This is the ultimate guide to starting and running a successful bootcamp based around bootcamp circuit workouts. We will look at how to start an outdoor bootcamp, what qualifications you need to run a bootcamp, as well as indoor and outdoor bootcamp circuit ideas.
How to Start an Outdoor Bootcamp?
One of the reasons that outdoor bootcamps are so popular as a jumping off point for new coaches is the theoretically easy path to success. There are few overheads, less pressure to succeed immediately, and the barrier to entry is lower than that of personal training or studio ownership.
That does not mean that starting your own outdoor bootcamp is easy. It still requires a lot of planning, a lot of hard work, consistency, and patience.
Before starting your bootcamp, you should have a good idea of how the first 20 sessions are going to pan out. Plus you'll need to be insured.
First off, you'll need to come up with at least 6 different circuit training formats that you can rotate through to keep things interesting.
Top tip: Document your bootcamp circuit workouts and save them in a folder. Over time you'll have lot's of different ideas that you can call upon to keep things fresh and fun.
"If you're a Workout Design Club member, select the circuit options. There are hundreds of different bootcamp circuit workouts to choose from".
When you have your 6 different circuit training formats, start by creating five full body workouts around each format. This will give you 30 bootcamp circuit workouts that you can plug into the structure of each session. I.e
If you sign up to my email list below, I'll send you 10 fun bootcamp ideas that you can use to build your workouts.
Once you have your workouts planned out, you can begin to scout out an ideal location. Find a spot that is easy for people to reach, has good parking options, and is in a safe location.
It is crucial to find out whether there are fees for operating bootcamps in the location. There is nothing worse for your business than having to move locations after an argument with the local council.
After securing location you can begin to search for members. Start off with your friends and family, offer them reduced price membership or let them attend for free. For the first few weeks, it is more important to have people turn up than it is to make a profit.
So long as your sessions are fun, well run, and effective, you should have little problem getting word of mouth referrals from your friends and family to their colleagues.
But that won’t necessarily be enough. Contact local businesses and offer them discounts or ask if you can run a one-hour talk on fitness and nutrition for them.
Take loads of photos and videos of busy, fun, and exciting sessions, use this media to promote your bootcamp on social media. Though don’t expect this to be effective right away. You will need paid advertising, testimonials, and a lot of patience for this method to work.
From there, you can Pursue new members through word of mouth referrals and reaching out to the local community.
If you manage all of this then your bootcamp will be a success, but you need to persevere, almost every new bootcamp will have the odd session where only a couple of people turn up.
Be consistent with your sessions and nurture your group for long term success.
What Qualifications do I Need to Run a Bootcamp?
People make one of two assumptions when considering whether to run a bootcamp. They either assume that doing so requires a lot of qualifications, or they assume that it doesn’t require any qualifications at all. The truth is somewhere in between.
There are no laws against running your own bootcamp without any qualifications, however not having any qualifications can make things a lot harder for you.
If you are planning on running your bootcamp in a public park or open space, you will need permission from your local council.
Some councils will require you to have insurance in case someone gets injured. While other councils may not currently ask for this, as time goes on more and more councils are getting clued up!
If you want insurance for your bootcamp (and you absolutely do) then you will need to be qualified to teach it.
Other countries will have their own qualifications, the level required is usually group exercise instructor or fitness instructor.
You don’t need a personal training qualification to get insured or run a bootcamp, but it can really help your career in the long term.
Circuit Training Certifications
Some companies offer specific circuit training certifications, but this is not required to run your own bootcamp.
It’s not a bad idea to do this qualification, but this depends on your budget and long term goals. Most fitness or group exercise qualifications will cover circuit training to some degree.
Reading articles (like this one) can give you a good enough idea of how to structure your circuits, and the rest is just teaching proper form, keeping everyone safe, and knowing how to scale an exercise up or down to suit the individual needs of each member.
If you want fun bootcamp circuit ideas, check out the manuals below.
Outdoor Bootcamp Circuit Ideas
If you are planning on running an outdoor bootcamp then you should have an abundance of space, fewer overheads (renting space in public parks is usually very cheap), and low expectations from your members!
