the original boot camp

The Original Boot Camp: My Story

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The Original Boot Camp was Canada’s first and longest running fitness boot camp. I launched it in 2001. It ran as a civilian boot camp in Whistler, B.C. until 2013, changing people’s lives with tough-as-nails outdoor workouts. The system pioneered the nations hottest fitness trend at the time (read Wikipedia history here).

How I Got Into the Fitness Boot Camp Business

Just over 10 years ago, I launched the first fitness boot camp in Canada—a scary and overwhelming adventure. I still remember trying to explain it to the Canadian Armed Forces. “So let me get this straight: you want to take civilians and yell at them, dress them in camouflage and pretend that you’re in a military boot camp?” was the approximate response when I asked whether I could make “boot camp” my trade name. “Well, yes!” I replied, with a giggle. It just sounded so ridiculous. And now, boot camps are one of the most popular, effective fitness programs available, with no sign of slowing down. – Feature article in IDEA FIT, 2011. 

the original boot camp

In 2003 I self-published a book on what I was doing in class, but it got ripped off by fitness trainers seemingly everywhere. Legal fees were getting expensive so I recalled the book. A personal training institution in Texas purchased 2000 copies and made a certification on my method, unauthorized.

Those days were a little nuts! Before the internet…(!!!) We were in 5 towns, almost 100 boot campers per day. I had a small team of fitness trainers but was mostly doing it myself.

WHISTLER, BC (PRWEB) JULY 5, 2007

Cat Smiley of Whistler, B.C. was recently named Canadian Trainer of the Year for 2006 by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). This is the third year in a row that Smiley has been recognized for her innovative and creative training methodologies, professional development and the impact she has had on the fitness industry within her community and across Canada.

“Cat Smiley has established herself as one of Canada’s leading fitness educators through her unconditional commitment to inspiring people to live their best and healthiest life,” says Dr. Sal Arria, DC, MSS, Co-Founder and CEO of ISSA. “She represents the core values of fitness education that the ISSA strives to instill in all our students.”

As a fitness innovator, Cat Smiley focuses on human development through physical fitness – combining empowerment strategies with wilderness workouts. Owner and fitness director of K!CK ASS WORKOUTS Inc. based in Whistler, B.C., Smiley is recognized for her abilities as a body transformation specialist and has become well known across Canada as a fitness personality.

Her Boot Camp is run as Navy SEAL inspired training with a no-excuses coach pushing participants’ personal limits and is perhaps the best known Boot Camp in Canada.

Smiley was the first to market this concept of fitness programming to Canadians. Her latest spin-off to Boot Camp is an all inclusive immersion program for obese participants, controversially named Fat Camp, that simultaneously inspires, motivates and encourages obese clients to get fit, acquire new habits, and change their lives for good.

Cat Smiley has also established herself as a fitness writer. She is the author of “The Boot Camp Workout,” has published over 1500 articles since 2001, and currently writes nine articles per month for regional publications. “I try to approach fitness and health topics with a light hearted twist in a way that leaves readers feeling good about their fitness journey,” says Smiley about her writing. “It’s important to motivate people to take simple steps to improve their health, and creating a casual read is a great way to help people turn on the exercise switch.”

An extraordinary trainer and fitness pioneer, Cat Smiley serves as a role-model for fitness professionals aspiring to achieve similar success as well as an inspiring force for individuals who crave a unique approach to fitness. – ISSA PRESS RELEASE

The International Sports Science Association asked me to co-author their boot camp continuing education course.  I enjoyed doing that.
By 2012 I got pretty overwhelmed by all the boot camp stuff and the branding that went with it. Whistler is a small town, and it was hard socially to be known as a drill sergeant.

Before hanging up the boot camp hat, I was voted Whistler’s best coach and fitness trend. That same year, I was recognized by industry peers (IDEA) in the top 10 boot camp instructors worldwide, out of 200,000 + trainers.

READ: Cat Smiley sets sights on bigger targets; New intensive boot camp program aimed at super-obese

The Cat Smiley Method – are others doing it?

“I recently made an instructional video for social media marketing. Cat Smiley, one of the world’s Top 10 Bootcamp Instructors, was kind enough to give me the inside scoop on how she makes e-Marketing work for her brand. Check it out below…” – 2012 study by one of my favorite boot campers Meg, who was a social media marketing student.

CBC NEWS Source

Cat Smiley, who runs the military-style fitness Boot Camp in Whistler, says a recent survey of her clients, or “recruits” as she calls them, confirms the Statistics Canada report. She says people from the smaller community of Whistler were heavier on average than people from Vancouver. “I think there is a lot more pressure to be thin in the big cities or in the cities than there is in the small towns,” she said.

READ: Vancouverites least obese, says national report

the original boot camp flyer

The boom or bust of fitness boot camps

In 2015 I was interviewed for ACE ProSource on my projection to where fitness boot camps are heading. My reply was somewhat candid, and not the popular response amongst peers. However I believed it to be true, so I said it. Turns out, I was right. Boot Camp businesses rapidly dried up between 2014 and 2018… making room for CrossFit.

“Boot camps were a trend, and the trend has passed, in my opinion… just like the CrossFit trend will pass,” says Cat Smiley, a three-time ISSA Canadian Trainer of the Year. Smiley founded The Original Boot Camp—Canada’s first and longest running boot camp—in 2001, in Whistler, B.C. “I ran my program daily for 13 years. I always said I’d walk away after I made my million. That happened at the 10-year mark, then I kept it going for another couple of years, but business rapidly decreased from about 2010 onwards.” – ACE Fitness 

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