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Bikini Empowerment | Calgary’s Bikini Boot Camp helps participants find empowerment through outdoor fitness

Apr 1, 2010

Boot camp company nurtures positive body image as it expands across Canada

by Stephanie Sparks

No matter how big your paycheque, money can’t buy a lot of things: empowerment, personal fulfilment, self-confidence. But have Dawn Kosloski and Lindsay Nealon got a deal for you! They’re offering all three as part of their eight-week outdoor fitness program. Wait, there’s more.

The owners of Calgary-based Bikini Boot Camp Inc. aren’t going to yell or bark orders to drop and give them 20. Instead they’re building a flexible program and a positive atmosphere for busy, active women who may not feel comfortable with their bodies or who feel intimidated working out at the gym.

“There are so many boot camps out there right now, and we were fortunate to create what we wanted to create before the boot camp craze hit,” says Nealon. She explains that most such crash courses in fitness have larger intakes of participants and five-day-a-week schedules, whereas Bikini Boot Camp features smaller groups and a twice-a-week routine. “We really emphasize balance because fitness is an important part of your life, but not all of your life.”

The company started in 2004 with eight participants (including Kosloski) led by Nealon to prepare for the summer “bikini season.”

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“Our philosophy is not about fitting into the bikini, but it’s having the confidence to put one on,” says Kosloski. “That’s what we’re giving women. We’re giving them empowerment.”

The company’s momentum built through word of mouth, and Kosloski and Nealon haven’t slowed down since, adding complementary programs (the first men’s fitness camp, “Raw,” is slated to begin in Calgary in May), personal consultations, drop-in classes, nutritional guidance, fitness retreats (in the Rocky Mountains, Mexico and Italy) and expansion to 13, soon to be 17, cities in five provinces. To ensure participants are offered the same service in Calgary as in Regina or Toronto, new trainers receive special Bikini Boot Camp certification.

“They have to go through an interview process and if we invite them to join us, then what they have to do is go through a weekend training session,” explains Kosloski. Over the weekend, the trainers learn everything they can about Bikini Boot Camp and what it does for participants.

Marketing largely consists of event sponsorship. “What we always say is we’d rather put money into an event or support a community event than put an ad into the newspaper,” says Kosloski. Bikini Boot Camp has sponsored the Calgary Women’s Run, the Banff Jasper Relay, Rocky Mountain Soap Company Women’s Run in Canmore and even took a group of women down to the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. The company’s successful involvement in these events stems from an atmosphere of camaraderie and support.

Because you can’t get empowerment and confidence just anywhere, 65% of participants are repeat customers. “We always say that once you’re a part of Bikini Boot Camp, you are a lifer,” says Nealon.

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