There are disadvantages too, bad weather, bad light, dog mess and other hazards, and issues related to being out and in public. But these can all be dealt with.
Outdoor Bootcamp Ideas (Equipment)
One of the biggest advantages of outdoor bootcamps is that (provided you have parking nearby) you can use large pieces of workout equipment that you may struggle to find room for in an indoor location. Sleds, prowlers, tires, battle ropes, and even things like medicine balls and kettlebells.
The trick with bootcamp circuit workouts that include equipment is to not overdo it, you should primarily focus on bodyweight exercises. This is both economical and practical. The less equipment you use, the less you have to carry, set up, and then teach.
A sled or prowler is great as your members will love them, they fit the circuit structure well, and you can also use them to drag equipment from your car!
Another good way to utilise equipment within a large group is to do circuits where one person performs the equipment related exercise while another person performs a bodyweight exercise. For example, a circuit could look like this:
- Station #1 Medicine ball slams / Push Ups
- Station #2 Prowler sprint / Burpees
- Station #3 Kettlebell swings / Squat jumps
- Station #4 Battle ropes / Mountain climbers
- Station #5 Tire flips / Bear crawls
Split your bootcamp members into partners (or threes if you have a larger group). First time round one person performs the equipment exercises while the other person performs the bodyweight exercises. Second time round they switch places.
You can of course use your equipment more strategically, adding it in to circuits for specific sessions.
You could run a kettlebell circuit, or a plyometric circuit (with squat jumps, agility runs, box jumps, and medicine ball slams), or a circuit workout that revolves around tires.
Flipping them at one station, hitting them with a sledgehammer on another one, performing tricep dips with another one. This circuit could be a lot of fun and only requires 4-5 tires!
Below are some sample circuit exercises using equipment.
Kettlebell Bootcamp Circuit
- Kettlebell swings
- Kettlebell goblet squats
- Kettlebell squat into single arm press
- Kettlebell snatch
- Kettlebell clean and press
- Kettlebell plank
30 seconds per exercise, 30 seconds rest, 3 minutes rest at end of circuit
Tyre Bootcamp Circuit
- Tire flips
- Tire mountain climbers
- Sledgehammer the tire
- Tire tricep dips
- Tire step ups
- Burpees into box jump (on tire)
- Planks with feet on tire
- Planks with forearms on tire
- Crunches with feet resting on tire
1 minute per exercise with 30 seconds rest between stations
Equipment Bootcamp Circuit
Medicine ball slams
- Kettlebell bent over rows
- Push ups with feet on tire (or) hands on tire
- Battle ropes
- Kettlebell swings
40 seconds per exercise, 20 seconds rest, 3 minutes rest at end of circuit
Outdoor Bootcamp Circuit Ideas (No Equipment)
The downside to equipment is that it can cost a lot of money to purchase, and many new bootcamp owners tend to have very small budgets. Luckily, it is perfectly possible to run an outdoor bootcamp with zero equipment.
If you are starting a brand new bootcamp, even if you have a large budget, it is a good idea to start off equipment free. There are several reasons for this:
- There are better ways to spend your money (marketing, Facebook advertising etc)
- It helps you to learn a huge variety of bodyweight exercises
- Equipment is more likely to cause injuries if not taught properly
- Allows you greater flexibility and saves you time between sessions
The financial side of things is very important. Let’s say that you have somehow managed to secure yourself a £1,000 budget (or $1000). That would allow you to purchase a lot of equipment.
But it could also secure you 30 clients through social media advertising. Those 30 clients could (theoretically) be worth £50 per month. That’s £1,500 profit each month with virtually no overheads.
After a year, you would then have enough breathing room to invest in equipment. Whereas if you had spent that £1,000 on equipment you might not get any new members and you’d be stuck with a lot of beautiful kettlebells and tires that gather dust in your garage.
These figures are just theoretical, trying to emphasise why spending your money wisely as you start out is important.
