Here’s what happens when a former Cardio Queen decides to actually dedicate herself to strength training! bootcamp So, about 6 weeks ago, I started boot camp at my gym.  I decided to do this for several reasons. The first, and biggest reason, was that I was experiencing horrible back pain and had noticed that many everyday activities felt very challenging.  During my pregnancy with Claire, I gained 45 pounds. While I stayed active throughout pregnancy, I focused on light cardio (mostly walking and low intensity swimming). In the initial months following Claire’s birth, my body felt wrung out. Pregnancy, weight gain, delivery, sleep deprivation, hunching over to nurse, lifting up my heavy toddler, carrying around a newborn all day – it was hard on my body.  My core muscles were shot.


Simple things like going up and down the stairs, carrying groceries in, or getting up off the floor after playing with Henry felt like a chore, despite the fact that I had been cardio exercising at an intense duration/frequency since Claire was about 6 weeks old.


The second reason I started to do boot camp was I really want to have a strong summer triathlon season. I’m only doing two races (a sprint in May and an Olympic in August), and I want to do my best. I know the fourth sport of triathlon is strength training, but I’ve never dedicated myself to it, even when I did a Half Ironman. I wanted to give myself time to really build strength before I start focusing on swimming, biking, and running.


And last, but not least, I joined boot camp because I knew that I would never stay dedicated to strength training on my own. I’ve tried it so many times. But I just feel lost and aimless in the weight room. I considered getting a personal trainer, but it was out of my price point. The boot camp instructors seemed really nice, and the schedule of sessions fit in well with my/the kids’ schedules. Even though boot camp costs me an extra $90 a month, I felt like it would be worth it.


When I started boot camp, I was 3 months postpartum and pretty out of shape, despite being able to run decent distances. Like I said – I’m a Cardio Queen! But I couldn’t even do a single ‘real’ push-up. Weighted squats were super challenging. Sit-ups? Oh Lord! (Side note: If you’re postpartum, talk to your doctor about diastasis recti before doing ab work.) I had lost 30 pounds since delivering Claire, but I was still 15 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m not super focused on the number on the scale, but I do keep track of my PP weight loss just because it’s a quantifiable measurement.


For 6 weeks, I went to boot camp three times a week and did an additional two days of cardio.  I did not ‘diet’ at all. I tried to eat mostly healthy, but I always try to eat healthy. There was still lots of chocolate and wine in my diet!  I drank a LOT of water.  But I was really dedicated to my boot camp classes; I never missed a single class that I intended to go to, and I gave it 100% in each session.


Here are the BEFORE and PROGRESS REPORT pics!



By the way, I think pictures are a really fun and positive way to keep track of your progress (see –> Other Ways to Measure Progress).


I am a lot stronger after 6 weeks of boot camp – I can keep up with the classes a lot easier than before. I can do a TON more sit-ups (we sometimes do HUNDREDS in a single class) and I busted out EIGHT straight ‘real’ push-ups the other night. My back pain is GONE, which is amazing. I can spring up from the floor and sprint up the stairs – I feel so much more physically capable now.  It’s really cool to see how strength training translates into my everyday life and makes things like grocery shopping, playing with my kids, or moving furniture easier. And, of course, it also translates to my cardio. I don’t think I could’ve run a 26:41 5K without boot camp!


I hopped on the scale recently and discovered that I lost 6.5 pounds without adjusting my diet at all! I can wear almost 95% of my pre-pregnancy clothes, which is thrilling to me because I feel like I suddenly have a “new” wardrobe.

boot camp

Physically, I feel awesome.  But when it comes to boot camp, there’s lots of room for me to continue to improve… The classes are “for time” and I’m usually finishing in the back of the pack.  I still do most of the ab moves with modifications, and I’m not selecting the heaviest weights.  I’m just now starting to do moves on the TRX, as my abs were way too weak to do anything like that before.  I can’t wait to see what the next 6 weeks bring – and the next 6 weeks after that!  After years and years of shunning strength training, I’m a convert – I just needed to find a class, an atmosphere, and a team to motivate me to stick with it!



  • courtney April 13, 2015, 7:48 am

    I started going to a boot camp last September and noticed a huge difference in my cycling from last year to this year! Good luck on your tris

  • MeaganS April 13, 2015, 7:49 am

    I lift weights 3x/week and do zero cardio- that’s how I’ve lost my baby weight for both boys. I love that it makes you stronger- so that you can carry two kids at once! Congrats on the weight loss- you look fantastic!

  • Kathleen April 13, 2015, 7:53 am

    You are awesome. You look so great in the dressed up pictures – I love that outfit. Go you! Your dedication is inspiring.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2015, 7:54 am


  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun April 13, 2015, 7:57 am

    I really need to find a class like this around me! Something to really focus on my core and strength building at least 2-3 times per week to pair with my running. I just never seem to find the time!

