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That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

This past weekend I was at STRONGCAMP.

Curious about STRONGCAMP and what it’s all about? Here’s a description from their Facebook page:

“STRONGCAMP is a weekend for women that combines training, nutrition and health, bringing STRONG Fitness Magazine to life. The entire experience is photographed by industry icon and chief photographer, Paul Buceta. Some of the photos are later published in the magazine or used on our website or in promotions for future camps.

STRONGCAMP is more than a bootcamp. It is an opportunity to push your limits, recharge your motivation, and boost your confidence while making connections with others who are as passionate and unique as you are. You will train with respected fitness experts and industry icons and learn invaluable information for taking your fitness to the next level and improving your health.

You will arrive strong, but you will leave stronger.”

Everything in the description above is true: it really is much more than a bootcamp. It’s a weekend to connect, learn and spend time with women who are as passionate about their well-being as you are. It’s an opportunity to hear alternative ideas about health and nutrition. A place to open your mind to new possibilities. And it is a place to test your physical limits.

The weather was a beast this past weekend in Southwestern Ontario and we were working out in 35+C weather, in and outdoors, air conditioning free. I never would have imagined that anyone could work out (and work out hard) through those temperatures, but every one of the strong women at that camp did! From the beach obstacle course, to the gym metabolic and conditioning workouts and strutting as an Army of Sass, the women of STRONGCAMP were fierce, determined and totally amazing!

STRONGCAMP is two full days of working towards being stronger both physically and mentally. Francisca Dennis and Esther De Boer, both incredible role models and mentors, led the women of STRONGCAMP Burlington through workouts, and discussions. They were right there with us: vulnerable, open and honest.

Paul Buceta, chief photographer for Strong Fitness Magazine, was on-site to take photos of everything we were achieving. His photos of the event are incredible, and I’ve included a few in this article (with his permission).

This was year number three of my inner debate about whether I would or would not attend. I had many reasons why I should and many more reasons why I shouldn’t. I decided that this year things would be different. That I would challenge myself to do those things that I thought I couldn’t, the things that the voice in my head says no to, while the voice in my gut says yes. I have been able to quiet that voice in my head about achieving some things like attending STRONGCAMP, but the voice in my gut has lost out on other things, like how I react in situations that make me uncomfortable like STRONGCAMP.

I loved everything about STRONGCAMP: the lack of competition amongst the women, the comradery, the pushing each other on, the sharing of personal highs and lows during discussion periods, the guest speakers, who were all incredible, and I even loved the workouts.

It was empowering to be a part of the energy, the push, the excitement! You really could feel it in the air. It was inspiring! For me, who always works out by myself, being in a group was so revitalizing! I loved every moment of pushing myself harder than I ever would, or could, on my own. I absolutely loved the workouts!

As much as I loved STRONGCAMP, and the fact that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I didn’t love that I held myself back from having a much different experience because of the voice in my head.

One of the guest speakers, Anna Mancini addressed the topic of that voice in our heads (she refers to her as “Betty”) during her talk. It’s that voice that keeps us from doing things that we would otherwise do, the voice that tells us we aren’t good enough, brave enough, smart enough, likeable enough, all the “you aren’t enough”.

That voice was in my head all weekend long. It held me back from making more connections, it stopped me from feeling more like part of the group, it didn’t allow me to make conversation or small talk with more than a few of the remarkable women who attended STRONGCAMP.

Photo courtesy of Paul Buceta

That whole “not allowing myself to feel like part of the group” really hit home when I saw the photo above. Yup, that’s me, just kind of on the outskirts of being a member, or a part of the group.

I did make a few connections with a couple of outstanding women, and I am extremely grateful for them, but it would have been fantastic to make more and to have allowed myself that opportunity. I’m thankful that I learned more about myself through this experience, and that I can now work on improving those aspects of myself that hold me back from more possibilities.

I knew going in that I wasn't going to be comfortable, that I am not very good at generating conversations with people I don’t know, that, in these types of situations, I get that voice in my head. I think our own uneasiness shows through and it makes us seem unapproachable and it ends up being one big loop and then that damn voice says: “See, I told you so.”

There are always lessons to be learned, things to find out about ourselves and many ways to find out how strong we can be. The most important thing is what you do with that knowledge, how you grow from your experiences and where you allow yourself to be directed.

I found STRONGCAMP to be another step toward self-discovery. I am excited that this experience brought this aspect of my personality to the forefront and that I can now work at making change and moving on.

Self-discovery and self-improvement doesn’t only benefit us, it benefits everyone in our lives: our family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and even strangers, because any improvements we make for ourselves directly affects other people.

To learn more about STRONGCAMP and how it can help you be stronger visit their website at:

Maybe we’ll connect at next year’s STRONGCAMP!

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