The Calm Before The Storm
It's quiet around most fitness clubs in the States right now - anyone taking a workout pretty much has the place to themselves, the tranquil peace broken only by the occasional clatter of plates from somewhere across the building. Want to run on the treadmill for an hour or more? No problem. Take in a class? The choice is yours. In fact, you could probably spend the entire day at your local club and never once have to wait in line for anything. Yes, it's your own personal slice of heaven, isn't it?

But we all know what's just around the corner. See - here in the States, at least - January is by far the biggest sales month for fitness clubs across the country. Nothing even comes close, not by a long shot. Why? Getting into shape is tops on many New Year's Resolutions lists. Classes are full, workout stations get queued, and don't even think about getting a shower. Even though it can be aggravating sometimes, I actually look forward to the madness of it all in a warped sort of way. Sadly, it'll all be over before the end of February.

So, if you're one of those folks just joining the fitness community, we hope you feel welcome. But more than anything else, we hope you'll stick around for awhile...
BodyPump, Post-Mike
By now you've probably heard that Mike McSweeney has stepped down as BodyPump head choreographer (if not, just troll through the next couple of postings and you'll see how that revelation evolved). You know, everyone's had the experience of showing up to class one day only to find their favorite instructor has moved on - no matter how good the next person is, there's always the feeling that things will never be the same. And they won't, but that doesn't mean it's all bad.

BodyPump is more than one person. Okay, Mike is a really important person in this case, but you know what we're saying. The vast majority of folks attending Pump classes are there to get in a good workout, and most of them have no idea who Mike is - so his involvement (or not) in the program doesn't matter a whole lot to them. They'll be there tomorrow, and next week, and next month because they're committed to the workout. To them, their instructors are the face of BodyPump.

So we're really gonna miss Mike when we get those videos each quarter. And yes, it won't be the same. But someone out there is next in line to fill his shoes, and we're actually looking forward to seeing what they come up with. You never know, things may turn out alright after all!
Has Pumpfrog Left The House?
About a week and a half ago, the following anonymous comment showed up on our BodyPump 56 review:
I hear pumpfrog has resigned, filmed 57 and thats it!
Personally, I like a little more detail with my revelations, but I decided to follow up anyway. So I called the folks at Les Mills USA. No, as far as they knew no such thing had happened. And - the fella who answered the phone assured me - if it had, they would certainly know. By the way, 'Pumpfrog' is none other than Mike McSweeney, head choreographer and cult celebrity of the BodyPump program. So as far as I was concerned this thing was a thankfully short-lived aberration.

Until this anonymous comment showed up on the 56 review last night:
The 'pumpfrog' has definetly left the house, word is he resigned and the company is keeping it under wraps till they have someone else. Apparently he filmed the last release 57 and we will see him no more.
Sadly, this one sounds a little more credible than the first - and, I have to admit, it's got me feeling a little crummy. Longtime readers of our blog have heard me say more than once that I want to be like Mike when I grow up - and truth be told there's a probably a lot of folks out there that really look up to him and respect what he's done for the program.

Thoughts or news you'd like to share on this or any other topic? Click the comments link below and tell us about it!
The Most Important Track Of All
We always talk about how effective or challenging certain tracks are, but have you ever given thought to whether or not there's any one track in the BodyPump routine that matters more than the others? In other words, of the ten tracks we spin every session, does one emerge as being so important that no BodyPump attendee should miss it?

I'm talking about track #10 - the cooldown/stretch. Maybe it's because we often refer to it simply as "The Cooldown". Or maybe it's because it's the last track in the sequence. Whatever the reason, it seems to have sunk so low in the minds of many BodyPump attendees that they simply pack their stuff up and head for the doors before it even starts.

So, when was the last time you saw a gym offer a class devoted entirely to back and hamstrings? Or biceps? And can you honestly say that triceps are important enough to land a track in every group fitness class your gym offers? Me neither. But I bet your gym does offer a class devoted entirely to stretching, and I'm certain there isn't a class on the schedule that doesn't include a cooldown/stretch.

My point is simple: If stretching is so important that gyms routinely offer entire classes on the subject, and if it matters so much that you can count on it showing up in every group fitness class, doesn't the BodyPump cooldown/stretch merit serious consideration as one of the most important tracks in the entire routine?

And if that weren't enough, consider this - if you routinely miss, say, the squats track, I seriously doubt you're risking any major injury. But the cooldown/stretch? That's another story. Ask around the room sometime before class and I bet you won't get very far before someone gives you and earful about their painful recovery from an exercise-related injury. The sad fact is that many of these injuries could've been prevented by proper stretching. I'm no sports physiologist, but I do recognize that the effects of not stretching after exercise can become cumulative - and that it gets worse as you age (yes, people in your 20's, believe it or not you are aging - right along with the rest of us!)

It's no surprise that the oldest and wisest among group fitness participants make it a point not only to stick around for the entire cooldown/stretch - but also to stay focused on the routine during the entire track. So how can instructors help all class attendees avoid getting injured from not having taken this part of the class serious enough?
  • Stop calling it "The Cooldown" - Yes, it is a cooldown, but more importantly it's a stretching routine. It's easy to skip when an attendee comes to believe that their shower or the ride back to work/home is their "cooldown". Refer to it as "Stretching" or "The Cooldown Stretch".

  • Discuss it during Prime Time - That's usually during some of the midway tracks, when people are still focused and not looking for the door. Give a 30-second mention to the fact that the final track is one of the most important, and remind people that the ride back to work or home isn't a cooldown stretch.

  • Be an example - If you truly believe in the importance of this track - and you should - then don't just go through the motions. Make certain you present the cooldown/stretch with the same level of quality that you bring to your favorite chest or biceps track. Chances are you became an instructor because you wanted to help people in some way - doesn't that include helping them avoid injury as well?
So, is the cooldown/stretch one of the most important tracks - if not the most important track? Click the comments link below and have your say!
The Amazing pre-Pigout Workout
Before I explain what the "pre pigout workout" is - let me say I've missed writing in our blog! Craig keeps me soooo busy cooking, cleaning, etc. I just haven't had time!! ; )

So - let me explain. Our GFM came up with a fabulous idea of doing a two hour workout on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It consisted of the following: The first 5 songs were from Body Combat, then Craig and I did squats, chest, and back & hamstings from Pump, that was followed by 5 songs from Body Step, then, Craig and I were back for Triceps, biceps, lunges & shoulders. It wrapped up with Body Flow Abs, Twists, and Forward bends. It was fabulous! We had a sign-up sheet the week before and it filled up so quick we had to have a waiting list! And yes - we did get prior approval from Les Mills before actually announcing this endeavor. It was such a huge success that some wanted us to do it every month! We do plan on continuing our new tradition before holidays so we will probably do it again before Christmas. It was a great way to burn about 1000 calories right before the Thanksgiving feast! We even had Craig doing Body Step - and he liked it!

As Craig mentioned - we attended the quarterly in Lorton and it was really nice to be able to chat face to face with some of the instructors. At the Supers - that was pretty hard to do. I'm not into the glitz and glamour of major productions. I think smaller venues allow you to get to know the 'major' instructors better. They were all very approachable, friendly, helpful, and just plain down to earth.

My favorite thing about the quarterly was taking the RPM class - something I was never able to do at the Supers because they were always filled up. Craig and I both loved it. The music selection was awesome and the hour passed quickly. We are both hoping to get our club to allow us to bring RPM's in.

Till next time....Tami