New to Body Pump? Tips!

New to Body Pump?

Classes with lots of equipment can seem scary, but Pump is a great way to introduce weights based training into your routine with the added benefit of having an instructor there to help you get the hang of the moves.

So this is my ‘what you need to know’ guide to taking your first Body Pump class:

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early and introduce yourself to the instructor so they can help you set up and so they know that you are new. This can help them tailor their teaching, ensuring you have a good first class.
  • Stick with light weights for your first couple of classes and concentrate on getting the hang of the tempos and the moves. Body Pump works because you are doing large numbers of reps, so whilst you want to use a challenging weight eventually, it’s ok to start off light – 3.75kg each side might be a good starting point for most and allow you to work on technique as a priority.
  • The instructor will give you a guide of what to put on the bar at the start of each track (e.g. double the weight, take 1/3 off etc.). Listen carefully to this – they will normally give two options – one for regulars, one for new people but do not be afraid to stick with the same weight all the way through on your first class.
  • We will also tell you what else you need for the class – for instance you might need a separate weight plate not on your bar.  You’ll be tired in between tracks but try and listen and get the equipment advised close to hand – if you have to go hunting for a weight plate half way through a track you miss reps and will get stressed (not what anyone wants for your first class!)
  • The structure of every class will always be one of these – where ever you go, whoever teaches:

60 minutes

  1. Warm up
  2. Squats
  3. Chest
  4. Back
  5. Triceps
  6. Biceps
  7. Lunges
  8. Shoulders
  9. Core
  10. Cool down

45 minutes 

  1. Warm up
  2. Squats
  3. Chest
  4. Back
  5. Lunges OR Tricep / Bicep Combo
  6. Shoulders OR Lunges / Shoulders Combo
  7. Core
  8. Cool down

30 minutes

  • Warm up
  • Squats
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Core

So when the whole class looks like they know what is coming they do for a reason- and after a couple of classes you will too!

  • Talking of continuity – we get a ‘new release’ every 3 months. So at that point, every instructor will teach this new set of tracks for 4-6 weeks. That is why when you do your first class some people will look like they know what is coming – they have probably done the track lots of times before! After about 6 weeks, the instructor will probably start to ‘mix’. This means they will bring back some older tracks to keep things interesting and keep your body reacting well to the class.
  • As a new member, you can take advantage of something called Smart Start. This means that if you want to try a few tracks (we suggest up to the back track) and then leave you can do. Leave your stuff out and the instructor will put it away at the end of class. Then next week you can stay for a couple of extra tracks, and a few more the week after until you can do a whole class. This is optional and you can stay for the whole class if you want, but it does provide an option to try the class out and build up week by week if you are new to exercise or unsure about being able to do a whole hour.
  • With Body Pump your technique is more important than weight so don’t worry too much at first about what you are lifting – instead work on getting the moves. Doing them well will bring better results than just picking up a heavier bar!
  • The tempo is also really important in Body Pump. You will hear the instructor ask you to move at different tempos (3/1, 2/2, bottom half pulses). These aren’t just to make it more interesting. The different tempos help to work different muscle fibres and maximise your results so try to work with the instructors pace.
  • You aren’t moving or jumping (well occasionally you might be jumping but rarely!) but you will sweat and you will get out of breathe. Don’t worry about this or think it means you’re unfit.  Body Pump will burn calories as well as shaping your body.  You’ll notice the instructor will be sweaty and out of breath by the end of the class too!
  • Don’t be worried if you wake up the next day and climbing the stairs or tying your hair back hurts! This is your body reacting to new training and will pass in a few days. After a few classes your body will take less time to recover!
  • If you have done weights in the gym before you may be confused by a couple of the moves we do in Body Pump! Be aware that some moves (Deadlifts for instance) are modified for the studio environment. This is for safety reasons as a) we move at a fast tempo and b) the instructor needs to make sure a large group of people are all moving safely.  You can do both sorts of training, they both have their on benefits and it doesn’t need to be one way of the other.

I hope that the above tips have made the idea of trying a class less daunting! If you do decide to give the class a go, I would love to hear your thoughts!

New to Body Pump? 10 Things You Need To Know…

1. You don’t need to start heavy. I mean you want to use challenging weights for you to get the most from the class but that doesn’t mean matching regulars plate for plate in class one, it’s about lifting what you can and seeing how you progress, so don’t be put off by looking through the window and seeing lots of people lifting more than you think you can.

2. If you can get to the class at least 10 minutes before you will have a more enjoyable experience as you will be able to get set up without rushing, including time for that last minute nervous wee!

3. Say hi to the instructor. Tell us you are new to Pump and we will help you get set up and make sure you’re ok during the class.

