Carmel Valley resident Lisa Ziemba has brought the popular boot camp-style workout to the younger set through her Elite Fitness Kids beach camps. Her camps aim to get kids excited about exercise, as well as boost confidence and promote an all-around healthy lifestyle.
Ziemba teaches beach boot camp classes at Torrey Pines State Beach after school throughout the year, but during the summer she holds her weeklong camps. The two remaining sessions begin July 26 and Aug. 9.
A personal fitness trainer for 30 years, Ziemba said her heart has always been with the kids, especially when she hears troubling statistics; particularly that 30 percent of children in this country are obese.
"This is a way for kids to exercise and not even know they're doing it," Ziemba said. "These kids sweat and are challenged. I think I've found a way to make exercise really fun."
Ziemba grew up a "wicked tomboy" in Vermont, playing nearly every sport offered in high school. She studied exercise science and physical education in college and quickly found work as a fitness director and personal trainer.
As a competitive triathlete, she had always wanted to live in California to be able to train year-round so she moved to San Diego 20 years ago. She earned her master's degree in kinesiology and started Elite Fitness 18 years ago. While she does train adults, her passion is in working with children.
Bringing her workouts to the beach has been one of her best ideas.
"The kids absolutely love it," Ziemba said.
The first day of camp, Ziemba usually leads the kids through team-building activities and games and sets goals for the week. In addition to the fitness element, Ziemba also talks to the children about nutrition and helps them set up a food diary — a process she said is always "enlightening" for the kids.
Every day includes a hike and some kind of obstacle course.
"They are insane about these obstacle courses," Ziemba said.
When asked about success stories, Ziemba said it's hard to pick just one. There's the autistic child who never wanted to participate and now loves boot camp.
There's the boy who started as a kindergartner, a "little mighty mite," who holds his own with the older kids on hikes, even inspiring them to do better.
Ziemba ends each day of training on a positive note — acknowledging children for working hard and sending them off with an inspirational quote.
She said it's her job to give them the fitness "bug." She just hopes they all take it and run with it.
To learn more about boot camp, visit
or call (858) 946-8513.
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