Getting fit with military discipline, Malibu setting — A first person

The Optimum Boot Camp, a two-month fitness program founded at Venice Beach by celebrity fitness guru Raphael Verela, has landed in Malibu. The Boot Campers are now maximizing their fitness potentials to the sound and sight of rolling ocean surfs and early morning sunrise hues at Surfrider Beach, three days a week, between 6-7:30 a.m. An evening class will soon begin there, too.

I was inspired to check into “the camp” by the recent cancer-caused death of a family friend three days before her 53rd birthday.

I joined the Boot Camp to get back in shape after the appearance of a couple of years of stress-induced excess body fat! It was dramatic the way I put on the weight, so I needed extreme measures to get it off.

I was attracted to the military-style format of the class. I figured if one wants to develop discipline, especially as it relates to the body, the military is a good place to start. Plus, I figured it would be fun working out at the beach with a group of other insane individuals.

It is fun. However, it is also a lot of hard work. Verela and the other certified trainers are firm yet compassionate.

Camp includes free parking, a free fitness evaluation, cardiovascular/aerobic and anaerobic (weight) training, a nutritional program, kick boxing, plus the assistance of four certified fitness trainers.

I arise around 4 a.m. I gulp down a protein shake, then cruise down PCH for 6 a.m. warm-ups. Some days, the warm-ups alone — stretching, push-ups and side-straddle hops, for instance — can pump my heart rate beyond its target.

Then, the obstacle course begins. I crawl under barbed-wire fences, jump over hurdles, attempt to climb ropes and do arm pull-ups and legs squats. Just when my body thinks it’s over, Verela or another trainer instructs me to report to the muscle training station.

After about 15 minutes of stressing-out my muscles, one of the instructors yells a command to begin the obstacle course again. After about three rounds, it’s time for kick-boxing. As I run to the designated kick-boxing area, I think to myself that I’ve surely lost my mind.

After 20 minutes of high intensity kick-boxing, the class is taken on a 30-minute soft-sand jog.

At the end of class when I can feel my way past all this over-exertion, I think about all the additional advantages of working out with Optimum. The cost is about $75 per week, a good deal considering the $25-per-hour cost of kick-boxing classes alone, or personal trainers, who average about $50 per session.

Camp meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, sunshine or rain. Says Verela: “People need to be re-educated about the nondangers of working out in cold weather or rain. If you think about it, you’re not going to feel cold while your heart is pounding at 190 beats per minute. As a matter of fact, the cold weather can actually be a benefit, because it helps cool down your body while exercising.”

The key to fitness, of course, is combined exercise with proper eating. So, I’m in good shape (literally and figuratively) as long as I keep showing up for class and following the nutritional program I’ve been given.

And the class gets me up and out of bed early in the morning, three days a week. This is a good thing. The rest of the time is spent recuperating from the trauma of exerting my body beyond maximum expectation.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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