Butterflies in my stomach – it never fails, anytime I try a new fitness class and I have no idea what to expect. The latest free fitness class to hit the block, Dayton Free FitCamp, proved to be no exception. I follow enough Dayton area gyms and fitness activities that Dayton Free FitCamp undoubtedly popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. Free? Bootcamp style classes? Outside in a park? Okay, this has to be too good to be true. What’s the catch? I decided to check out that Tuesday evening’s class to find out for myself.
Dayton Free FitCamp officially started in late July, and meets twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Thomas A. Cloud Park. Jake Mygatt, founder of the program, assured me I’d be in for a challenge but that the class was designed to accommodate people of all fitness levels [cue sigh of relief from yours truly]. After filling out my waiver, trainer Brent Tompkins took the class through a brief warmup before we headed into the evening’s workout. The class I attended combined HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with tons of cardio and strength exercises using only your own body weight during the “Poker PT” workout (seriously – a deck of cards, four different exercises for each suit and each number in the deck told us the number of that exercise we’d do. Whoever thought of this was both brilliant and very, very cruel).
As I pushed myself through the class, I took a good look at my fellow campers. Brent and Jake both challenged and motivated us while providing modifications for each exercise and allowing campers to do move at their own pace. “You get to decide what you get out of this workout,” they told us at the beginning of class. By the end, everyone was exhausted. But – everyone was smiling.
I wanted to chat with Jake to find out more about the inspiration and people behind Dayton Free FitCamp. Jake’s fitness career took flight when he was stationed overseas in Korea and became a Modern Army Combatives Instructor. He was later stationed in Afghanistan and after returning in 2009, became a group fitness instructor, personal trainer and Herbalife Health Coach. With the growing interest in bootcamp style fitness classes, Jake wanted to present a fitness opportunity to the Dayton community without the long term financial commitment required by some programs and gyms in the area. With free access to a local community park and a group of trainers dedicated to the same vision, Dayton Free FitCamp was born. Here’s what Jake wants you to know about Dayton’s latest free fitness opportunity – and why it’s worth a visit to the park this week.
So, what exactly is Dayton Free FitCamp, and why should I check it out?
Dayton Free FitCamp is an absolutely free, outdoor bootcamp style workout that caters to all ages and fitness levels. FitCampers can expect a fun and positive workout environment, where everyone is equal. You can also expect to never do the same workout twice! FitCamp focuses on stretching, mobility and flexibility – then campers will head into the “work” phase of the FitCamp with the night’s workout. And since it’s actually possible to combine working out and fun (who knew?!), Jake intends on incorporating “theme nights” into the program that include football night, 80s night and armed forces night.
Who is FitCamp aimed towards? What if I don’t have previous workout experience? Or what if I already attend regular exercise classes – will this program challenge me?
FitCamp strongly encourages people of all fitness levels and abilities to attend. They take pride in trying to cater workouts towards various workout intensities, providing modifications for each exercise and encouraging campers to go at their own pace. Coaches actually demonstrate each exercise prior to the workout, leaving those with a more novice fitness vocabulary with the right information before performing the exercise.
Ever walked into a fitness class and the instructor calls out “Russian Twists, 30 seconds!” and by the time you’ve actually figured out what a Russian Twist is, your 30 seconds are long gone? Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, it’s refreshing to know the instructors are wiling to take time to give you the information you need to do the exercises correctly.
Jake and the other coaches are still working out in the park twice a week, but are well aware of the the constraints an Ohio winter will present to their outdoor workout plans. They’re currently checking out indoor facilities to continue workouts once the weather gets colder, but they want to continue to promote health and fitness within the community free of charge as long as possible.
The Dayton area boasts tons of opportunities for fitness, but few provide a challenge, accountability and motivation from a team of experienced trainers without the price. Dayton Free FitCamp is definitely worth a visit to the park this week – bring a water bottle, a towel or yoga mat, and most importantly, be prepared to push yourself – and have fun!
Want to attend FitCamp? Here are the details you’ll need:
Where: Thomas A. Cloud Park – 4707 Brandt Pike, Dayton, Ohio 45424
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7:00 p.m.