This summer I embarked on something that has been life changing. It has made me stronger, braver and (this I was not expecting) happier. I joined Pure Power Boot Camp, a no frills, no nonsense, no prisoners military style fitness facility. In just a couple of months, I have been on an amazing journey that has taught me some new things about myself.

It is easy to be awed (I was actually intimidated) when setting foot into Pure Power Boot Camp in midtown Manhattan. I stepped out of the elevator and found myself in an obstacle course modeled on those used by the United States Armed Forces. There were walls, tunnels, hurdles, ropes….. All of which I was convinced I would never be able to go near. Pure Power Boot Camp calls it the "obstacle/confidence course". The only thing I felt confident about was ruining my manicure.

On pillars are stenciled the eleven “principles of leadership” including integrity, courage, honor, trust. Even the bathroom aims to inspire with the reminder to “live life full of passion, honor and intensity – anything less is just existing”. The walls - the insurmountable walls - have names such as discipline and intensity. And this is at the core of Pure Power Boot Camp – a unique set of paradoxes; a mix of tongue in cheek and earnest, challenging yet fun, tough and principled. 

This comes from founder Lauren Brenner, who I once saw in taxi ad and became instantly intrigued by. She brings humor and passion to the Pure Power Boot camp ethos. She also taught the first class that I attended and half way through was convinced I would die in.

Just so you get the idea, at Pure Power Boot Camp you run laps and because that’s way too easy, you get to run them again with a sandbag or tire. I stumbled through jumping jacks, burpies, something appropriately called suicides and couldn’t even contemplate those insurmountable walls. My pony tail collapsed slightly before I thought my lungs would and I was swallowing my hair as I desperately tried to breathe – hair that was soaking with my sweat. This was the hardest thing I had ever done and I felt completely and utterly useless. And angry. And I wasn’t going to be beat. I signed up for a package of 23 classes.

I just finished that package and have signed up again. I am so much stronger and fitter than when I started out. It is indeed the “obstacle course of confidence” and every week I inched a little bit more, pushed a little bit harder (especially by an instructor with a wicked sense of humor – you know who you are!). Amazingly, I found that this pervaded the rest of my life as well. I am a little less timid in situations in which I tend to be fearful. I can put some perspective around professional challenges. But best of all I start my days with a sense of achievement.

I climbed the insurmountable wall all on my own a couple of weeks ago. There are more hurdles to go. But one thing I have learned is that most of them are in my head.