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IWLS Exercise Project-Burn Boot Camp Review

Posted on July 23, 2019 at 12:33 PM by Michelle Eibes

By Paige Harnish & Travis Havens

Iowa Weight Loss Specialists’ behavioral health experts are continuing to work on the IWLS Exercise Project, a series of reviews of local fitness centers and programs to help you find a program that suits your interests and goals.  We hope that you find our exercise project helpful whether you are a medical weight loss or bariatric surgery patient.

Location:   208+ Locations in 36 StatesGroup photo after Boot Camp

Location Attended:   8801 University Ave, Suites C36 & C38, Clive, IA 50325

Primary Contact:       Darci Evans

                                    (608) 574-1523


Exercise Types:  High-Intensity, Boot Camp Style

Average Class Size: 15-25  

Class Duration: 45 Minutes

Cost Per Month: $$$*

Travis and I learned about Burn Boot Camp through Chris Mallen, one of our exceptional team members at the Iowa Weight Loss Specialists West Des Moines office. Chris provided raving reviews about Burn and also connected Michon, our insurance specialist and gastric sleeve patient to Burn. Chris and Michon are dedicated to Burn and continue to report back positive gains resulting from the hard work put in at Burn. 

“Burn has provided me with the physical activity I needed in my life. I love the floating floor as it makes it easier on my body and I really love that when I show up, everything is set up for me, the work out is always different, and it utilizes all parts of my body. It gives me such a sense of satisfaction when I have completed the 45-minute camp. Burn has also provided me with a community of women who are continually encouraging you to be the best you can be. I have made some lifelong friends at Burn! The trainers at Burn are beyond amazing. They are always encouraging you to challenge yourself and they always provide modifications to the work out.  The superb owners and trainers are continually giving ideas on healthy eating and living a healthy life style through their focus groups, Facebook posts/videos… They constantly have activities beyond the camps, such as picnics, yoga, children’s camps, charity drives, teams for local events like the Gladiator Challenge, and even occasional movie nights. All of the things I have spoken of help provide the sense of community that Burn gives me!” -Chris Mallen

As part of my job as a behavioral health specialist, I commonly work with patients to explore fitness routines and atmospheres that best suit the patients’ needs, both physically and emotionally, interests and goals. I strongly believe than an individual is most likely adhere to a fitness regimen if the program is an accurate fit.

It's still humbling to walk into a new fitness center for the first time. Luckily, the Clive location of Burn was intuitively designed. When we walked in, the only physical option was to interact with front desk staff who guided Travis and I through the process leading up class. The space is large, well lit, and spacious. Child care is provided to members free of charge which is a unique and valuable benefit. All of the members who participated in both of the classes Travis and I attended were women who appeared to be friendly and acquainted with one another. Management affirmed that men are welcome at Burn, however, none were in attendance.

Travis and I attended two classes at Burn, one cardiovascular and one strength training class. The music was engaging and the instructor Morgan was high in energy and engaged in instructing. There were lots of moving parts for both classes. Class set up was explained in a rapid manner— Travis and I were immediately confused about instructions from the beginning of and during both classes. Instruction of individual exercises was provided at the beginning of class giving little precedence to form. I noticed that some participants appeared confused during class, and others seemed to be more familiar with what to expect.

Both classes were high intensity without any scheduled times for rest, water or recovery. I wore my Myzone chest strap heart rate monitor (with 99.4% EKG accuracy) during both classes. Both the cardiovascular and the strength class generated similar effort outputs (top 20% of maximum heart rate for the duration of class) and caloric outcomes which was not expected or desired— Travis will further explain.

If you’re looking for a gym that accommodates busy lifestyle and offers high intensity group fitness classes with whole body variety, then Burn would be a great fit. In terms of IWLS patients, Burn would be a natural next step for our patients who have been casually exercising and are ready to increase intensity, advance fitness level and establish a more regular exercise routine.

