Beyond Fitness: Finding a Life-Changing Community at Burn Boot Camp - Burn Boot Camp
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Beyond Fitness: Finding a Life-Changing Community at Burn Boot Camp

December 14, 2023

Lea felt excited and hopeful as she walked onto the Floating Floor for the first time. She didn’t know what to expect for her first Camp, so she was surprised when the metabolic conditioning workout wasn’t over, but rather ended with a final exercise that everyone deemed more challenging than the previous stations they just completed. As everyone in the room started the Finisher, Lea listened carefully to what the Trainer was saying while she held her plank position. “Don’t quit, don’t quit! You can do this, don’t lay down,” she heard blasting throughout the speakers in the gym. Lea echoed this mantra in her head for the rest of the Finisher and made it through without having to modify or take a break to rest.  

Today, Lea feels more confident and joyful than she’s ever felt before. When we spoke with Lea about her transformation from that first Camp in January 2023 to today, she said that she is the strongest that she has ever been. “I can honestly tell you that because of Burn Boot Camp, I am the happiest and the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life… I am just happy and I’m proud of myself and I haven’t been proud of myself in a really long time,” she recalled.  

Lea and her husband had recently moved to North Carolina because her husband received a job transfer. She was out of her comfort zone and regular routine. Lea recalls going about three weeks without any human interaction other than her husband, so she knew she needed to find something to do that she loved, “I just needed something to get me out of the house. I was in a little bit of a funk, so I decided what do I have to lose? I walked through the doors and I haven’t left since.” She was initially attracted to Burn Boot Camp because the Universal Membership would allow her to go to multiple locations in the midst of moving, but she was truly impacted by the community she felt by the second day. From every high-five to each call-out from a Trainer, Lea felt truly valued and found a community in a home that was brand new.  

Watch some highlights from Lea’s story in the video below or keep reading to hear her full story.  

Q. Tell us a little bit about your fitness journey prior to Burn. 

I have never really been consistent with fitness in my life. I’ve tried running, I’ve joined multiple gyms, but I just kind of fall off on things. I’m either all in or all out.  

I was motivated to walk into Burn Boot Camp at a time where it was a little bit crazy in my life. My husband got a job transfer, we were moving, and I was by myself. He moved ahead of me, and I just needed something to get me out of the house. I was in a little bit of a funk. I just decided, what do I have to lose? I walked through the doors and I haven’t left since. 

Q. Why Burn? 

I picked Burn because I grew up in the Philadelphia area, we moved to North Carolina, and I wanted a place where I wouldn’t have to stop if I was going to start something. I didn’t want to have to give up. I knew that starting in one place with the Universal Membership I could keep going no matter where I lived. 

I can honestly tell you that because of Burn Boot Camp, I am the happiest and the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. 

I walk around with a lot more joy and a lot more confidence than I’ve ever had. I am the strongest that I’ve ever been. I feel very emotional right now just talking about it. I am just happy and I’m proud of myself and I haven’t been proud of myself in a really long time. 

Truthfully, the community of Burn sets it apart. When we moved, I probably went three weeks without any human interaction other than my husband. Those high-fives saved my life. Honestly. When you move to a place where you don’t know anyone and you leave everything that you’ve known, it’s scary. Being able to walk in and get a high five and someone know your name in a place where you have to GPS to get there, is amazing. So really, honestly, truthfully, the community is what set Burn apart. 

I love being held accountable. You make Burn Sisters and Burn Brothers very quickly, so they notice when you don’t come to your regular Camp time, and they notice when you do something very exciting for yourself. They cheer you on, but I also love being able to do that with them, too. I love being able to come together and make a close-knit group of people that are proud of themselves. 

I could come in, I could pull into the parking lot and be having the worst day, but knowing that someone’s day is going to be made because I stand on the Floating Floor and I say their name, or I give them a high five, is the best feeling in the world.  

Q. How did you get started with Burn? 

I became a Member at the end of January in 2023. I was so amazed that by day two they knew who I was and they were looking for me. I went away for a week because I was going back and forth with my husband, and they were messaging me, “Hey, we haven’t seen you…” I felt very seen and because it impacted me so much, I wanted to be a part of that and give that back. There was an opportunity to become a Burn Ambassador and I jumped on it and here I am. 

A Burn Ambassador encompasses what the culture at Burn is. We are there the minute you walk in the door and we help carry you through the entire workout, all the way until you walk back out with high fives, smiles, and knowing your name. At our location, we get to make smoothies. I love to write fun notes on their smoothies at the end of their hard workout, just letting them know that we see them and we’re proud of them. We keep up the culture throughout the whole Camp. 

Q. What changes have you noticed since attending Camps at Burn? 

I think a specific moment would probably be, this is kind of silly, but just being proud of myself. Realizing that I’m proud of continuously showing up. I remember when I reached my 50-Camp milestone. It’s the most consistent I’ve ever been in a health journey. Also getting FOMO because I have to take a rest day and not being able to go to Camp, especially when it’s on a day that I want to do the Protocol, like leg day or something. I want to be there, but my body is telling me, “You have to slow down.” Just the fact that it’s even something in my mindset is a pretty significant milestone. 

Again, this is silly, but unexpected is my health, like my nutrition. I have always been an extremely picky eater. I eat the same things. I don’t try anything new, but the more strength that I receive, the more I understand the importance of fueling my body. I’ve been wanting to try vegetables. I love Brussels sprouts. If you would tell 10-year-old Lea that she would eat Brussels sprouts, it wouldn’t even be in the same sentence, but now I just love trying new foods and fueling my body. 

