Quarterly workshop time again in sunny Australia. Wow, what a day. We had the pleasure of having Glen Ostergaard with us on stage today. Glen is the head choreographer and program director for the Les Mills Body Pump program. He’s the guy that makes it all happen. Because of this our usual attendance lifted to the point where we were struggling to contain 200 odd instructors in the same room. Awesome atmosphere, heaps of energy and lots of fun had by all!
So, what about the BodyPump 73 release itself ? Well, today is all about the pop tunes. This is by far the most easily recognisable release we’ve had in a long time. Almost every song is straight out of the recent Top 40. When I say Top 40 though, I do of course mean Top 40 ‘with a twist!’. Pretty much all of the songs are remixes or re-recordings to make it a little harder. Be warned right now: Every song starts easy and almost lulls you into a false sense of ‘Yeah, I can do this easy’ before it hits you with a muscle-melting endurance final round. No doubt about it, this is going to be one of the biggest releases we’ve had in a while!
(Note to instructors: Make sure you check out the DVD in your kit. Somehow they managed to convince Wolverine to come up on stage and present a few tracks. He’s French. You’ll know who I mean when you see him. He’s awesome :) )
OK, let’s get straight into it:
Warmup: An easy and very uplifting start with a great version of ‘Release Me’. Even without ever having done the track before, you can just tell the choreography that’s coming up. All the usual moves you would expect to see here and none that you wouldn’t. This is simply a perfect warmup song. Use this one as your chance to get your form right and timing spot on. Quite honestly, you just can’t help but be smiling by the end of the warmup.
Legs(Squats): Time to get moving on the real work. As the sizzler for this releases promises, Body Pump 73 is challenging to the point of punishing. Our squat track for today is a massive rock track to really push the legs. Each round starts nice and easy before belting into a big set of singles. The first rounds come and go and you’re thinking, Yeah, I can do this’… but you forgot about the killer last round. It starts the same, but quickly degenerates into a never ending set of singles, bottoms, twos, threes, more singles, more bottoms, more singles and more pain. I reckon you could just about do this track with an empty bar and your legs would still burn like crazy. (Disclaimer: Don’t try to actually do a BodyPump class with an empty bar!)
Chest: ‘I’ve got a feeling’ that this chest track is going to become a favourite with many of us. Not only is the beat super catchy, but the workout will get in deeper than any chest workouts we’ve seen a while. The kicker here is that after we do our standard twos and threes, we hit the bottom halves before we go for the big singles. By the time you go for the big moves, the muscles are already nicely pre-fatigued. Like with the squat track, the first couple of rounds are manageable and fair. Quick break. Uh-oh.. You already know the song well enough to know that there are a good two minutes left. The wind up begins. It hurts even before the big beat kicks in. Did I say that ‘tonight was going to be a good night’ ? Maybe not for your chest :)
Back: If you’re thinking of challenging yourself and going a little bit heavier, this is the track for you. Four(!) rounds today, with four continuous clean-and-presses in a row. Once again, very familiar song to keep us moving and keep the energy high of. The music changes beautifully to the moves. When the power comes, your bar shoots up along with your heart rate. The choreography is as straightforward as you can make it. Cleans, rows, triples and we’re done. I like that we come out of the break straight into the clean-and-press. I reckon it keeps the heart rate higher. Make sure you use the breaks between sets! Once you’ve done the first two rounds, you’re probably thinking that you only have one more round to go… Nope… two down, two to go. Breathe, dig in. Explode out of the breaks straight upstairs. Oh, and watch out for the last 5 seconds…
Triceps: Hang on… am i in the wrong track here ? It’s Cascada… They’re our friends from the back tracks. What are they doing in a triceps track ? I love the energy in this track. Normally, the triceps track is a little toned down after a big back track. Not this release. This one is as big as the back. We meet the usual variety of moves with extensions, bottom pulses and a few pullover combos thrown in for good measure. Two rounds on the bench before the break. Another quick round before we grab our big plate for standing overhead extensions. Now, normally, there are just a few overheads because the arms are already shot. Apparently, they forgot that bit when putting the choreography together in this release. Tricep-melting fun :)
Biceps: Ahh yeah, you just have to love a bit of Linkin Park for the Biceps track. Even if it is a re-recording with female vocals :) My advice: If this is your first time doing this release, today is probably not the day to go too heavy and try to show off like I did at the workshop. There’s a good chance that your arms may actually explode. Seriously though, everything seems quite ok for the start of this one. Two well-sized rounds to get used to it, nice big break, and then a final round that feels at least as big as the first two rounds put together. To make things even more painful, instead of full range singles, we’re moving three-quarter range today. That means the arms don’t even get those little micro-breaks at the top and bottom. Simply massive workout for the arms here today.
