BOOT CAMP H20 AT THE WESTSIDE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER (WJCC)
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Ric and I recently bit the bullet and signed up for twelve sessions of Intermediate/Advanced Boot Camp H2O at the Westside Jewish Community Center (WJCC). I’ll admit I was pretty nervous about it – I think working out is hard enough without someone barking orders at you while you do it – but it turned out to be a rewarding experience. Intense, but rewarding. I may even go back, if I can scrape the money together! Unlike the real army where they pay you to join, Boot Camp H2O costs a fair bit of coin, though for the workout you get it’s worth it. We found a discount deal on Daily Candy, and there always seems to be some type of discount offer posted on the Boot Camp H2O website.
You can find all the specific information on rates and schedules there too, but basically how it works is you buy a package of classes (4, 8, 12, 16 on up to 36 – the more you go, the cheaper it gets) and you have 8 weeks to complete them at any of the three locations and at any of the times classes are offered, though most people tend to pick a class or two and stick with them. So, for example, I might purchase the 16-course package for $340 and go twice a week, Tuesday and Friday at 10am. Note that the 8 week sessions are on a fixed calendar, so if you start late in the session, you have less time in which to use up your classes. You are responsible for reserving your spot in the class on the online scheduling system, but it is easy to use and through it you can cancel and schedule a make-up class as well. They really encourage you to let them know if you plan to miss, so that someone else can take your spot, as there are only 9-15 people per class.
Now, about the workout. This is some serious stuff that has forever changed the way I see swimming. Every day is different and the odds are good that you will not even be able to do everything that is asked of you, but Lana and Igor will hustle you into trying. We mostly took classes from Lana, who is a strict taskmaster, but her and Igor are really cool and approachable. (There are a few other instructors who help out too.) We would begin with lots of variations on crunches, planks and pushups that warm up the lungs and core. It’s not a bad idea to stretch and warm up a little on your own beforehand, because things start with a bang! After ten minutes of this, we would jump in the pool and swim 2-3 warm-up freestyle laps. At this point, it gets crazy. Maybe a set of “deck-ups” for one minute, then swim “running” to the shallow end, then hand weights for one minute, then “V sit skulling” back to the deep end, then treading water for one minute holding a 10-pound medicine ball, then sprint swim to the shallow end and flipper kick hard on the wall for one minute. Now repeat this cycle three times and that’s just the start. Brutal! To see what some of the exercises are like, check out the videos and say a prayer for that Gayle lady.
As you will see, there are lots of special techniques and lingo that have to be learned and some weird gear that has to be worn. All of it will kick your ass. We swam with small parachutes attached to our back, we used fins sometimes (you should bring your own), we used resistance bands, kickboards, ankle weights, you name it. As in the video, we hooked ourselves to a bungee cord and had to swim as hard and as fast as we could to touch the other side while someone else pulled it in the opposite direction. It doesn’t look like much, but its basically murder. Our classmates were all friendly and helped us get the hang of the weird stuff. Just accept that at first you will feel like a fish out of water, but you will adapt quickly. I’m sure the beginner class is probably more helpful in this regard, so maybe check that out first just to get a taste of it all.
The pool workout lasts about 40 minutes and obviously the focus is on building strength and stamina, but also on expanding lung capacity and increasing speed. There’s about 5 minutes of stretching at the end. Some days were more insane than others, and on those days I often felt tired all day, but some days I felt like a total superwoman! If you like swimming taken to the next level then I highly recommend this. I’m looking forward to returning to it someday soon…
Next time, Part 2: The WJCC pool itself!!