Crunch: Boot Camp Training

Sue Hitzman
Year Released: 1999

Categories: Circuit Training (cardio and weights)

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I should have reviewed this workout LONG before now. Someone on the Forum recommended it to me in the early 2000s when I needed a shorter total-body strength tape (and by short I mean 30 minutes). I was burned out with FIRM Time Crunch and Maximum Body Sculpting and needed a break from tall box and short box work. My only previous experience with Crunch workouts had been the ones with the whooping soundtrack and routines that weren't adapted well for a home audience (though I could see where they would be fun if you were taking them live). But I trust my VFer community and they did not steer me wrong.

What made this one work so well for me, in addition, to the blessedly short length, was the circuit-style training. Just about the time I would think, "this is getting boring!" she would switch to another exercise.
There are three circuit routines, all of which end with--what else?--pushups in different variations. You can't have a bootcamp/military themed workout without them, I guess. I am just grateful the US Marine Corps didn't co-produce this or we would have had chin-ups too! The vibe here, though, is more camaraderie than drill instruction. Sue is straightforward and friendly and more than a little funny. When cast members smart off to her, she responds that we're going to do more pushups.
Here is what Sue Hitzman did for me that no other instructor had been able to do: she got me to do push-ups willingly and even have some fun with them. It helped a LOT that Faith from some of the CIA videos showed modifications all the way through, though I only had to follow her for jumping jacks and the push-ups. I would probably put this workout at beginner-intermediate, though you could pick up heavier dumbbells and challenge yourself and maybe get it to high intermediate. I probably used this workout for a year and then the first FIRM Body Sculpting System called my name and what it did for me was amazing. But I will tell you: I don't think I would have been ready for it without the foundation that Crunch Boot Camp Training gave me.

About a year later, I had gallbladder surgery and was unable to exercise for a few days. I pulled out this workout about five days post-op and was able to do it all without pain--though I did use lighter weights than I do for the FIRM workouts.

So. . .I think this is a good one for people who are new to strength training, have short attention spans, are recovering from illness or surgery but still want to do something to keep their muscles from atrophying (ask your doctor first, though).

Instructor Comments:
Sue is a good instructor--cues well, keeps the routine moving, switches up things seamlessly--and has the "fun factor" without being over-the-top about it. I haven't seen any other workouts from her, but I would definitely check them out if I did.

Melissa Cooper


In less than 30 minutes, Crunch Boot Camp Training provides a very good full-body strength workout that moves quickly enough to give you some cardio benefit as well (my HRM indicated that I was in my zone for about half of the workout). It is led by instructor Susan Hitzmann in a "boot camp" style, which means you will use weights (Susan recommends between 3 and 10 lbs.) for traditional strength work in addition to non-weighted calisthenics. The workout is set in the usual Crunch studio with a large class, and one of the background exercisers, Faith, shows low-impact modifications.

The 4-minute warm-up consists of very basic moves such as marches and knee lifts, although Susan adds little twists that makes this segment kind of fun (although I did have a bit of trouble following her movement changes at times). She then has you pick up your weights to do a squat with a shoulder press, eventually upping the intensity by having you do the press from the squat position. Next comes an underhand row with a bicep curl, adding in dead lifts at the end. Then it's to the floor for your first set of push-ups: full push-ups with your hands propped on your weights (Susan encourages you to complete only as many as you can with good form). Staying on the floor, you'll do an abs crunch series, and then it's back on your feet for some jumping jacks, adding in a plie squat for more intensity. Next comes a pulsing lunge that gets REALLY tough when you jump to switch legs. Remaining standing, Susan goes back to the upper body for a front and wide bicep curl combo; she then does an inner bicep curl with a side plie squat.

Back to the floor--more pushups! This time, you'll do them from your knees, but they become pretty challenging when Susan adds a plank and a leg lift. She then does some standing abs work in the form of knee lifts. Toe raises holding the weights are next, eventually adding in a back lunge, a front extension, and a triceps extension. She then hones in on the triceps more specifically with kickbacks and an overhead french press. In the following series, you'll move into a one-legged squat position and do a rear tap, adding in a knee lift. You'll then perform several cardio moves--a skate slide, a knee hop, and a brief jog--add in some shoulder work (flies, rows, and a T move), and then repeat the rear tap on the other side. Susan ends with a final set of push-ups--triceps push-ups this time--and some additional abs work in the form of reverse curls. The 3.5 minute cool-down consists of moving stretches performed entirely on the floor, bringing the entire workout in at just under 30 minutes.

