SYSS Boot Camp

a blog post by James

It’s a dark, cold, and slushy Sunday morning in February in the aftermath of a messy snowstorm. Kari, James, and friend Kristen are driving over an hour to an industrial neighborhood north of Baltimore, to meet a couple of other friends and spend the morning in a fitness boot camp. Some of us will be running, jumping, sweating (James, Kristen, and most everyone else), while a few others enjoy a light picnic brunch at Sweat Performance in Timonium, MD. It promises to be a tough, exhausting time (for those not eating brie and drinking prosecco, that is). So why go through it?

The boot camp is actually a fundraiser for the Show Your Soft Side campaign. You know the one, with billboards and ads featuring professional and elite athletes and more (Big Softies in SYSS-parlance) pictured with pets, proclaiming “Only a punk would hurt a cat or a dog”. Today they have combined efforts with Sweat Performance’s resident Big Softie Nick Ehrlich and Lululemon to host the boot camp to raise money for the campaign.

We found out about the boot camp fundraiser through friends of ours, Chris and Val. Chris and Val are, among other things, avid animal advocates. They volunteer at local shelters and have three rescue pups of their own. They found out about the fundraiser and asked if we might be interested. Of course we were.

Well, let’s be precise. We were all interested in raising money and awareness for a good cause, but not all were so interested in spending a cold, dreary Sunday morning working out. So Val and Kari worked with Sandra at SYSS, and came up with a compromise. Chris, James and Kristen will work out, and Kari and Val will bring drinks and snacks, as well as words of motivation for the boot campers. Everyone wins!





We arrived at the gym early, having allotted extra time to travel due to the nasty road conditions. The parking area seemed pretty empty, and we’re worried perhaps things were cancelled. Our fears turned out to be unfounded, fortunately, but we did find out that the foster dogs that were planning on coming were unable to make it due to the weather. We were just among the first of the boot campers to arrive. Everyone came in, registered and donated, and started stretching (or unpacking snacks!).


Chris and Val arrived soon after, and as Val and Kari prepped their brunch, and made fast friends with the women of SYSS, the remaining 40 or so boot campers arrived and started getting ready. Just after 10am, Nick and his colleague Doug got things underway. For the next hour we all ran, jumped and slam-balled through a high-energy workout, while Kari and Val cheered us all on (in between bites of brie and grapes).


Afterwards, we got to take pictures with the trainers, chat with the other campers and SYSS-ers, as well as shop merchandise a local Lululemon store brought in (half of the proceeds of sales going to the fundraising campaign).

All of the Boot Campers!

All of the Boot Campers!


After!    Our sweaty bunch (L-R): James, Doug, Kristen, Chris, Nick


After!  Val and Kari wanted their pictures taken in front of the quote, too.

All in all, it was more than worth it to make the trek on a nasty morning to spend an hour getting sweaty with strangers. We had a great time, met some cool folks, and helped raise more than $2000 for a great and local group of animal advocates.

For more information about the Show Your Soft Side Campaign visit their website at

If you are in the Baltimore area and are looking for a gym or a trainer, you could do a lot worse than Sweat Performance. Check them out at

1 thought on “SYSS Boot Camp

  1. guys…total lee awesum …N way kewl how manee $$$ wuz raized for SYSS !!!

    frank lee uz catz wooda been cheerin frum de side lines two, in bee tween naps, snoozin, restin & ….. chillaxin with sum cheeze !! ♥

    happee week oh end ~~~

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