Mind-body boot camps: A new breed of tough love

A handful of tough fitness boot camps now include yoga, Buddhism, and even meditation along with your push-ups and planks. Meet three leaders of the new regime.
outdoor boot camp class in New York City
Circuit of Change (Photo: flickr.com/circuitofchange)


New Yorkers can’t get enough of boot camps—there’s a record number offered in the city this summer. And while we’re used to sprints, push-ups, and planks, a new breed of boot camp is taking a more holistic approach, working in elements of yoga, Zen Buddhism, and even meditation without letting up one bit.

Check out three of our favorites that make your mind the master of your body—and the driving force behind your boot-camp results.

Boot camp instructor Delmonico
Mind-body boot camp instructor Brian Delmonico

Circuit of Change
Rolling together elements of yoga, gymnastics, meditation, martial arts, and triathlon training into a boot camp is a tall order. But that’s what Circuit of Change is all about. “The point is personal growth,” says founder Brian Delmonico, a champion gymnast, Ironman triathlete, and yogi, who urges his trainees to create an intention for each class. Not weight-loss goals or aesthetic obsessions, but a “higher energy intention,” like for the well-being of another person. The class creatively combines interval training with plyometrics, boxing, kick-boxing, and core work, plus stretches from gymnastics and yoga. Delmonico keeps you paying attention to your breath throughout, and five minutes of meditation end things on a mellow note. Although everyone gets their butt kicked, “The number-one compliment we receive from our members is, ‘I just feel better about myself,’” says Delmonico.
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: Trial class, $20 (5-class pack, $125; 10-class pack, $180)
Who It’s For: Yogis who want a challenging boot camp experience with a side dish of yoga and meditation.
*Indoor classes at the new Circuit of Change location (57 W. 16th St.) will begin in early August. A grand opening is planned for September 1.
Website: www.circuitofchange.com


Al Kavadlo East Village boot camp
Al Kavadlo: Zen Buddhism and the art of the boot camp

Al Kavadlo
At first glance Al Kavadlo’s an intimidating presence. “Sometimes people see my tattoos and shaved head and think I am going to be a real hard-ass,” Kavadlo, author of We’re Working Out: A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness, says. “Then when they meet me, they’re surprised that I’m not a drill sergeant.” The Zen Buddhist and experienced trainer uses his super-positive personality to push his boot-campers. Not to say he doesn’t train you hard: His Tompkins Square Park classes focus on strength training using your body weight (variations on the pull-up factor prominently) and cardio conditioning—all done mindfully by staying in the moment. “The mind and body are each strongest when they are united,” says Kavadlo. “The two go hand in hand.”
Duration: 50 minutes
Cost: $20 per class
Who It’s For: Boot campers who prefer encouragement to screaming from an instructor and are up for a challenge, new moves, and techniques.
Website: www.alkavadlo.com


PeaceCore Boot Camp class in New York
The Big Apple's PeaceCore (Photo: Michael Appleton/The New York Times)

With a mixture of Marine Core-style training methods and yoga, PeaceCore gets the job done thanks to owner and trainer Kenny Wong, who’s turned the High Line into an obstacle course. “We use the benches, stairs, and walls for all kinds of exercises—dips, pull-ups, stand-up step-downs, push-ups, burpees.” The former Marine loves burpees (squat thrusts with a push-up in the middle and a jump-up at the end) because they torch calories, burn fat, and boost your fitness level. He even incorporates ballet barre work using the High Line railings, and never lets the mind slip—a tenant of yoga. “I always tell my clients the body does not control your mind, your mind controls your body!” says Wong. “When you think you can’t do it you won’t. It all starts with the mind.”
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: $30 per class
Who It’s For: Hard workers who want to strengthen—and change—their bodies. And maybe even their minds.
Website: www.peacecore-ny.com
Ingrid Skjong

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