 “With Burn, in the beginning it felt impossible. With the help of the trainers and my Burn sister’s what felt like impossible in the beginning is now just a warm up. I no longer dread my work outs; I have more energy and look forward to going. It’s a positive, fun and never a boring work out.”  -Michon Hubner

Favorite Aspects: Burn is conveniently located in Clive and offers a large clean space with child care. The classes we attended offered a variety of exercises and it’s easy to assume that no two classes will ever be the same. No planning necessary— show up and expect to work hard!

Areas to Consider: Burn would be best suited for an individual with at least some experience exercising and established level of fitness given the complexity, wide variety, fast pace, quick instruction, and intensity of classes. Fast pace and high reps seemed to be prioritized over form and increasing resistance. Therefore, if you enjoy casual weight lifting and working at your own pace to perfect form, Burn would not be an ideal fit.

Bottom Line: Burn has a light, welcoming environment. Members and staff are kind and attending class will guarantee a maximum effort workout. Various class times are offered, and you will not grow bored due to the high intensity, large amount of equipment Burn has on site and the individuality of each class.  




Burn Boot Camp is a women-centric, high-intensity group fitness facility that came to fruition in the spring of 2012. Burn is owned by husband and wife, Devan and Morgan Kline, and is currently headquartered in Huntersville, NC. In February 2015, Burn Boot Camp began its franchising career in the health and fitness industry and has since opened studios in 36 states, with a total of more than 208+ locations currently open (Des Moines area facilities are located in Clive and Ankeny). Burn is ranked 31st on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2019 Franchise 500 list of Fastest Growing Franchises.

“Our mission is to ignite global health transformation by empowering women to maximize the quality of their lives. We seek to build confidence, happiness, and disciplines that transcend fitness into a community of mentally, emotionally and physically strong women. We vow to educate, influence, and inspire every life we touch with knowledge in our heads, love in our hearts, strength in our bodies and passion in our souls.”

At Burn Boot Camp variety is everything, as you will likely never partake in the same workout twice. This is a great way to keep members from becoming bored with the program, while also keeping a person on their toes by regularly exposing the body to different stimuli over the course of one’s fitness journey. A typical camp starts with a 5-minute dynamic warm-up (stretching through movement) where the trainer demonstrates the main circuit exercises as you work on getting your blood pumping. Once you’re warm you’ll transition to the main 30-35 minute circuit, followed by an all-out finisher and a cool-down. Finishers usually last less than 5 minutes and are designed to empty whatever juice you’ve got left in your tank. A large part of each day’s workouts will take place on a 4” floating floor, which is designed to help reduce the amount of stress placed on joints during high-impact exercises. Equipment used during class usually includes a combination of the following: dumbbells, Rip:60 suspension training systems, Terra Core balance trainers, battle ropes, kettle bells, agility ladders, hurdles, jump ropes, medicine balls and more.

Weekly workout programming is released each Sunday on the camp’s Facebook page, giving members an idea as to what is to come in the days ahead. You can also view the camp schedule and set up one-on-one focus meetings through Burn Boot Camp mobile app. The app is currently available on Android and iOS supporting devices. To give you a better idea of what this looks like, reference the pictures below to see how week is broken down into daily workouts (note: these pictures are examples and are from different Burn Boot Camp studios). 


During our time at Burn, Paige and I took part in two separate workouts. Our first camp was a designated metabolic conditioning day that absolutely buried me. Burpees, medicine ball work and variety of plyometric exercises made up the bulk of day one, with a 2-3 minute finisher capping things off. It wasn’t until we were done that the trainer approached me and commented “Nice job! You guys picked one of the most difficult days to join us!” This was equally frustrating as it was relieving to hear.

Our second camp was a more strength-training dominant routine comprised of six 90-second stations. A few example exercises from camp two were: terra core burpee/Terra Core clean and press, hurdle burpee/hurdle jumping high-pull, dumbbell squat clean and press, wall sit + resistance band abduction, and battle rope + jumping lunges. The finisher was a 90-second AMRAP (as many reps/rounds as possible). 5 push-ups + 10 jump squats constituted one completed round. As each respective workout came to an end, we spent the final few minutes cooling down and doing some basic static stretches while Morgan (head trainer) provided nutritional and lifestyle advice and support.