4. As a general rule you will need: a bar, clips, a variety of weight plates, a step and a mat every release. The only things you actually need to bring with you are some water and perhaps a towel.

5. It’s ok to be confused at first. There’s lots of moves you may not have heard of or done before, the beat can be fast and we have pretty short changeovers between tracks. Your instructor won’t mind (or call you out) if you take a bit longer to grab some water and change your weights or don’t quite get things straight away – all of us have felt that first class confusion!

6. There is a thing called Smart Start. If you get to the back track (track 4) and you have done as much as you can that’s ok – you can leave (no need to put equipment away the instructor will do it at the end of the class). Just give the instructor a nod or a wave so we know you are ok and then next time try and stay for one extra track until you feel ok doing the whole class.

7. Alternatives are there for a reason. If we say you can drop the weight if you’re struggling we really mean it. Doing the moves well in a modified position will bring greater results than trying to do a move with a heavy weight but poor form.

8. The music is a huge part of Body Pump. Not only does singing along help you power through a workout but the tempos we use allow us to work our muscles in different ways across the class, so when the instructor tells you to slow down or encourages you to follow their rhythm they are just an OCD maniac – they’re trying to maximise your results!

9. You will feel it the next day. You do a lot of reps in a Pump class so don’t worry if DOMs hit the next day – it does get easier over time.

10. It’s a fun class. Don’t feel nervous about starting, turn up, smile, do what you can and enjoy the music whilst giving something challenging a go.

Why I Love Group Exercise

I’m a fan of Group Exercise, it was how I first ‘got into’ the gym and I now teach 8+ classes myself a week.  I think Group Exercise actually works really well, and I don’t just mean classes – team sports, running clubs – I believe all the ways that people can train with others can have a beneficial effect on people.

  1. It can help you get started – Going into the gym alone at first can be daunting when you have no idea where to start.  A class or a running programme like Couch to 5k provides structure and allows you to get moving in a way you can be confident is safe and effective.
  2. It keeps you committed –  Signing up to a class or joining a team or club where there are set days and times to attend means you are less likely to decide you’d rather go home and veg in front of the TV at the end of a long day.
  3. It can make you work harder – A team sport encourages you to perform you best for your team mates, running as part of a club can encourage you to keep to a set pace, the music, instructor and people around you in a class can make you try as hard as you can for the whole length of the class.  For many there is something about a group that makes you try harder than when you are left to your own devices in the gym.
  4. You have a ready made exercise support network – Especially relevant when you are starting to create new habits.  Your family and friends might not get your commitment to picking a spin class over a Netflix binge at first, the other people in that class will, making all the difference in you not feeling like some kind of freak!  And if you ever aren’t sure about something there’s a whole group of people who might be able to help, in particular, you will also have an instructor or coach who has the knowledge to help you improve at whatever you have chosen to do.
  5. It’s social – You will make friends at a club or in a class.  You get to meet people from different backgrounds and get to know people outside of your normal work / social circle.  This in itself will make sticking to your exercise plans easier.
  6. It can increase your confidence – The group environment and having an instructor or coach to hand can give you the confidence to try new tings, maybe adding a new type of class to your week or running a longer distance.  All the things above can help create an environment where your confidence can grow.

I do like training in the gym by myself too but for pure enjoyment I would always pick a group exercise class as my training of choice that day.

Do you prefer to train alone or as part of a group?

DOMs

For some reason over the last two days I’ve had really bad DOMs.

I almost never gets DOMs normally. Context: I teach most days and then train 4 times a week plus run sometimes so it’s rare I go more than a day without training in some form so my body is pretty used to what it has to do.

Last week I was in Edinburgh for two days and Wolverhampton over the weekend.  This plus work and an exam meant that I only taught 4 classes (I’d normally do 8+) and got one chance to train.

Result of this was when I taught a spin and a Body Pump on Saturday morning my body apparently felt it!

On Saturday night I went to a Paranormal evening at Wolverhampton Airport (I’ll come back to that in my next blog) and woke up on Sunday with quads that cried every time I got in and out of a chair! My spin class this morning was interesting – largely because I’m just not used to training with sore muscles!

So if you’re new to exercise and experiencing DOMS for the first time here’s what I think you need to know:

  1. DOMS are temporary — depending on how intense you will feel OK again in about two to four days without having to do anything (if you don’t feel better by then it might be an injury).
  2. Make sure you warm-up and cool-down.  Making sure your muscles are prepared for exercise and safely recover from physical stress can help reduce the likelihood of DOMs (they won’t guarantee you won’t get them though).
  3. Build up the intensity of your training slowly. If you’re brand new to any type of training and don’t build up your weights / distance etc. your body will react more dramatically to the stress (plus you increase the risk of injury).
  4. If you’re suffering from DOMs try gently massaging the area affected (tip getting a deep tissue massage will not make you feel less sore!).  Likewise using a foam roller to gently roll out your sore muscles may help.
  5. Keep moving whilst you have DOMs.  Not really intense exercise allow your muscles to recover – but getting the blood flowing and muscles moving (walking, easy biking, swimming) can help you feel better.
  6. Drink lots of water – drinking water makes everything feel better!

