Aznim Ruhana Md Yusup learns the psychology behind exercising as a team

A BOOTCAMP workout is a version of High Intensity Interval Training at a public field or park. Instead of a shaded, air-conditioned room, you get lots of sunshine and the occasional breeze. Rather than loud music, you have noise from traffic and the chirping of birds.

Some people find it baffling as to why anyone would exercise outdoors, given how hot it is. You will sweat just by being outdoors, they say, without even having to do a plank, run uphill or pass around a heavy ball – not to mention all the bugs and loose soil.

That said, obstacle course races such as the Viper Challenge and Spartan Race are popular here. At these events, you’ll see thousands of people happily making their way across mud-filled ponds under the hot sun. Even those who balk at bootcamp have been known to take a tumble in the muck.

Faizal (centre) demonstrating one of the tasks.

Meanwhile, the organiser of the Viper Challenge is Kuala Lumpur-based Original Bootcamp, which is in partnership with outdoor gear specialist Merrell to conduct a series of free workout classes at Padang Timur in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

I attended a session one balmy Saturday morning along with 30 people. There was not a lot of shade or cloud cover over the field but it wasn’t particularly uncomfortable since the sun wasn’t at its peak yet.

We started with the warm-up routines such as stretches, lunges and star jumps. Any hesitation to get down on the ground will not help you get the most out of the workout, so don’t be afraid to get dirty, says our instructor Faizal Ariff.

The next routine had us working with a partner. In one instance, someone had to crawl for three metres while the other did squats. We’d switch exercises once Person A had crawled to the end.

Then we moved on to circuit training. The instructors had set up several stations where we needed to do tasks with a partner in a group. We had to remain at our station doing the assigned exercise until one pair from the group had finished their task at the last station. Only then could we advance to the next station.

I find that this part preys on your psychology. You might be struggling but you will find it hard to slow down or take it easy because other people are depending on you. When you slow down, your partner and group members will - for lack of a better word - suffer longer.

This is part of why bootcamp is popular among companies as a team-building activity. Those who take part are required to work as a team. You can clearly see how your actions are affecting their performance, and vice versa.

No one wants to hold the ball for very long when it’s heavy. Photo from Merrell’s Malaysia Facebook page.

The tasks at each station were different, and they focused on different things such as cardio, core or weight training.

For the first round, my partner Prema and I were at the third station. One of us had to lift an 8kg slam ball 10 times, while the other person squatted. So for as long as it took me to complete my lifts, Prema had to repeat her squats. Once I was done, she would lift the ball and I did my squat reps.

There was some relief when we got to move to the next station, if only for a short while.

One of us had to do squats – a different version than the previous station – while the other got to use battle ropes.

These ropes were thick and heavy and tied to flag poles at the end of the field. Each group had its own rope and you held it with both hands, raising it up and down into a wave. This worked your arm and core muscles.

The final station had us running about 100m uphill carrying the slam ball. Prema told me she’s used to running, but this was a lot harder than an afternoon jog. Once we finished the run, we went to the back of the group to do sit-ups.

There were some changes in the second round of circuit training – push-ups instead of squats. You move the rope side-to-side instead of up and down, and more running, but on flat ground instead of going uphill.

After 40 minutes, Faizal called for the end of the session. We gathered to warm down, which included a “hilarious” pass-the-ball game. (It was hilarious because the ball was either 8kg or 15kg and you couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.)

I enjoyed my time at bootcamp, tough as it was. Different stations make the workout less of a slog, because you are assured that it won’t be too long until you get to do something else. And once you have completed all the stations, you’ll feel even better because you know you’re close to the end, and closer to finding a nice breakfast to reward yourself with.

Working on the battle rope while the other person squats. Photo from Merrell’s Malaysia Facebook page.



WHERE: Padang Timur, Dataran Petaling Jaya, Jalan Barat, Section 52, Petaling Jaya What: Outdoor bootcamp session with High Intensity Interval Training elements

FEE: Free

DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Tough but manageable for beginners

TRAINING ESSENTIALS: Outdoor exercise clothes and shoes. Lots of water and some people may need anti-itch cream

DURATION: One hour

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