  • stacy April 13, 2015, 8:01 am

    You look great Caitlyn! I have been in a workout rut doing yoga 2X a week and that’s it…I made changes this past week and am now adding a class that does strength & conditioning 3X a week in addition. It’s SO hard to find the time and usually eliminates any possibility of sleeping in, but in my experience, working out 5X a week, every week, is the way to see real results. I’m glad that your back pain is gone in addition to your weight loss and added strength!

  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul April 13, 2015, 8:04 am

    Way to go girl!! What great results!

  • Monica April 13, 2015, 8:05 am

    Wow! You look great, beautiful & healthy! Love your outfit.

  • Laura April 13, 2015, 8:24 am

    Way to go! I started strength training last summer (also after my first HIM!) two days a week at the gym. I do my own thing though, no class or trainer. I noticed a huge improvement and like how I look and feel by incorporating weights. I noticed an improvement in my run times pretty quickly! I’m curious about the rope pull thing you do. Do you pick it up, run to a spot, drop it off, run back to start with one end of the rope, and then pull it across? I’m trying to visualize how you do it at the gym as I want to try it but wasn’t sure.

    • Caitlin April 13, 2015, 8:28 am

      Yes! You run about twenty feet and pull it to the new spot and then run back and pull again.

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed April 13, 2015, 8:27 am

    Great results! I love strength training and doing it in a class atmosphere is the best. That is one of the things I really love about CrossFit – the community! I know I push myself way harder at CF than I would alone at the gym.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  • Steph April 13, 2015, 8:46 am

    That’s awesome! I’m a daily reader but don’t really comment but I felt the need to to tell you what a great job you did. I know for you it’s not all about how you look but how you feel and you LOOK like you feel great (and look great too)!! Keep up the great work!

  • Jamie April 13, 2015, 8:51 am

    Wow, that is awesome! I also just had my second baby (9 months ago 🙂 ) and I still have 30 pounds to lose. My neck and back are always sore. Seeing you go through this transformation is so inspiring!

  • Ash Diamond April 13, 2015, 9:33 am

    I am so glad you found something that works with your budget, your schedule and what you need right now! I believe in strength training but have found myself in your situation many times – even right now. Congrats!

  • Jess April 13, 2015, 9:41 am

    Great job, Caitlin!! I started a core/strength class this year–most of what we do is just with body weight, but every other class or so we bring in medicine balls–and it’s been incredible. I also really need a motivating instructor and classmates to stick with non-cardio. 🙂

  • Katie April 13, 2015, 9:51 am

    I think you look gorgeous!!! But I feel you on the back pain, before I started teaching yoga my back always hurt, now that I’m regularly teaching yoga sculpt my back pain is minimal, and generally because I’ve been running too much and not doing enough core work.

  • Theodora April 13, 2015, 9:54 am

    Looking good, girl! 🙂

  • Jessica April 13, 2015, 9:55 am

    Hey Caitlyn! You look great! I live in Charlotte and am curious where you are taking these boot camp classes?… I’m due in July and could totally see this being a post-partum option for me!

    • Caitlin April 13, 2015, 11:50 am

      I’ll email you!

  • Laura @SheEatsWell April 13, 2015, 10:06 am

    I love these types of progress reports. Girl, I haven’t even had a baby and the TRX bands are ALWAYS very intense – I find that using them, you have to really focus on form or else you will whack your back out. It’s all about the core. Great job!

  • Anna April 13, 2015, 10:09 am


  • Rachel @ Lou Lou Belle April 13, 2015, 10:37 am

    This is awesome! Before and after photos are a great and healthy way to see progress! Well done!

  • Joy April 13, 2015, 11:03 am

    Congratulations on finding something that you really like to do and that makes such a difference. You honestly look fantastic! I love strength training as well. I discovered it a few years ago and it makes me feel physically and emotionally stronger.

  • Julie April 13, 2015, 11:56 am

    You look GREAT!! Way to go! I’ve been doing Body Pump for years & just love it! I’ve definitely noticed some definition in my muscles & am lifting WAY more than when I started… it makes me feel like a badass! 😉

  • Inez April 13, 2015, 12:09 pm

    This is so motivating! I did a pump class twice a week for a while last year and loved it but fell out of the habit. I’m also a cardio queen but I know strength training does wonders at preventing running injuries. Thank tou for the inspiration to get back to it!

  • Breanne April 13, 2015, 2:03 pm

    Awesome progress report! Woo hoo!! I fell in love with weight training in BodyPump. I needed the class atmosphere as well.