Lunges: As we’ve seen plenty of times before, two kinds of lunges today: The normal static up-and-down lunges on each leg, followed by dynamic stepping lunges. We get to hit the singles very early on, although the beat is probably not quite as big as I was expecting given the last 5 tracks. Don’t let that fool you though. There are more than enough bottom halves to keep the intensity in the legs. By the time you’ve finished each leg with the static lunges, you’ll be wishing the song is over. Not so. Time to step forward slowly. Push and then back. Full speed and kick it hard for the last minute!
Shoulders: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ ? Heck yeah! This mix is quite similar in style to the one we saw some time ago in RPM. You just can’t help but go massively big in this one. Some slow push ups to set the mood, then a big set of singles and doubles. Don’t even think about dropping to your knees. Kurt wouldn’t be happy :) Each set of moves today is a little longer than we’re used to. The rear-delt raises for example have more 2*2’s than you expect. Stand up and do it again for the singles. Be careful with the plates you pick up today too… we have a new move, the slow top half side raise. It does exactly what it says. It’s a slow pulse at the top that just simply burns like heck. Hook into the music and grab your bar to finish it off at the top.
Abs: Uh, I like the new compound crunch we’re getting into. We’re using both the upper and lower abs to bring the body together. It’s probably not quite as hard as the ab track in BodyPump 72, but that’s not really a bad thing, is it ;) Once again, the music helps us though the workout. Helped by a sampler mix of pretty much every move we’ve done in an ab track over the last few releases, you’ll be screaming by the end of it.
Cooldown: There’s ‘No Surprise’ you’ll need the cool down at the end of the work out to back down to earth. No odd moves like we saw in 72. Just old-school stretches and nice music to relax and reward the body for the workout. Nice way to finish a very challenging workout.
So, what is the overall impression ? I love it. If you like your Top 40 music, this one is right up your alley. Even if you don’t, the beat and energy in every single song is big enough to lift you through the workout. We were challenged, we were punished, we grew, we strengthened. If BodyPump keeps getting harder with every release like this, we’ll all end up being elite athletes before too long!
The other big question is about the cover versions of most songs. As you probably already know (because i’ve posted about for the past few reviews), Les Mills is preparing for the record companies to increase their grab for royalties by very significant amounts. This has the potential to cause serious harm to the Group Fitness industry at least in Australia as fitness centers will simply not be able to afford the fees. So now, most of the Les Mills programs feature re-recordings of the original songs that are not covered by the same royalty structure. Naturally, the down side is that we won’t get to hear the original artists any more. There is an upside to all of this though. Finally, the choreography teams get the chance to remix the song to fit the exercise better. You probably noticed a lot of the songs in previous releases used to have little pauses as they restarted the song to give us more time for the track. Now, they can just repeat a verse and/or chorus or restructure the song to fit the exercise. Plus you’ll get to hear interesting new mixes. For example, a different ‘Evacuate the Dance floor’ cover features in three different Les Mills programs and they sound totally different so that you wont get sick of them too quickly. So, in effect, this all works to keep BodyPump the unique and fresh exercise program we know and love.
Once again, a fantastic release from Glen and the team. Can’t wait to get stuck into it.
As always, leave your comments below and let me know what you think. Do like the songs and choreography ?