By Joel Hall
If one day, you happen to wake up very early, you may see a group of people in red or black shirts, jogging down Tara Boulevard, doing suicide drills at Travon Wilson Park, or doing jumping jacks in front of the Eula Wilborn Ponds Perry Center for Learning in Jonesboro.
It's a good chance those people are participants of the No Excuses Fitness Boot Camp. From Thursday to Sunday, starting at 5 a.m., local residents run, jump, crawl, and weight train to become slimmer, faster, and stronger versions of themselves.
Ann Wilkerson, a fitness instructor and personal trainer with the Clayton County Parks and Recreation Department, started the boot camp two and a half years ago, when she noticed that similar programs were missing in the Southern Crescent.
She said the camp helps motivate those who are not easily motivated by traditional exercise.
"Exercise is not just physical, it is also mental, so they get a totally different outlook on life," said Wilkerson. "Once they start, even if they don't lose a lot of weight, they feel good about themselves because they are motivated to get up and do it."
In sessions which last about two hours, boot camp participants perform a variety of drills, which include jogging, weighted exercises, jumping, crawling, and sprinting. The sessions take place in various locations, but primarily in the parking lot of Perry Center for Learning in Jonesboro and at Travon Wilson Park.
Darsha Clark, a Fulton County Juvenile Court program manager and Jonesboro resident, began taking the class nearly a year ago, after she was getting winded going up a few flights of stairs.
Since participating in the program, she has lost 59 pounds.
"Not being able to do the things I used to be able to do when I was younger, it bothered me," said Clark. "Walking up the steps, huffing and puffing, I knew something needed to change."
Clark said that she used to dread working out, but since starting the program, she enjoys the act of exercising.
Bruce Matthias, a metallurgist from Jonesboro, found it difficult to get motivated doing solo workouts, but enjoys the team aspect of the boot camp.
"At the gym, you jump from machine to machine, but you don't feel like you're doing anything," said Matthias. "Here, there is a team effort. I look forward to coming, because I know I am going to sweat."
At 54 years old, Yvette Hart is the oldest member of the boot camp. While exercising at 5 a.m., is difficult for her, the boot camp gives her a sense of accomplishment.
"I've lost inches and I've increased my stamina," said Hart. "It makes you feel like you have accomplished something with your day."
For more information about the camp, go to www.annnoexcusefitness.com, or call (678) 887-3833.