Two Seahawks players. 65 women. One boot camp. Reporter Tricia Romano tries out Kam Chancellor’s women’s boot-camp workout, with guest star Richard Sherman.
Kam Chancellor is doing yoga a few feet away from me. His long arms are folded into a prayer pose, his legs twisted into a pretzel. I am struggling to follow along, and failing. I am doing yoga with Kam Chancellor. He is sweating. I am sweating. We are doing yoga together. We are basically twins.
OK, not really.
The Seattle Seahawks’ strong safety was in Auburn on Wednesday night at the gymnasium at Les Gove Park, helping lead a roving women’s boot camp that he runs with his close friend and longtime personal trainer, Kevin Allen, called Form by Force. That’s right: Kam Chancellor: Super Bowl champion, Pro Bowler, and now, women’s boot-camp fitness instructor.
Form by Force Women’s Boot Camp
The next boot camps are scheduled for Sunday, April 17, and Monday, May 9. Location TBA. Check formbyforce.com for more information.
Since last September, Allen and Chancellor have been holding camps at different locations around the Seattle area.
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While Chancellor is the celebrity draw, the boot camps are Allen’s brainchild. Allen, 43, first met the football player in Virginia when he was coaching him in high school (“I’ve known him when I used to be taller than him,” he joked during a phone interview the day before), and has been Chancellor’s trainer throughout his pro football career.
Allen held his first camps six years ago in Norfolk, Va.; they were smaller then, and other obligations caused him to put the idea on the back burner. Last summer he traveled with the Seahawks to Hawaii, and he and Chancellor talked about restarting the camps.
By then Chancellor had become a bigger star, much better positioned to help his friend. Unsurprisingly, the demand to work out with a Seattle Seahawk is very high. “They were just packed,” Chancellor said. “It was fun, like real fun, for us, for the women.”
I decided to see for myself if I could keep up with a man nicknamed “The Enforcer.”
The hour-and-a-half-long class is broken up into several segments, including three sections of what is known as circuit training, but which I like to call “legalized torture.”
Alisa Garcia led the yoga warmup; Chancellor, surprisingly limber for a football player, ably performed his Warrior poses with the rest of us. Right about then, star cornerback Richard Sherman, who was celebrating his 28th birthday, walked in. (Inner voice to self: “Be cool, be cool, be cool.”)
Former Seahawks disc jockey Toby Fresh spun tunes while Lainee Martija Turck led a hip-hop dance segment — and I discovered that my two left feet and I would not be joining J-Lo’s dance troupe. Sherman jumped in on the hip-hop dance session and was a much quicker study.
After hip-hop, we were split into two groups and went through the circuit training stations in 45-second spurts, using resistance bands, thick ropes, mats or sometimes body weight, with trainers Giavanni Ruffin and Jarell Betton leading the charge. Chancellor blared a horn like a drill sergeant and we’d switch.
“Bam Bam Abs,” which Chancellor designed himself, was the penultimate workout. Essentially, it was 1,001 different ways to do a situp, and by the middle of it I had called the Seahawk many unprintable names (keeping it all inside, of course). At one point, Sherman himself gave me personal instruction. (By then, I had no fangirl chill left.)
Each workout draws anywhere from 65 to 150 women, depending on the size of the facility. Eventually, Allen and Chancellor want to open their own gym chain. That was why he and the Form by Force team were peeking at the Redmond Athletic Club, which was for lease, a few weeks ago when an employee called 911 on them Chancellor took the incident in stride.
He called it “an education. … Some people aren’t educated the same in certain areas,” he said. “I didn’t want any other people to get treated that way, and I wanted other people of my stature to know how to handle those types of situations when it does happen, or if it does happen.”
Though the gyms will be open to men and women, for the boot camps Allen and Chancellor have focused on women. “The obesity problem with women is very high,” Allen said. “A lot of women are nervous about working out. And most women like to work in groups.”
“A lot of women are down on themselves,” Chancellor added. “We want to empower them, we want to change them so they start feeling good about themselves on the inside and the outside.”
Their plan seemed to be working. Laura Stumbaugh, 51, of Seattle, after seeing a post on Chancellor’s Instagram in December, has since come to 10 sessions.
“The first time I wasn’t sure if I would fit in or if it would be too strenuous,” she said. “But they are such an unconditional loving group, and they nurture you and they make you feel so welcome.”
The sessions aren’t cheap (the Auburn event was $50, or $110 for a picture with Chancellor afterward), but she said, “If I paid to go to a personal trainer I would probably pay about that per session, and you have five amazing people here.”
For a finale, the ageless and hyperkinetic Allen led a Tae Bo-style workout — with ladies furiously punching the air.
The team of enforcers then gathered the 65 women together, and each gave a motivational speech, ending with Chancellor.
“We took you through a tough workout. This is what I go through — a little harder,” Chancellor paused, and everyone laughed.
“We don’t ask you to do anything we don’t think you ladies can do. All we ask is for effort. We won’t hurt you; we are only here to help. So remember that. And today you are all officially Lady Enforcers.”
The women gathered for a final group huddle with the team and Chancellor, who loomed large above us, like a giant redwood tree in a forest of sweaty, happy and soon-to-be-very-sore women. We all shouted: “Lady Enforcers!” and lifted our hands to the sky.