Are Quarterlies Worth Attending?
Back before The Changeover (as it's called here in the States), BTS would organize large instructor events called "Supers". These things were great - imagine doing Step or Pump in a large exhibit hall with eight onstage presenters and 400+ excited participants. It was super, in every sense of the word. And we miss them.

When LMI took over distribution of their programs, one of the biggest changes they promised was to get closer to the instructor community by holding instructor events more often. And they wasted no time making good on that promise - within days of announcing the changeover, the first round of quarterlies were scheduled in locations across the country. The lucky instructors who attended those events were treated to an all-star cast of international trainers (sadly, our schedule was such that we couldn't be one of those attendees).

We did sign on for one of the Fall quarterlies, though - up in Lorton, VA this past week. The venue was a Gold's Gym - not a convention center like the Supers. To us, this meant maybe three or four trainers and maybe 35-40 participants. Yeah, we were still looking forward to it - but we felt it wouldn't be the same high-energy experience of our beloved Supers. Or so we thought.

Maybe it was the nine national and international trainers. Or maybe it was the thrill of working out with over 100 revved-up instructors. Whatever it was, the whole experience was far more exhilarating than anything we expected. The morning started off early with an hour of the new BodyAttack (similar to Step, but without the bench), followed by a BodyCombat master class. The next several hours included RPM and Step break-out sessions, two Pump master classes, a Flow master class, and the new BodyJam to round out the evening. Short fifteen-minute breaks punctuated the otherwise non-stop schedule; if you didn't leave there totally exhausted it wasn't for want of activity!

So was it worth the trip? Well, we drove five hours each direction for this quarterly - and to tell you the truth, we can hardly wait to do it again. We came away inspired to take the quality of our instruction to a new level, and with our own personal workouts rejuvenated. And although we've heard that the first round of quarterlies this past summer were a little rough around the edges in terms of logistics and general organization, things must've smoothed out quite a bit since then because this event went off without a hitch.

But was it as good as the Supers? Well, yes and no. Yes, the classes were a Wow! experience. Yes it was exciting. And yes it was well-organized. But it's almost impossible to fully match the show quality of the Supers with the smaller venue size. It's also tough to cram seven programs into a single-day format - even as attendees we were totally exhausted after only the third session, so it has to be tough for the trainers to pull that off week after week. As a result, the educational sessions had to be kept pretty short. And our ability to absorb the information was probably less than usual because we were so fatigued. Maybe a day-and-a-half format would work better - do some instructional work for two or three hours the night before, then do the master classes the next day.

In any case, the quarterly format here in the States is still evolving from what we gather. The trainers we talked with were very interested in getting feedback from the attendees. So while we came away from this experience both impressed and anxious to return, we're also looking forward to seeing how this program improves over the coming months. The bottom line? Yes, they're definitely worth attending - just make sure you bring several changes of workout clothes, lots of snacks, and get plenty of rest the night before. Oh, and don't come alone - it's even more fun when you're with friends!
BodyPump 56 Review
The BodyPump 56 pre-release publicity has had us excited about the prospect of an even more challenging workout to some very enticing tracks for well over a month now. So, will the final product live up to our increasingly high expectations? Here's what we found when we spun it up this evening:
Warm Up - The grip changes from 55's Back & Hamstrings track have found their way into this energetic and motivating warm-up. While some may find the beat a little less intense than the warm-ups of recent releases, we like the message this Joana Zimmer tune offers.

Squats - If 8-rep single sets leave you hungry for more, perhaps this Rogue Traders track will satisfy your appetite: Your first set of 24 work progressively deeper, then a short pause with a with a pair of super-slow and (the only) 8-rep single set round out the appetizer. The 16-rep single sets in the next three rounds are followed by bottom-halfs with no midway breaks; the last of these gets the job done with a second set of bottom halfs. Yes, you'll get your money's worth on this one.

Chest - The first few beats of this Fine Young Cannibals tune will be instantly recognizable to fans of 80's music. After the pressure-cooker chest tracks of the past several releases, we'll gladly rock our way through this number!

