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Get smart & get out of your way

Fitness Edge Boot Camp celebrates 7 years

Posted: October 2, 2008 9:55 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Vicky Minniss joined Fitness Edge Boot Camp in 2006 and has since lost 76 pounds.

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Vicky Minniss remembered seeing an advertisement of Cheryl Broughton in army pants, a white cropped tank top, and a drill instructor's hat, pointing at the camera as if she was pointing directly at her saying "I want you." The poster advertised Broughton's exercise program, Fitness Edge Boot Camp, established in the Santa Clarita Valley in 2001.

Broughton, the woman behind the whistle, is the founder of this original boot camp exercise program. Celebrating its seventh anniversary this year, the boot camp is also the SCV's longest running fitness program of its kind.

When most people hear the words "boot camp," they typically think of a program where there is a "no mercy" attitude, intense, spit-in-your-face yelling instructors, and hard-core, physically demanding workouts.

"Most people might be afraid to start a program like this," Minniss says. "But I needed extreme. I had a lot of weight to lose."

There is no need to be afraid, though. Broughton's boot camp program isn't exactly what it sounds like.

"There is no yelling in my program," Broughton said. "This program is truly for everyone. I don't want anyone to be intimidated by the term boot camp."

The camp is designed for people of all ages and of all levels.

Minniss joined in 2006, and has since lost 76 pounds, 48 inches and 13 percent body fat. She also entered two Camp Pendleton Mud Runs.

Brian Cole also joined in 2006. His health was declining and he was diagnosed with a variety of ailments that were weight related - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea, a condition where a temporary cessation of breathing occurs during sleep. After his wife gave birth to their second child, he decided to lose weight in order to improve his health.

"I have the typical story of most people. Spent 10 years not paying attention, and then two kids and some medical problems later, I decide to do something," he said.

Cole initially only planned on participating in the six week program, simply to "jump-start" his new, active lifestyle. He felt he needed something drastic in order to kick himself into shape and drop those first pounds fast.

Six weeks of intense training (three times a week) later, Cole was addicted. He quickly extended his membership, and decided to stay indefinitely.

"I'm still a part of the program, and I will be for a long time to come," Cole said. "I'll be in it until I can't be in it anymore."

Cole has lost more than 50 pounds, 25 inches, 15.4 percent body fat, and three ring sizes.

"People forget that they lose fat in their fingers, too," Broughton said.

"I had to get my wedding ring resized three times," Cole said. He entered two Camp Pendleton Mud Runs, and plans to enter a triathlon this year.

"Triathlon wasn't even in my vocabulary (before Fitness Edge Boot Camp), let alone mud run," he said.

 
Fitness Edge Boot Camp changed Naomi Carmona-Morshead's life, too. Five years ago, as she was soon to get married, she was not satisfied with herself. She met Broughton at one of the free health screenings Fitness Edge conducts, and was quickly introduced to the program.

"I tried going to the gym before, but I got so bored," Carmona-Morshead said. "I was there and I kept thinking, ‘this is so average. So ... 50s.'"

Because Broughton's program was new and unique, she decided to give it a shot.

"I really enjoy the challenges presented and I am always pushing myself," Carmona-Morshead said. "I am choosing to start my day in a powerful way."

Fitness Edge converted her to a morning person. Carmona-Morshead also enjoys that all physical activity is conducted outside.

"We're rarely exercising on cement," she said. Instead, the troopers exercise in parks on the grass or in sand.

"Being outside in nature definitely adds to the experience," she said.

Carmona-Morshead will officially reach her five year anniversary as a trooper in December. She said the quality of her experience over the past five years is almost overwhelming. As a heart patient born with a congenital defect, she could not participate in sports teams until she was 15.

"Today, she can run three miles without stopping," Broughton said.

The beginning
Like most successful businesses Fitness Edge did not spawn up overnight. Working in the fitness industry for more than 15 years, Broughton took the most important aspects of health and fitness she's learned over the years, wove them together, and Shazam! Fitness Edge Boot Camp was created.

When Cheryl Broughton was 9, she was a part of a cheerleading league called Shelby You Sports in Tennessee. Once she reached the age of 13, she could no longer participate as a cheerleader. Instead, Shelby You Sports invited teenagers to return to the league as coaches, and that's what Broughton did. The league was small and they had never placed in any of their prior competitions. As a 13-year-old first time coach, Broughton's mission was to take the team and teach them the appropriate skills, mentally and physically, in order to at least place in their future competitions.

Although her main motivation was to win, she wanted to teach her cheerleading squat other important things like focus, discipline and motivation as well.

During her second year of coaching, not only did Broughton lead her squad to victory for the first time in the history of the cheerleading squad, but they also won the championship.

"Take a football team for example. Say one year, they did not win a single game," Broughton said. "And then the next year, they won the Superbowl. It was incredible."

Even at a young age, Broughton realized the power of the subconscious mind.

"Anything is possible when you get out of your way," she said.

This essentially became her tag line and motto, and since day one, Fitness Edge Boot Camp focused on the mental aspect of fitness.

With experience as a coach, a choreographer, a dancer, a TV show host, an author of fitness articles, a motivational speaker and a personal trainer, Broughton found four main components she believed were necessary in order to succeed - mental focus, nutrition, resistance training, and cardio.

These four items are constantly stressed to all participants (known as troopers) during their sessions.
"Mental focus is the most important. If you don't have the right mindset, you won't be back for another session," Broughton said.

