Butt Kicks and Suicides All Before Sunrise

Laura Miranda

It’s 4:45 a.m. and my alarm clock is ringing. I begrudgingly open one eye—it’s still dark outside. This must be some kind of sick joke, or I set my alarm improperly before going to bed. Then it hits me: It’s the first morning of Strong Healthy Woman boot camp and I have to be there—dressed, fed, and ready to work it—by 5:30 a.m. I peel myself out of bed and give myself a quick pep talk: “I can do this. I work out at least five hours a week. How bad could this possibly be?” As instructed, I pack a bag with two bottles of water, two five-pound dumbbells, and a yoga mat. Since I’m barely awake, the thought of food repulses me, but I know that I’ll need some fuel to get through the upcoming workout. I grab an apple, spread some organic peanut butter over it, and head off toward Battery Park City.

The streets are dead; it’s just me and a few poor souls who clearly start work way too early. As I get closer to Rockefeller Park, women carrying yoga mats and water bottles begin to appear out of the shadows. About twenty of us congregate on the basketball courts in Battery Park City. We’re standing there, watching the sun come up and staring out over the Hudson River, when we’re greeted by our fearless leader, Laura Miranda. From a distance, dressed in army pants, Laura fits the part of a boot-camp leader to a T—making me really wonder what I’ve gotten myself into.

As soon as she starts talking it becomes clear that Laura isn’t a typical drill sergeant so much as a young, fun, athletic woman. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but she takes the floor-wiping she’s about to give to me and the rest of the “recruits” very seriously.
Without hesitation we launch into the warm-up: running two laps totaling about 1/2 a mile, leading directly into jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and butt kicks that hurt so bad they earn their name. I’m already tired and we haven’t even begun the main event. We move into suicides (back-and-forth sprints, with the distance increasing each time), followed by push-ups, bicep curls, and triceps extensions, followed by more suicides (this time side-shuffling ones), then more running, jumping, and lifting of all different kinds. Although the Strong Healthy Woman boot camp is only an hour long, time must be frozen because I feel like I’ve been awake for days; the alarm clock is just a distant nightmare. Finally, I hear the sweet words I’ve been waiting for: “Great job, ladies. You’re done.” We stretch and go on our own ways.

It’s 6:30 a.m., light outside, and the rest of Tribeca is rising—people are on their way to work, walking their dogs, taking their kids to school, and heading off to their morning workouts. I’m exhausted but I feel an extreme sense of accomplishment. These people are just starting their days and I’ve already put in a grueling workout.

I went on to participate in two weeks of Strong Healthy Woman boot camp. While I did find it slightly easier to get out of bed over the course of the six sessions, the workouts remained tough. One of the most common workout mistakes people make is staying inside their comfort zone. The way to change your body is too mix things up and challenge yourself. Laura alters the workout daily so your body is constantly pushed in new ways: It’s your hardest high-school basketball practice, mixed with a fun day at summer camp, combining Simon Says and a old-fashioned game of tag with mountain climbers and planks.

Laura founded her company, Miranda Fitness Concepts, in 2006, and besides the boot camps, Strong Healthy Woman offers running camps, personal training, online training, and grocery-shopping tours. SHW boot camps are also held—with other trainers—in Kips Bay; Oceanside on Long Island; and Hollywood, Fla.; and Miranda Fitness Concepts runs a Gay Men’s Boot Camp in the West Village. Laura personally teaches the boot camps in Battery Park City on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, rain or shine (although in colder months they’re held indoors). They’re at 5:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., and they start at $325 for one month of three sessions a week. For all the details, see stronghealthywoman.com.

About the author: Rebecca Sadek (left) is a Tribeca-based health and wellness coach (eatrightnyc.com) who received her training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She believes that being healthy is not about restraint or isolation and works with her clients to help them find a balance that works for them and their lifestyle. She has previously written about SoulCycle’s Cycle-Yoga class, suspension training at Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates, and the Tracy Anderson way.


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