Stephanie Freedman is a mother of three young children. Last week, they watched their mom exercise as part of the Shawn Bell Personal Training Boot Camp program on Stewart Avenue in downtown Puyallup.
When Freedman, 33, was pregnant with her third child, she was attending Zumba with Bell’s girlfriend. Through the friendship, she learned about Bell’s boot camp and signed up for the program.
Now she’s attended Bell’s boot camp for two years.
“I wanted to lose my baby weight,” Freedman said. “I feel stronger and more comfortable with my body after being pregnant.”
Freedman said she’s lost about 30 pounds. Traditional gyms didn’t work for her because she said they didn’t hold her accountable.
“When I’m not here, people check up on me,” Freedman said about the boot camp.
That motivation factor is a key part in the experience Bell tries to create for each of his members.
“My philosophy is to care enough about the people,” Bell said. “I have the ability to work with everyone at their own personal level. We’re trying to be a supportive group and to empower each other to get results.”
Bell, a retired drill sergeant who performed a tour in Iraq during Desert Storm, knows the Army boot-camp routine. He was a master fitness instructor in the military and also has a degree in exercise science from Ohio State University.
Bell said he brings the military boot-camp atmosphere to his Puyallup-based program.
“Some drills might be similar to what I would have my soldiers doing, with the same pacing and intensity,” he said. “But I bring more of a fitness aspect to it. I’m not going to get in your face and scream at you and talk about your mom.”
Bell started his personal training business three years ago after he worked at traditional gyms.
“I was frustrated with having a vision and having corporate get in the way,” he said.
His first session of his boot-camp program was at Bradley Lake Park, and Bell said he had six people show up. The group transferred to Clarks Creek Park.
But by then, Bell said it started to get darker and colder.
“I thought, ‘How do I do it and not lose the business?’ ” he said.
Bell eventually found a permanent spot in a warehouse at 239 W. Stewart Ave. Today, his roster stands at more than 100 participants.
Starting Jan. 4, registration will be open for a special New Year’s rate. A new six-week session will start Jan. 6.
“I run a six-week program,” Bell said. “Every six weeks, we do registration and signup. On six-week increments, we do weigh-in and measurements. In that six-week block, I teach 120 classes — 20 classes each week. People can come to any class and as many classes as they need to.”
Bell said he has participants fill out a goal sheet when they sign up.
“We will work toward that goal,” he said. “I encourage those who reach their goals to maintain their goals.”
He switches up exercises from class to class between equipment workouts and no-equipment workouts.
“We continually confuse the muscle,” Bell said. “If the muscle gets used to it, then it stays the same. But if we confuse it, then we always get results.”
Freedman said she likes the variety in the routines.
“Every week is different, and I can go at my own pace,” she said. “Shawn encourages that you listen to your body. You do what you can do, which is nice.”
Becky Knobel, 43, started the program on June 1 after she heard about it through a friend. Knobel said she loves the structure.
“I love how motivating (Shawn) is,” she said. “He is demanding but encouraging and helpful. All those things help me come to class and stay motivated. It’s a real good group of people. Everyone is supportive and encouraging.”
Bell said that, aside from fitness, he encourages participants to take part in giving back to the community during every six-week session. They have done a gift-giving tree during the holidays and also have been involved in a fundraiser to raise money for a boot camper’s mom who had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Bell said he enjoys watching the reaction on a person’s face when they get results.
“You see something click in them, and all of a sudden, they become a boot camper, and they will be in my class forever,” he said.
Bell’s methods earned his program a Best of Western Washington award from King 5 Evening Magazine in each of the past two years.
If you go
A New Year’s special will be in effect starting Jan. 4. Registration will be for the six-week session that starts Jan. 6. The special rate is $199 for one person, $175 per person if two or more register, or $150 per person if three or more register. For more information, visit www.shawnbellpersonaltraining.com/boot-camp.html or call Shawn Bell at 206-579-1425.