Each trooper has the opportunity to sit down with Broughton and assess where they are, and where they want to be. Goal making is part of the mental focus aspect, which motivates troopers to keep coming back and working hard.

"I see goals on three different levels, like a triangle," Broughton said. "You have your family goals, your career goals, and your personal goals. If you're not satisfied with one or the other, that's when you reach for that cookie or margarita. It's all about balance."

Broughton and her staff individually evaluate each boot camp participant and assist them in reaching this balance.

Nutrition is unmistakably important, too. Fitness Edge provides an individualized nutritional counseling program for each trooper to further assist them on their journey to reach their goals. After each trooper records what they eat, the boot camp instructors assess and offer suggestions on how to eat better.

These two aspects of Fitness Edge Boot Camp, although deemed very important and also highly recommended, are completely optional. Fitness Edge offers packages that only encompass the physical activities and other packages that offer life coaching (mental focus) and nutritional counseling. It's all up to the trooper and his or her desires.

The circuit training and cardio led by the instructors are different everyday.

"No two workouts are alike." Cole said. "Cheryl and her instructors create the most unique and challenging workouts I've ever experienced." Each day brings a completely new routine. These unpredictable sessions keeps troopers on their toes, which holds their interest and enthusiasm to challenge themselves every time they work out.

Fitness Edge has a variety of different programs, offering a realistic schedule everyone can incorporate in their weekly routine, said Broughton. Troopers can sign up for a four week to eight week basic or deluxe camp (deluxe packages include the life coaching and nutritional counseling where basic does not). A full year package is also available for those who are serious in not letting anything get in the way.

Unlike a gym where you pay the same amount every month regardless if you go or not, Fitness Edge Boot Camp packages contain a certain number of sessions which can be used whenever convenient. If a session is missed due to sickness or vacation, the workout is simply rolled over and can be used the next time a trooper comes in. This way, clients are paying for each specific workout, instead of paying for an underused monthly membership.

"I feel silly saying this, but it's like buying tanning sessions. You pay for each session, and use them whenever you want. If you miss a day, you can use your session on another day, and you're not loosing any money," Minniss said.

Broughton wanted to make Fitness Edge affordable, too.

"We have camps as low as $10 per workout," she said. People can also start with a small deposit of $150, and then make installment payments. Interested potential troopers even have the opportunity to try the camp for a day with a free guest pass. This allows clients to get a taste of the program before committing.

Family matters
Although the program is an exercise program, troopers leave with a lot more than just sweaty gym clothes and stinky shoes. In their mission statement, Fitness Edge Boot Camp states it is also about providing an "upbeat, friendly, family atmosphere for those who want the best out of life."

"This is not a boot camp where they make you feel bad," Minniss said. She appreciates the support she gets from her fellow troopers, and the encouragement she gets from her instructors. Minniss admitted being a part of a program like this is special in the sense that only fellow troopers who are experiencing the same struggles and successes understand what she is going though.

"It's unparalleled to anything I've been a part of," she said.

"I love the camaraderie," Cole said. "We all have a blast together."

Cole decided to stay not just because he was seeing results, but more so because of the friendships he developed between the other troopers.

Just like Minniss and Cole, Carmona-Morshead further values her boot camp experience due to the people that make up the program.

"We truly are a family. Although he have competitions here and there, no one is in it for competition," Carmona-Morshead said. "Who's slower? It doesn't matter."

Troopers grow so close to one another, their interactions often extend outside of the boot camp scene.

"The Castaic mud run was very family oriented," Carmona-Morshead said. "You know the people you're working out with."

These outside interactions aren't just activity based either.

"I am a celebrator," Broughton admitted. "In our adult lives, we stop getting pats on the back."

So she created the Challenges and Rewards program. The Fitness Edge Boot Camp instructors track each troopers progress including miles, inches lost, mud runs, and so on. With each improvement, the troopers are rewarded with certificates or with "boot camp bucks."

"We have an amazing Challenges and Rewards program that keeps us constantly motivated," Cole said.
"When I see improvement within a trooper, or if they were being supportive to another trooper, I'll surprise them and award them with boot camp bucks," Broughton said.

Boot camp bucks are awarded for participating in events like mud runs, for shaving off minutes off their personal mile time, for team spirit, and for attendance.

After accumulating enough boot camp bucks, troopers can purchase Fitness Edge Boot Camp gear. Instead of just buying it with regular money, each trooper has to earn their gear by collecting enough bucks. Not only does this program work as a motivation factor, but it also builds pride once you earn enough bucks to purchase something to show off.

The best thing about Fitness Edge, according to Broughton, is that she has been changing people's lives for the better.

"And not only that," she said, "but the program also extends to other people. To a wife, or kids."
Marital relationships improve since the individual is more satisfied with himself, and kids often benefit because their parent is more active and has more energy for their various responsibilities.

"Cole's wife cannot believe the changes in him," Broughton said. For his birthday, she called Broughton and organized a little celebration at the boot camp so that they could all celebrate together.

On Carmona-Morshead's first year wedding anniversary with her husband, she asked him to work out in the morning for a year.

He agreed, and did it for her.

"After the year was up, I told him that I appreciated him for doing it for me, but that since I only asked for a year, he could go back to what he was used to," Carmona-Morshead said. "But he didn't. He stayed. He converted to a morning person, too."

For more information or to get a free guest pass call (888) 671-6500 or visit http://www.fitnessedgebootcamp.com/.

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