How to Start a Boot Camp

A successful boot camp delivers results for participants.
A successful boot camp delivers results for participants. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

Inspired by military fitness training, civilian "boot camps" have rocketed in popularity due to their intensity and focus. Because these camps rely on body-weight exercises -- such as push-ups, sit-ups or jump-roping -- and cardio activities, such as obstacle course runs or ladder skips, you need minimal equipment. Some boot camps can be conducted outdoors in a public space, which significantly lowers the cost of a startup program.

Targeting the Market

Before you design the boot camp program, determine your target demographic. For example, the professional crowd offers significant potential. An intense, regimented program can appeal to time-starved professionals with sedentary jobs. You can market the boot camp to companies aiming to help employees alleviate stress and maintain health. Homemakers, teenagers and sports teams are other possible clients. The time and place of your boot camp need to accommodate your prospective participants: While the professional crowd will want an after-work class in the city, stay-at-home parents may need a program in a suburban area that runs in the late morning.

Identifying a Space

Depending on weather, a boot camp can be conducted outdoors, which saves you the full-time rental costs of an indoor facility. Whether indoor or outdoor, the location should have enough functional space and be close to a populated area. Indoor facilities should require minimal improvement, such as changes in lighting or flooring. They should also be in appropriate neighborhoods. If boot-campers are slamming medicine balls on the ground near a library or doctor's office, they'll cause a disturbance. For outdoor programs, have participants sign a waiver and release form stating their fitness for the activity and proving they've consulted a physician before engaging in a fitness program, according to Laura Augenti, author of "How to Start a Home-Based Personal Trainer Business."

Acquiring Portable Equipment

For a boot camp, avoid the cost of acquiring free weights by using body-weight exercises. Bolster your regime with resistance bands or tubing, which are portable and lightweight. Other equipment can include jump ropes, agility ladders, cones, medicine balls, yoga mats and athletic hurdles. How much equipment you'll need depends on the size of the boot camp. If you have 12 participants, you'll need 12 resistance bands and 12 mats. Some equipment -- balls and ladders -- can be shared. To lower your equipment costs when starting out, rent some of what you'll need or incorporate these costs into your boot camp fees.

Promoting the Program

You'll need a website to promote the boot camp and give you a way to communicate with clients. The website should post the boot camp schedule, updates and changes, location, fees and your fitness trainer qualifications. People should be able to sign up for your boot camp online and to pay for it. Create a boot camp Facebook page and Twitter account. Add links to the website in your social media feeds to prospective clients. Pass out fliers offering a free trial at local businesses, such as restaurants, libraries and retail outlets. Establish a referral program with a rewards system; for example, give a customized T-shirt with your logo to a participant with the most referrals.

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