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Fitness boot camp

A gym in camouflage

I don't know about you, but when I think of getting in shape, I think of a treadmill, maybe some dumbbells, and a fruit smoothie to finish things off. But what I found in the middle of Manhattan isn't your typical workout. It's a gym, in camouflage. A boot camp for civilians.

The good news is that this boot camp only lasts six weeks. The bad news is, it lasts six weeks. Here, they say you won’t get results unless you "shock your body." And that's exactly what they do.

The Pure Power Boot Camp is a 6500-square-foot New York city loft housing a challenging obstacle course based on the U.S. Army’s confidence course at Fort Knox, Kentucky.  "Recruits" are assigned platoons that meet four times a week for six weeks. The goal is to turn Jane Fondas into G.I. Janes. To enhance the military feel, recruits get dog tags, fatigues, and a canteen. You’re in the army now, soldier.

The workout begins with an intense fifteen-minute warmup. Then it's on to the obstacle course, forcing you to climb over walls, crawl under netting, jump over hurdles, and help your fellow privates.

Some recruits are more gung-ho than others. As for the rest? Well, there’s no crying in boot camp.

"If you can’t handle me yelling at you then you are in the wrong place," says Commanding Officer Lauren Brenner. "You will get scratched and you will get black and blue. It should feel like a tractor trailer ran over your body."  In fact, that’s exactly what I felt like when another private came over a wall and landed on me. Ahhh, the joys of teamwork.

According to Private Sam Oshana, the shouting helps motivate the platoon. "When they are yelling at you, you get through that wall. I think that’s when you break into the next level of getting into shape."

And that is the point here. Recruits say that through this training, they become part of something that is more powerful than just going to a gym alone and lifting weights. They say it’s easier to push harder if someone else is there.

So where did Commanding Officer Brenner, the mastermind behind this boot camp, find her inner G.I.? Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines?  No, actually, Brenner spent six years as a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange... an obstacle course in its own right.  Well, I guess that explains it.

This was Wednesday's No. 1 story on 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann.' Countdown airs weeknights, 8 p.m. ET.