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Welcome to Summer Boot Camp: Get moving – and get outdoors


Summer is finally here and no doubt your figure is on your mind. How could it not be, with all those shorts, swimsuits and sundresses?

Take advantage of the warm, sunny days to make fitness fun again.

The Globe and Mail's 2012 Summer Boot Camp is designed to help you get in shape – and out doors. You get to enjoy the nice weather while you tone up – which, I promise, is a lot more fun than going nowhere on a treadmill.

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In just four weeks you'll tighten your muscles, improve your energy level and feel better about yourself. The boot camp is customizable to your fitness level, whether you're new to exercise or just looking to change up your routine. And with exclusive online videos that walk you through each exercise, it's almost like having your own personal trainer.

Since this is an outdoor program, remember to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before, during and after your workout. Don't forget the sunscreen and a hat.

And, as always, check with your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.

Ready? Here's what you need to know. (After you finish reading, click here for the full Week 1 programWeek 2 program and Week 3 program.

What you need

For the first two weeks you need access to a park bench. For the second two weeks, you also need a resistance band (Thera-Band is a popular brand), which can be purchased for $10 to $15. This is a great lightweight fitness tool that you can easily carry with you to the park: Just stick it in your pocket or tie it around your waist.

How to pick a band

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The bands come in different levels of resistance. Pick a resistance that makes it challenging to complete the entire number of repetitions, but not one that is so heavy that you are unable to complete the last rep with good form. Don't worry if you buy a band that is slightly too heavy or too light – you can adjust the level of difficulty by grabbing further down the band.

The routine

The boot camp offers both cardiovascular and strength training in one easy-to-follow package: Each workout alternates bouts of cardio activity with bouts of muscle conditioning.

First, run or walk to the park.

Once there, complete the first weight circuit, then run or walk around the park for the suggested time.

Finally, do the second weight circuit, then run or walk home.

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When doing the weight circuits, do the suggested number of repetitions for each exercise. Beginners should follow the low end of the repetition range, while those who are more advanced should follow the high end.

How to pick your cardio activity

The cardio segment is meant to be done through either walking or running. If you are a beginner, walk for the lower amount of recommended time. If you are more advanced, speed walk or run for the entire recommended time.

How much time you'll need

For the first couple of weeks, beginners should allow 30 to 35 minutes to complete the full workout. More advanced exercisers can expect to need 45 to 50 minutes. In the last two weeks, things get tougher, so plan to add 20 to 25 minutes to your time.

Have a question?

Not sure about part of the program? E-mail We'll be sure to address any common concerns.

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