Boot Camp Challenge Workouts

Hey, I’m Shawna K, I run fitness boot camps, Calgary NW Fit Body Boot Camp to be exact and I’m also known as ‘the pull up queen’.

Shawna Kaminski

Prior to my fitness career, I was a Catholic schoolteacher for 20 years. I want to share with you how I used my experience as a teacher to help my clients in my fitness boot camps now.

When I was a teacher, as you probably know since everyone has been to school, school is all about ‘evaluation’. Nearly every aspect of my job as a teacher was based in some way or form around creating something that was ‘measurable’.  After all, I had to come up with a ‘mark’ on a report card for every kid four times a year.

For part of my career, I taught primary grades in the classroom where evaluation is different to the many years I spent teaching PE in the gym. Evaluation becomes a different animal in a gym setting. Management of evaluation is the biggest difference. It’s easy to get kids to sit and do a spelling test; it’s more difficult to measure their strength, throwing ability or cardiovascular fitness.

I spent many years figuring out how to keep Johnny occupied while figuring out if Jane could throw a ball properly. While working with Jane, Johnny would want to wreak havoc if I didn’t have an engaging game or activity to keep him busy. Without a solid plan, it’d be likely that Jane, or some other unsuspecting child would have a ball down their throat in short order. (Trust me, there was always a ‘Johnny’ in every class.)


The best teachers are really those that are the most creative managers.

Now it’s not likely that you’re looking for ways to keep 10 year olds from killing each other playing dodge ball, but you may be looking for ways to evaluate your clients fitness skills while maintaining high energy workouts and organized fun. Adults don’t get so mischievous as they do bored.

Boredom is the death to your personal training business and boot camp. Your clients won’t get results, they won’t refer and they won’t come back.

Boring picture

All three of these lead to an empty training schedule, boot camp and empty bank account.

First of all, you may question the value of knowing your clients fitness level at all.

Let me tell you, it’s the same as anything else…when you have a starting point, road map and directions; you’re more likely to get to where you want to go.

This goes for your client’s fitness level. By knowing their fitness level, you can help them set appropriate goals and give them a plan to get them there.

I’ve found clients pumped up and excited to have tangible goals. Things like:

-I want to do 10 push ups on my toes in a month

-I want to improve my time on a specific circuit next time out

-I want to learn how to do a pull up unassisted

-I want to be able to do 5 full on burpees with a push up in 30 seconds

On and on.

Remarkably, by setting fitness goals, clients have surprised themselves with their fat loss results as well.

When we’ve shifted the focus from weight loss to performance where nutrition is concerned, many have found newfound motivation and success. I think this is because people are so bored with the usual goal of ‘I wanna lose weight’ or ‘I’m on a diet to look better’.

Looking better is a happy coincidence with a focus on increased fitness performance.

This was a happy discovery when I got my clients to focus on increasing their pull up and push up power with my Challenge Workout program.  I found it interesting that once clients changed their focus from strictly aesthetics to performance, that they had newfound energy for their workouts and results came faster.

I thought about how I could incorporate this same philosophy into my boot camp. I like to think my boot camp is like personal training in a group, but still the thought of individually evaluating each client on a fitness parameter or test brought me back to my school teaching days.

Boot Camp ExercsesI knew that Mrs. Jones wanted a kick butt workout every day she attended in order to get results. I wondered how I would create a fitness test that would test her fitness, keep her motivated and most importantly eliminate boredom so she’d keep coming back and bring all her friends with her.

Eventually, I came up with a system of testing clients in the course of the boot camp workout. We’d do the test at the start of a time period, repeat the test  or a variation of it once or twice and then re-do the test with the focus on improvement at the end of the time period.

The key to my tests would be to keep everyone moving at all times and to create quick and easy ways to record results. I found the recording of the results very important so that Mrs. Jones would be accountable for subsequent tests. Finding a system of recording without wasting valuable boot camp time was a challenge, but by creating the tests in such a way to minimize the data while maximizing the information gathered helped. Using timed tests is very helpful, using ‘as many rounds as possible’ formats works well too.

Here are two of the tests that I did that my clients loved (or loved to hate ;)…

Spiderman Audition Bodyweight Challenge

Timed set: Record the total time it takes to complete this workout.

Equipment: Timer


Jumping lunges (or reverse lunges)

Spiderman push ups (modified push up)

Squat jumps (squats)

* For the jumping lunge, a rep is counted as right leg/left leg = one rep.

Rules of the test:

This is a count down set. Campers will start with 10 reps of each exercise, then do 9 reps of each exercise, 8, 7,….1. Stop the clock when they finish one rep of each exercise. Record any modifications used.

For example:

10 jumping lunges

10 spiderman push ups

10 squat jumps

9 jumping lunges

9 spiderman push ups

9 squat jumps

Continue count down to:

1 jumping lunge

1 spiderman push up

1 squat jump

Stop the clock.

Boot Camp workout trackerToasty Shoulders Challenge

AMRAP set: Count the total rounds completed in 12 minutes. Partial rounds will not be counted, only complete rounds count for the final score.

Equipment: battling ropes, timer, DB’s


30 Rope slams

15 Shoulder press squats
10 DB lateral raises

5 Renegade rows (per arm)

1 burpee
Rules of the test:

Campers will choose and record a DB weight that they can use for the shoulder press squat, DB laterals and renegade row.

They will start with the rope slams and follow those by the next four exercises.

Repeat the round as many times as possible using the same DB’s in 12 minutes, resting as little time as possible.

Campers record only completed rounds.

boot camp challenge

These are just two of the many tests I developed and have used in my fitness boot camp. If you’re interested in making your clients accountable for their fitness results while increasing their aesthetic results at the same time, consider doing boot camp challenge type tests. It’s another tool in your toolbox to help your clients meet their goals while keeping your boot camp unique, different, and original.