14th August 2017. Getting into shape is hard. Anyone who has tried to start a diet and exercise regimen, or experienced the failure of a New Year resolution, knows that's true. One of the biggest challenges you'll face is the struggle to develop discipline. It takes a lot of willpower to work through the initial resistance to exercise and creating better life habits. While some find that they don't have such a difficult time, for others the demands of life make it almost impossible to put in the time necessary. What if there was someone out there who could help you get over the initial "hump" to building healthy fitness routines? Today, there is an option for just that which continues to grow in popularity: fitness boot camps. Inspired in part by reality weight-loss TV shows like The Biggest Loser, the idea is simple. You (and others) travel to a location run by a third party. Often, this is a short-term residency program. The leaders of your "boot camp" are often nutritionists and personal trainers who understand the best way to help people in your situation. By the time you complete the program, you could be well on your way to losing weight and developing lifelong habits. These camps won't be for everyone, though. They can be quite challenging, and they do require a time commitment. Like everything, there are pros and cons to this type of fitness activity. Determining if this is the best next step for your health journey should involve a close look at these facts. Let's break down what you need to know before you find the nearest boot camp and enlist!

Pro: A quick way to jump-start your fitness

The first benefit is also the most obvious one: by attending one of these residential boot camps, you have a one-way ticket to giving your fitness efforts a major overhaul. Under the guidance of professionals, you'll learn things like how to control portion size, some of the science and theory behind how exercise works, and of course, how to build a workout routine. Think of it as a way to catch up on all kinds of "studies" you've missed out on over the years. Plus, because you'll be committed for the duration of your stay, willpower isn't a problem. You'll have a motivational environment to work in, with a structure in place designed to help you become healthier.

Con: Boot camp is no substitute for a real desire to change

If you enrol in a fitness camp because you feel like it is the only way to escape poor habits, you must continue with that commitment throughout the program. You can learn many things in a camp, and you can even begin shedding some weight and building experience. However, what if you show up without that desire to make a difference in your life? You could waste your time, and that of your instructors, if you don't engage with the program itself. It could even be a miserable experience! A personal trainer can teach you the right form for crunches and push-ups, but they can't giveyou the desire to make real changes in your life.

Pro: A chance to "reset" your life away from home

A roadblock to better fitness for many people is the environment in which they live. Being at home is often the source of many temptations, whether it's to indulge with food or to shirk exercise for something more fun and engaging. When visiting a boot camp, you're removing yourself completely from that environment and all the distractions it has. You may even learn some useful strategies for coping with those temptations once you return home. Think of it as a way to push a "reset" button on your bad habits. If you go into the experience willing to make changes in your life, you'll find that these camps could be the perfect way to discover the focus you've missed.

Con: You may find the environment to be stressful

They call it "boot camp" for a reason. Not only do you have a limited amount of time in the camp, but you are entering a program designed from the ground up to be challenging and difficult. You've agreed to enter a place where the primary consideration will always be on helping the participants to overcome the problems preventing them from achieving a healthier lifestyle. As a result, you may find the entire experience to be stressful. That could get in the way of your ability to focus on the tasks at hand and may leave you feeling uncomfortable and unhappy. It isn't a place for everyone, so consider whether you have the mental preparation in place for the sometimes-difficult task of improving your fitness.

Pro: You will gain experience in a variety of exercises

We mentioned earlier that part of what you'll experience at a fitness boot camp is exercise? lots and lots of exercise. When you're at home, it can be easy to think of exercise as solely something like running or lifting weights. That is a recipe for boredom, and it's part of why many fall out of their new-found habits so quickly. Instructors at a boot camp will have you running through all kinds of exercises and even obstacle courses. You will learn stretches, exercise techniques, and new movements that you can put into practice later. By undertaking the rigorous training sessions you'll find during these courses, you can drill down to understanding the best ways to work out your body.

Con: It could work out to be a considerable expense

Unfortunately, gaining this exercise experience comes with a price tag ? and it can be a substantial one. Since these programs entail staying on-site at the training location for up to a week (or more), that alone is the source of a significant investment. Factor in the trained staff and having your meals provided as well and you can see how it can quickly add up to an expensive visit. On the one hand, this is your health on the line. On the other, could you find a cheaper way to reorient your fitness plans? Maybe. Weigh the real cost of attending a fitness boot camp with care.

Pro: You'll return home with a head start on health

Since the first steps are always the hardest, getting over them all at once can give you a strong foundation from which to grow. When you return home, you can think seriously about how to restructure your life around finding time to exercise. Share what you've learned with others and your family to build accountability and a support system for yourself. You may even make new friends during your stay; keeping in touch with them can help you track your own progress. Don't just think of it as a one week stay. Think of it as a way to create memories and skills that you can draw upon for continued success on your journey towards weight loss and better fitness.

Con: Camp can only teach you so much

With such a limited amount of time, you won't learn everything you need to move forward after camp concludes. You'll need to have a willingness to do your own homework afterwards. There aren't successive levels of camps to move through. Remember, it is intended to be a way to "kick start" your journey ? not a substitute for the entire journey itself. If you go into one thinking you will come out with everything you need, you could find yourself disappointed. Be aware that these camps are not a "cure-all" for a malaise about exercise! Instead, they're a way to help you foster an appreciation and some basic techniques. The rest is up to you.

Is fitness boot camp the best choice?

As you can see, there is a lot to consider before you decide to sign up for a boot camp. If there is an affordable and well-reviewed option near you, though, why not try calling them with your questions? A phone call can be a good first step to determining if it's the right move for you. Do you know anyone who's tried such a boot camp? Ask them about what they think the pros and cons are, too. If you've been struggling to make a start with your fitness, there are plenty of ways to change that. Is this the right one for you? There's only one way to find out for sure!