Austin Adventure Bootcamp


A 5:30 a.m. boot camp class means a 4:30 wake-up call, and on cold mornings it also means putting on lots of layers and a quick application of Chapstick.

This class is held out in the fresh air, no matter how frigid or dark, so you know that Austin Adventure Boot Camp must provide a pretty substantial pay-off to garner that kind of dedication.

Held Mondays through Fridays with a free class offered every Saturday, the reward of this women-only workout class is intense physical achievement that its participants never dreamed of, the hard-won development of muscles they’d never believed they possessed, and a newly discovered can-do attitude that energizes the rest of their day and spills over to the rest of their lives.

Austin Adventure Boot Camp also offers co-ed classes in the evenings, and all of their workout routines are challenging enough to be more than worthwhile for men and women at every level of fitness, but their core curriculum is their early-morning session, which targets women who desperately feel the need to get back into shape.

The Program

The program is offered in four-week blocks that come with guaranteed results – a Chinese menu assortment of weight loss, or inches lost, or time cut from a one mile pace, or fat percentage lost and the way that those goals are accomplished is through a combination of nutritional lessons and serious, sweat-inducing, muscle-burning determination. fitness2xtreme-images-c-bootcamps-austin-adventure-stephanie-mcdonald

Don’t make the mistake of writing this program off as too lightweight or toned down – Austin Adventure is the love child of Stephanie McDonald, a fitness expert and model who was voted Austin’s Fittest and Exercise TV’s Top Trainer/Best Boot Camp.

She didn’t get there by going easy on herself or on her students, and though the classes are upbeat and motivating, they are also extremely challenging, designed to get the heart pounding early and keep it that way throughout, while pushing the muscles to the point of exhaustion.

One graduate described the aftermath of her morning workout by saying, “My coworkers always know when I go to boot camp because I hobble around like Nostradamus.”

Getting Warm to Hot in a Hurry

A typical morning class begins with minimal time spent on stretching and warm-ups – the instructors want to get everybody moving on to super-setting and sweating right away.

The fact that it’s so ungodly early that it’s still dark and there’s dew – or even frost – on the ground doesn’t stop them from getting the ladies down for a quick succession of high intensity body-weight exercises including planks that last forever and push-ups that turn their arms to marshmallows.

fitness2xtreme-images-c-bootcamps-austin-adventure-mountain-climbingThe announcement of mountain climbers evinces many a groan but also gets the heart pumping hard, and by the time the dreaded squat thrusts are announced, the burn in the muscle has made it so nobody is thinking about how cold they are or how early it is anymore.

Each circuit of strength and endurance exercises is punctuated by a running drill that is sure to make the over-indulgent regret the previous night’s dinner, and that run is then followed by another set of strength circuits that extract the last ounce of energy, the recent memory of which led one participant to blog that:

“After the Indian run, we started doing what Stephanie calls “The 100’s,” which I think stands for how many sets of each upper-body exercise you do, but also represents the number of times I wanted to throw up during the work out. It’s kind of humorous that anyone would look at me with the expectation that I could do 100 push-ups and then assume I would ever be able to move again, let alone work out.”

Though many of the women in the class have never even jogged a mile (or not since their last high school gym class) the running segments that Austin Adventure inflicts on them make a simple, straight-forward mile seem like a stroll in the park.

Indian Runs are single-file miles, with the leader of the line holding a baton and the last person having to push themselves forward, passing all the other runners and the leader to take the baton and the head of the line; the process continues for a full mile, and you can almost hear the group cursing themselves for not having arranged with each other to rig the game and slow things down.

The Prison Run is another dreaded variation on the mile which is done as though escaping from jail, with hands held high over your head.

For those fitness snobs out there who think this is no big deal, or only a problem for the terminally uncoordinated, give this a whirl.

The arms quickly turn to lead, the wind is gone in no time, and the core ends up doing the balancing work that the arms would naturally do. There’s no chatting or singing during this bit of torture; only gasps.


The Austin Adventure Boot Camp workout is designed to transform its participants’ bodies, so the very first session includes a body composition assessment that includes weight and various measurements, and a fitness evaluation that runs through a series of exercises to see how well you do before training begins.

fitness2xtreme-images-c-bootcamps-austin-adventure-achieving-goalsThe initial evaluation alone is enough to scare off the faint of heart, but the aim is measurable improvement over the four week period; those who are already fit will definitely see a change, but for those who have never flexed a bicep before, if they stick with the program the difference will be greater, and is often life-changing.

All this accomplishment is earned the hard way, with tremendous effort and lots of sweat and soreness, but because the entire class is structured so that teamwork and support is stressed along with the muscles, it’s pain that’s suffered in an upbeat atmosphere lifted by music and motivation from instructors and classmates alike.

For those who have never participated in athletics, both the effort and the spirit represent a sort of awakening:

Four mornings a week, I increased my vocabulary at an astonishing rate as I learned about tabatas, dead lifts, mountain climbers and many, many more. My muscles also learned to dread those phrases too. But throughout it all, the team-based structure of the program kept me motivated. I’d never played organized sports (band nerd!), so this was as close as I ever got. Everyone in our session cheered each other on, which made the agony much more bearable.

Part of Stephanie McDonald’s vision for her program is to provide women with all of the tools that they need to get healthy, and one aspect that differentiates this program from other boot camps is the emphasis on nutritional education along with constant physical effort.

Students are instructed on healthy eating choices throughout the class, and are even invited to keep food diaries that can be submitted daily for evaluation, correction and suggestions.

The unique combination of burning calories at extreme levels mixed in with high-spirited encouragement and emphasis on caloric reduction for those who need it is what makes this program so well-loved by its followers, and so successful.

Boot Camp Info


Name: Austin Adventure Bootcamp
Location(s): Austin,TX
Owner(s): Stephanie McDonald


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