SEAL Team PT: A Dose of Sore Abs and Self Confidence


Crash Course: Physically, this is everything I expected from an outdoor boot camp style class. There were pushups, flutter kicks, wind sprints, buddy carries, and more push ups. We were all panting like crazy and motivated like hell. If you want to be challenged and don’t mind working out by the dawn’s early light, rain or shine, this group is for you. It’s like gym class for adults with a hefty side of “hoo-yah”. The one thing I didn’t expect? There was no in-your-face-do-more-crunches-now screaming. The instructors demand a certain level of respect, and the get it. And then? They give it right back. I wasn’t surprised to walk away from this class with muddy knees and sore abs. I was surprised, however, to walk away with a deep sense of belonging to a team and a self confidence boost. Click here for membership information.

[line] [left]where? DC, Richmond, Charlottesville, Philadelphia. Class location changes daily.

bring? no equipment needed; boats, life jackets, ropes, logs, etc. provided

perks? workout out outside, watching sun rise

sweat score? 9 out of 10[/left][right]wear? gloves, long pants, something reflective

how much? trial day is free, yearly membership is $100/mo.

instructor? Instructor John McGuire[/right][line]

Waking up at 5 a.m. to workout in the cold is not my favorite thing in the world. Being asked to introduce myself in front of a large group of strangers at 5 a.m. in the cold is also on my list of “no thanks, I’ll pass.”  So I was already out of my element on Thursday morning when I attended a trial workout with the folks of SEAL Team PT. I rolled out of my car and blearily walked up to the gaggle of wide awake folks wearing matching blue shirts and reflective gear. I looked down at my black pullover…guess I didn’t get the memo. “Who is this,” the instructor asked as I approached.

Everyone went silent.

And so began my morning of being challenged to push past my limits…and loving it.


One of the rules at SEAL Team PT is to introduce yourself to someone if you don’t know them. So throughout the class, I was constantly bumping into folks and awkwardly saying, “Hi I’m Meaghan. I’m new. Nice to meet you!” Everyone knew the drill and was extremely welcoming. But if you go, be ready to put on your extrovert hat.

We started at 5:45 a.m. sharp and didn’t stop moving until an hour had passed. Even when we were listening to instructions about the next activity, we were running in place. And then we were actually running…wind sprints to be exact. All under the watchful eye of the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome. The scenery was almost enough to make you forget about the cold air gasping into your lungs.

Next we did a series of bear crawls, crab walks, and push ups. This is the point where I realized it was a terrible decision not to wear gloves.

And while I thought good old fashioned sit ups were the black sheep of the fitness world, I was wrong. While some may swear they don’t work…my abs tell me otherwise. We were challenged to a team competition of completing as many sit ups as humanly possible–while maintaining the proper form–in two minutes. My partner banged out 126. I huffed and puffed my way to 60.

Every exercise was team oriented. Even if the instructions were to do four laps of bear crawls, the entire team finished together. This was a great way for the fitter folks to get in extra reps, and for those of us who were lagging behind to not feel so bad about holding everyone up. We also did activities that had to be done in teams, like this partner carry:

Here I am trying to keep up. It would probably help if my eyes were open. Who needs weights when you can have fun lifting people instead?

We also did running relays, straight out of fifth grade gym class with team names and loud cheering. “Who’s going to win?” asked Instructor McGuire. “WE ARE!”

Not wasting any extra time, we closed out the hour with jumping jacks and flutter kicks. Form was king, and bent legs or sloppy jacks weren’t tolerated. One of the main philosophies of SEAL Team PT is to only do as many as you can, as best as you can. Take a rest if needed, and then join back in. And, above all, have fun.

There is no risk of leaving SEAL Team PT wishing you had gotten a better workout. Every day the schedule changes. Some days the workout includes paddling on the Potomac. Other days they throw in log carries. And then there are days like this one, where the focus is on the  basics.

There’s something for everyone, and that’s saying something. The folks I met in the DC group crossed a wide range of fitness levels, weights, ages, and life experiences. Some had just started working out. Some were experienced champs. No matter your background, you’ll fit right in. Just make sure you introduce yourself first!


SEAL Team PT founder and instructor John McGuire knows his stuff. He served as a Navy SEAL for 10 years and has been in the fitness business for over a decade. According to a message he posted on the group’s website:

SEAL Team PT is based on my experience and includes many exercise regimens practiced by Navy SEALs. If you keep fitness fun you are more likely to stick with it. We put a strong emphasis on teamwork, leadership, and confidence in our workouts.

Instructor Bailey Wilson also joined the DC group for this workout. It was enormously helpful to have a second instructor there to do the workout with us and help lead by example.

For the hour I knew him, Instructor McGuire was the epitome of “speak softly and carry a big stick.” He put us all through the wringer but never once raised his voice. This is likely the case with the other 31 instructors employed by SEAL Team PT. The website even promises that “instructors will not allow yelling or cussing, but throwing up is okay.” Hooray.

Which brings me to my last point. I would be doing SEAL Team PT an enormous disservice if I only shared the details about their beast of a workout. While that is the reason why I went, it will not be the main reason why I will return in the future.

The lessons and phrases repeated by Instructor McGuire throughout the morning were not only the rules of SEAL Team PT, they were…in my opinion…an excellent set of parameters for living life. It sounds hokey, but they made an enormous impact on me in just 60 minutes. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • On our team everyone has value and nobody is left behind.
  • You can buy a new car but you can’t buy a new body. Let’s take care of it.
  • If someone is confused, help them out.
  • If you don’t know someone, introduce yourself.
  • If someone saved your life, would the differences between you matter?
  • It takes everyone’s effort to win, and one person to bring it all down.
  • Just because you are tired does not mean you are defeated.

Thanks for the great workout SEAL Team PT…Hoo-yah!


What fitness boot camp would you recommend?




  1. Jason November 3, 2012 / 9:13 pm

    So glad you enjoyed it. Hope you join us again soon.

  2. Jason Linder November 3, 2012 / 9:25 pm


    This is Jason again, from the Seal Team PT class. Just skimmed your other reviews. I love your project, and your obvious commitment to fitness and fun. Sounds like a great odyssey and I wish you the best of luck with it. Keep posting great stuff.


    • DC Fit Crasher November 15, 2012 / 11:43 pm

      Thanks so much Jason! I look forward to coming back to SEAL Team PT soon : )

  3. Chris November 3, 2012 / 10:08 pm

    Great recap and reason why I’ve been a member for 10+ years in #RVA – different everyday, motivating, fun, and respect/expectations of instructors and fellow members = results.

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