Bring on the Burn

Boot camp fitness studio builds bodies, community.

No one at Burn Boot Camp can deny feeling a burn while working out at the new group fitness studio in Eden Prairie. But then again, everyone who feels the burn agrees— it’s worth it.

Just ask Sonya Pennel, owner and manager, who a few years ago never would have imagined completing high intensity workouts, let alone running a studio herself. At the time, she was unhappy and out of shape, but she decided to try a Burn Boot Camp class with her daughter. By the end of the class, she signed a franchise agreement and now she owns four studios in the Midwest, including the Eden Prairie location that opened last January, and hopes to add new Twin Cities locations.

As a fitness studio, Burn Boot Camp offers 45-minute circuit-style classes (“camps”) designed to help members meet their fitness goals in an inclusive and non-competitive community. Since Burn is primarily a women-focused gym (the last two classes of the day are co-ed), many of the members are busy moms, juggling multiple schedules and demands. That’s why Burn keeps it simple—one workout, offered eight times throughout the day, with no need to pre-register, so members can simply drop by whenever it is convenient and know they will get a solid workout.

“As a mom, I can appreciate the fact that I can walk into the gym, and someone will tell me what to do,” says Pennel, who enjoys the mental break from decision-making. The franchise sets the muscle group focus for each day, but the on-site trainers develop the programs. “We never do the same workout twice,” Pennel says. Workouts include body weight exercises, like burpees and pushups, as well as other exercises, including some with Kettlebells.

Good form is always a priority, and the spring-loaded gymnastics-like floor helps keep injuries at bay. Memberships include one-on-one sessions with the trainers and a special treat—free on-site childcare.

Whether Burn Boot Camp for weight loss, or to supplement other athletic training or just stepping into a gym for the first time, everyone is welcome and treated like an equal. In fact, Pennel points out that the trainers always demonstrate exercises completely, in case there is a novice in class, and modify for various levels to accommodate everyone. “It’s nice to be in the same ‘club’ as everyone else,” she says. “It makes you feel a part of something.”

The team atmosphere at Burn Boot Camp was a big draw for Katie Kearney-Bidwell, a regular. “I am very social, so I love to work out with other people and be pushed by those around me,” she says. Kearney-Bidwell, a chiropractor and busy mother of two children, learned the hard way that exercise is crucial to her overall happiness. Now that she’s discovered Burn, she is hooked and feels much healthier in every aspect of her life. Theresa Lucito, another regular, never thought she’d be in a workout facility, but the supportive community “inspires you to do more and push harder while having a good time with those around you,” she says. “Many of us ladies have become friends over our ‘burn bond’,” adds Kearney-Bidwell.

Burn Boot Camp of Eden Prairie has only been open a few months, but already Pennel is excited by the impact it’s having on the southwest metro. “To see these women transform—the physical transformation is great, but the mental transformation is my favorite; when you see in them that they [know they] can do it.”