If your budget is only £10 and somebody is selling an old kettlebell on eBay, then you might as well grab it. But with bigger budgets it really is worth looking to market your bootcamp properly.
The other reason we mentioned is to build a large library of bodyweight exercises and really learn your craft.
There are literally thousands of bodyweight exercises and variations out there, and they are all free to learn/teach. No investment required.
The only real downside to bodyweight (no equipment) circuits is the lack of exercises for the upper back. In fact, upper body exercises in general are pretty hard to cater for. But there are choices out there.
Push ups are great for the chest, shoulders and arms, there are hundreds of exercises for the legs, core, lower back, and glutes. Bodyweight circuits are also great for weight loss and for cardio.
You can use plyometrics for increasing power, though this should be taught by a coach who knows how to properly teach and program plyometrics (it’s not for beginners).
Below are a couple of samples of bodyweight circuit exercises.
Leg Bootcamp Circuit
- Alternating lunges
- Squat jumps
- Lateral lunges
- Glute bridges
- Calf raises
- Bodyweight Romanian deadlifts
1 minute per exercise, 30 seconds rest, 3 minutes rest at end of circuit.
Ab Bootcamp Circuit
- Mountain Climbers
- Mountain Climbers with Rotation
- Plank get ups
- Straight arm ab crunches
- Knees to chest crunches
- Russian twists
30 seconds per exercise, 30 seconds rest, repeat twice with 2 minutes rest in between
Tabata HIIT Bootcamp Circuit
- Mountain climbers
- Plank get ups
- Squat jumps
- Shadow boxing
20 seconds per exercise, 10 seconds rest, repeat each exercise twice for a total of 4 minutes. Maximum intensity each time.
Indoor Bootcamp Circuit Ideas
In truth, there is little difference between what you can accomplish indoors versus what you can accomplish outdoors.
The positives of training indoors is that you don’t have to contend with inclement weather, bad light, or rowdy members of the public annoying you and your members.
The negatives of training indoors are usually a lack of space, and the requirement that you pay rent. Though increasingly, outdoor bootcamps are being charged for the use of public parks.
Another potential benefit is that it can be easier to store equipment. Meaning that you can add dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, exercise mats, suspension trainers, pull up/dip bars into your workouts. There isn’t much else that you have to do differently.
Many coaches do outdoor bootcamps during the spring and summer months to save money and take advantage of sunshine and good weather.
Then they bring the bootcamp indoors during the autumn and winter months so that their sessions aren’t affected by mud, rain, sleet, wind, and dark nights.
This isn’t a bad idea at all. But if you find a good indoor venue, it might be best to stick with it all year round as most people prefer training indoors.
Fun Bootcamp Circuit Ideas
Keeping your circuit workouts fun and entertaining is very important. If your members are leaving your sessions with a smile on their face, then they are more likely to tell friends and get you much needed referrals.
Making your sessions fun requires several things:
The bootcamp needs to be well run – for people to relax and have fun you need to be on time, consistent, and you need to be professional as a coach.
The bootcamp needs to be properly programmed – you want each session planned out in advance, making it up as you go along is unprofessional and limits enjoyment.
The coach needs to be confident and enthusiastic – create a persona for your sessions. Be encouraging, loud, banter with the members, praise them, motivate them.
The drills need to be fun – group activities are great for enjoyment, workout themes, hilarious punishments/rewards, and competitive.
If you are looking for fun bootcamp circuit ideas then why not sign up for our emails, which are packed with fun drills and cool circuit ideas for your bootcamps?
Want More Bootcamp Circuit Workouts?
Circuit training is an amazing way to train very small groups, very large groups, and everything in between in small or large spaces.
They help to efficiently use the space/equipment that you have available, and they can really help your members engage with each session.
To run a successful circuit workout bootcamp you need to dedicate your time to creating amazing workouts and dedicate your time to building your membership.
Unless you are already massively popular, you will struggle at first to attract new members, but once you have an established base of loyal members it can be surprisingly easy for this to snowball.
If you want access to hundreds of done for you bootcamp circuit workouts then why not check out these workout eBooks?