Don’t let the term “high-intensity” faze you. Most of these boot camps welcome everyone from couch spuds to fitness studs. Perhaps not suprisingly, Lincoln Park is this trend’s epicenter. Ten-hut!

Lincoln Park


North Avenue Beach, 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr.; meet under the black Special Forces flag

Exercise physiologist and trainer David Hardin’s 30-person sessions focus as much on improving core strength and mobility—and avoiding injury—as on toning muscles and torching calories. Bonus: There’s zero running involved. $10 a class.

Bulldog Bootcamp

Lincoln Park; meet on Cannon Drive between Fullerton Avenue and Diversey Parkway

These 60-minute classes are as close to a real boot camp as you can get without enlisting. Instructor Suzanne Friday (whom you’ll refer to as Sergeant Friday) will call you out by name if you slack off. Expect barked-out commands to sprint, squat, and army-crawl. Four-week sessions: $195 for five days a week or $135 for three days a week.

Fit Lincoln Park’s Fit Bootcamp

Oz Park, 2021 N. Burling St.; meet near the corner of Webster Avenue and Orchard Street

Take one of this studio’s classes, taught by co-owner Bojan Jocic, and you won’t stop for 60 minutes. (Literally: Planks are your “rest” between circuits of hill climbers, pushups, and the other exercises.) Workouts are adapted to each group’s fitness level. $10 drop-in rate or $150 for three classes a week for eight weeks.

Logan Square

Paramount PT Boot Camp

Palmer Square Park, 2200 N. Kedzie Ave.; meet at the corner of Palmer Street and Humboldt Boulevard

Owner Alex Nsiah-Kumi’s program feels like personal training: He caps each class at 10 people. You’ll use kettlebells and other equipment, which you’ll incorporate with body-weight exercises and running. Expect to work your butt off. (This high intensity camp is not advised for beginners.) Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m.; Saturdays at 9 a.m. $199 for a six-week session.

The Loop

Fit Results Bootcamp

Grant Park; meet at the corner of Ninth Street and Michigan Avenue

Trainer and ironman Luis Centeno leads high-intensity, interval-based workouts: a seemingly endless mix of novel moves—he brings giant ropes and other gear to the park—along with sprints and body-weight exercises done in short spurts. Plus, this outdoor camp pumps you up with music. $45 for a four-week session.


DIY Boot Camp

Grab a friend, hit the beach or park, and kick your own butt with this 20-minute circuit from BeachFit’s David Hardin.

Illustrations: Colin Hayes


30 lateral lunges Stand with your feet wide and lunge left, then right, making sure your knees don’t go past your toes.

30 opposite reaches Start on your hands and knees, extend your right arm and left leg, and hold for two seconds. Alternate sides.


Don’t stop between these moves and reps.

30 twisted lunges Step your right leg forward into a lunge and twist at the waist to the right side. Repeat on opposite side.

10 child’s pushups Start in child’s pose with your arms straight out in front of you. Rock forward to a pushup position on your knees. Lower your chest to the floor, keeping your elbows tucked into your side, then shift back into child’s pose.

30 squat jumps With your feet hip-distance apart and pointing forward, sit back into a squat, then explode up. Land softly.

10 dog presses Starting in downward dog, slowly shift your body forward and bend your elbows. Push back up and return to start.

30 mountain climbers Start in a plank position. Pull your right knee to your chest as your left leg extends straight behind you. Quickly switch legs and continue alternating.

10 hollow body crunches Lie flat on your back with arms overhead. Draw your knees and arms into your chest, and as you crunch up, press your lower back into the ground.

1 plank Assume a plank position on your forearms and toes, forming a straight line with your body. Tuck your tailbone and engage your core. Hold for 30 seconds.

10 burpees Start in a pushup position. Jump your feet between your hands and jump straight up. Land softly, place your hands on either side of your feet, and jump back to start.

Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit two to five times.


Downward dog Hold for 30 seconds.

Child’s pose Hold for 30 seconds.