Bootcamp Games with Brian Kalakay Jr.

Back in June, I heard Brian Kalakay talk about bootcamp games at TT Summit.

Here is a little clip from the presentation:

I asked if he had some more information and ideas that he could share with EFI readers. Has said he has a lot of stuff on bootcamp games that will help trainers and coaches. Take it away, Brian.

Hey everyone!

My name is Brian Kalakay and I play games in my boot camp classes.


I know it is a weird combination, (kind of like a blind guy and sharp shooting), but trust me it works!

You are probably asking yourself, who is this guy and why is he playing games instead of working his clients out? Well, here are the answers…

I started my fitness boot camp career by running small group classes out of a big box gym. I rented a 12 foot by 12 foot floor and filled it with about 8 people. The reason for 8 people was simple; that’s all I could fit in there! I was hitting a point where I had to grow my business but obviously the environment was prohibiting that growth. I had to think of something to get more people in so that I could find a location of my own. With competition around every corner, I had to find something to make me look different from the guy down the street. That is when I figured it out…

I was going to take the old games I used to play with my karate classes (I taught karate for 8 years), and put a fitness twist on them. It was a crazy shot in the dark for me, but at this point I had nothing to lose.

The first time I used the games, I decided to use them at the end of class, just like we did in karate. I held my breath and prayed that everyone didn’t look at me like I was a fool. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Everyone was jumping around and giggling like little kids; full grown 30-40 year old adults playing with each other like they were on a playground.

The following week, all I heard about was how much fun that game was and how we should play more. That is all it took. From that day forward, I decided to use games at the end of class every day.

Fast forward a year from that time: now, I currently own a 7800 square foot boot camp/small group training facility in Lapeer, Michigan. We just opened about 4 months ago and we are already over 120 members. I can confidently say that the games I play at the end of my boot camps were a huge part of that success.

So what exactly are boot camp games?

Boot Camp Games are a hybrid of fitness drills and exercises mixed with “recess style” games and races. Think back to when you were young and you used to play games like “Duck, Duck, Goose” , Dodge Ball, Freeze Tag, and Relay Races. Combine that with some sort of fitness element like pushups, sprints, squat hops, planks, etc. Then, you have a boot camp game. It’s that easy. If you are still lost, here is a great example:

Red Light/Green Light

Format: Everyone for themselves

Supplies Needed: None

How to Begin: Have everyone get in a single file line spread out across the floor.

Objective: The first person to move down the floor and back to the starting line wins.

Rules: Pick an exercise. Leap frogs or squat hops usually work best.

When you say “green light” everyone will hop as fast and as far as they can down the floor until you say “red light”.

When “red light” is called everyone must stop moving wherever they are. When “green light” is called out again they can start moving again.

Great game to build reaction time and jumping strength.

Here is a video of the game in action:

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to put one of these games together to do at the end of an awesome boot camp session. However, there are some things that you can do that will either help or hurt your success with these activities.

Top 5 Mistakes Instructors Make When Doing Games

Here are the top 5 mistakes that I see instructors make when creating a game for the end of a session:

1. Exercises in the Games are Too Hard

Believe it or not this can actually make the game fail in the eyes of your clients. Games are designed to take their mind off of exercise and to end the class on a high note. If your clients were just beat into the ground for 50 minutes straight with hard exercise, then why would you want to continue with this torture? They are tired and their coordination isn’t usually the best at this point of the session.

Keep the exercise element in the game, but make the exercises easy to follow/understand. Keep the format simple. This allows for your clients to “unwind” and have a little fun. This leads me to the next problem…

2. Not Enough FUN

The truth is that your clients can get a hard workout anywhere. Any trainer can make a client “feel the burn” and wake up sore the next day. YOU want to have the ability to entertain your clients and work them out at the same time. This way when clients leave your boot camp, they can’t wait to go home and post on Facebook how much fun they are having at your facility. Nobody wants to exercise. Everyone wants to have fun!

3. Everyone Isn’t Involved

This happens quite a bit. You end up having a small group of individuals doing all of the activity and the other group is just sitting there doing nothing. It’s fine that they rest while the other group works, just make sure that they are cheering on their teammates. You want everyone to feel engaged with the activity; this way nobody feels like the “bench warmer” on the football team.

4. Forgetting to Market with Games

This is probably the biggest problem I see with people who use games. During the course of the game you should be snapping photos on your phone and posting them to Facebook. After class, tag the members in the photo or have your assistant do it. This way when clients get home, they can see the pics and spread the word about how much fun they had at YOUR boot camp.

5. Not Enough Energy in the Games

Make sure when you create a game that it will create a “loud” environment. By that I mean an environment filled with laughter, excitement, and energy. Your clients should be going crazy at the end of the session. It’s like hyping them up to send them home. The more positive energy and sense of community they feel, the better the chance of them liking the game and wanting to come back tomorrow.

From generating new referrals, to retaining current clients, this concept is a MUST for any successful group training program. If you aren’t doing games yet, it is definitely time to start. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Plus, if you don’t do it, the competitor down the road probably will.

My challenge to you is to sit down and write up a list of 10 relay races or 10 games you could play at the end of one of your boot camp sessions and implement them ASAP. When you do I would love to hear about how they worked!

If you are stuck or need more guidance with these “boot camp games”, check this link out: CLICK HERE.

Feel free to comment and post your success stories below.

Brian Kalakay
Creator of TT Boot Camp Games