On July 20, there will be burpees, pushups, lunges, and squats. Sweat will bloom on shirts, heartbeats will race, and grins will break out between breaths. This will be business as usual for members of the fitness franchise Burn Boot Camp, but there’s a twist — this time participants will be giving back while getting fit.
That’s because on July 20 at 9 a.m. in every time zone, Burn Boot Camp locations across the country will be hosting their second nationwide Be Their Muscle fundraising event, a special one-day fitness camp (or class) that this year has a goal of raising $500,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The funds raised will help kids with muscular dystrophy live beyond limits at MDA Summer Camp, where campers learn vital life skills, make lifelong friendships, and gain confidence and independence. The funds also will help move critical neuromuscular disease research forward and support MDA Care Centers at more than 150 of the top hospitals across the nation.
“At Burn Boot Camp, we are all about inspiring and empowering our community to live their best life and to feel really, really good from the inside out,” says franchise partner Chelsea Theodoporolous, whose gyms in St. Louis, Mo., are top fundraisers for the event. “It’s just a natural extension to take that mission outside our four walls and inspire and empower children with muscular dystrophy.”
Burn Boot Camp has pushed the pace for MDA’s cause for the last seven years. In 2018, the franchise raised more than $170,000 during the first national Be Their Muscle event.
Theodoporolous says she’ll never forget last year’s event in St. Louis. The families of local kids with muscular dystrophy attended, which helped put faces and names to the event’s mission. Some of the kids even picked up the microphone to lead the camp, calling out orders for more burpees alongside words of encouragement.
“The feeling and energy was truly indescribable. The sun was shining and people were smiling as they were sweating and doing burpees,” Theodoporolous says. “Nobody was complaining. It was a beautiful moment with so many people in one room who were so thankful to be there and move their bodies for a greater purpose.”
MDA is thankful for the Burn Boot Camp community’s commitment and, says MDA Vice President of Community Engagement Deborah Barge, recognizes the values that both organizations share.
“Their largely female membership cares deeply about the children and families we serve, and the campaign creates a pay-it-forward experience,” Deborah says. “Burn Boot Camp is a growing brand, with a deep commitment to the empowerment of their audiences in the same way MDA is working to empower those with neuromuscular disease.”
With a mission of transformation, empowerment and philanthropy at its core, Burn Boot Camp was kickstarted in North Carolina by husband-and-wife team Devan and Morgan Kline in 2012. Since then, Burn Boot Camp has grown to more than 200 locations across the United States, with more on the way.
“It’s easy to forget that we get the privilege to wake up and move our body each and every day,” Kline says. “Our nationwide Be Their Muscle event was designed to give children with muscular dystrophy and related illnesses the opportunity to take part in a physical fitness activity and become a part of Burn Nation. This is our chance as a community to be the muscle supporting those who inspire us to keep moving when they can’t.”
For Theodoporolous, it’s all about going big or going home. That means making the biggest possible impact on the lives of individuals with neuromuscular disease while spreading awareness. This year’s St. Louis event will be held at a location downtown and encompass not only the boot camp but also a silent auction and business participation. It’s truly a community effort, she says.
“When it’s all said and done, I want the entire city to rally around MDA Summer Camp and our fundraising initiative,” she says. “Partnering with MDA is a great reminder to simply move because we can.”