I consider myself to be about an intermediate level exerciser, and I found this workout to be sufficiently challenging, as I was sweaty and breathless by the end. I started out using 8 lbs. dumbbells, and although I was able to use these for most of the workout, at a few points, I needed to drop down to 5 lbs. If you are looking for a time-efficient strength routine that will provide an intermediate level workout as well as include some cardio benefits, I would definitely recommend this video.

Instructor Comments:
I liked Susan; she provided good mirror cueing and was very encouraging, although she was a bit over-the-top with the boot camp theme at times (eg, repeatedly calling the class members "soldiers"). I also liked that everyone in the class was quite buff, even the women who were on the thin side.

Beth C (aka toaster)


I’m reviewing this workout after doing it a number of times since getting it at least 1 ½ years ago; I just did it today after not using it for several months.

General workout breakdown: This aerobic weight training-type workout begins with a 5 minute warm up consisting of step taps, lunges, squats, and similar moves. It then features about 20 minutes of weights work and toning, alternating between standing and floor work. Overall the workout is fairly evenly split between with upper (lots of work for the shoulders!) and lower body with only as small amount of abs work. The upper body work is all done with weights, except for the various push ups, but the lower body work includes a number of unweighted moves, some of which get your heart rate up (like jumping jacks into plyometric squats or speed skaters into jogging with high knees). The workout ends with 3 minutes of dynamic stretching (which Sue calls “active isolated flexibility”) for a total of about 30 minutes.
Although this is a strength workout, there are a number of moves that will get your heart rate up. This isn’t enough to count as a cardio workout, though. There are jumping and jogging moves, but lower impact modifications are shown. The warm up moves are a little tricky to pick up the first time around because Sue cues almost right on the move, but the rest of the workout seems much easier to figure out.

Level: I’d recommend this to an intermediate exerciser. Those brand new to exercise may find this too challenging at first, but an experienced beginner could use lighter weights and follow the modifications. On the other hand, those who work out with weights a lot (e.g. with Cathe) will find this too easy; most of the exercises don’t have a lot of reps, and the pace is probably too quick to go very heavy. I consider myself a mid-intermediate with weights and a high intermediate with cardio; I find this video gives me a good workout but isn’t too challenging.

Class: 6 muscular women and 1 man, with one woman demonstrating lower impact / less complicated moves. (Unfortunately the camera often seems to find the “pretty blond girl” rather than the modifier.) There is some class participation with whoops and groans—but just within my realm of tolerance.

Music / Set / Other Production Notes: The beat-heavy instrumental music isn’t exciting. The bright interior set, a typical Crunch affair, has a painted floor, brick walls, exposed steel beams, and a large metal fan on the back wall (which seems to be a Crunch studio trademark). The picture and sound quality are good.

Equipment Needed: sneakers, 1-2 pair(s) of dumbbells (your choice of weight).

Comments: This workout is compact in time and space! You should be able to lunge forward and back and take one big step to each side; on the floor you should be able to do push ups and lie down comfortably.
I usually combine this with additional abs work (e.g. Pilates or Tamilee Webb’s I Want Those Abs). The stretches aren’t enough for me, but I generally do yoga afterwards anyway.

DVD Notes: The DVD allows you to select your chapter, which you can use to skip the introduction, for example.

Conclusions: I think Crunch Boot Camp just may be an essential video for anyone who has ever run short on time. It’s not my favorite, most interesting, or most fun video, but it’s a solid workout, especially for half an hour. I personally wouldn’t expect amazing strength gains from it, but I feel I wouldn’t lose any strength by substituting it for my usual weights workouts.
My male significant other has done this one a few times. He found it OK, which is more than what he’s said for many of my other videos. It was a light day workout for him, though.
At times the “boot camp” theme gets a little cheesy. Sue wears a camouflage top and calls her students “soldiers” and “troops.” It’s not too annoying or over the top, though I think in this day and age her announcement that we have passed “boot camp” and can call ourselves “soldiers” may not be as politically correct as when this video was filmed.

