Reviews of New BTS Programs
Well now that a round or two of BTS preview programs have been run, there's some first-hand accounts of what attendees experienced. Although we were unable to attend them ourselves (apparently they're open only to club management at this time), some common themes have emerged in the reviews that have been posted so far. These are summarized below, and links are provided at the end of this post if you'd like to research them even further:

GroupPower (competes with BodyPump) - Apparently this is going over really well with attendees - it's gotten rave reviews, both for the routine and the music. Major changes include introduction of the "clean & press" into the warm-up track so that new attendees don't get overwhelmed by it later, a pretty tough chest workout, better timing for transitions, and apparently some new moves in the squats, shoulders, and lunge tracks (squats track can now include some lunges, and lunge track may now include some squats, for example). The abs track may bring in some pilates moves as well. Apparently each track is now given an intensity rating (high, normal, low) with normal being roughly equal to a traditional BP track. We haven't heard or read anything bad about this program from anyone who has attended it.

GroupStep (competes with BodyStep) - Also rave reviews, which isn't surprising given the program creator (BTS aka. "The STEP Company"). Apparently the tempo is slightly slower and the moves a bit less complex, but overall intensity is kept the same or increased due to the use of multiple risers and introduction of some new moves. Sounds like there's more of an emphasis on fun now, as well as for new participants to achieve mastery of the routine more quickly.

GroupKick (competes with BodyCombat) - Once again rave reviews, slowed down a bit and focuses more on power and control. Sound effects effects have been re-introduced. Apparently the upper- and lower-body warmups are separated (with upper-body warmup in the intro, lower-body in subsequent tracks) to achieve a more complete warmup before the intensity of the routine increases.

GroupRide (competes with RPM) - Apparently a slower cadance and - as with GroupKick and GroupStep - more focus on power than speed. Sounds like they've also focused more on timing the cadance with the beat of the music, the result being workout that should be as challenging overall as RPM.

GroupCentergy (competes with BodyFlow) - Generally most reviewers commented that this did not have quite the same level of refinement as that of the Flow class. Clearly this is a difficult and complex class to choreograph, so it may take more time to develop. Major differences include longer holds for each pose, more focus on Pilates and Yoga, and much less Tai Chi. Sounds as though it may be evolving to a more athletic class than Flow.

Our take: BTS seeks to improve upon the Les Mills programs, and some feel that they've achieved this in a variety of areas. That's definitely a great start. Many clubs and instructors, however, have chosen to remain loyal to the Les Mills programs. So regardless of whether or not the BTS programs are better than Les Mills, they'll have to prove that they have staying power before we'll see any major market shifts. And don't count Les Mills out just yet - they've been at this a very long time. It's a virtual certainty that Les Mills will keep a close eye on the BTS programs, so don't be surprised to see some similar refinements in their offerings as well. We believe that there's room in the marketplace for both programs, and that both will ultimately improve as a result of the competition.

For More Information:
First-hand accounts and further discussion are available on BTS Talk, The BTS Forum, and The Les Mills & Radical Fitness™ Forum Zone.
19 Comment(s):
On 18 May, 2005, Blogger pipera said...

Sounds awesome. Group Power by your description and Group Kick look great by your reviews.

I wish I could be over there. To experience the whole experience.

On 18 May, 2005, Anonymous angry Canadian said...

Please when making your choice--keep in mind some of the character issues which have risen. How would you Americans feel if all of a sudden, Les Mills decided to give only Gold's Gym the rights to their program. You would feel ripped of wouldn't you. It's all about the money to them--If Gold's gym were to offer a fantastic amount of money for exclusive rights--would they take it like they did in Canada with Good Life??? My disappointment with all this has turned to anger and I am very PO'd at Les Mills. I am glad our gym is stuck doing BTS--cause in the end, I'll bet they will win out--don't mess with the Americans. I am wishing The Step Company all the best and say Go for the Gusto! Just reading that news release also brings to light "character issues" with Les Mills. If you go to the Les Mills web site they are so very proud to have granted exclusive rights to the Good Life--not even thinking about the rest of their instructors. One big chain of gyms in Alberta (not the Good Life) is also in this situation--no more Les Mills at their gym. They actually decided to make up their own.... the instructors freaked out and after a couple of days they decided to go with BTS. Our gym still has not launched the latest release--and I have full intentions of using it yet!--before or after June 1.

On 19 May, 2005, Blogger Tami W. said...

I would be angry too. Bottom line - from my perspective anyway - is that its not about delivering a fantstic fitness program to get people excited about exercising anymore. Its about corporate wars and making money. Kinda like doctors and insurance companies.
I think both sides have some great stuff but I have had about enough. i just want to teach class and get on with life - but at this point I'm ready to give it up! It's not worth the aggravation to me. Fitness is supposed to be fun - and we are supposed to motivate people. How can we motivate with all this stuff going on???
I'm not sure what I would do in your situation. My heart goes out to you and all the 'former' LMI instructors who are forced to change. Not good. Not good at all.
Thanks for writing in.

Tami W.

