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Summer Fitness: New Orleans Boot Camps

06:00 August 22, 2014
By: Celeste Turner

In New Orleans, the heat index may rise above 90 degrees, but fitness enthusiasts around the city are beating the heat and getting in shape with outdoor boot-camp style workouts in City Park, downtown, and the Metairie area.

A simple plan of action would be to start a regular exercise program. Although outside training may seem incomprehensible during summer months, many local fitness buffs have joined the new Free Fitness Movement called the November Project of New Orleans (NP). Started back in January, 2014 with a small group of 10 members, the November Project, hosted a free Wednesday morning workout for anyone looking to improve their health and wellness. Over the months, the popularity of NP has spread, and it has finally been recognized as the 16th official November Project Tribe in the country. 

“The original November Project tribe began in Boston, which now gets 300-plus people working out on a regular basis,” said Will Booher, 32, one of the four leaders and consultant for the Frontier International Group. “So, we have something to shoot for. Our goal is to hit 100 participants this summer and continue to grow into the fall.”

With four rotating versatile instructors, the November Project of New Orleans provides a fun and free opportunity for anyone at any fitness level to work out and meet others interested in a healthy lifestyle. “We don’t follow any specific program but mix in bits and pieces of various disciplines such as running, cross-training, yoga, boot camp and Crossfit-style exercises to remain tough while still being able to scale all fitness levels,” Booher said. 

They meet every Wednesday morning at 6 a.m. for 52 weeks a year, regardless of weather, for one hour. Some avid members have even begun holding sessions on Friday mornings at the same time at Audubon Park. Keep up with their schedule on Twitter @Nov_ProjectNO.

If you are looking for a challenge, Natalie Fernandez, 31, has been following the local functional personal trainer Vince Bartholomew and his Saturday morning Metairie classes since Hurricane Katrina. “This class is not for beginners,“ admits Natalie. “It is a great class with mainly running, sprints, high knees, step-ups, push-ups…If you already work out, you can handle it.” Natalie was attending this class up until weeks before delivering her son, Brody. 

Bartholomew’s class meets every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. for one hour at the Wally Pontiff Park in Metairie and utilizes the running track. Generally, Bartholomew begins with a slog jog around the track, followed by agility drills and core training. As a rule, each workout is $25, or as a discount, $70 for the month. “When it rains,” Bartholomew said, “there is a shelter and we incorporate dumbbells, rubber bands and more abdominal work. It can be really hard if you do not have a cardiovascular base.”

If Metairie Playground is not convenient, then maybe try going to City Park for the 6:30 a.m. boot camp classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Lauren Leitner, the owner and sole instructor for Affirm Fitness, has been teaching at City Park for almost four years on the Great Lawn between Peristyle and Storyland. “My mission is to constantly create a fun and safe atmosphere for most levels of fitness,” said Leitner, originally a high school math teacher from Los Angeles. “My classes are never the same. I make a point to know all my students and can focus on their fitness levels for improvements.” Each workout is one hour long — rain or shine.

Leitner also instructs boot camp classes at Lafayette Square on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m., as well as Zumba, yoga TRX, and private training at other locations around town. The cost is $89 for 8 classes or $79 with auto-pay for two days per week.

Salire Fitness on Magazine St. also offers a convenient outdoor crossing training/boot camp program called Power in the Park. Held in City Park, the program is held in four-week rotations; classes are held four days each week multiple times per day. Wellness seminars are also available to participants after some Saturday morning classes. For pricing and additional information on classes, visit their website at salirefitness.com.

Body weight and functional exercises like push ups, pull-ups and squats compose the core foundation of the “garage gym” workout called Crossfit. Based on general physical skills, Crossfit has gained popularity as a diverse program combining cardiovascular or interval training with gymnastics and weight lifting. 

“We make people faster, stronger and more powerful,” said Jeff Germond, co-owner and Crossfit trainer at Crossfit NOLA located in the Uptown area. “We train for performance, and improve physical attributes of fitness.”

Workouts at Crossfit facilities may have basic, rudimentary equipment in a rustic gym setting including parallel bars, iron rings, dip bars and a climbing rope. The other piece of familiar equipment is the indoor rowing machine. However, the most widely-used machine is body weight like jumping, lifting and running . No two workouts are ever the same. 

Crossfit workouts may vary in price from $16 per class and $130 monthly membership as offered by Crossfit NOLA to $100 for month-to-month membership at Crossfit New Orleans. 

Whether you are trying to beat the heat with outdoor boot camp classes or get stronger with Crossfit workout, there are several options around town for any motivated individual to achieve a higher fitness level.

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