By NATALIE NORTH
December 19, 2013 · 11:27 AM
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Monday Magazine writer Natalie North gets some one-on-one time with Victoria Bootcamp's Sue Pritchard and some very heavy ropes at Westcore Training Centre. / Don Denton photo

Bootcamp waits for no one. It starts at 6am.

Bootcamp doesn’t care if you were out at a comedy club until closing time the evening prior. You fool.

Bootcamp seems like a great idea until you’re in a disfigured mountain climber position, watching the sweat pour from your chubby little cheeks into the pit of hopelessness that is a black rubber floor. Then I know it’s a great idea, because clearly, it’s time to get back in shape.

Like so many people do, this year I hit some major roadblocks to maintaining good physical fitness. After two major foot surgeries – one in January and one in June – I had the humbling experience of knowing what it feels like to run a breezy half-marathon while spacing out to my tunes, and the next week surrendering to synthetic morphine, total mom-dependency and about six months on crutches, wherein walking was nowhere near an option.

With the go-ahead from my doctor, this backstory is suddenly irrelevant. At 5:56am, I bust into Westcore Training Centre in the role of garden-variety out-of-shape girl, a bleary-eyed sausage in stretchy pants. There are many of us and each January we band together to re-commit to our fitness goals and clog up cardio machines at gyms across

the nation.

Trainer and owner of Victoria Bootcamp, Sue Pritchard, introduces herself in the three minutes I have left to back out before the dance music begins. And now I’m doing jumping jacks at the front of the open-concept gym.

Burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, push-ups and we’re off.

I would much prefer to be at the back of the room, but I’m here now and this is happening. The clients reflect a range of physical fitness levels – from me to those who look like they could be in ads for protein powder.

After a brief warm up, I meet Danielle Bion, my partner for the circuit exercises. Without so much as a hint of disappointment on her face for clearly drawing the shortest straw in terms of partner ability, we begin suspended mountain climbers in TRX bands. This is the kind of painful fun I was hoping for. My feet swing wildly as I pull my knees to my chest, and, despite feeling a bit like I’ve been trapped in a stage harness accident, I feel like maybe I can do this.

With patience and clarity, Bion adds positivity into the equation, during one of my most physically trying times since going under the knife.

“Looks good,” Bion says as I heave my already exhausted body upward into squat jumps.

“I’m sorry?”

“You’re doing a great job. Looks good.”

Let’s pause here and take in this classic example of how a few, simple, well-timed words can mean so much during desperate moments.

Pritchard will later delve into the story of one of her biggest cheerleaders in the same class, a woman who rose above a broken ankle and hand, and still lost some 150 lbs.

“She said she was so embarrassed to work out that she used to start walking at nighttime,” Prichard says. “That’s how she first started losing weight because she was too nervous to walk into a gym.”

This motivated woman was even at class the same day she broke her hand – after she had it casted, of course.

“It’s amazing how, when other people are feeling lazy, she goes around and helps motivate everybody else. They know her struggle and what she’s done.”

Fast forward to me crumpled over, head spinning after having just displayed the most pathetic heavy rope manoeuvring you’ve seen since the first episode of The Biggest Loser.

Fifty minutes into the hour-long workout, my lightheadedness and nausea gang up on me and I’m about ready to vomit all over my sweat soaked T-shirt. I bow out to the bathroom for some Stuart Smalley-style self talk: “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough and doggone it, you’ll rest when you’re dead.”

I can’t recall exactly how the last 10 minutes shook out: it’s a haze of discomfort, sweaty body imprints on the floor and grinding out crunches at a glacial pace.

But that’s the way it’s supposed to be on Day 1.

“People come in and want to do everything perfectly,” Prichard says. “They’ll go really, really hard for a couple of weeks and then they’ll drop out. It has to be a moderate lifestyle change.”

Whether that means connecting with a community, or going to bed before 2am – I forgot to ask.

Victoria Bootcamp has a range of bootcamp options from bridal to baby, for every level, during both mornings and evenings at locations in Victoria and Saanich.

More information is available at victoriabootcamp.ca.

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