Secrets of a FitCamp Survivor

by Lisa DeMarco

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Our own Creative & Editorial Director, Lisa De Marco, takes on the challenge of San Diego FitCamp to see if it will really make a difference in her lifestyle. Read on as she shares the ups and downs of her fitness experiment.

Sunday evening: Tomorrow is my first day of FitCamp — I am a little nervous and a lot excited. I am happy that I have finally made a decision to do something other than make excuses. I am scared, because beyond a 6-month experiment with Bikram Yoga in 2005, I haven’t been able to muster up the wherewithal to stick with any kind of consistent fitness plan for nearly seven years. But I can no longer deny the image in my mirror makes me uncomfortable. Not to mention that I am 45 years old and I get winded going up two flights of stairs to my office — that can’t be good!

Monday/Session 1: There are ten other ladies, most seem to know the drill — grab a floor mat, a medicine ball, and a red disc from Kevin, the trainer, and head down to the tennis courts. I can only identify one other newbie. Start off with a lap, come back, grab the medicine ball — squat, throw it, run after it, and throw it again — all the way around the two adjoining tennis courts. Run a lap. Back to the ball, squat, lift it up to your chin ten times, run to the next corner do it again — all the way around. Run a lap. See the pattern? Yeah, well I am seeing stars. I have to take a knee several times just to catch my breath. I am walking more laps than I am running — but everyone is encouraging me as they jog by. Note to self: skip the spicy V-8 before FitCamp.

Tuesday: I can definitely feel the burn in my arms; I can barely lift them — but it is a good feeling.

Wednesday/Session 2: Several guys show up today; Kevin runs them through the paces we did on Monday. The ladies focus on legs starting with — you guessed it — run a lap, grab the medicine ball, 15 lunges each side, run to the next corner and do it again. Kevin manages to track everyone’s progress as they work through the paces — It is easy to find me, I’m last! My legs are rubber as I wobble around the court. Kevin cleverly utilizes all aspects of the environment around us, sending us up to the playground to squat and jump on the rubber surface. Run a lap. I start to walk again. Kevin says, “You can do it, Lisa!” I assure him I’m only walking when the stars are out!

Thursday: OMG, going up the stairs is agony, going down the stairs is sheer torture! But, I have noticed the skin on my face feels fantastic — all this perspiration must be good. Bonus!

Friday/Session 3: As I grab my ball and mat and head to the tennis court, I can’t even imagine how I will command my legs to run today — but I do. Mercifully the focus is on arms this session. I start to recall some of the mental concentration required to perform the Bikram Yoga poses. Instead of my brain whispering, “I am going to puke,” I am able to muster up some positive self-talk: “Just five more steps, you can do it.” Today I run more laps than I walk — yay me! Baby steps in a forward motion!

Sunday: Such a busy, busy weekend — we walked everywhere, probably 20+ miles. I hope Kevin isn’t planning on legs tomorrow! He hasn’t talked to me much about a nutrition plan, probably waiting to see if I drop out! I actually started the South Beach Diet Plan a week before I started FitCamp and between the two, I have already lost five pounds!

Monday/Session 4: Thank goodness, it is all about the arms today, still tough — but at least I can handle it. I didn’t have to walk any of my laps today, still great moments of pause as I try to do the ab sets and the arm exercises, but I definitely FEEL progress. And, I guess it is starting to show — three different people stopped me today to say I looked great!

Wednesday/Session 5: Let’s just call today “Revenge of the Rubber Legs!” When Kevin says, “Lets go up to the playground,” he certainly doesn’t mean let’s play on the jungle gym. Jumping squats, split lunges, all with the medicine ball in tote. My legs are screaming and I can barely command one foot to go in front of the other, much less run. So much for not walking any laps — Damn, damn, damn.

Friday/Session 6: I’ve been quietly observing the other class participants and to my surprise, two of the gals are clearly pregnant. They appear to be veterans of FitCamp, but still — do you know how humiliating it is to be lapped by a 6-month pregnant lady? As I was starting to get down on myself, it dawned on me — hey, wait a minute — I have a daughter practically her age! So, I decided to cut myself a little slack.

Monday/Session 7: I didn’t sleep well last night and struggled to resist the slight whisper in my brain trying to coax me into rolling over and going back to sleep when the alarm goes off. So imagine my groan when I walk up to Kevin and he hands me a HEAVIER medicine ball! Are you kidding me? He just gives me a smile and says, “you knew it was coming!” Yeah, I suppose, I just thought it would be after I mastered the one I already had. It really wasn’t so bad once I got started. Extra Bonus: I wasn’t in last place today! Ok, that’s because one guy showed up twenty minutes late, but I have to count every small victory.

Tuesday: I notice the recovery isn’t taking me quite so long after each session. The first week I could barely lift my hands up to my keyboard; yesterday I bounced back much quicker. My darling daughter complimented me again, saying my face looked much healthier. We are leaving tomorrow for a week in Illinois for my Mom’s retirement party. Hooray, the dress I bought a couple months ago (the one I had to suck in so it could be zipped, but I loved it so much I bought it anyway with a promise to myself that I would lose a few pounds — how many times has that backfired!?) Well, it fits me beautifully without holding my breath!

I will miss three FitCamp sessions, Kevin is very flexible, allowing me to make them up when I get back next week. I can’t wait for my mom to see me, I am down another three pounds, eight total! I know she will be very happy that I finally stopped making excuses and took charge of my fitness!

We had a wonderful time in Illinois; I think I looked good, therefore I felt great! For the most part we stayed on our diet allowing ourselves a splurge at my mom’s retirement party.

Wednesday/Session 8: First day back — LEGS, no way! Kevin teases me a bit about not working out while I was gone. Apparently he didn’t think the “mall walk” I did with my mom and her friend or the hike at my favorite state park amounted to much. I tried to say hiking in the humidity should count for something, but he wasn’t buying it! He asked if I was glad to be back and I replied, “Yes, I missed it.” A very sweaty hour later I realized it was more the feeling of accomplishment I missed, not the actual workout session!

Friday/Session 9: Kevin has everything down to a simple system. I walk up to his truck where he is handing out the mats and balls. He plunks a ball in my hand and I stare back, Again? Surely this is a mistake, I can’t be ready for a HEAVIER ball yet. I start to protest and he chuckles, “You were so distracted on Wednesday you didn’t even noticed I gave you a heavier ball then!” I’m not sure I believe him….

Monday/Session 10: Every session is different — you never know what to expect. Today is all about arms, which I seem to be getting better at. I definitely have a little definition happening in my upper arms and, (you ladies will agree) bat wings are never a good look. It is funny, some of the overhead motions are much harder for me than the underhand — I guess all the computer work I do has overdeveloped my forearms.

Wednesday/Session 11: This is my danger zone, I am back on deadline for the magazine which means late nights. This is the point where every other attempt at fitness goes out the window. I stayed up working until 2:00 a.m. and the alarm at 7:30 came way too fast. Sleep deprivation and FitCamp are NOT a good combination, especially when Kevin is squat-happy. The drill goes like this: two squats, two steps, two squats, two steps. Thank goodness it is a cloudy day, because I am getting woozy fast — but the fun doesn’t stop there. Run a lap, four squats, four steps, four squats, four steps, SIX squats, SIX steps!! Then come the lunges forward and then BACKWARDS. Kevin is the devil. Nice guy, but the devil all the same.

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