Slightly before 7 a.m. on a clear Thursday, we stand at the base of Map Hill Drive, looking at the campus road that winds its way up to the Babson Globe. Map Hill is steep, and we are about to run up it as fast as we can. Multiple times.
Such grueling, quad-busting exertion is nothing out of the ordinary for Boot Camp, one of a host of wellness programs, from tai chi and yoga to Zumba and weight lifting, that Babson offers its employees. Every Tuesday and Thursday, a dozen or so Boot Camp regulars gather to perspire and push their limits together. Today, I’m tagging along.
Boot Camp’s leader is trainer Craig Paris. “Your heart rate is going 170, 180,” says Paris, as we hurtle up the hills. “It’s going sky high.” After 30 seconds, he tells us to stop running and come back down the hill, but after a short rest, we’re climbing again. And again. “How many are we doing? Ten?” someone asks. Paris mulls it over. “We probably won’t make it to 10,” he says, delivering a piece of most welcome news. In the end, we run the hill six times. “Good job, gang,” Paris says.
As difficult as the exercises are, the hardest part of Boot Camp may be the early wake-up call. It starts at 6:30 a.m. When her alarm goes off on those mornings, Erin Freda, MBA’14, who works in student affairs, lies in bed thinking, “I wonder what Craig has in store for us today.”
Once they drag themselves to campus, participants are put through a regimen that includes a warm-up run, stretching, workouts that combine strength training and cardio, and finally a cool-down. While I survived the hills, I found the cool-down, which worked the core of the body, to be particularly demanding. Paris says that even people who exercise regularly may neglect to target these essential muscles. “They keep you healthy and strong,” he says.
Employees receive many benefits for toughing out Boot Camp. Rick Cleary, mathematics professor, says it has helped him increase his strength and flexibility. Freda says it has made her a better runner. And Jocelyn Mauro, who works in the Glavin Office, credits Boot Camp with helping her lose 50 pounds. “I keep coming, and it works,” she says. She praises the Boot Camp regulars, who are encouraging and hold each other accountable. “I really believe that support has made all the difference.”—John Crawford