We tried it: Atlantic City Boot Camp on the Boardwalk

In an effort to rejuvenate Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Alliance has launched a new series called “Mind, Body & Soul ARTLANTIC.” The series takes place in two Atlantic City art parks with daily events from local arts organizations, performers and fitness experts that are designed to appeal to people of all ages.

I was intrigued by the whole concept, but most interested in the “body” events of this unique series. As a part of 500 events over the course of the summer season, ACA has teamed up with Tilton Fitness and local fitness instructor, Dina Buttino, to offer three different workouts on the boardwalk.

The classes are set against the backdrop of “Etude Atlantis,” a large-scale optical illusion featuring streaks of white, gray and black overlooking the beach. “We knew this was the spot for morning events and what better way to wake up your day than with a fitness class,” said Atlantic City Alliance President Liza Cartmell. “All classes are free and open to the public, so morning bikers, runners and walkers can stop by and change up or compliment their fitness routine.”

Last Thursday morning, I strolled up California Avenue towards the Boardwalk to check out AC Boot Camp led by Dina Buttino. This class mixes circuits, weights, calisthenics and interval training to give you one heck of a full-body workout!

Buttino is a personal trainer to many local clients, so when she heard ACA was reaching out to local fitness centers, she immediately wanted to help. “With this class, I integrated the best of my training, taking everything that I use to kick my clients butts, and incorporating it into one class,” explains Buttino.

By the time class was ready to start, we had gathered about a dozen people, all ready to sweat! After a light jog along the boards to get us warmed up, the music kicked on and Dina explained how this boot camp was going to work.

“I choreographed the class so that every move is timed to the music. I thought this was the perfect way to make it fun and help you get into the workout.” said Buttino, who has over 30 years of exercise instructor experience.

Every song targets a different body part, making Dina’s class unique and totally fun. Our first song hit the legs hard with a lunge and squat sequence. It took a few beats for all of us to get the hang of the choreography, but Dina was great about helping everyone get into the rhythm. Then as soon as it was clear we had caught on, we picked up the pace to singles. No resting on Dina’s watch!

This was definitely the first time I’ve worked out in front of an audience, since many people strolling by stopped to check out the action. Fortunately, my embarrassment subsided when one of the onlookers jumped in to join our sweat sesh. After all, that’s what this program is all about.

When the next song started, Dina worked our arms with push-ups and tricep dips. As that song faded out, we were led into some kick boxing action: Punches with two-pound weights, front kicks, back kicks, side kicks. You get the jist?

The best part about having the moves synched to music is that you’re pushing yourself to do reps faster than you normally would without even realizing it. As a regular boot camper myself, I know the drudgery of the timed-set, but with Dina’s workout, a round of squats to the beat of the music is a lot more fun than racing against the clock.

And then came the planks … boy, oh boy, did we do some planks! An entire song of plank variations: punch planks, side planks, planks with leg lifts. Another song to work our abs followed and just when we thought we’d hit every possible muscle, Dina surprised us again when she said, “ I don’t think we did enough arms, break out the resistance bands!”

Ultimately, it was Dina’s high energy that stuck with me even after the sweat subsided. I can’t think of the last time that I smiled through an entire workout — I’m talking about a real ear-to-ear grin! Dina’s constant words of encouragement and refusal to let you give up, will keep you motivated long after that first burn kicks in. 

AC boot camp, AC Zumba and AC Sunrise PiYo classes run everyday through September 21st. You can join boot camp at 9 a.m. seven days a week, followed by Zumba at 10 a.m. On Mondays and Wednesdays at 8 a.m., try PiYo, a unique blend of yoga, Pilates and strength training.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.