Instructor Comments:
Sue cues moves well and offers a decent number of pointers on form (but not a lot of instruction, particularly with modifications). She is very enthusiastic and encouraging. It’s a breath of fresh air to have an instructor, particularly a woman, not obsessed with how many calories you’re burning or how this will make your butt look. Sue is genuinely interested in lifting weights for strength’s sake; her philosophy is “Fitness is not just a state of body, it’s also a state of mind.” She works both sides evenly and expects you to mirror her moves.



With strength work, I am an intermediate exerciser, who doesn’t really want to move up to advanced work. I have really enjoyed getting into workouts on the ball as an alternative to traditional strength training and Pilates.

This is the first Crunch tape I have really liked after the first viewing. It is a 30-minute workout that crams a lot into a short time with compound moves. A lot of the combinations are different than ones I’ve done before and it is a full-body workout, including abs. Susan did a good job of doing one part of the combination and then adding on the next part.

She leads the typical Crunch group of exercises, except that the “whoop” factor seemed to be lower and the total trendiness of the exercisers seemed to be less obvious. In other words, the “irritation factors” in this workout seemed to be less for me.

Instructor Comments:
Susan is really encouraging and challenged me to stay with her.

Laura S


This video was recommended to me by many folks on the vf forum. I did get it and am glad to report they were dead on about it. It is a great! 30 minute work out. I am an adv beginner to intermediate and this video kicks my butt. I sweat buckets. Excellent!



I'll just add a few short comments--this is the first Crunch tape I've really loved. I'm amazed at how much gets packed into 30 minutes, and the workout flies by. It's a perfect tape when you're short on time and it's a great value, too.

I call it my "short attention span" strength workout. The exercises change fast enough that you never get bored, and the workout is over before you know it.



I'd say that this workout has to be one of the best fitness video values going! This is a short, 30-minute total body weights workout with some cardio bursts to keep your heartrate up. On the cover it is recommended that you use 3 to 10 lb. dumbbells. The exercisers use the same pair of dumbbells throughout; I found that I did have to pyramid my weights, and was able to go heavier on the back and the bicep work. This one hits all the major muscle groups fairly equally in 30 minutes, and I think it's about as intense a 30-minute workout as you will find. The abwork is a little weak, but I used my Green Genie balls between my knees and on my shoulders for some of the exercises so that helped to increase the intensity. I, for one, am glad that this workout is only 30 minutes. There are many good 45 minute to hour-long workouts out there, and this power-packed half-hour workout will fill a needed void. It would be ideal for time-crunched days, or as others have mentioned it is PERFECT as an add-on to another tape (either a cardio or a combo cardio/strength tape). The typical Crunch whooping wasn't annoying to me, but if you're a whoop-hater it might grate on your nerves a bit. If you're not sure whether to get it or not--go for it if you can find it for $6.99 at the discount stores!

Instructor Comments:
Sue Hitzman shines in this video. She has the perfect blend of enthusiasm and professionalism. She's adorable, too! She gives good form pointers throughout, as well as lots of encouragement. I agree with Leela--I'd love to see her do some longer workouts. I also think she'd be great on a CIA! Faith Scarinzi (an instructor who has appeared in CIA videos) is in the background showing the modifications.

Kristin Aziz


Whew! This was a surprisingly challenging tape! I'm one of the few who actually likes Crunch and their whoop track (Personal favorites: Fat Blaster and Fat Blaster II, Master Class Aerobics and Turbo Sculpt.) I planned to do this with Fat Blaster II and decided to do Boot Camp *first* because I hadn't done it before and wanted to be able to go full-out. While the leg work wasn't much (I think TurboSculpt's leg work is harder) the push-ups kicked my butt! Alright, I'm mixing my metaphors here, but that second set of pushups with the leg raises was a killer. (I didn't really feel it in my legs, but my chest and abs were definitely noticing the work!) I started out the workout with 10# weights but quickly went down to 7s (the squat/military press combo was too hard to keep good form with 10s) and stayed there the entire workout.

Following this with Fat Blaster II was perfect, in fact, I almst went for a Crunch Triple Play by wrapping up the whole workout with Joy of Yoga--but it was getting close to dinner time so I stopped.

