), literally," said veteran boot camper Stephanie Bryson. "They push you. There's no question. We've talked about whether it should be called a boot camp, and it's accurate. We've talked about the military metaphor. It's good they call it that. They push you, so it's akin to a boot camp."
Unlike the stereotypical olive-drab boot camp, there isn't a man to be seen. And unlike the stereotypical women's fitness program, there isn't a leotard or set of leg warmers, either.
"Some of the women's fitness stuff : when you think about women's fitness, I think about those '80s aerobics outfits," Bryson said. "These two (Basore and Hertig) are very serious about fitness. It's not all focused on weight loss. It about challenging yourself and building muscle. That's what's unique to them. They're really focused on the development of muscle to achieve the leanness that most women want. It doesn't come in some pretty pink package."
The great outdoors
An unusual aspect of the No Boundaries Women's Boot Camp is the setting.
Rather than limit themselves to the sterile environment of a gym or basement, Basore and Hertig - trainers for more than a combined 10 years - thought it would benefit clients to work outside the walls.
"We really believe there's a big connection between the way people feel about themselves when they can get outside," Basore said. "A lot of people work in an office setting. They don't see the outside except when they're walking to and from their cars. If you get them outside, they feel better about themselves."
Thus, the boot camp convenes at Deerfield Park, Haskell and Memorial stadiums, the Christ Community Church and various other outdoors settings. While the women bring some of their own equipment, like mats, resistance bands and weights, they also employ the environment.
They run stairs on the Kansas University campus, perform dips on benches and curbs, do pull-ups on playground equipment.
And they do it rain or shine.
"We do it in the summer, in Kansas," Bryson said. "One day we had to run the stairs at Haskell Stadium. It was literally 100 degrees outside. It was tough. But we work out no matter the weather. It can be raining, and we'll still work out. It's appealing to be outside, but it's also harder. We did notice, though, that we were much more acclimated to the heat in August. When everyone else was wilting, we could hang outside."
Serious about fitness
Bryson is especially driven when it comes to fitness.
She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2002 and went through years of treatment.
Once her cancer went into remission, she committed to improving her health.
"I started to do this because I had cancer," she said. "I wasn't in bad shape, but I wasn't in good shape. I made a commitment to my health."
That was in 2005, and she started working with Basore when Basore worked at a local gym before striking out on her own. Bryson had a membership there for years before her diagnosis, but rarely attended.
Their training relationship continued to the boot camp, which Basore and Hertig started last summer.
Bryson has an obvious love-hate reaction to boot camp.
One minute she talks about how much she loves it. In the next breath, she describes the workouts as "demonic."
"I really do love it," Bryson said. "I've found it to be fun. No, it's not fun. Actually, it's horrible. But for some reason, they attract a fun group of women, and that's part of it. When I say it's fun, that's the endorphins talking. It really is physically challenging. We're constantly complaining. It really is undignified to be in a parking lot, in public, with a band around your ankles doing fire hydrants - lifting your leg like a dog at a fire hydrant. So when I say it's fun, it is the endorphins talking to some extent, but you know you're getting in shape."
For now, the boot camps are for women only, but Basore would like to grow and add camps for families, too.
Part of the structure of the boot camps is its constantly changing structure.
The sessions, usually about an hour and a half, constantly change, but they all emphasize strength training and plyometrics over strictly cardiovascular workouts.
A typical workout might start with two kinds of pushups, followed by a series of squats and lunges. Then it's on to a resistance-band workout, followed by a series of trips up the stairs - walking, running, running sideways and grueling "froggies," or plyometric frog jumps up the stairs.
"It works your big muscles, so you're completely exhausted," Bryson said. "Then you get to sprint the hill."
Though the emphasis is on strength training, it's a circuit-style workout that also derives cardiovascular benefits.
"You're constantly moving for an hour and a half," Bryson said. "They just changed to more weight training, but that's OK. A lot of us are in our 30s and 40s and have injuries, so it's harder to do the cardio stuff. I'm not a big fan of the cardio stuff. But if I do their workout three times a week, that's enough."
Basore stresses the boot camps - they cost $7.50 a session; call 760-3387 or 840-0636 for more info - aren't just about weight loss. The goal is overall fitness.
"One of our goals is to make them feel stronger and in shape and lose weight and all that, and those things do happen," Basore said. "But we also want them to feel empowered. That's a grandiose word. But we want them to feel good about themselves. We want them to feel strong and healthy."