  • Dottie (@crazyfitmommy) April 13, 2015, 2:05 pm

    This is so inspiring! I’m 7 weeks postpartum now, and I’ve been cleared to workout for just over a week. It can be so discouraging to see how much pregnancy and childbirth can beat your body up, but seeing this kind of transformation is so motivating 🙂 I don’t know of an affordable boot camp where I live, but I’ve been mixing up my runs with Insanity and T25 which is about as close to boot camp as a video and no equipment can get you — hopefully in 6 weeks I’ll be well on my way to my pre-baby body!
    I do need to take before pics though — I have about 60 pounds to lose right now, and so far I haven’t had the guts to actually record what I look like. For someone who’s been a gym rat for 10+ years it’s mortifying to see how much back to back pregnancies have changed my body…

    • Caitlin April 13, 2015, 2:06 pm

      definitely take pictures! you’ll want them when you’re in “After” mode!!!

  • Lori April 13, 2015, 2:52 pm

    You look fantastic and it’s awesome that you feel that way too! My second pregnancy really did a number on my body. I want so badly to get in shape but have a couple hurdles to face. One, I’ve never worked out. Ever. Hard habit to start. Two, my 7 month old wakes up several times per night (and I work outside of the home, so time is limited). I don’t want to make excuses anymore though. I have this big plan that as soon as my baby is sleeping better I’ll be more willing to get up early to exercise. I saw on Insta that Claire is sleeping pretty decent. I suck so bad at baby sleep. How on Earth do you handle night wakings? I feel like everything I do creates a bad habit. I just can never get him to sleep longer than one hour in his crib after the initial wake up, which is usually 2-3 hrs from bedtime. He’s a rock star at going down awake! Just cant stay asleep. I end up nursing and cosleeping because I’m tired. Do you pick her up when she wakes? Does she only cry a little and go back to sleep? My guy will keep crying. I know he’s old enough to be sleep trained, but I was trying to just help him sleep longer stretches without doing that. I had been spacing out the feedings so as not to nurse at every wake up. I’d just hold him till he calmed down and try putting him back in crib. If I don’t pick him up he just cries harder. I try letting him fuss a while before going to him. It just doesn’t seem to do any good! Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated! (Oh, and my husband works nights so I’m on my own with this, which makes night weaning and sleep training a nightmare. Went through it with my first child and he still didn’t sleep well until he was over two. I starting to think I’m the problem 🙁 )

    • Caitlin April 13, 2015, 3:38 pm

      How did you sleep train the first kiddo?

      • Lori April 13, 2015, 5:26 pm

        Well I co-slept from the beginning by choice until I couldn’t take it anymore at 11 months. He nursed all night. Like literally had to be attached to me all night. So it was out of desperation and I did controlled checks but not as exact time-wise as you did (I’ve read and re-read your sleep training post). It was hard and different than most that I’ve read because we were transitioning from cosleeping. He did STTN after a couple of Hellish weeks (lots of wake ups and checks, never picked up out of crib, terrible crying) but that only lasted a month and it’s been a roller coaster ever since. For the last 4 months he’s finally STTN again with only occasional wake up. I’ve been trying to do it different with baby #2 and he was actually a good sleeper so we weren’t cosleeping until he turned 3 M it all went to hell in a hand basket. Thought it was a regression but it never got better

  • Cassie April 13, 2015, 3:03 pm

    I have definitely always struggled with weight training. It’s so boring to me. But my yoga seems to do the trick.

  • Katie April 13, 2015, 4:03 pm

    ***Slow hand clap***

    You put in the work, and it shows! Congratulations!! This is also so so inspiring and reassuring to see for me — I’m pregnant with my first, and it makes me feel like I do have some hope of looking and feeling like “myself” again post-baby, sometime down the road. Thank you!!

  • Katie April 13, 2015, 10:48 pm

    You look amazing! Keep up the good work mama 🙂 I wish you could have a taste of my gym group fitness, I think you would LOVE it.

  • Liz@NovelRunner April 14, 2015, 12:33 am

    You look simply amazing! This motivated me to work on my strength training. It’s one thing to look great but another to address your weak spots so you can be a stronger, faster athlete.

  • Beks April 14, 2015, 11:08 am

    How awesome! I love lifting weights so much more than cardio (my legs always seem to fall asleep during cardio. I think it’s shoe-related).
    A few months back, I was doing the LiveFit trainer with my sister, and while she was losing weight like crazy, I felt like nothing was happening. No scale movement, no clothes movement, nothing. Then one day, feeling sorry for myself, I walked up the stairs to the second floor at work, and it hit me that I wasn’t winded like I normally was. That helped a lot. I still want to see the scale go down, but I had that going for me! 🙂

  • Becky April 14, 2015, 4:04 pm

    Good for you. My second daughter just turned 5 months and I had a moment of panic bringing out my summer clothes and not being able to squeeze into many of them. BUT. Look what 6 weeks can do. I can totally rock this too. 🙂

  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork April 15, 2015, 8:18 am

    It’s always great to not only see a difference in your body, but to also feel it. You look great, but even better, it sounds like you feel great! I love strength training-more than cardio, if truth be told-because I love feeling strong and powerful. I’ve seen it change my body in ways that cardio never could.

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