Camas-Washougal residents are tackling fitness as a family

Family boot camp offers something for everyone

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The next family boot camp series begins Monday, Feb. 2 at Lacamas Lake Lodge, 227 N.E. Lake Road. The class is typically limited to 14 participants and is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.register.cityofcamas.us

The next family boot camp series begins Monday, Feb. 2 at Lacamas Lake Lodge, 227 N.E. Lake Road. The class is typically limited to 14 participants and is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.register.cityofcamas.us

Like many people, Rachel Lee of Vancouver joined a gym to help her keep in shape. However, with the cold winter months meaning limited outdoor time, she also wanted to find an activity she could participate in with her kids.

Lee found family boot camp at Lacamas Lake Lodge to be an ideal fit.

“This is something we can all do together,” she said.

On a recent Monday evening, she, mother, Tonia Wilmot, and her three children, Landon, 7, Cameron, 5, and Jordyn, 2, spent an hour doing a mix of cardio and strength training. The family boot camp was facilitated by Washougal personal trainer Anna Stephens.

“I enjoy the variety of the classes,” she said. “Boot camp changes every time. The main reason why people fall off the fitness wagon is because they get tired of it or burnt out on it. My goal is for them to stay engaged and interested.”

Family boot camp activities include a mix of obstacle courses, games, relay races and body weight exercises.

On Monday evening, participants rotated through high intensity interval stations that worked legs, arms, back and abdominal muscles. Stephens rotated through each station to ensure each person was using proper form.

“Here, there are a lot of people who are working to get into better shape,” she said. “Some of them are intimidated to join a gym. They are afraid people will stare at them or they won’t know how to use the equipment. Here, it is a more intimate setting. People feel a lot more secure here and they actually start to enjoy themselves.”

She is offering a family boot camp as a way for parents and children to exercise together.

“Healthy habits start young,” Stephens said. “This is a way to make exercise fun. This time of year, a lot of people just want to get out of the house with their family.”

Some of the boot camp activities are modified for the younger attendees, but everyone has an opportunity to fully participate.

“It’s a good way to keep families active and together,” she said.

Stephens first became interested in fitness after the birth of her second child 10 years ago in the town of Lake Havasu City, Ariz.

“I had a really hard time losing the baby weight and I lived in an area where you were in your bathing suit about 90 percent of the time,” she said. “I wanted to feel better and look better.”

She consulted a personal trainer, but it wasn’t a great fit. Her second trainer, “changed my life,” Stephens said.

She also went to a naturopath and modified her diet. Soon, Stephens was a size 4 and in the best shape of her life.

“I started doing sprint triathlons and participating in local road runs,” she said. “I thought I should pass on what I had learned and help others do it.”

Stephens began working at a local gym and studying to be a certified personal trainer, then built a gym in her home and used it as a studio.

“In the town I lived, people my age were definitely less fitness minded than they are here,” she said. “The baby boomers were the ones who went to the gym.”

She began offering classes locally after moving to Washougal in 2011.

“I love that moment people realize they are doing an exercise correctly,” Stephens said. “Then, they actually enjoy themselves. Until then, they are really nervous. I also love it when they see the progression. Some people can barely do one pushup, then after six weeks, they can do multiple pushups.”

In several of her classes, participants have become friends after boot camp ends.

“In here, with such a small setting, everyone gets to know each other and they keep each other motivated after class ends,” she noted. “I always say, ‘give this a try.’ Nobody’s judging. Everyone feels the same way. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone.”

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