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Bootcamp exercisers do push-ups at Hoa Lu Stadium. PHOTOS COURTERSY OF ORIGINAL BOOTCAMP VIETNAM

It is 6:30 p.m. and it is raining, but there seems to be no dampening of the spirits among about ten people clad in shorts and T-shirts as they prepare to participate in the "Bootcamp" at the Hoa Lu Stadium in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

Brought to Vietnam nearly a year ago, Bootcamp now attracts more than 200 regulars of different ages.

Originally a colloquial term for military recruitment training, Bootcamp has become a popular sport in many countries.

At the Hoa Lu Stadium, Bootcamp participants are put through the hoops by a coach who barks out orders just like in army training. They have to run, climb ropes, do push-ups and so on.

Unlike other fitness regimens which allow people occasional breaks of 5-10 minutes break, Bootcamp requires "the grunts" to keep exercising and moving constantly for one hour without pause, so it is clearly not a sport for everyone.

Healther Woodward, an American teacher at foreign language center ILA in HCMC, told Tuoi Tre newspaper she was completely exhausted when she first did a Bootcamp course. But after one week, she felt better and after a month, she came to love Bootcamp. There are many activities for each day and it is difficult to get bored, she said.

An instructor guides a Bootcamp exercise for a participant at Hoa Lu Stadium

Hoang Thao Nguyen, a 21-year-old student, said he has exercised with Bootcamp for three weeks and his physical strength has improved a lot. Now he does not have to take any break but can stay in a football game from the beginning to the end, he said.

"All people who have finished their first month with Bootcamp want to continue because it shows a clear change in their physical strength," said Nguyen Quoc Dung, who is in charge of managing members joining activities at the Hoa Lu Stadium.

Since several activities require exercisers to team up, Bootcamp also fosters personal interactions and teamwork.
For example, a group is asked to run around the stadium with a length of rope, an activity that requires coordination among team members. If one member shows up late, the whole team is punished, increasing the sense of responsibility for others.


Hoa Lu Stadium

 2 Dinh Tien Hoang Street,

District 1, HCMC

Nguyen Luong Bang Stadium, 3 Nguyen Luong Bang Street, District 1, HCMC

Obviously, the instructors play an important role in Bootcamp. They have to be strong, guide teams and when needed, be very sensitive and flexible to support those who find the activity overwhelming and want to quit.

Nguyen Hoang Tuong Van, 22, who has exercised for six periods, said thanks to the support of her teammates and the careful instructions from her teacher, who taught her how to breath and overcome some hard moves, she loves Bootcamp and continue with it.

A Bootcamp course at Hoa Lu Stadium starts at 6:30 p.m. everyday and at 6:00 a.m. at the Nguyen Luong Bang Stadium in District 7. The fees for a course of 12 days per month is around VND1 million.

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