How to make fitness feel like summer camp for adults

TO week at summer camp was filled with arts and crafts, time at the river or lake, song circles, hikes and other idyllic children’s activities. There was a menu of nice things that your advisors sometimes chose for you, or sometimes you chose for yourself. Either way, it was an opportunity to explore different interests, meet people from other berths, and fill your day with fun.

A lot of that is missing from adult working life. We get up, go to work, get some exercise, make dinner. But maybe, during that time that we’re dedicating to physical activity, if we approach it as a form of summer camp for adults, we can bring some of that exploration, socialization, and joy into our lives.

That was one of the guiding impulses behind the creation of Tampa and Los Angeles-based community fitness space CAMP, says CAMP co-founder and yoga teacher Jamie Lanza. He wanted to create a place where adults could connect with one another while exploring different forms of movement in an intentionally playful environment.

“My business partner and I grew up in summer camps to varying degrees,” Lanza says. “It was like liberation. It was like freedom. It was like walking into a space where you say, I’m going to be whatever I want to be, and there are all these activities for people like us who like to do all things.”

“I’m going to be whatever I want to be, and there are all these activities for people like us who like to do all things.” CAMP Co-Founder Jamie Lanza

While the original location is in Tampa, Florida, I was able to explore the newly expanded CAMP Los Angeles in Santa Monica. The space feels more like a campus than a gym. There are five fitness studios that face inwards towards a large central courtyard and lounging space. Each studio serves a different modality, one for yoga, a HIIT circuit, a class of cardio-strength stations, sculpture and Pilates.

“The campus itself is a big part of our spirit,” says Lanza. “There is this crossroads and you get to see a little bit of everything all the time and decide what else you want to be a part of in the campus space. A big part of this is that we have open-air lobbies, we have places to hang out and enjoy the space together, rather than rushing out as fast as possible.”

To make the space even more inviting, Lanza and his team painted the buildings bright colors, with fun signs and paraphernalia like swings on the property. Driving down busy Lincoln Boulevard, CAMP stands out and definitely held my attention and curiosity for months before it really nailed it.

Equally important for the environment is variety. Getting to tap into what you’re feeling throughout the day and selecting what excites you, whether it’s boot camp or breath work, is part of the summer camp ethos, Lanza says. A campus has allowed CAMP to bring the open-minded exploratory spirit of intuitive movement to the studio of fitness. By the way, rekindling your sense of play and connecting with movement the way you did as a child is one of the guiding ideas behind intuitive movement.

A community environment is what sustains everything. CAMP hosts pop-up markets and courtyard food trucks, and classes encourage you to get to know your fellow students and include things like group sprints to build team spirit. Seems to be working – I ran into a friend who had only been going for about a month, and was being greeted left and right by teachers and peers.

“There’s this feeling in Los Angeles that everyone is isolated or a little touchy or like you only talk when you’re talked to,” Lanza says. “Here we support each other, we support each other a lot so that people feel that, come on, let’s do this together. Let’s drop whatever title we come in here with and be human beings and come together like summer camp when we were kids.”

While not everyone has access to a studio like CAMP, reframing fitness as a way to get physically somewhere welcoming and fun, take advantage of the way that want Getting around, exploring your own interests, and making friends at the same time can help bring a spark of joy into your routine. So let him try something new, connect with a fellow camper, and consider spending a summer on the move like he did as a kid.

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