SouthPark Boot Camp Fitness Bootcamp

SPBC featured in Life in SouthPark Magazine    Photos by Brooke Brown PhotographySP Mag

SP Mag Article

Meet the very sweet booty camper, Brandon Pham!

Brandon, Amy and Brandi sporting some cute Lulu

Brandon, Amy and Brandi sporting some cute Lulu


Today, as I plopped down my running shoes caked with mud next to equally muddy pink and blue pairs of running shoes, it made me think about how much had changed over the past seven months. This time last year my “running shoes” were squeaky clean because they were really my “running to the grocery store” shoes. I felt bad about myself for never loosing the weight after my second child. I felt tired and grumpy by the time the kids came home in the afternoon as the exhaustion from poor sleep and a crummy diet were catching up with me.

I had struggled to find a workout routine, and there was always a reason it didn’t stick. I felt guilty about dropping my kids into a gym child care that they hated (and that they always left with a new virus after attending). My husband would travel during the week and I’d be unable to go early in the morning or the evening without hiring a sitter. The gym classes would conflict with either preschool drop off, the pick up time, or the one that aligned perfectly in the middle was a geriatric class. (Okay, sometimes it was a prenatal class. But once you are no longer pregnant, that one looses its appeal pretty fast.)

But 7 months ago I decided to make being a “healthier me” a priority. The idea of going to a class called “boot camp” was intimidating to me. I’m not an athlete – even when I was a teenager I struggled to run a mile or keep up in a class. But each year I aged, I could see the toll that being inactive was taking of me. The phrase “use it or loose it” seemed especially poignant.

The first time I attend Susan’s class was hard . My body hurt. I was winded and exhausted with in minutes. I was the slowest in the pack. I had to skip exercises because I was couldn’t go on and had to ask for modifications to try and push through. It was a an hour that could have left me feeling deflated and humiliated. But with Susan’s encouragement, humor and her warmth, she made me feel like I was achieving an amazing accomplishment by showing up and giving it my all. Instead of leaving feeling like yet again I had failed at an athletic endeavor, I felt proud. I felt tough. I felt like I had accomplished something. And with Susan’s uncanny ability to know when to push me and when to tell me to take it at my own pace, I was hooked.

I now feel stronger and healthier. But the other benefits are ones I never expected. I have been welcomed into a group of women who are positive, encouraging, witty and amazingly supportive. They are like a wonderful little work-out family. (Not to mention they keep me up to date on the celebrity gossip. I mean let’s be real about how important THAT is!) My children come with me to the work out, and now have a new set of “bootcamp friends,” as they call them. They have gotten used to hustling out the door in the morning for an hour outside at the park running and climbing with new pals or trading snacks on a blanket while coloring and sharing stickers. I love that they see mom trying to be healthy, and that they see me laughing and enjoying it.

I knew with out a doubt that being able to bring my children with me too bootcamp was a positive change for all of us when a few weeks after starting bootcamp my daughter invited me to the playroom for a pretend tea party. We had our pretend tea and pretend food and then she said she said we would be wrapping up with push up part of the party. I spit out my imaginary tea I laughed so hard. (She was dead serious and said it was time to put down my tea cup and let’s get started. Hey! Why is this the only part of the party that isn’t pretend?) But it clicked with me at that moment that she was watching everything I do at boot camp. And if she was going to pretend to be a grown up at a grown up party, then in her head that meant being a “healthy” grown up.

So I may still be one of the slowest when we run, and I’ll never be able to make my push-ups pretty. I will still groan through the whole thing and often complain more than I should (I really hate sliders and I just can’t help saying that EVERY TIME). But life feels healthier and more balanced since making a little pain from Susan part of my weekly routine. And those three sets of muddy running shoes lined up in the garage remind me daily of the best two reasons I could ever have to sign right back up for bootcamp tomorrow. Sliders and all.

