I will admit that I was not excited about weight training. I was a cardio queen. I walked, I did step aerobics, Zumba®, other dance-like aerobics and athletic moves aerobics. I was all about burning fat and feeling the aerobic high after working out. It was only because I keep reading about how great strength training was for the body that I finally, reluctantly, decided to give strength training a try.
Since I knew nothing about strength training and since I like the class format so much, BodyPump™ appealed to me. This way I could learn good form, be surrounded by people and I would be less likely to skip repetitions (reps) or muscle groups than I would be if I were on my own.
I went into the BodyPump™ class never having held a barbell in my life. Before each class the instructor asks if there is anyone new in the room. Don’t be shy, raise your hand so he or she can help you get set up properly. The instructor and anyone else will tell you – start light. And I mean start really light. Spend your first class concentrating on good form. Look around you, get the feel for it and check out how it feels after five minutes of a lot of reps. What might feel really easy the first 10 reps, might feel impossibly difficult by the 80th rep. You also want to be able to walk and sit the next day. Seriously, take it easy on the weights until you find out the good weight for you. Also, look online for pointers for good form. Good form means less chance of injury.
BodyPump™ works the whole body and Les Mills uses the high repetition method of strength training. By the end of the 55 minute workout, you will have completed about 800 reps of lifting weights.
BodyPump™, like all Les Mills classes, changes quarterly with new music and new patterns of movements. For the first four weeks of a new release the instructors teach just the new release. The next two months the instructors may mix it up by adding in older tracks. You’ll get used to hearing them say things like, “I’m bringing back the biceps track from release 77” or the like. All the music is great and the moves are really choreographed well to match the music.
Every class and each release follows the same format. The instructor will tell you approximately what weight to use on the bar in comparison to your warm-up weight. They will give you cues to the appropriate weight on the bar throughout the workout as well as for any surprises in new releases as sometimes new releases are a bit easier or harder for various routines.
The format of the workout goes like this:
- Warmup for the whole body
- Squats working the legs and glutes
- Chest muscles group
- Back muscles
- Lunges and squats working various leg muscles and glutes
- Abdominal muscles
BodyPump™, like all strength training work, should be done minimally once a week. Doing it once a week will help you maintain what you already have for strength, but you won’t build muscle. Going twice a week you can slowly build muscle. Doing it 3 times a week (with break days) is for serious strength training. It is not recommended to do strength training more than three days a week.
I know a lot of women have worries about strength training. They worry they’ll get all muscle bound. Don’t worry: You won’t get bulky. You’ll just get a really nice looking body so that you can wear all those sleeveless dresses that are in fashion because of our First Lady’s great arms. And men, yes, this is great for you too! I find this is a great class for couples to do together.
I have now been doing BodyPump™ pretty faithfully for 18 months. Whereas I dreaded the idea of strength training, I now find it to be my favorite class. I feel I get more bang for the buck with strength training. I can see that it works and I still get that workout high.
The key, though, is to always push yourself. You will get stronger and you will find that you stand taller, straighter and even find cardio workouts easier to do. So, if I can only fit in one form of exercise a week, which sometimes happens, I always try to make sure it’s strength training and my choice is BodyPump™. The three fitness facilities offer it several times a day, every day of the week, so why not try it out!
Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.