Women give flab the boot at outdoor camp

Terri Bryce Reeves, Times Correspondent
In Print: Friday, January 2, 2009

Now that the holidays are over and those Christmas cookies have migrated to the thighs, what will you do?

Join a gym?

Take a samba class?

Hire a personal trainer?

Sue Park, 66, signed up for boot camp.

Since the North Pinellas Adventure Boot Camp for Women began in October, Park has been a regular, hopping up at 4:30 in the morning, chugging down coffee and heading to her 5:30 a.m. class, where she and others run relays, do pushups, snake through obstacle courses and perform other sports drills.

Park calls herself the "token old lady" in the class, but adds, "I'm in the best shape of my life."

The outdoor boot camp is run by charismatic certified personal trainer John Kent, 40, who beckons his female followers to "Come be the star of your own reality show."

Fitness is a passion the Dunedin resident has nurtured since childhood, when he was inspired by the Saturday morning cartoon superheroes.

Today, the 6-foot, muscular Kent is a superman of sorts to many, including Jamie Cole of Palm Harbor.

She lost 100 pounds and several dress sizes after attending the camp for a year.

"I've lost (the equivalent of) a 10-year-old child," she said.

Cole, 30, said she loves Kent's nutritional seminars, his upbeat, motivational attitude, and the gamelike atmosphere.

"It's always fun, new and different. He keeps you positive," she said.

Kent, who is married and has three daughters and an American bulldog named Delilah, began his career as a personal trainer 10 years ago. He started the "out-of-gym" experience after seeing a similar one in California.

"You can blast off some serious calories by coming and playing outside," he said. "We have a good time here, and it's really effective."

He said he's not a militant type of leader.

"I don't care about perfection, but I do care about progression," he said.

Participants can expect to lose 5 to 12 pounds, 3 to 5 percentage points of body fat, and 1 to 3 inches in the waistline during each four-week camp, Kent said.

"I've had many women come off blood pressure medicine, cholesterol pills and even antidepressants," he said.

Boot campers meet either five or three days a week for an hourlong session for four weeks.

Camps begin at 5:30 a.m., 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and meet at various locations.

A nutritional seminar and grocery store visit come before each session.

Adventure boot camps begin Jan. 12; a new program starts Jan. 26 at Westchase Elementary School.

"When we're finished," Kent said, "they'll feel like a rock star."

if you go

Blasting off the pounds

What: North Pinellas Adventure Boot Camp for Women

Where: Life Path Christian Center at 1190 East Lake Road S, John Chestnut Park at 2200 East Lake Road, and Brooker Creek Elementary, 3130 Forelock Road.

Cost: $299 for five days a week or $229 for three days a week for a four-week session.

For information: Call John Kent at (727) 420-8139 or visit www.bootcamprocks.com.

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