On 19 May, 2005, Anonymous Theresa said...

Thanks Tami for you kind words. I always tell all the instructors that I work people are the cream of the crop, the best collection of people on the planet, and it is true they are wonderful and yes it has come down to a fricken war between two companies. It really is too bad that we will all be devided BTS or LMI.

On 19 May, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are you finding this information about the new BTS classes? I went to the BTS Talk website and I couldn't find any reviews...just curious.

You know what is bothering me the most about this?!?! Just venting here. The fact that our club owners have not even asked for feedback from us (the instructors) on this issue. We are the ones that are going to be teaching the damn classes. I am calling them damn classes now because quite honestly I am just so sick of all of this. Also, does anybody find it unfair that club management are the only people allowed to go to these preview classes? Again, what about the instructors who aren't part of the management team (probably about 90%!???)--absolutely ludicrous. I don't think BTS is handling any of this ethically. I really don't.

On 19 May, 2005, Blogger Craig Warman said...

Answer to the comment just prior: On BTS Talk, the best thread I found was the following:
BTS talk Forum Index -> New BTS Programs -> HAS ANYONE SEEN THE BTS PROGRAMS??????

Here is a direct link to the first page of that thread (at present there are five total pages):

This was not my only source, but it's definitely a very good one because several instructors/GFMs wrote in their first-hand opinions.

On 19 May, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have also taken the new BTS classes. While I was very impressed with Power, Centergy left alot to be desired. I'm not sure how good Centergy can be with Molly Fox creating it. The other classes were good, but not better than the originals. And by the way instructors are now invited to take the classes, most have not been full.

On 30 May, 2005, Blogger erin said...

Angry Canadian -

GoodLife was actually approached by Les Mills to be the exclusive licensee of their products; GoodLife didn't just wave bags of money in front of their faces.

It makes sense, from Les Mills' point of view, to hitch their wagon to a big player like GoodLife. Les Mills has also teamed up with IDEA in the US to try to reach a large segement of gyms/instructors there.

I feel for instructors in Canada who have no choice in which program they teach... however you DO have a choice - get a job at GoodLife if the Les Mills programs mean so much to you! I'm the GFM of a few GoodLife clubs in Western Canada, and a lot of instructors from competitor clubs have already come to me for jobs because they don't want to make the switch to BTS, for whatever reason.

I don't think BTS will "win out" over Les Mills, or vice versa. I think the two will coexist happily.

On 01 June, 2005, Blogger pipera said...

I feel for you guys.

At the end of the day everyone looses no one comes up a winner.

On 14 June, 2005, Blogger rpmster said...

Our facility opted to go with LMI. I am currently trying to locate some earlier releases of RPM. Can somebody help?

On 14 June, 2005, Blogger Singgah said...

Hey there,
What a mess all of this is! I'm a member of a Gold's Gym near Atlanta. I've been in the Body Pump program for three years and RPM for two. I was not at all happy to hear about the changes -- mostly because of the fact that the BTS music is all covers - no original artists -- and because of the fact that the intensity level is lower. To me, it is easier to adjust your workout for less intensity (lower weights, or do less reps) in a class than it is to make it more difficult. Why not give the members that option? At any rate -- I guess with all this fighting and with Les Mills basically being an uber-bully, there was no stopping the inevitable....
As for the new "Power" class --- The workout was good and the music wasn't as hideous as I'd anticipated, but the abs (pilates) workout was beyond awful. I have never seen everyone in the class so ticked off. Whoever created that must have done it at home on carpet with thick padding. Trying to do the "hover" and "hover with knee bends" is next to impossible (you slip and slide on the floor) and really PAINFUL on the knees -- even with a mat. Then you further insult the knees with that side raise. Awful.. Alot of us just threw in the towel and did our own moves. (and that's rare!)
The "Group Ride" is longer -- which nobody is happy about either. It is slower too. That didn't really affect me personally because I always just went at the pace that I could manage anyway (while still challenging myself). I was NEVER able to do it as fast as the instructors. But I have to say that the music for Group Ride is AWFUL ,AWFUL, AWFUL!!!!! Blech, yeck, ptooey!!! The instructor asked for opinions afterwards and it was a unanimous complaint.
So ---- the workouts are fine (except for that ab set) but the music for Ride ---- wooooooo -- what can I say?......

On 16 June, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any feedback re:Group Step?? I love the LMI music and choreography--does BTS even come close?

On 16 June, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took a preview of Group Step in Atlanta last month and it could not compare to BODYSTEP. The Group Step class actually made the decision b/w LMI and BTS for me and my manager. We wanted to leave half way through! Yeah, it was that bad. The choreo and music lacked the excitement and attitude that BODYSTEP always delivers. FYI, Group Power was fine and Group Kick was alright but definitely NOT ANY BETTER. Unfortunately, the classes seemed like bad imitations of the real thing. Keep it real, E

On 19 June, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think that Body Pump will go without a bench eventually, and have us do the tricep and chest track laying on the mat?

