Monique Henderson — a ‘drill sergeant’ unlike the others
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 07/03/12 - 03:26 PM | 12800 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Monique Henderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has launched a customized bootcamp series at Mission Bay.                                                                                  Courtesy photo
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Two-time gold medalist launches customized Mission Bay bootcamps

Take one look at San Diego’s golden girl, Monique Henderson, and you will understand why people cling to her every word when she gives advice about meeting their fitness goals. With a model physique and abounding energy, Henderson is the embodiment of what her fitness clients want to — and can — achieve.

Henderson, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, began her path toward becoming a world-class sprinter at a young age. While still a junior at Morse High School in 2000, she qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team and has since competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing — both times helping her 4x400 relay team earn highly-coveted Olympic gold medals.

Although she is now retired from her professional career in track and field, Henderson found a passion for motivating others to become better, faster, stronger and sleeker versions of themselves through her customized boot-camp workouts in convenient outdoor locations throughout the county.

“It brings me so much joy to be able to motivate and help people,” Henderson said. “I know how inspiring it is to have someone that really cares.”

The newest location for her one-hour class is at Fanuel Park at Mission Bay — a stunning bayside retreat that has everything Henderson needs to help people achieve the utmost potential in their workouts.

“It’s right by the beach, so in the morning it’s beautiful,” she said. “It has everything I need — there’s sand, a grass area and concrete. They even have the playground there so we do things like pull-ups on the monkey bars. It changes up the routine. I know people like the gym, but it’s San Diego. It’s beautiful outside.”

Henderson employs basic workouts that utilize a person’s own strength and resistance. Her boot camp classes typically start with a warm-up jog and some sort of stretching exercise, followed by what she calls “cardio blast circuits.”

“It’s not just running,” Henderson said of switching up the routine. “They can be step-ups onto a bench, box jumps, jumps over cones, short runs [or] backward running. It’s a full-body workout, so there will be an abdominal workout, core and some upper body strength work.”

As a three-time Olympian, Henderson knows how to ready a body’s fitness level for the main event, whether it be to prepare for the biggest international sports competition in the world or to fit into that great new swimsuit or wedding dress.

“The workouts that I came up with for my classes are based on my workout routines during my off-season. They’re fun ways to keep endurance up and stay toned,” Henderson said. “If your goal is just to get ready for the summer, the time to start is definitely now.”

Henderson’s boot camp classes are designed to fit any individual’s age or athletic ability, focusing on a spectrum of exercise variations to suit any fitness level. She also talks with each of her clients about individual goals and weaknesses that may have led to poor results in the past to determine a fitness routine that works best for the individual.

“I work with some individuals that are brand-new to exercise, and I work with some athletes that want to get faster and stronger in their sport. No one should feel intimidated,” she said. “I talk to them individually about what their goals are. Whether it’s to lose five pounds or 25 pounds, I can help them get there.”

Although the typical boot camp would elicit imagery of a military-style drill sergeant shouting for 10 more push-ups as you sink deeper into the mud, Henderson assures that is not case at her daily workout sessions.

“Once they get out there, I just want them to have a lot of fun,” she said. “I’m not the one that’s going to be yelling in your face. I’m out there with you cracking jokes. I’m right there with them. I’m there for encouragement. Instead of just telling them how to do an exercise, I get down there with them to show them.”

A consistent workout routine — with some motivation by Henderson — does much more than get her clients in shape. Exercise has the all-encompassing capacity to boost metabolism and energy levels, change eating habits, and promote healthier decision-making throughout the rest of the day, said Henderson.

All you have to do is start.

Group classes take place at Fanuel Park each Tuesday and Thursday at

6 a.m. Henderson urges newcomers to stop by and observe the class or try out a free initial trial class.

For additional times and locations, visit or email
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