Working out

Minnesota State University students (clockwise from left) Elizabeth Clemens, Leah Lechtenberg and Kasie Hummel got a good workout in from trainer Alexis Chaddock (far right). They’re participants in a program called Maverick Boot Camp.

Robb Murray
The Free Press, Mankato, MN

It’s sort of like “The Biggest Loser.” Only, at Maverick Boot Camp, people compete in teams, and there isn’t a giant pile of cash awaiting the winners.

But that’s OK because this isn’t about the money. It’s about having fun, living healthy lives and, if a few pounds hit the door along the way, that’s just icing on the cake ... Not that there’ll be much cake involved. After all, this is a weight-loss competition.

Maverick Boot Camp works like this:

Teams of four people sign up for the 10-week competition. Each week there are challenges involved where teams can earn points. Each member of each team is also weighed weekly, and pounds lost equate to points.

And in some cases, things get pretty intense.

Take a recent workout for a group of students.

“You’re going against yourselves, girls,” graduate student and personal trainer Alexis Chaddock shouts in that encouraging tone you may have heard in the gym before — or maybe you haven’t. “Feeeeeel it!”

The trio of Kasie Hummel, Elizabeth Clemens and Leah Lechtenberg are stepping up onto a row of cubby holes that rise roughly 2 feet off the ground. After 10 of those, Chaddock throws the girls right into squats.

“Twenty of ‘em!” she yells. “Good! Good-good-good! ... If you gotta take a little break, go ahead.”

Next is a circuit of exercise ball-related moves. Hummel rests her feet on the ball and holds her body stiff from shoulders (which are on the floor) to feet. Clemens does an abdominal crunch. Lechtenberg lies on her back while hoisting dumbbells into the air. A few minutes into it, they all rotate. After doing all three, they run a lap around the Myers Field House indoor track. Then it’s back to the circuit.

They finished the workout with the weekly mini-challenge, which for this week is: Burn 100 calories in 10 minutes. They opt for the elliptical machines. After successfully burning the 100, they’re done for the day.

During cool down, they talk a little bit about why they’re here.

“I like that someone else is pushing me to do things,” said Clemens, a junior from Inver Grove Heights.

Lechtenberg, a sophomore from Postville, Iowa, said her goal was to lose the “freshman 15” she picked up last year.

“We’re all pushing each other,” she said. “We all want to get back into the shape we were in during high school.”

And that’s pretty common, says Jen Myers, the fitness and wellness coordinator for MSU’s Campus Recreation department.

The free program is loosely based on the popular NBC reality show “The Biggest Loser,” but ...

“We didn’t want to call it that because we didn’t want to focus on weight,” Myers said. “But some people are really gung-ho on losing weight.”

Maverick Boot Camp actually started last year during spring semester. They ran the program twice in six-week stints. It’s longer this year, Myers said, which she guesses will allow participants to lose more weight.

Some of the teams get creative with their names. There are The Trophy Wives, Team 30-Something, Team 208 (four ages added together), Delirious Prisoners and Team Canada.

And Myers says she’s seen people make significant progress in strength building and weight loss.

“I’ve had women who couldn’t even do one push up,” she said, “and then by the end, they’re doing 25 or 30.” As for weight loss, the most by one team has been 30 pounds, and one participant lost 25 pounds.

Most of the participants — about 75 percent — are students. Myers said the program gives students who might be uncomfortable using the university’s state-of-the-art fitness center an excuse to come in and get comfortable with the surroundings.

Teams meet twice weekly with a personal trainer. Chaddock, who is working with three teams, said people like the idea of working out with their friends.

“People aren’t gonna kick themselves in the butt,” she said.

React to this story:


This Week's Circulars