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TMCNet:  Fitness boot camps are a big business in Omaha

[January 09, 2008]

Fitness boot camps are a big business in Omaha

(Omaha World-Herald (NE) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jan. 9--There's money to be made in that perennial New Year's resolution to lose weight.

Memberships in fitness centers boom.

Sales of exercise equipment increase.

And over the last few years, operators of "body boot camps" have profited as well.

Corey Cain, a personal trainer and owner of Omaha Adventure Boot Camp, said such programs are becoming increasingly popular.

Fitness boot camps are characterized by intense sessions that combine strength training and cardiovascular workouts. They are held outdoors when weather conditions allow.

Cain said he started the first fitness boot camp in Omaha in 2005. Now, he said, he knows of about six similar programs.

Boot camps generally cost more than regular exercise classes but less than sessions with a personal trainer. One instructor said $150 is typical for a 12-session class.

And it's not just an urban trend.

Shannon Josoff, a personal trainer for 12 years, started a boot camp in her home in Manley, Neb., last year. It was so popular, she said, she decided to offer one at her Omaha studio beginning this month.

The class in Manley, a town of about 170 southwest of Plattsmouth, started slowly, with only a couple of participants. Attendance increased to 13 women over the next six months, Josoff said.

She said she planned to suspend the class over the winter, but her students insisted it continue at an indoor location. They liked the class so much that they took the initiative to suggest a place, Louisville High School, Josoff said.

Cain said his classes attracted more than 1,000 people last year.

Competition is keen among instructors. Several local gyms, including Westroads Club and Better Bodies Fitness Center, have added boot camp-style workout classes to their group exercise schedules.

But demand is high, too, Josoff said, which is why she decided to enter the Omaha market. Josoff said 10 people signed up for her first session, after learning about the class through word of mouth.

Better Bodies, 4117 S. 120th St., started offering classes last fall, said Todd Mills, general manager. They have been very popular.

Mills said Better Bodies added the classes in an attempt to spice up members' regular routines.

"We wanted to provide more variety, so people would keep coming back to the gym and not get bored," he said.

People tend to leave a gym when they don't feel challenged anymore, Mills said.

The wide variety of activities is one of the most appealing characteristics of fitness boot camps, Josoff said. Classes often include group activities or games, and they can be more engaging than an aerobics class where everyone just follows the instructors' moves.

Many first-time participants have tried other methods to get in shape and were dissatisfied with the results, Cain said. Now they want to try something new.

Cain and Josoff said the success of their businesses relies heavily on return customers.

About 85 percent of Cain's clients have gone through the training before, he said.

Josoff said she sees more business opportunities for fitness classes in rural Nebraska.

There is a real demand in small towns for such services, she said.

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