Looking back, these workouts were two of the more aerobically demanding workouts that I have done in recent memory. As Paige mentioned above, she monitored her heart rate during our time at Burn using her Myzone heart rate monitor, as she does with all of her workouts. When compared to her numbers from previous high-intensity workouts, results from Burn showed significantly higher demand on Paige’s heart. Now, Paige is a warrior and when watching her you never would’ve guessed she was red-lining throughout the duration of our two workouts. However, if you are new to exercise or you have a pre-existing heart condition, it is imperative that you and your trainer communicate and get on the same page prior to attacking these workouts.

If you’re on the fence about making a full commitment, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for membership specials. Burn’s 6-week “Raise the Bar” challenge this past winter was $99 to enroll and included unlimited weekly camps, daily exercise challenges, healthy recipes, “how-to” cooking videos, an accountability calendar, a “drop your sugar” challenge, and nutrition tips and tricks.

Burn Boot Camp Clive class start times currently range from 5:00 am* to 9:30 am, and from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm Monday-Friday. Saturday camp start times are 8:00 am and 9:00 am. Most of the primary class times are available to women only. Co-ed classes are offered at 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm Monday-Friday as well as 8:00 am (members only) and 9:00 am (free to the public) on Saturdays.

*Classes starting at 5:00 am are express classes and are 30 minutes in duration.

Note: If you are a post-gastric sleeve patient and have concerns about losing muscle after surgery, these are not necessarily workouts that you want to be doing 4-6 days a week. As mentioned above, these camps are designed for significant calorie burning, with metabolic conditioning taking priority over building true strength. For example, being in a permanent calorie-restricted state (as post-gastric sleeve patients are), paired with consistent high-volume, high-intensity activity without the presence of a dedicated strength training program may lead to a further reduction in skeletal muscle mass. An alternative option for a post-surgical patient with muscle preservation in mind could pair 1-3 Burn Boot Camp workouts with 2-3 days a week of lower repetition (8-12 reps/set), higher weight/resistance strength training work using compound exercises (movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time).

Favorite Aspect(s): I’ve always been a big fan of open layouts with plenty of room to work, and it’s hard not to love the floating floor. The environment encompasses a strong community feel; one that is well-lit, uniquely designed and full of positive energy. Cold towels infused with essential oils at the end of your workout are an amazing touch.

Area to Consider: These classes are intense, high-volume workouts with limited breaks offered during the 45 minute session (there were no designated breaks during the two workouts Paige and I participated in). The programming is heavy on metabolic conditioning, with an average of 700 calories being burned during each class. Training consistently at high-volume brings with it added risks, and while working hard is encouraged it is paramount that you work at a pace that allows you to perform each repetition confidently and correctly. During our workouts trainer attention was directed more towards keeping the energy high and pushing members to complete as many reps as possible, with very little time spent on movement correction/modification. Pre-workout explanation and exercise demonstration moves at a quick pace, and there were a handful of occasions that Paige and I noticed members who seemed lost at different points throughout the class. Lastly, building a program with the goal of never prescribing the same workout twice brings with it its own set of challenges, and some of the exercises we did were a bit too unique for my personal taste, with their overall effectiveness left to question.           

Bottom Line: This franchise has a lot going for it, and has quickly made a positive impact in the Des Moines area fitness community. The financial investment of a Burn Boot Camp membership brings with it more than just new and exciting workouts, and the program as a whole has really gone the extra mile to offer its members support on a number of different fronts. An empowered and supportive fitness community with complimentary child watch, access to unlimited classes on a weekly basis, along with one-on-one focus meetings with head trainers to discuss performance and lifestyle advice and support, Burn Boot Camp provides its members with a high-energy outlet for improving their fitness capabilities. For more information, check out Burn’s website.


*Prices may vary.

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$$$$= $150+

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