 

Twenty Things You’ll Know if your a Les Mills Instructor

 

  1. You can make reference to Dan, Rachel, Glen, Lisa and Diana to any fellow instructor confident they will know exactly who you are talking about- we have no need for surnames here.
  2. Except for Kylie Gates- for some reason, you will always full name Kylie Gates.
  3. You have at least one friend on Facebook you know only through the LM Facebook page.
  4. You probably like spamming Facebook posts with pictures of cats…
  5. You can actually hold a debate about the use of dumbbells for at least an hour, even though you don’t really care because essentially a 5kg dumbbell weighs the same as a 5kg plate and is just easier to hold than most plates.
  6. Reading the comments section is often more entertaining than [insert programme you find entertaining here]
  7. People who put an F in the comment section haven’t yet realised that you can follow a post by turning on notifications.
  8. You are keeping an eye out for a No Time For Average vest on the Vintage Emporium page.
  9. You probably have an opinion on the best trainers to wear for Body Attack.
  10. Body Jammers have to sign a secret agreement that they will wear a checked shirt around their waist at all times on Initial Module Training.
  11. All Combaters secretly wish they’d bring gloves back because gloves make you feel badass.
  12. You will either download the little recommended launch schedule at the start of the year or you will ask for it on Facebook every quarter – even though it’s saved in the File Section.
  13. At some point you will have mimed out choreography in a bar. And your non Les Mills friends thought it was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S. … Honest…
  14. This is where fellow instructor friends come into their own – because they WILL think it’s hilarious – and join in.
  15. Turning up to events in the same outfit as others is less of a fashion faux pas in Les Mills land compared to the rest of the world – in fact it’s expected.
  16. You will always find us in Nandos pre or post events.
  17. You can practice an entire release of Pump choreography with your little finger.
  18. You must be able to whoop and clap in tandem in order to pass Body Attack.
  19. Body Combat instructors would be great to have around in the event of a fight as long as that fight was carried out to a eight-count beat with modified martial arts moves.
  20. Can someone cover my Body Step class. TIA? I’m not going to say when or where the class is because that would be too easy…

What (I Think) You Should Know Before Your Group Ex Training (Re- Blog)

I don’t mean how the course is structured, what it will cover or what you need to do to pass.

This isn’t what you need to know.

I mean the important things – the things no one tells you – the things I wish I’d have known the first time I went on each of these!

ETM

  • You will spend approx 6 weeks grapevining. Constantly.
  • To bad music.
  • And by bad music – I mean the type of music I love- I loved the sound track for my ETM. I believe I am in a minority of one on this.
  • You will get DOMS – specifically in your calf’s (blame the above grapevining).
  • On day one you will realise that moving to the beat is one thing. Talking at the same time? Different matter.
  • It’s ok though because on day 2 you’ll start to get the hang of this.
  • You will start putting together your assessment class and decide a knee repeater is the best move ever and design your whole routine around it. It’s going to b the most creative ETM routine EVER. A masterpiece.
  • Then you’ll realise how hard it is to find five progressions for a repeater knee and pick another move. Any move.  Probably the box step.
  • In fact you will have a grapevine and box step in your routine – I’m willing to put money on it.
  • The practical days are long.
  • On day one you will take a packed lunch of spinach and carrot juice. Because fitness instructors are healthy.  And role models.
  • On day two you will take bread and Haribo. Because bread and Haribos will ensure your survival.
  • You will start to consider injecting coffee into your eyeballs as the weeks progress.
  • You will bribe friends into letting you practice on them.
  • They will tell you how amazing you are doing. Even though you’re still shit at this stage.
  • You will cry. At least once.
  • And by once I mean probably at least once a day.
  • On the assessment day you will do your assessment plus take part in several others. Everyone there will be slightly shell shocked with how hard 3 hours of old school aerobics actually is.  I return to your calf’s.  You will probably cry.

