Campus & Community

‘All right, you pencil pushers, drop and give me 50!’

3 min read

Boot Camp at the MAC gets sedentary bodies into fighting trim

Staffer at UHS May Dambreville (right) prepares for liftoff as she attempts just one more push-up.

Staff photos by Rose Lincoln
Getting in shape has become a high-tech endeavor, as any fitness club habitué knows. Athletes strap on digital wristwatches and heart-rate monitors to chart the nuances of their workouts. Even once-humble treadmills now blink with confounding displays of electronics measuring anything from calories burned to miles trod to fluctuations in the stock market.

For jocks mourning the simplicity of grade-school gym class, however, there’s Boot Camp. This popular group exercise class at the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC) gets the body back to basics with a vengeance.

Nautilus made you naughty? Drop and pump out some old-fashioned push-ups.

Bored with the cross-trainer? Try five minutes of jumping rope (a lot trickier than it was on the playground, this reporter discovered).

Bukamu Hulela ’05 (foreground) gives it her all as she works on her upper body with strength training.

Matt Houghton, personal trainer at the MAC and one of the facility’s two Boot Camp instructors, calls it “functional training.”

Indeed, Boot Camp is excellent training if your daily functions include sprinting forward and backward around cones, lying on your back and flutter-kicking your legs for a gut-busting three minutes, and perching on all fours to do a self-explanatory move called “the hydrant.”

“It might be a little on the extreme side,” Houghton admits, pushing the class to do just five more, “but it serves a purpose.”

Matt Houghton, personal trainer at the MAC and one of the facility’s two Boot Camp instructors, makes sure no one gets lazy.

Houghton, whose skin stretches so tight over his muscles he looks like he might pop, breezes through Boot Camp, barking encouragement and chatting idly while whipping off a few hundred jumping jacks.

But then, he’s been through the real thing: Houghton spent two years in the Army. He’s been known to wear fatigues to the class, which he accompanies with a tape of drill chants (“I wanna be an Air Force Ranger …”) he calls “cadence.” Real boot campers use the rhythmic songs to modulate their breathing, he explains.

In this 7:15 a.m. class, no one chimes in, but the participants – the class regularly draws about 10, says Houghton – do not want for enthusiasm.

“It’s a good way to get someone else to motivate you,” says Olivia Ma ’05, whose dedication to the Tuesday morning class is evident in her unflagging sprints and perfect push-ups. “It’s fun, if you like this sort of thing.”

While waiting to run an obstacle course, Malu Jimenez, a student at the GSE, does some ‘pushes.’