On 21 June, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also at Gold's. I'm now a Centergy instructor and am really unhappy with it. I find it really entertaining that in the entertainnews article (written by a former business partner of BTS) they talk about how they want the BTS programs to work for the un-conditioned. The new Centergy releases have more airplanes/warrior 3s than anything I've ever seen before. In addition, there are 3-legged dogs. The instructor notes are absolutely terrible--perhaps part of their plan to make us watch the DVD more often??? My major compaint with the notes is that they use the same terms to mean different positions. That just doesn't make sense to me!

On 02 July, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also at Gold's in the Atlanta area. Gold's Gym International went with LMI but it seems that most of the Gold's Gyms in the Atlanta area went with BTS. I received the Group Power releases, gave them a listen (which was hard to do), and looked for another gym in the Atlanta area at which I could teach Body Pump, which is my passion.

My assessment of BTS' Group Power: I like how you do a slow clean and press in the warm up, because I know that is one of "those" moves which confuse new class participants. Shoulders has an interesting "Rear Delt T" move which is different, but what the hell have they done with the push-ups??? There are no push ups in chest, triceps, or shoulders. It appears that BTS has "dumbed down" the barbell workout. The music is terrible, though the Summer 05 release is growing on me. The "Bonus" release has 9 of 10 songs on it which were Body Pump songs, no longer original artist and completely rechoreographed.

The choreo notes are terrible, but I see why they need to be different from Body Pump notes so that it is not a TOTAL RIP OFF from Body Pump.

The Group Power DVD. I don't know what to say about it other than it is a train wreck. The three guys in the video have choreographed their transitions to where they look like they are in an aerobics class. Granted, it is their first release so maybe they need to loosen up a bit.

Do you know the feeling of excitement of receiving the new Body Pump release in the mail?? You can't wait to pop it in the CD player and check it out. The Group Power CDs were not met with the same level of enthusiasm by me or by my fellow insttuctors. We saw the track listing, and in the case of the bonus release, IT'S THE SAME AS BODY PUMP except that the songs are mixed to where they are not original artists!!

Having taught both programs (which I am doing until I can pick up a couple more Body Pump classes near my house or workplace), I hope LMI takes BTS to court and puts them out of businness.

Where are the "questionable lyrics" in Body Pump that BTS mentions in its literature? As an instructor, I really don't notice the lyrics since I am counting in my head. I have noticed "Hole in the Head" which is the chest song in BP 50 has scratches where they censored something, but I really don't see the problem with "questionable lyrics". Maybe it's me, though!

On 29 July, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of those Canadian instructors who was forced to change gyms in order to stay with LMI (my passion). I have to say, I have not regretted this decision! I stayed around long enough with BTS to receive their first releases of Group Step, Group Kick, and Group Centergy. They have also since sent me the Bonus releases for all three programs (despite me cancelling autoship twice).

I have to say the music is atrocious There are no emotional highs and lows, as you definitely feel and hear in the BodyStep and BodyFlow releases. There are no original artists....and, I might add, some really BAD mixes of copycat artists. My husband, who doesn't even do the programs, even noticed the difference in the quality of the music and the flow of the moves, especially for Centergy.

Step was an over-rehearsed joke! Where's the intensity???? Where's the fun????

Kick was OK, but I can't get over the over-use of sound effects. They also stop at song four, when your intensity level should already be on the rise, to stretch to get ready for kicks. And, again, NO ORIGINAL ARTISTS!! Cheesy remakes don't cut it for me! I had enough of that when I used to be a freestyle aerobics insructor for so many years. Gaby and Natha, while OK, don't even compare to Dan and Rach. Dan and Rach offer entertainment, excellent technique, and coaching cues for you to give to your participants and so that you, as an instructor, may refine your physical execution. This is not done to the same degree by Gaby and Natha. "Stay relaxed" as a cue just doesn't do it for me.

And, as for "angry Canadian" and her comments, I'll refer you to Erin's blog....GoodLife did not bribe LMI. If that's what BTS has been telling you (just like they told you the vast majority of clubs in the States had signed with BTS already when you went to Atlanta) then I'm concerned about BTS's business ethics, NOT LMI's.

On 20 November, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have a look at this article which explains the reasons for the "schism". (although their are probably more "corporate ego" reasons if truth be known)

Here's the key part:

changes that needed to be made
to grow the North American
market. BTS suggested reducing
speed and complexity, adding
more diverse marketing images,
eliminating offensive music and
creating market-specific programs
for special populations,
such as the deconditioned and
older adult markets..."

So I am not surprised by the remarks here. I would expect that anyone who is relatively young and/or fit and/or not easily offended by lyrics will prefer LMI and the reverse for BTS.

So I'd assume the programs will coexist because they are aimed at different markets.

That just seems a pity that people need to be arbitrarily split into groups (no pun intended) to enjoy a program.

What I like about classes is seeing people fitter than me (shows where I could go) AND people less fit than me (shows where I have been). Diversity is a good thing.

On 25 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking for the artist name for the song "STOMP" used as the squats song in bodypump a couple of years ago.


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