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Fitness boot camp with a military edge

Kayla Bogenrief shows members how to do a move while instructing a boot camp fitness class. Carrie Snyder / The Forum1 / 2
Sarah Cooley works hard to complete her circuit during a boot camp fitness class. Carrie Snyder / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO - On a recent, hot Wednesday evening here, several women grabbed car tires and walked them to a nearby park where they used them for things like triceps dips, squats and shoulder presses.

Dressed in a camo T-shirt and hat with a whistle and stopwatch hanging around her neck, their trainer, Kayla Bogenrief shouted words of encouragement and instruction.

“Good form ladies. Good job,” she called as the women, breathing heavily, rushed to finish their sets.

The women are part of a five-week Spring Boot Camp fitness class at Elements Fitness for Women in Fargo. With her military background, Bogenrief tries to make it a true boot camp experience, to an extent.

They exercise outside, rain or shine, and she includes workouts she did in her own military training.

“I try to let them envision what people go through at basic training,” she said. “We might use a weighted body bar and I tell them, ‘Just envision this being your weapon and you’re holding this out in front of you for three minutes with drill sergeants yelling in your face.’ ”

But the 31-year-old Fargo woman doesn’t get in her students’ faces, and she said she won’t suggest an exercise she doesn’t think they can do. Still, she said she won’t let them slough off, either.

Sometimes when Bogenrief suggests an exercise, she gets skeptical looks, but when the women are able to do it they feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, she says.

“The best, rewarding part is to do something they didn’t think they could do,” she said. “It builds self-confidence. I can see more in people than they think they have.”

Bogenrief, who works as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and front-desk manager at Elements, is also a staff sergeant in the South Dakota Army National Guard. She’s been involved with the Guard since 2001. She joined as a way to pay for college and is now on her second re-enlistment. She drills in her hometown of Milbank, S.D.

“I learned to be able to express own opinion. It made me a stronger person,” she said of her military experience. “It makes you feel more confident because you’ve done such a big thing. You learn a lot of life skills.”

In 2003, she went to Iraq for 18 months and said while she experienced some things she could have done without, she also learned a lot and is a better person because of her time there.

Bogenrief said after her military experience, she wanted to offer a boot camp fitness class, and she likes coming up with crazy exercises.

“It’s fast-paced and you don’t notice the time go by,” said Amanda Richter of Fargo. She said Bogenrief’s workouts are more exciting than a typical workout in the gym.

“The variety definitely keeps it interesting,” said Karen Berntson of Fargo, who is also taking the class.

She will offer modifications for people with limitations, but she said they’re still out there in the rain crawling through the grass.

“My main reason for it is to not only to create a bond with each other, but also to help them know they can do more than the mind thinks it can do,” Bogenrief said.

The class meets twice a week. As long as there is enough interest, Bogenrief said she will likely hold more boot camp classes.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

Tracy Frank

Tracy Frank is a SheSays, Variety, and Farmer's Forum reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

(701) 241-5526