Oxford boasts Mississippi’s first fitness ‘boot camp’

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – As a trainer, Kendall Gregory has seen the phenomenon all too often: People start a fitness routine, go less and less often and finally drop out.
The Nashville native offers a different approach. Oxford Adventure Boot Camp, a daily women’s fitness class, runs four weeks at a time, with a week off afterward.
“It gives people a break so they don’t get burned out,” Gregory said. “People say, ‘Oh, I can do that for a month.’”
“You come back after a week off really pumped,” said Andrea Jekabsons, a University of Mississippi employment training specialist. “It’s nice to get the break, but it’s not so long that you lose your enthusiasm.”
Gregory leads his classes at 5:30 a.m., 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Oxford schools – even outdoors when the weather allows. Participants can choose three-, four- or five-day options. The workouts range from cardio exercises to strength building to agility boosters like short obstacle courses.
“Every day he’ll have you doing something different, working different muscles,” said Ellie Morrison, a University of Mississippi student from Atlanta, Ga. “There’s not much of a way you can get hurt.”
Gregory takes a studied but low-tech approach to workouts. Lawns and ladders take the place of treadmills and stairmasters; resistance bands and balls stand in for weight machines. Rails and benches become impromptu stretching-and-strengthening equipment.
Adventure Boot Camp’s early-morning offering drew Jekabsons to the class, but the conditioning kept her coming.
“I had been running quite a bit and cycling, and I wanted to strengthen myself all over,” she said.
Jekabsons said part of Gregory’s job is to cajole participants to do exercises they don’t like.
“There are women of all different fitness levels, and Kendall is incredibly supportive, very open to changing exercises for different fitness levels,” she said. “I have no problem motivating myself to run or to ride a bike, but I need a little (urging) to do push-ups.”
Morrison called the all-female class “a comfort zone.”
“If there were men in the class, it would be intimidating. They’re stronger than we are, so we wouldn’t be able to do as much as they would,” she said.
Gregory said he uses timed exercises rather than a set number of repetitions to let each boot camper work at her own pace.
The Adventure Boot Camp model has been duplicated around the world, but Gregory’s is the only one in Mississippi.
“It’s aimed at general fitness, but a lot of people who came in wanted to lose a lot of weight, and they have,” he said. “And I’ve got some people who want to run a marathon and want a routine to train for it.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com