I think the Trainers have such an important role in making sure that they are challenging each and every person in a way that’s specific to them. So just the ability to control the floor and make sure we’re all doing something safe, but still paying attention and making you feel seen and wanting to push you and challenge you. That has been very impactful, that there could be 30 other people trying to do something completely different and they still will call my name. Most times I want to change my name on the Floating Floor because I’ve heard it too many times! The ability the Trainers have to challenge me in the midst of having to focus on so many other people is amazing.

Q. How did you feel after your first Camp?

I was really proud of myself! The Trainer came up to me at the end and said, “So how do you feel?” All I said was, “Hungry.” He said he’d never heard anyone say that before, but all I could feel was just super hungry and all I wanted to do was eat a cheeseburger at six o’clock in the morning. But that’s the point of Camp- to give all you’ve got, and that’s the best part. These 45 minutes are probably, honestly, the best 45 minutes of your day. Coming in, challenging yourself, pushing yourself. I love to see the way that we can move our bodies without machines. I see exercises and I think, “I would never have tried that on my own.” But that’s the point of Camp. 

A lot of times I think, “I can’t believe that’s over.” I’m so excited that it’s over, but it feels amazing. I don’t really have any other words other than that. I’ve always avoided upper body strength, I’ve always avoided arm day, it’s just not my thing. Then the other day I thought, “I feel kind of swole today, this feels good.”

Q. What’s your favorite part of Burn? 
The people and the community that’s built. Being on the Floating Floor and high-fiving someone, seeing that someone just did something really challenging, or they notice something really challenging that you just did. Or when you get the same group of people that come to the same Camp time and you look forward to seeing each other. Whether you’re on the Floating Floor or you’re not, even if you’re just in the parking lot, the people are my favorite thing about Burn. 

Q. What’s your favorite Protocol? 

My favorite Camp is leg day. My second favorite would be metabolic conditioning. And I’m just now starting to like body weight conditioning because I just like to see what my body can do. 

Leg day is just the best day ever. Heavy weights, squats, building your quads and getting a nice butt.

Q. Did you have any goals when you started working out at Burn? 

For the first time ever, my goal was to be consistent with something and to get out of the house. To just get out of the funk that I was in. I wanted to show up somewhere and be seen. That was my goal. My goal right now is to get as strong as I possibly can. 

I think being able to challenge yourself and push yourself, whether it’s lifting heavy weights or not putting something that I could do now on a to-do list for tomorrow. I think those two things are equivalent. On the Floating Floor, whether I’m able to squat a heavier weight or fix something at the house without waiting until my husband comes home. I think that’s the way that it translates. 

I feel stronger, not just physically, but I’m empowered and stronger mentally, which is really a big thing for me. I’ve always envisioned strength by the way I look or how much weight I could lift. But the fact that I can get up, and be happy to get up, and be able to encourage other people by what I’m able to do is a really big thing. 

I’ve spent a lot of time unhappy, not wanting to be around, and not wanting to be alive. I turned 30 and I was reflecting on what it looked like when I woke up on my 20th birthday compared to when I woke up on my 30th birthday. I didn’t even think I was going to make it to 30. 

I don’t even know if ‘happy’ is the right word. I think joy is the right word because you can be happy at certain times, but joy is finding a reason to be joyful despite what’s going on. Burn is a huge part of feeling joyful. Constantly being challenged, constantly being seen, constantly feeling valued, and being able to give that back. Whatever I get, I can give it back to someone else. I don’t even have words to describe it. 

Your whole entire life can change the minute you walk through the Burn door. The hardest part is walking through that door. You just have to do it. 

Q. What would you tell 20-year-old Lea?  

I would tell 20-year-old Lea not to give up, and that it’s going to get better. That you are very strong, stronger than you think, and it’s worth it. That other people are watching you, so you have to keep going because they need you. 

Q. Do you go to Burn with your husband too? 

My husband came to a date night Burn Boot Camp in February. I forced him to come. He’s athletic, he’s been athletic his whole life. He’s played every sport and I have not. The entire time he was so surprised that I didn’t give up. When things get hard, I typically run from them. Him seeing me be extremely passionate about something, not giving up, and keeping up with him has put a nice little friendly competition in our marriage. He really believed in it because he watched firsthand how it changed me. Now, my husband is a regular 4:45 in the morning Burn Boot Camper. 

Q. Can you tell us about a time you really pushed yourself? 

In September, our gym was doing Level Up games. They’re Member-specific games. You could either compete or do a non-compete. There were three different workouts and you’re pushing yourself to see how strong you are and you’re competing with each other. There were prizes, obviously. We love to say that the only competition is you, but it’s fun to compete against others, and it’s just specific for the Members in our gym. I would never in my life ever sign up for anything like that. I’ve always been the club sports girl, the girl who’s the team manager, always behind the scenes, but I just thought, “What do I have to lose by signing up?” So, I signed up and I’ve been training and still building comradery and community. It’s really funny because I should be competing, but I just think that everyone’s together and this is great. I’m just really excited just to show up, just simply to show up and show myself that I can do something. I don’t have any experience at all competing athletically in this way. I’m just really excited to say that I did it. 

Q. What does “two claps on two” mean to you? 

I think “two claps on two” changes depending on the day. Some times it solidifies Camp. Like, you did that, now you can go home. And other times it’s, we all just did that. Let’s celebrate.  

Two claps on two. One, two. 

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