Feb 20, 2019–One January morning as I made my weekly trip to Pioneer Memorial Library to pay fines, I was distracted by a gaggle of adults and children running and jumping and cheering around the gazebo. They were way too enthusiastic for this early on a chilly Saturday.

Uninvited, I crossed the street to see if I could find a story that was not in a book.

There is no such thing as uninvited, said Mignonne Frantzen, who greeted me with a “isn’t it fun to work out in the morning” smile.

Welcome to Camp Gladiator.

Frantzen, who is a Partner/Trainer, calls it “recess for adults.”

“This is 60 minutes of moving all the time,” she said.

True to form, there were about 30 people of all ages and fitness levels, who were running, jumping, and stretching, with lots of cheering. Some were working individually, in pairs, and as part of teams.

The boot camp-style workout is “very positive, fun, and motivating,” according to Madeleine Ebeling, Regional Director.

camp gladiator

If you see a bunch of people jumping, stretching, and cheering, it might be Camp Gladiator, now in Kerrville and Fredericksburg. Hayley Marlar is the female trainer. Photos by Phil Houseal

“While it is a ‘boot camp-style’ workout, it’s not a real boot camp,” Ebeling said. “This is a full body functional workout every time. We focus on doing types of movements you would do in an everyday setting, like picking up a gallon of milk, reaching up to a shelf, improving balance. We want to help people move effectively and be mobile their entire life.”

That’s not to say it’s easy, especially for someone who hasn’t worked out since high school. For the first few times, you can expect your lower body to be sore the next day. But you can choose your level, according to Hayley Marlar, a partner/trainer from Kerrville.

“People text me the first time that they are nervous because they haven’t worked out in years,” Marlar said. “We know they are nervous, and at every Camp we try to create a positive experience. We give a lot of ‘high fives.’ But you go at your own pace. The goal is to keep moving, don’t look left or right, and you do you.”

Camp Gladiator was started in 2008, by Ally Davidson, who was a Grand Champion on American Gladiators, a television show where athletes test their mettle against “gladiators.” Wanting to bring fun fitness to whole communities, Davidson held her first camp in Dallas with 40 people. Today there are more than 3500 Camp Gladiators across the country.

Locally, there are camps in San Antonio, Boerne, and Kerrville, and now Fredericksburg. The goal is to offer four or five options daily, working in 4-week cycles: one week endurance, one week strength and agility, one interval training, and one doing peak performance. The appeal is when one becomes a member, they can drop in on any classes at any location.

This is a good fit for the Hill Country, where tourists can continue their fitness routines even while enjoying local food, wine, and shopping.

One thing I’ve noticed is that every individual has a preferred way of working out. Some of us are loners who hop on a bike and take off cross country; some need a workout buddy to keep them honest; and some seek out groups to interact with. That’s one benefit of the team workout concept.

“Camp Gladiator provides accountability for those who know they won’t do it on their own,” Frantzen said. “If you have someone watch you, then you want to do it for that person. Many times it is partners, holding each other accountable.”

Camp Gladiator welcomes all, with trainers offering modifications they call “success options” to accommodate age, fitness levels, and limited mobility.

Even though I’m not a joiner, my personal exercise philosophy has always been to “move every day.”

Frantzen agrees.

“The best exercise,” she said, “is the one you do.”


Doesn’t this look like the type of exercise group you’d want to be a part of?


Information on Camp Gladiator is at www.campgladiator.com.