IMT (Les Mills)

  • You will spend more time learning your allocated track than you ever spend learning entire releases going forward.
  • You will write a script that Shakespeare would be in awe of ahead of your first presentation.
  • During the first morning you will realise you need to say completely different things to what you’ve scripted and have to start again.
  • You are going to have to introduce yourself and your mind will go completely blank when you try to recall an interesting fact about yourself. Everyone else will do the same and you will think you are the most boring group of people in existence.
  • You will remember the magic powers of Haribo (pic n mix also works well as do Jelly Babies) from ETM and will have come prepared this time.
  • Remember coffee? Yep still vital.
  • You probably signed up to do this course because you thought you were OK at the class right? Wrong – the technique session will convince you otherwise.
  • You will second guess any answer you go to give to any question – What is a layer 1 coaching cue for a squat? What would you say in a class introduction for Body Combat? What is your name? No idea mate.
  • You will feel like you are about to fall asleep around about 3 pm both days – hello Haribos.
  • You want to be perfect. You will panic because you aren’t – you will probably not pass because you definitely don’t move like Lisa O or Rachel.  You do not need to panic about this.  I mean you don’t move like them but you don’t need to.
  • There is an exam on Les Mills on day 2 (kind of)!
  • You are going to have to get used to group selfies. Because these are part of instructor life and if you don’t have a selfie at the end of a course they don’t update your result on the portal so

DVD Submission (Les Mills)

  • Passing the IMT will definitely be the hardest part right? Erm sorry mate but no.
  • Nobody likes filming for certification – but there’s no way round it, not even bribery, I’ve tried!
  • You will practice and script this release to the point you will be able to teach it off the cuff for the rest of your natural life- and probably for several years after you die.
  • Then as soon as the camera is on you will mess up the first rep of the warm up. Even though you can teach this in your sleep.
  • You will film on average 276 times before you are happy with it to submit for your first programme. This number reduces dramatically as the number of programmes you teach grows.
  • Someone will walk in half way through the warm up. They will probably position themselves in front of the camera.
  • It is the law to wear full on Reebok for these filmings. If you wear Combat gear for a Pump DVD or vice versa you will be put on a special watch list and may not pass.
  • The camera will probably stop recording half way through the class- this will be the class that is perfect and you would have definitely submitted on.
  • It may take you several weeks to get a filming you are happy with. It will then take you six months to upload it onto the portal.
  • During this time you will come across Jon from the office. We like Jon.
  • When you pass if you don’t post your certificate on Facebook with an Oscar Style thank you speech they withdraw certification (perhaps).

*Please note some of this “may”be a bit tounge in cheek

Fitness Instructors and Periods

The menstrual cycle is less of a taboo subject these days.

Women and some men find it a lot easier to talk openly about periods and the various side effects, which is without doubt a good thing.

And I’m about to talk about it some more.

One thing I often (when I say often I mean every month) wonder is how other female fitness instructors feel about teaching classes during their time of the month.

Me personally, I find my period is the thing out of everything that affects how I feel when teaching the most.  More than fatigue, early starts, multiple classes in a day, DOMs from training sessions, being hungry, eating too soon before a class – all those things we generally accept will have an impact on how we teach.  None of those things affect my teaching as much as my period does.

I don’t know if that makes me odd or if other female instructors feel the same – mainly because it’s not really something that often comes up in discussion.

I find that odd in a way because I’d talk to people about how their period affects their eating habits or their training in the gym – and I think a lot more fitness professional discuss these things with clients now.  Yet generally, whilst I always note how for one week of the month I struggle with classes more, I rarely give it much more than a passing thought.

I have quite long periods (five days average) and they are pretty heavy for around two of those days (normally days 2-3).  I tend to get bad cramps for he first couple of days and breast tenderness pretty much all the way through.  I hate almost everyone for those five days, am somewhat irrational at times and will cry at almost anything.

So actually when you think about that you can kind of appreciate why I think teaching during your period is harder than at other times.

We all know exercise can help cramps, and I do always know I’ll feel better afterwards, but sometimes standing up in front of people and smiling when you feel like someone is punching you repeatedly in the stomach is tough, even when you know that once you get started it will get better.

Even the best sports bra doesn’t help much when you are jumping about with sore boobs – and when you’re taking the class dropping the intensity a bit to stay comfortable isn’t really an option.

The moods and the tears.  Now classes for me can make this so much better.  A good class can cheer you up, fill you with feel good hormones and improve your day.  Make a mistake, or get a complaint and all the hormones make it feel so much worse – suddenly things you would normally shrug off make you feel terrible.

I also find I muck up more.  I’m more forgetful and clumsy (yes even more than normal).  These are not things that help when teaching an hours worth of choreography to music!

And the worst feeling when it comes to periods.  That feeling when you’re not quite sure if you’ve leaked. No women like this feeling.  The attempt to check if you have or not without anyone seeing.  Not really any way of doing that when you’re up front in a class so when it happens you have to just have faith that it hasn’t happened.

Put all that together and it kind of makes sense why I find teaching on my period more stressful than at any other time.  I still enjoy it once I’m started but it’s a harder because there’s added factors affecting how I feel and move.

So my question am I just odd or do other female group exercise instructors feel the same way?  What do you do to get over these feelings or do you just ‘man up’ and get on with it?