Basic Training Drill from The Boot Camp Girl


When Stephanie Dignan left her job as a financial adviser to start her fitness business, she had no idea she was about to change hundreds of lives.

Just four months earlier, the Glenelg High School and University of Maryland, College Park graduate had begun teaching boot camp classes at a local gym. “I thought, ‘Why not? I’ll do it for fun,'” Dignan says.

But that fun quickly developed into a passion — one Dignan wanted to pursue full time. In 2008, she launched her solo venture, The Boot Camp Girl, with hopes of bringing her skills and fitness ideas to clients across Howard County.

The Boot Camp Girl program combines workouts with daily accountability. The workouts themselves vary from class to class, but always incorporate cardiovascular conditioning (running or walking, plyometrics), strength training (weights, stability balls, medicine balls, resistance bands), stretching (yoga) and Pilates. “We also really emphasize making long-term healthier eating habits by encouraging food-charting and goal-setting so people can keep track and be responsible for their choices,” says Dignan, 40.

Dignan now employs five instructors and teaches classes at four county locations. We asked her to share some of her favorite boot camp drills. Here are some moves to try at home.


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Rows with a band with a partner

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Back and arms (lattisimus dorsi, posterior deltoids, erector spinae, biceps)

How to do it: Standing facing your partner, hold one handle of the resistance band in each hand. Extend your arms out in front of you at chest height, palms facing each other. Make sure that there is tension on the band and that your partner is doing the same thing. Lower into a squat (pushing hips out first and bringing thighs parallel to floor) and begin to row by pulling your hands toward your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together. You and your partner will be rowing at the same time so that when the hands are pulled back, the most amount of tension is on the band.

Tips: If you don’t feel the muscles of the back working, step farther away from your partner.

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Squat and press with a band

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Legs (hamstrings, quadriceps), shoulders (deltoids)

How to do it: Hold resistance band handles and step both feet onto the band in the middle so the length of the band is equal on each side. Bring hands up to just above shoulder height with palms facing forward and hold them there. Bring your hips back, bend your knees and lower your body as far as you can. As you come out of the squat position, press your hands up over your head and then lower to just above your shoulders.

Tips: Keep your head and torso upright; don’t lean forward. Keep your knees over your ankles and sit back as if you are sitting in a chair.

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Bicep curls with alternating lunges

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Arms (biceps) and legs (quadriceps, hamstrings)

How to do it: Hold a dumbbell in each hand next to your sides, palms facing each other. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Take one large step forward with your right leg and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees. At the same time you lunge, curl both dumbbells up to your shoulders. Lower the dumbbells and push off with your front leg so you return to the start position. Repeat with the left leg, and continue alternating legs for the recommended number of repetitions.

Tips: Keep your torso elongated and tall, don’t slump or bend forward. Keep your knees over your ankles while you step forward.

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Russian twists

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Midsection (obliques, abs)

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet about six inches off the floor (for a modification, keep feet flat on floor) and lean back slightly. Begin by rotating your torso to one side and then rotate directly to the other side. Continue rotating side to side without stopping in the middle. Make sure your chest is lifted and back is straight.

Tips: Keep abdominals tight — as if preparing for a blow to the stomach. Start by holding a light medicine ball or weight and work up to a heavier weight as you get stronger. Be careful if you have lower back problems; if you feel back pain don’t do this exercise.

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 Hamstring curls with stability ball

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Legs (hamstrings)

How to do it: Lie on the floor facing the ceiling and put your heels on the ball. Your upper back and shoulders are flat on the floor with your arms out to the sides, also flat on the floor. Raise your hips high off the floor and dig your heels into the ball, pulling the ball in towards you. Pause and then push your feet back out till your legs are straight.

Tips: Make sure to keep your hips high and press the palms into the floor for stability.

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Shoulder presses with a partner

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Partner doing presses: shoulders (deltoids); Partner giving resistance: chest and arms (pectoralis, triceps)

How to do it: Partner A stands behind partner B, who is kneeling. Both partners are facing the same direction. Partner B makes a fist in both hands and brings the upper arms parallel to the floor with the lower arms perpendicular to the upper arms, forming 90 degree angles. Partner A places palms on each hand of Partner B. Partner B presses hands into Partner A’s while Partner A creates resistance by pressing down. Partner B brings arms all of the way up then back down to 90 degrees. Partner A gives resistance for both the up and down motion of the arms.

Tips: Don’t resist to the point that your partner can’t complete the exercise. Give enough resistance so that your partner can do it but feel a burn in the shoulders.

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Bent over rows with weights

( Sarah Pastrana, Baltimore Sun Media Group / December 5, 2012 )

Muscles worked: Back and arms (lattisimus dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids, biceps)

How to do it: Holding a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing your torso). Slightly bend your knees and bring your torso forward by hinging at the hips; keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Keeping the torso stationary, lift the dumbbells to your side, keeping elbows close to the body. At the top of the contraction, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second. In a slow and controlled move, bring the weights down to the starting position.

Tips: Look out in front of you so that the crown of your head is in alignment with your tailbone. Don’t look straight down at the floor.

Read the article from the Baltimore Sun by clicking here.

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4 Responses

  1. Kathy Lynn

    Kathy Lynn June 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm | | Reply

    I’m so glad she started The Bootcamp Girl! I’ve been in her class for three years and love it. These are great exercises to try.

  2. Caroline

    Caroline June 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm | | Reply

    I really enjoy the variety of exercises offered and each teacher has an unique style which keeps me interested :)

  3. John H

    John H June 27, 2013 at 2:43 am | | Reply

    So glad that my wife joined and then kept on me to get in shape. I was ready but the thing I like is that you hold people accountable. I really enjoy your classes and I must say that I am wiped when I am done but I feel good. My goal for the first month was to lose 8-10 lbs and I am at 9lbs and hope to break the 10 lb goal by the end of the month, It really works if you put you mind to it. I have seen improved each week since joining.

  4. Teresa Butler

    Teresa Butler October 1, 2013 at 12:26 am | | Reply

    Nice article. The best resource is bootcamp, but the videos are a great supplement. The videos help you learn and grow.

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