Basic Training SF


California is a world unto itself. Long known (and loved) for both its easy-going, laid-back ways and its healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle, it’s a little hard to square that image with a rigid, boot camp style of workout.

But Basic Training San Francisco manages to combine those opposing world views in just the right way, providing tough-as-nails workouts that encourage clients to push past their self-imposed limits through a combination of play, encouragement and breath-taking vistas.

Up and at ’em

Picture this:  it’s six a.m. Never mind the early hour, that’s par for the course with boot camp workouts.

But you and your fellow classmates are meeting at Fort Point, and the sun is just starting to rise, glinting on the Golden Gate Bridge and making it glow pink.fitness2xtreme-images-basic-training-sf-a10-sunrise-over-gold-gate-bridge

With that as your starting point and serving as the backdrop for the next hour, it’s a little hard to feel like you’re being punished, no matter how many pushups, triceps dips, bear crawls and squats are being thrown at you.

Basic Training San Francisco’s secret to success is that they manage to give you a consistently tough, drenched-in-sweat, arms and legs of jello workout, while simultaneously inspiring you, crowing about your ability to push yourself through, and celebrating the iconic city in which you’re doing it.

fitness2xtreme-images-basic-training-sf-man-owner-jennifer-patteeFounded by Jennifer Pattee, Basic Training San Francisco’s motto is that “the only workout worth doing is the one you can look forward to.”

With that in mind, she’s leveraged her tremendous athletic ability and creativity along with the natural resources of one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world by using San Francisco’s hidden stairways and trails, its famous hills and beaches to dole out one of the toughest, most enjoyable workouts on the West Coast.

For equipment, we use what’s there, quite creatively.

Hills and stairs stand in for cardio machines, benches and tables provide platforms for tricep dips and ab work, and a resistance band draped over a tree branch makes a great substitute for the lat pull-down machine.

Nancy Einhart, Pop Sugar City

Get Psyched Up!

It’s tough to describe a typical workout provided by this outfit.

Every class is different, every workout focuses on a different activity, and classes meet in different locations around the city from one day to the next.

One morning you might be told to show up at the Palace of Fine Arts, but the afternoon class’ starting point might be at the Lyon Street stairs or at Pier 23.

Wherever you are, Jenn or one of her fellow trainers will use what’s there and your own body weight to run you through your paces (this is lot different than, say Barry’s Boot Camp LA which uses lots of music and treadmills).


At the bottom of the Lyon Street Stairs, you’re given your marching orders to head straight up, stopping at the first landing for what you’re hoping is a rest but ends up being a set of mountain climbers that only increases the burning in your lungs and makes the next set of stairs seem that much steeper.

The next landing greets you with a set of 90-degree squats that explain to your quads how easy the stairs actually were, and is then followed by climbing the stairs again, but this time sideways.

Embrace the pain

fitness2xtreme-images-basic-training-sf-a40-view-from-pacific-heightsThe manicured lawns of Pacific Heights become a peripheral blur, but finally at the top you’re rewarded with stunning views of the Bay – and the news that you’re now going to jog down the hill.

The respite of that slow jog with the cool breeze in your face is a relief for as long as it takes you reach the bottom, where you’re cheerfully told to turn around and run back up – and on the way you’re chided to increase your speed as you go.

Summit the hill, breathe deeply and breathe in the view, then jog back down to the bottom for a round of pushups, followed by a return to the top, faster still.

Bent over and gasping at your effort, sweat running down your face, you almost look forward to running back down the other way, where more pushups await you.

And squat thrusts. Squat thrusts? After running up those stairs, and then running up that hill. Twice? Yup – squat thrusts.

I made it back and slowly climbed into my ride and carefully drove home feeling every muscle completely depleted.

I could barely open my mouth to talk to my wife when she asked “How was it?” My lungs were still trying to recover…my voice was crackling…I said “those people are crazy!”

This was my first day of the best thing I have done for myself in a very long time!
Eric C.

fitness2xtreme-images-basic-training-sf-a50-lyon-street-hillSix hundred or so calories are burned in your one hour workout, and it’s hard to identify a muscle that you haven’t worked harder than you thought you could.

All while being encouraged and pushed in the gentlest but firmest, most California-inspired way, and having more fun than you ever thought possible in terms of the physical effort you’ve put out.

The best way I can describe it is that I felt like a kid again. Sit ups while looking at a blue sky. Smelling dust. Laying on concrete. Getting dirty. Feeling the sun on my shoulders. Hearing the birds chirping. Feeling my muscles burn as someone was pushing my limits.

Thinking there was no way I could do it and someone right there to tell me I could.

This is what I remember my childhood being like. Then we grow up and we go in gyms with TVs and the whole love for exercising is lost (at least it was for me). But she got it back for me.
Suzannah S.


Jenn and her troop are on a mission to make the Bay Area their fitness playground and to encourage their clientele to explore just how far their own athleticism can take them – which is generally far beyond where they think their limits are. 

The workout would never be described as “brutal” – the attitude is just too upbeat for that.

But the exercises themselves will kick your ass. They provide a true boot camp workout but without the drill sergeant demeanor – which is not to say that they will let you slack off.

fitness2xtreme-images-basic-training-sf-a54-san-francisco-beach-runningThey measure their clients’ abilities and tailor their approach so that everybody is pushed just beyond what they think they can do, and like Jenn herself, those clients often end up using the class as a springboard to move on to heroic fitness adventures like marathons and ultra-runs.

Basic Training San Francisco’s advice on all things fitness is generously doled out, whether on where to find the best sports massage or what’s the best thing to eat before class that will fuel you and not come up after doing those stairs.

They want their clients to be happy campers, so the six-week class regimen is supplemented with scheduled extra-curricular activities like “Boozy Brunches” and anniversary beach outings to continue the camaraderie that they foster during classes.

Basic Training San Francisco is probably one of the most complete, toughest workouts you’ll ever encounter, but it feels like playing in one of America’s most beautiful backyards.

Boot Camp Info

Name: Basic Training SF (San Francisco)
Location(s): San Francisco, CA
Owner(s): Jennifer Pattee



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