BODYPUMP 79 Training Recap

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

My awesome group - BODYPUMP 79

Ever wonder what fitness instructors really have to do to be able to teach certain classes? It’s not all peaches ‘n cream and fun stuff—it’s a ton of real, nitty-gritty, note-taking hard work.

This past weekend I attended a Les Mills BODYPUMP certification course. It was three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) for a total of 25 hours. Yes, that’s right—25 hours of BODYPUMP. There were 10 of us, not including our instructor, and I only knew one person (my mentor and fellow instructor, Marcia). (Let me continue the parenthesis for a second—Marcia is awesome. She’s 60, teaches 22 classes a week, is a vegan, and is just straight-up amazing. And ripped.)

Let’s back up a second. What is BODYPUMP? It’s a one-hour weight lifting class. The format is the same, as in, the tracks are always in the same order: Warm Up, Squats, Chest, Back, Triceps, Biceps, Lunges, Shoulders, Abs, Cool Down. Ten tracks, each 4:30-5:30 minutes long. You use a barbell and load your own weights between tracks. The thing that makes BODYPUMP different is that you’re lifting weights in a very controlled way. The counts aren’t all singles (up, down, up, down); sometimes you move slowly for four counts, sometimes three, sometimes two, sometimes one, and sometimes a mix of those. You do singles and bottom-halves, overhand and underhand grips, close and wide stances. There is a ton of variety in one hour and seriously, if goes so fast. And the music rocks!

Friday started right away with each of us signing up for a song right away. I chose Lunges. That was a bad choice. No matter if you have a barbell on your shoulders or not, five minutes of lunges hurts. And it hurts even more when you do have a barbell on your shoulders and you’re 7 songs into the workout. Goo. After that, our instructor Barb told us what the weekend looked like and then she led us in a BODYPUMP class. I fell in love with the music instantly and knew this was going to be a good mix from the start.

That afternoon we started to break down the Les Mills’ coaching principles and practiced the moves as well as our chosen tracks. Nine hours after we arrived, Day 1 was over. As I drove back to my parents’ place to practice my track and eat some leftovers that my Mom saved for me (thanks, Mom!), I reflected on the day. I had been terrified all day. I was the youngest, but I was not the least experienced, which was nice for a change. There were some surprises: there were actually three men in the group (Erik, Jason, and Rob—we women are so glad you were there!); some of the others there taught other Les Mills classes; a few people drove over 3 hours to be there; BODYPUMP has colors: red and black; and everyone was ridiculously friendly and there wasn’t rivalry or anything crazy between people(I had a few nerves about that).

I barely slept that night thanks to nerves… and an uncomfy bed, but oh well there. But seriously, I kept thinking choreography and singing and counting beats until I fell asleep. Welcome to being a fitness instructor.

Day 2 started with a little time to practice and then presentations. So basically, we took another BODYPUMP class, only this time we each presented/led our chosen song in front of everyone and were graded on it. My legs shook as I presented, partly due to nerves and partly due to fatigue. My right knee was really tired and I kept feeling jolts
of pain along the sides, but I did it and did it pretty well. After presentations were over, we went through everybody’s evaluations, took notes, and watched snip-its of our performances (yep, Barb took video of each of us). After some more honing and toning of our skills, both form and coaching-wise, we had our challenge.

I had heard of this infamous challenge from Marcia. She raved about the last activity of the weekend—this challenge. It’s an all-out, hardcore physical, balls-to-wall challenge. She said it was a blast, but tiring. All I kept thinking was, “Wait… I have to do this challenge and then present again this afternoon!? How the heck am I going to do that!?” But I dropped the fear and went all-out. After an easy-paced one-mile run outside (which, of course, it was 80 degrees and sunny the entire weekend), we went back inside and were paired up. Patti and I were partnered up together (shout out! She’s a Step teaching chica who rocked some pretty awesome pig-tail buns), which ended up being perfect as we lifted the same weight as each other.

There were five stations, each consisting of two exercises. We had to complete the outlined number of reps per exercise and do as many rounds as we could until it was time to switch. And oh yeah, we had to lift as heavy as we could. The exercises included: chest presses, weighted dips, jumping lunges, weighted lunges, weighted squats, weighted sit-ups, shoulder presses, clean & presses, bicep curls, and upright rows. It was tough, but so, so much fun. Do you know how strong you feel after you lift heavy for 25 straight minutes? It’s amazing. I forgot about my legs shaking in the morning and the fact that I had to present again in a few hours. I just lifted and sweat and help coach my partner.

We were rewarded with a long lunch, which I spent lying in the sun on the concrete steps overlooking the river. When we returned to class, we practiced layering in verbal coaching cues in addition to our instructional/choreography cues. It was tough because there’s a lot going on: moves changing, counting, paying attention to the beat and lyrics, watching your class, coaching, and motivating. Before we left nine hours later, we presented a second time and were given a new song/track to memorize to present the next day. I got the Chest track. Oh…And no, I didn’t shake as badly when I presented Lunges the second time 🙂

The third and last day arrived after another poor night of sleep. I was physically and mentally fatiguing, but I couldn’t help be excited to see my new friends and knock the last day out of
the park. I was once again nervous, but presented pretty well. It was nice to go closer to the beginning, too. After we all taught our tracks, we did the same thing as the day before—gathered in a circle around the TV (campfire time!) and got feedback. We moved on to practicing each move individually so we could really nail the posture, positioning, and form. We continued to practice and sum up the two and a half days prior before one last final presentation. It was exciting and a bit emotional as we all took to the front of the room and cheered each other on as we taught our tracks. We really had become like a family of sorts.

As we packed up, we got our grades for the weekend (there were three possible) and some overall feedback from Barb. Since I had one of the shortest drives home, I was one of the last to go. So… what does one do after 24 hours of BODYPUMP in three days? BODYCOMBAT! One of the guys, Rob, was an instructor of this kickboxing/karate/muy thai program and I had been wanting to try it for some time now. We all know how much I really, truly LOVE kickboxing, so when he offered to teach me a song or two, I jumped at the chance. Four or five songs later, we had kicked, punched, and jumped ourselves into a sweat. My muscles were tired, I felt my abs, and I smiled broadly as I pelted Rob with high-fives and thank-yous. Holy cow, what a great way to end a weekend.

I ended up passing the class, which means I know have 90 days to videotape myself teaching BODYPUMP 79 and send it in for evaluation before I can become officially certified. A lot of hoops to jump through, but ya know what? The weekend was awesome and totally worth it. Not only did I make good friends, I learned more about my physical and mental self, learned a ton about how to be a better fitness instructor, and realized that yes, yes, YES, this is what I want to do with my life—introduce people the wonderful awesomeness of fitness. Because I love it. I really do.


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