Please meet Sally Green! What a touching testimonial…

It was a year ago this weekend that I was spending a sunny afternoon in bed watching bad TV, eating about a pound of highly leftover pasta, wasting the internets time – just trying to cope with another endless Saturday and my sad, sad heart.
Checking facebook for the 2,314th time in an hour I found a message from a friend that truly loves me and anything athletic. Like so many, she reached out with what has worked for her during difficult times. She lives out of town, but researched my area and sent me a link to SouthPark Boot Camp. SouthPark WHAT the WHAT? I didn’t have the drive to – well – drive to SouthPark Mall. Let alone this boot camp nonsense. I rolled my eyes. And then napped because that amount of exercise was exhausting.
Woke up. Ate more pasta. Looked at the website. Susan O’Neill looked nice, healthy, happy. She was smiling. Not a Lou Gossett, Jr. character screaming obscenities at me while I cried doing one armed pushups in the mud in the middle of the night. The campers appeared to be there of their own accord – not for some weird plea deal or in an effort to make them spill government secrets. And there were children there. How bad could it be if children were allowed?
Ate a little more pasta. E-mailed Susan. Didn’t use an alias. Told one person I was going. That was all the commitment I could muster up. Wednesday rolled around. I got up on time, put on my ‘fit hosen’ (really ugly, baggy yoga pants I bought in Germany when my luggage didn’t arrive), pulled out a beach towel (a yoga mat would only serve to mock me if this was a one-morning-stand) and a bottle of water.
I drove the three miles to the park…thinking WHAT AM I DOING?
Wow. I am a regular. I am pretty sure I have not stayed with anything that didn’t involve shared DNA, a legal document, a paycheck or a promise in front of God long enough to be a regular. It was an adjustment. A big one. But, after having to learn to live my life one breath, minute, hour, day at a time…I decided to approach boot camp the same way. One class at a time. Wednesday turned into Friday turned into June turned into sweat week turned into a way of life. Let’s end that with another Wow.
The things I want to say about the year I have spent at SPBC sounds like a giant stupid cliché. Getting strong on the outside and the inside…healing my heart and my body…a whole bunch of others. Sorry…Clichés are clichés because they are true.
Here are my top ten reasons for LOVING SPBC:
1. Susan Hart O’Neill. One of the most incredible, inspiring, patient, dedicated women I have ever known. THE most positive person I know – she has strengthened my attitude, my heart and my body!
2. The Booty Campers. Such positive, kind, genuine and encouraging people. I never would have done this had it not been for the laughs, the stories, the sharing. I completely admire them all –
as friends, mothers, wives, citizens. They all have such huge hearts. It is truly what gets me there. Then I keep going.
3. Holy crap. I have muscles.
4. Me. I am always the slowest, always the whiniest, always the last…and yet I still feel strong and accomplished. Go me!
5. I never know what to expect when I get there. One day I feel like I have caught up…the next I am caught off guard. I love that.
6. Running. And I may have mentioned that I hate it. Sometimes I kinda don’t hate it. It isn’t often. But I can go farther and faster than I could have imagined a year ago.
7. Holy crap. I have muscles.
8. No matter how much I hate it while I am working out I love it two hours later.
9. Susan has such a great way of correcting me without making me feel corrected – just encouraged.
I still have a long way to go with my heart and my hips. But I feel way more equipped and way less alone than I would had I not found SPBC. But I really believe I will get there – by sticking with what works, trusting the people that are real and always working on being strong. And did I mention that…HOLY CRAP! I have muscles!!!

Meet Amy Norman, one of SPBC’s hardest working campers

SPBCweb-135 SouthPark Boot Camp meets ALL my expectations!

1) Bringing children is so easy and it REALLY works because the kids have their own play area at each class! There is plenty of space for everybody to play and still be at a safe distance to exercise!

2) Susan is amazingly creative with putting together classes that ALWAYS challenge all muscle groups! (Modifications always given) We’ve NEVER done the same class twice….which means we NEVER get that “bored at the gym feeling!”

3) Susan’s classes are VERY well priced….a bargain, in fact!!! Not only do you get a fantastic workout, but also health and nutrition tips too!!!

4) I LOVE how we meet at Carmel Park…this means we are outside in the fresh air, no crowded, stuffy gym.  I’m convinced this makes the workouts even more productive!

5) SPBC is an awesome, open-minded group of women…whether a mom or not…there is definitely a friend for everybody! I LOVE this activity and would not trade it for the world!




Meet SPBC client Jessica Gathings

Jessica is a mother of 2 little ones. 













Oh, wait…that is Madonna.  Here is Jess in action and her words about SPBC








SouthPark Boot Camp is hands down the best fitness option available.
The cost (so affordable).
The location (outside and a mile form my house!).
The participants (the most welcoming, supportive, non-judgemental women).
The workouts (positively challenging, dynamic, guaranteed butt-kicking).
The fun (yes, although we are getting our tails kicked we find the humor).
The instructor (Susan- encouraging, insipiring, smiling :)
As a former div 1 college athlete and former personal trainer/gym manager I can attest to the quality of overall fitness offered at SouthPark Boot Camp.
As a real-time mom with little free time and a strong desire for fitness it is the best bang-for-my-buck.
SouthPark Boot Camp got me out of a years long struggle of wondering how to get fit again.  I had the desire but couldn’t find the right match for my schedule/interest/ability/wallet.  After my first class I was hooked.
Whether you’re looking to vary your workout routine or only just thinking of beginning to exercise then you must try SouthPark Boot Camp.  You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t.

Meet SouthPark Booty Camper Crissy Dopkowski

SPBCweb-158“I started Boot Camp over 3 years ago. I was there at the very first boot camp class and have been a regular participant every week since!  The workouts are always different so we never get bored and unlike a lot of workouts, Susan’s workouts  really work our entire body.   I have always been someone who exercised regularly, but because of boot camp, I am stronger, much more toned and overall in the best shape I have ever been.  Not only is this a fantastic workout that leaves you feeling great all day, the group of people that come to boot camp are the BEST!  Even on a day when I don’t much feel like working out, I never struggle to get to a boot camp class because it is such a fun group to be with. It is social hour and work out hour in one!”

Crissy is a mother of 2 and an Integrative Health Counselor.

Crissy Dopkowski

Running the Reindeer Romp with her daughter

Summer Sweat Week

5 mornings of intense 50 minute classes.  June 10th-14th, 6:00-6:50a.m.


SPBC’s Favorite Running Songs

Run Girl Run!

ABC – Michael Jackson, Jackson 5
Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet
Feel Good – Gorillaz
Country Girl – Luke Bryan
Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
The Distance – Cake
Everybody Talks – Neon Trees
Pump it Up – Elvis Costello
Dog Days -Florence and the Machine
Gonna Make You Sweat – C&C Music Factory
Jane Says – Jane’s Addiction
Hey Ya! – OutKast
That’s Not my Name – The Ting Tings
Waiting For the End – Linkin Park
Welcome to Paradise – Green Day

Winter Location: Sharon United Methodist Church

SUMC is located on the corner of Sharon Road and Morrison, across from Morrocroft Haris Teeter

March’s Schedule: