Concord Boot Camp program offers ‘best workout ever’

January is when many people take on fitness goals as New Year’s resolutions, but not those who follow Joy Dry’s Boot Camp in the Park.

Most are regular participants in the extreme fitness class that is offered year-round by the Concord Parks and Recreation department.

They filed into the Academy Recreation Center in Concord on Jan. 7, ready to raise their heart rate and sweat off some holiday goodies. Attendees arranged their hand weights and exercise mats in a line on the gym floor before class started.

The class runs from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday for 50 weeks out of the year. Dry said they take off only for Christmas and New Year’s.

Normally held outdoors at Les Myers Park, the participants asked Dry to move the class indoors for the colder winter months. With temperatures forecast to be in the low teens, they were grateful for the heated area.

Dry, 40, a Concord native, is an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified personal trainer. She has been leading the class for the past five years. The fast-paced exercise class incorporates cardiovascular drills, resistance training, core workouts and a lot of running.

Between each drill, the recruits run laps, followed by very small breaks with just enough time to grab a couple sips of water or pat their faces off with a towel before jumping into the next exercise. The group of seven women had all been through the class before and moved seamlessly from drill to drill under Dry’s command.

“Boot Camp is good for all levels of athletes because you can go at your own pace,” Dry said, but you must be in good shape to participate. The workout is so strenuous that medical clearance is required of those over 40.

Tinky Whittington, 40, said she has been participating for about 18 months. She said her job as hospice nurse is both stressful and rewarding, and Whittington calls the class her “happy medicine,” adding that “it is like being in gym class in high school.”

“I have lost 15 pounds and gained a tremendous amount of muscle,” said Whittington. “It’s really hard, but the best workout ever. Give it a try. You will absolutely not regret it,” she said.

The class is open to males and females, but “99 percent of my students are females,” Dry said.

“I hate to exercise,” Dometra Mercer, 40, said, “but I know it’s good for me, and Joy makes it fun,”

Mercer and Whittington were classmates with Dry in high school.

“Seeing someone (Dry) who never played sports in high school teaching a class to us who were athletes in high school – and she is kicking our butts,” said Mercer, as she shook her head in disbelief, laughing.

Dry said she would like for everyone to come and try the class.

“There is no right fitness thing to do, just find something you enjoy and stick with it,” Dry said.