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Tata’s Gym Jam Boot Camp pushes people past their limits

Shaylyn Hastings from Kerkhoven, Minn., gives it her all during a rope workout at the third annual 24-hour straight Tata’s Gym Jam Boot Camp, July 13 and 14, at the Wiskow-Nichols home in rural Greenbush. Hastings returned for a third time due to the personal growth that has come from participating in this camp, beyond just physical. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Teresa McDonald hugs a fellow boot camp participant after watching her successfully complete an exercise at Tata’s Gym Jam Boot Camp led by trainer Tara Wiskow. One participant explained how the support of fellow participants helps you feel empowered and able to get through the camp. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

Trainer Tara Wiskow said the following lines over and over again to motivate her boot camp participants during some evening tire workouts.

“Good work. Good work. You got it. You got it,” Wiskow said.

Besides during workouts, Wiskow would also talk to these participants between workouts at times. She pointed out the lessons learned from workouts such as these and how they can relate to real life. Wiskow pushed her nine participants not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally, as part of the third annual 24-hour straight– 11 am to 11 am– Tata’s Gym Jam Boot Camp, July 13-14 at the Wiskow-Nichols home in rural Greenbush.

Wiskow decided to start this boot camp after apprehensively going through a Navy Seals boot camp in Michigan through Fit Team, a healthy lifestyle company, according to its website, that Wiskow belongs to.

“I went through it and was blown away (with) what I learned about myself,” Wiskow said. “And I realized that I’d lost over 200 pounds, but I still had so much more I could have been doing that I wasn’t doing with my life outside of just trying to lose weight.”

She realized at that point that she still was holding herself back. She called her husband Trent when she got on the plane to return home and she said she was a “sobbing mess.”

“I told him (Trent) we have to do this. We have to bring this to other people,” Wiskow said. “Other people have to be pushed to limits and realize that they are capable of so much more than they realize and to allow them to find themselves.”

After returning home and holding the camp for the first time, she discovered that everyone loved it.

“What I got from it was more than I got going to the event (in Michigan),” Wiskow said, “Watching the participants break through barriers, to release villains and that are their limiting self beliefs, and to come out so much stronger. I always promise them I’ll break you, but I’ll rebuild you.”

Of the nine participants at this year’s boot camp, four returned for a third time. Wiskow had participants come from the Twin Cities area to as far away as Michigan. One of the participants, Shaylyn Hastings from Kerkhoven, Minn., returned for a third time due to the personal growth that has come from participating in this camp, beyond just physical. Wiskow pointed out how this camp goes beyond physical, as she gets inside the participants’ heads. This camp’s influence, Wiskow explained, also goes beyond the 24 hours.

“We physically get our butts kicked, but it’s the personal growth that helps (us) not just business-wise, not just personal,” Hastings said, “but it affects our entire personality… and just kind of bringing all that stuff (the lessons) back home with a different mindset.”

This camp includes: running, push-ups, jumping jacks, biking, cardio and full body workouts, moving tires, performing activities with six-foot long, water-filled PVC pipes that weigh up to 75 pounds, and jumping into and swimming in the family’s pond.

Carrie Kazmierczak from Roseau, Minn., was participating in this event for the first time. She decided to participate in it to get out of her comfort zone.

“I wanted a challenge, somebody to push me, and I knew Tara would do that,” Kazmierczak said. “But it has been not just physical. It’s been a lot more mental toughness that we’re learning.”

Speaking of mental toughness, outside all the physical activities the participants do, they also engage in some mental ones too. For example, they do the Self-Reflecting and Building Mirror Exercise. In this activity, participants look at themselves in a hand-held mirror and speak directly to themselves, highlighting why they hate themselves. Once they establish these “hurtful and damaging emotions and lies,” Wiskow explained, they write them down and throw them in the garbage.

They later repeat this process, but instead tell themselves why they love themselves, a process that “usually takes more digging,” Wiskow said. These positive emotions are written down and kept.

“With support from their Warrior Partner they begin to tell themselves why they love themselves.” Wiskow said. “… The intention (of this exercise) is when they think or say something of hatred or negativity to or about themselves they immediately stop themselves and replace it with the love and the truth written down and kept.”

“Warrior Partners” are the partners the participants have throughout their boot camp journey. Tata’s boot camp participants take part in various group and individual workouts.

As for sleep, the campers sleep outside for a couple hours in tents. But, when asked about this time, the campers said not much sleep goes on before Wiskow wakes them up with an air horn. As Hastings explained, this camp pushes participants to their physical limits, causing them to question whether or not they should give up and if the pain is more than they can bare.

“It comes down to us digging deep mentally,” Hastings said, “to go, ‘Okay, is it really us that wants to stop? Are we really willing to give up what we’re reaching for?’”

When asked what she enjoys about doing this camp, Wiskow explained how she loves being a part of the participants’ emotional, mental, and physical journeys, watching them connect with themselves and realize how much they’ve held themselves back in the past.

“The tears that are shed, the emotions that come forward, I love when I hear someone say at the beginning of it, in tears (and) sobs, ‘I don’t even know who I am,’” Wiskow said, “And when we get to the end of it and we’re at the awards ceremony and they say– because this has happened every year– I discovered who I am through this.”

To see the full story, read the July 24 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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