Angela Loutsch may be running a boot camp; she isn't a drill sergeant.

How do we know? Well, we've never seen noodles or water wings in any war movie we've ever seen, that's how.

Loutsch, the aquatic director for the Le Mars, Iowa, YMCA, teaches a twice-a-week course called Deep Water Boot Camp.

"When people hear 'boot camp,' they think the class will be extreme," she said, shaking her head. "Instead, it offers no impact workout for people at all levels."

So, what's this "deep water" business?

"Oh, the class takes place in the deep end of our outdoor pool," Loutsch explained. "The deepest end of our pool is approximately 13 feet."

The Le Mars Y isn't alone in creating specialty boot camps.

The Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA, in South Sioux City, also offers boot camps for kids, teens and adults.

Wellness coach Katie Holdgrafer loves teaching her weekly Family Boot Camp because it gets mom, dad and the kids exercising at the same time.

"Everybody is so busy nowadays that it is hard to spend quality time," she explained. "Our family boot camp is perfect for that."

Each hour-long class is built around a theme like "The Oregon Trail" or a physical game of Tic-Tac-Toe.

"Playing a game of 'Oregon Trail' may require running up a hill with a pail of water," Holdgrafer said. "A game of Tic-Tac-Toe may require a participant to give me five push-ups."

That's the first part, she said, because every boot camp event will be different.

"We can play it indoors or outdoors," Holdgrafer said. "That's the great thing about the Siouxland Y. We do have plenty of space."

Indeed, the family boot camp is designed for kids who may not be natural athletes.

"Kids and parents go at your own speed. The classes are a great way to introduce them to the Y," Holdgrafer said, noting that the typical young athlete is about 10 years old.

The Le Mars Y's Loutsch said literally anyone can be a part of Deep Water Boot Camp.

"We've literally had members ranging in age from 20 to 80," she said. "Plus we've had everybody in between."

Why have the classes been so popular? 

Loutsch said it's because it uses several combinations of exercise to increase cardiovascular, muscular and core endurance and flexibility.

"You're never too young to start working on your core," she insisted.

Another advantage to Deep Water Boot Camp? Nobody will ever see if you mess up.

"Our participants are in 13 feet of water," Loutsch said. "If you can't do a particular leg kick or if you can't move your body a certain way, don't worry about it. you're only visible from the neck up."

She said the great advantage of her aquatic boot camp is that it's not a one-size-fits-all situation.

"You go at your pace," Loutsch maintained. "You're not competing against your neighbor. Instead, you're getting healthy for yourself."

This is also a philosophy shared by Holdgrafer.

"Fitness can be fun, enjoyable and a time to spend with your kids," she said. "Your kids may not even realize that Family Boot Camp is even a way to stay physical. It can simply be a fun time out-of-doors."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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