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Boot Camp for a Cause | News

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Boot Camp for a Cause
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ATLANTA -- Under a sliver of moon and a few flashlights, Piedmont Park fills before sunrise. Some people are dressed in old sweatpants that have seen better days, and others are dressed in high-tech wicking tights. They stand side by side, shivering and jogging in place. All of them are lured by the explosion in the number of fitness boot camps.

"I don't know if they're just all morning people or what, but they're in such a great mood," first timer Jackie Westhoven said with an exhausted chuckle.

Each of the groups must register with the city of Atlanta and pay a permit fee. "Funds do not come to the park at all," said Monica Thornton with the Piedmont Park Conservancy. "They go into the general fund for the city."

In the dark, it's hard to see the difference. Boots camps have little overhead. Most have insurance, permit fees, website development, food logbooks, and t-shirts in their budgets. Some pay their trainers, but many trainers volunteer their time. Some charge up to $300 a month. So where does all that money go? It's a question a group of trainers started asking themselves last year.

"You start to think about all of the money that adds up and you feel like maybe there's a little bit more you could be doing with that money," Lauren Mross said.

So they started their own boot camp. Every trainer owns a part of the company. And they're giving it all away. They call it "Boot Camp for a Cause" or BC4C for short.

"You get results, first and foremost. You're motivated by a large group of people," co-founder Andy Abend said. "And they love hearing that their money is going towards something bigger."

BC4C gives 50 percent of their proceeds to the Piedmont Park Conservancy. The rest goes to a different charity every quarter. Already, they've donated to Camp Twin Lakes, Open Hand, and Everybody Wins. They're gathering ideas from their clients for charities to serve in 2011.

They are all nonprofits that benefit the community and offer a little extra incentive. "The people that are helping you to be better are also taking that money and putting it towards something positive," Boot camper Marcia Ware said.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy is thrilled with the plan.

With expansion already underway, it comes at a time when their maintenance budget will stretch. "It gives people an opportunity not just to take care of themselves, but one of our most valued resources in the city," Thornton said.

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