Windy City Boot Camp Whips North Shore Women into Shape

Think “Desperate Housewives” in which Edie and Gabrielle sign up for boot camp.

Some of you might remember in that episode when Gabrielle decides to stop showing up, the entire group is punished, so Edie and the other wives come to her house and bully her out the front door and into the grueling routine of jogging, crunching and push-ups.

While there isn’t any bullying, army-style barking of commands or punishment involved (except, of course, for your muscles), there is such a thing as boot camp right here on the North Shore. Now that the kids are heading back to school, it might be time to look at this “just for you” activity and commit to creating a Better You.

Most weekdays, Windy City Boot Camp, at Lovelace Park in Evanston runs a 4-week-long program with a small group of women. It runs from 5:30-6:30 a.m. sharp every weekday … which begs the question: Are these women crazy?

“It’s for women who are looking for something new,” says owner Diana Ozimek. Participants in the women-only camp include everyone from serious marathon runners to fitness novices who have gotten tired of their same-old, same-old workout routines. Diana’s husband, Joe Ozimek, teaches the course on the North Shore, and each class includes cardio, strength training, flexibility, core and speed work.

The workout doesn’t stop during the hour: It moves quickly between different activities and no two days are the same. Most important, the women “don’t have to think,” Diana says—the workout is planned for them and then modified to all skill and fitness levels, so no one gets left behind.

Small classes (no more than 20 women, and usually more like 12) allow the instructor to get to know everyone—and everyone’s abilities—well. Experts say that interval training provided in boot camps is an effective way to increase your fitness level quickly.

The early schedule also has benefits. The women are done with their workouts before most people have even started their days.  They have to adapt their lifestyles to going to bed earlier and not drinking too much wine with dinner—changes that can help with weight loss, which is a goal for many.

“It really challenges you … if you want to be challenged,” says Julie Barrett, Make It Better’s chief operating officer and head of online operations.

Even though she got sick and had to miss the last week of her first boot camp in April, Barrett says she dropped a pants size in just three weeks. Measurements are taken at the beginning and the end of camp, and many women report losing inches.

“It’s so much fun,” Barrett says. “I would totally go back—in fact, I started Monday!”

For more information about Windy City Boot Camp, visit