So BootCamp can make for an intense 30 minutes. I wouldn't solely rely on it for my strength work --not long enough and not enough leg work--but good for a short day, a medium/lightday or a combo-day.

Instructor Comments:

Renee Drellishak


I won't break this down as it has been done before, but I do want to say that after having done it, I agree with many forum comments that is not just quite "enough". I kept thinking - more reps!

The pushups were actually pretty fun. I enjoyed especially the ones that involved starting on the knees, moving to the toes and then lifting up the legs.

I also liked the combo squat arm work, it was reminiscent of the firm type exercises.

I knew going in it was a short tape, and next time i'll really go with the heavy weights to make it a good 30 minutes. But this is definitely an add on tape. I"d like to see myself doing 30 minutes of in-the-zone aerobics and THEN doing this tape as my 30 minutes in-the-zone weight training on my mix days.

Instructor Comments:
This instructor seemed really likeable and motivating - and didn't irritate me in the slightest. I'd like to see her do more videos that are longer and more intense -perhaps via CIA.



This is a great video, but a little short. I think that the strength moves are more along the lines of "functional fitness" as opposed to strength training. If this was your only strenght tape, I think you'd keep the muscle you have and would increase core strength, but you wouldn't gain a lot of muscle.

That said, this tape works great when you only have a half hour to work out. It is also a great combo tape. I'm one of those people who usually use more than one tape at a time, mixing and matching away. My next match is to do the cardio of cia 9903 boot camp until the push ups and then pop in this tape. I can't even come clost to doing the pushups on 9903 so I think this will be fun.

The good- there is less whooping than other Crunch tapes. Its the hardest Crunch tape I've tried. There is less silicone in this and the other new crunch tape than those in the past. Good cueing, fun workout. Its a keeper for me.

The bad- its short. The only other bad thing I have to say, is that even though there are more normal looking people on this tape, the camera seems to really stay with the one super thin, but with cute little muscles, woman who appears to be enhanced, no hips, big bust.

Instructor Comments:
The instructor cues well, gives good pointers and is encouraging. Kind of reminds me of a more feminine, more fun Lisa Gaylord from Reebok Power Blast.



This is my first review so please bare with me! Other people have written about the sequence of exercises so I will just add that I thought a few were inovative and fun. She has you do several compound moves that work a couple of areas at one time and it made it very interesting. This is by far my favorite Crunch video because it seems to have been filmed specifically for this tape and not just a condensation of a Crunch show off the TV. The other tapes seemed imbalanced and rushed because of the commercials they had to get into the show. (Hope that makes sense!) I think this would be a great add on to another tape (I loved using it with my CIA #9903 tape and thought they made an awesome duo) or a quick workout if time is an issue. Overall, a good solid tape IMO.

Instructor Comments:
Very fun and likeable. I thought she cued well and was easy enough to follow.

Kathy G


As a high intermediate/low advanced exerciser, I was a little leery that I could get a decent strength workout in only 30 minutes; however, I was pleasantly surprised by this short but intense, fast paced workout.

After a fun, energetic warm-up, Sue goes into a lot of compound movements like overhead presses with squats and bicep curls with deadlifts and rows. Then it's down to the floor for 12 push-ups and sit-ups. It wouldn't be a Boot Camp workout without jumping jacks, plus Sue throws in plyo squats and pulsing lunges with power scissors. Next it is hammer and wide bicep curls with plie squats. Back down to the ground for plank style push-ups with glute raises. Standing ab work follows with knee ups (think Tae Bo). You grab weights to do calf raises and dips, later adding bicep curls, tricep kickbacks and front extensions while balancing on one leg; tricep pullovers follow. Weights go down so that you can do some "tap and touch", knee ups, an ice skating type move, single and double-time knee ups along with running in place. Weights are picked up again for rear flyes, high rows and T cross. More push-ups but this time the arms are kept close to the body to work the triceps; another set of ab/oblique work. The ending stretch segments utilizes unique and interesting active isolated flexibility, but it's too short.

This is a solid strength workout (with secondary aerobic effect) considering it is only 30 minutes long. Ab work is weak though because it is split up so you might want to tack on an abs section from another tape.

Instructor Comments:
Susan reminds me a lot of Helen Vanderburg in CIA 9903 - the same energy and humor.

Sharon H.