Back & Hamstrings - DJ Sammy is well known to fans of trance music worldwide, and his past appearances on BodyPump releases ("Heaven" and "Boys of Summer") have been class favorites. So there's little doubt his cover of this Annie Lennox classic will play well - in fact, you may just like it better than the original! Four sets of Clean & Presses with a 6-rep set at the end - what more could you ask for in a Back & Hamstrings track? How about reverse-grip deadrows for an intro and a couple of breaks thrown in for good measure? Done.

Triceps - When was the last time you had a good laugh during a triceps track? Yep, it's the comic relief tune for this release - but you won't be laughing for long. With a nod to 46's "Rise Up", every possible permutation of tricep kickbacks dominate this routine, topped off with a debut of the Triple Pulse Tricep Kickback and a single super-slow tricep pushup for old time's sake. Still smiling?

Biceps - If you've been following our past reviews, you know every BodyPump release features a track we fight over like a couple of wet cats in a potato sack. So when C+C Music Factory showed up on the Biceps track it was a sure bet that this'd be the one. Final score: Tami - Gloating. Craig - Sulking.

Lunges - Focus, control, power. Tina Cousins' "Wonderful Life" won't be the toughest lunge track in the CD case, but it's definitely one of the more energetic tunes of late.

Shoulders - You probably wouldn't spend a quiet evening listening to BodyRockers' "I Like The Way", but it sure makes a terrific backdrop to one of the most challenging shoulder routines in the BodyPump arsenal. Charismatic instructors will love the performance opportunities; your shoulders will love the Crossover Pushups and Rotator Lifts. Oh yeah!

Abs - How often does your abs routine have you starting and ending on your elbows? If your core workout includes hovers, you'll know exactly where this one is going...

Cool Down - Robbie Williams fans will be thrilled to find BodyFlow favorite "Angel" lands a spot in the 56 Cool Down. If you thought the final stretches in 55 passed by a bit too quick, you'll be pleased to find a thorough set this go-around.

Bonus: Biceps - A Christmas track? Hey, this thing's gonna rock all year round!
The promo said this release will bring participants "face to face with the real essence of BodyPump" putting muscles "under a bigger load for longer". We were ready for a Herculean workout - but is that what we got? Let's take a look:
Music - Maybe it was the promo material, maybe it was the post-filming reviews, or maybe it was just something we made up. Whatever it was, we were so focused on getting slammed by the workout routine that we hardly gave 56's music a second thought. Until we gave it a listen, that is. Without a doubt, this is one of the most playable releases in recent history - fully half of the tracks are either re-makes or originals of worldwide classics from the 60's, 70's, and the 80's - and every one of 'em rocks! Even the stuff we've never heard before sounded great on the first spin, and that's why we give the BodyPump 56 playlist an A.

Workout Routine - As we've been saying for the last couple of reviews, we believe the workouts of the 50's series are evolving much more quickly than those of the 40's and prior. You've got the grip changes in the warm-up, those nifty Triple Pulse Tricep Kickbacks, and Rotator Lifts in the Shoulder track. It's great to have the Crossover Pushups back for another go-around, and to see the plate becoming standard fare for the Abs track. It's an awesome workout, but will it leave you busted like 55 did? Probably not - despite killer Squats, Triceps, and Shoulder tracks, we expect the balance of the routine to be challenging but not brutal. For some that may come as a welcome relief, actually. So we'll tag the workout routine with a solid B - not because it isn't exceptional (it is, actually) but because we know the best is yet to come!

Instructor Video - After two "purely Mike" releases, it was actually kind of nice to have a couple of new faces in the spotlight for awhile. Well, "new" being a relative term - BodyPump veterans will immediately recognize International Trainer Susan Tolj, and no doubt the Portuguese National Training Team is extremely proud to call Luis Cerca one of their own (was it only us, or did you half expect Luis to growl "I'll Be Back" halfway between Squats and Chest routines? Heck, he sounds more like the Terminator than Arnold!) When your release includes a bonus track, coaching tips, a thorough set of execution instructions, and (our favorite) "Chat With The Chaps", you've got to give it an A. By the way, we're absolutely thrilled LMI came back to its senses on the cover graphics - we'll just forget that little deviation with 55...
Well, there it is. Agree or disagree? Let us know - click the Comments link below and tell us about it!