Let the games begin.....
The Instructor Challenge is breathing down our necks. This Saturday, April 1st, Craig and I, along with about 10 other instructors will get together for the grueling hour of fat burning, muscle building, bonding experience of the challenge. No foolin'. We have put it off long enough - it's time to get serious. According to the Body Pump maunual - "Instructors are recommended to use this form of training a maximum of twice a week, in association with other forms of cross-training to achieve and maintain superior BodyPump fitness".

How many of us do this? I can usually get my extra workout in on Mondays and Fridays - the same days Craig and I teach - but it is not quite as intense as the IC. Which brings to mind an interesting observation from the 1/4ly in Baltimore. Almost everyone there was an instructor - however - what I noticed was that a good percentage of them were somewhat out of shape. (I'm trying to be very polite!) I was discussing this with a couple of BP participants from our classes and what one said was very eye opening. She said she would not go to a hair dresser who had bad hair. Good point. I know that some of us came from chubby backrounds and have come along way - but we need to be great role models or we may start losing our class members! If we don't 'practice what we preach' - maybe we should be doing something else. I see some instructors using minimal weight on their bars - like a beginner. Maybe it's time to start keeping the IC an integral part of our ongoing training so we can 'have great hair'!

Keep pumping!
20 Comment(s):
On 30 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is minimal weight in your eyes? how much can you lift track by track in release 57?

On 30 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you consider beg, int, and advanced?

On 30 March, 2006, Blogger Mark R said...

BANG! Tammi & Craig hit another nail on the head. Congrats on having the guts to call us all to the mat, so to speak! I noticed the same thing when I was at the quarterly in Las Vegas last July. Folks, some of that skimpy Bodypump clothing belongs in your closet, at least for now.

You can find those beginning weight selections Tami talks in you manual from training. I think the concept of the role model is very important. I don't like it when women instructors do push-ups on their knees and when male instructors use the 3 legged option for lunges (that means you too Craig!). If Susan Tolj is going to be the public face of Bodypump, she should stay off her knees when she does push-ups. I get my role model weight selection goals with every new video. I can't teach effectively with the weight Mike uses in every track yet, I can on some and I am inching closer on the others. That chase has been a big part of the fun for me.

Your IC sounds like fun. I hope you have someone acting as the coordinator. I think that kind of training needs someone acting as the in charge person.

We don't do the IC at our Club. To make up for that, I go Spinning 3 or 4 times a week and do 4 different half hour weight lifting routines that I have created that are kind of based on some of the principals of the IC. Each routine works an area using 125% to 150% of your teaching weight. They are, 1 arms, 2 legs, 3 chest & back and 4 shoulders. Usually I do 2 different exercises with no rest in between and repeat 2 or 3 times with about a minute of rest between each (less recovery time then the IC). Each routine has 6 or 7 exercises and can be done at home if you have some basic weights there.

If Blacksburg was closer to I95 I would stop by to participate as I will traveling thru VA that day!

On 31 March, 2006, Blogger fitstew said...

Tami, well said. No need to 'beat around the bush'. The last quarterly I went to hear in Brisbane last year was full of overweight instructors wearing bad bad clothes! Hey, I'm no Greek Adonis, and my weight selection isn't what it was maybe 7 years ago, but I try hard to set an example for my participants, and use weights to motivate those that need motivating. I don't try to outlift everybody. They know I can do it. On the odd occassion that I join in someone elses class I'll go crazy, but because I teach with alot of energy I've gotta drop the weights a little. BUT, there are too many instructors making too many excuses for not lifting. Remember how you were inspired by your instrucutor trainer when you did your training for Pump (well I hope they did!)? That's the inspiration we have to supply EACH AND EVERY CLASS!
By the way, enjoy your blog. I have to admit I'm very one-eyed when it comes to Mike. I've been in since Pump 22, been to his Monday night Pump a few years back with 200+ pumpers. Chatted afterwards. Nice guy. I luv his work for what he is, not what he's isn't. I just make the music work whether I like it or not. weights seen(done properly) in a squat track?

On 31 March, 2006, Blogger Tami W. said...

Hi Mark and thanks for the post! I was just getting ready to respond to the first two and where they can go for recommended weight selection and you did it for me!

I feel like I have opened up a can of worms and stepped on a few toes - but only with the best intentions in mind. I would love for all BPers' to be at their best. We are delivering an awesome product and it needs to be done in the best way possible. Some people who come to Pump for the first time end up becoming a regular just because of a great instructor - even if they don't like the music, etc. (whats not to like?!).

As far as lunges, I believe Craig does them 3 legged for balance reasons. He can keep better form that way. Sometimes I do it because my forearms tend to fatigue easily - not sure why. It doesn't bother me in squats! And with two of us teaching it's a good idea to show the options, as we do in Flow.

I like taking step and also Craig and I recently acquired a tandem so we have been getting alot of ride time on that. As I said earlier, I do work out heavier with weights on Mon & Fri, the same days we teach. I'll do squats, lunges (and variations on those) pull ups. dips, and other pushing/pulling exercises. Which means I need to start getting ready to go in - since it is Friday!

Thanks again for your post!


PS: In answer to the question :best weights seen(done properly) in a squat track? My answer would be my hubby - with 3 plates. : )

On 31 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to strongly disagree with your comment about 'out of shape' instructors being poor role models.
A great instructor is a great instructor. Role models come in different shapes and sizes. Many women struggling with body image feel intimidated going to a class taught by a 'hard body'.

For example, at our club some of our most popular instructors would fit in to your category of 'bad hair'.

I truly believe that it's not the body of the instructor that packs a class, but the fire and enthusiasm with which they teach.

A hard body doesn't always inspire
a class to work hard.


On 31 March, 2006, Blogger pipera said...

Can someone please tell me what IC is?

BTW: The Instructors from Brisbane are world class and we have been told that by all of the Master Trainers who have come our way.

We also have been told that we are the have the Bodystep Instructors in the world.

Queensland Les Mills Instructors are world class :)


On 31 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm female and put 10kg on each side of the bar for squats. When I was a participant, I used 8.5 kg on each side and had to drop to 5kg on each side when I first became an instructor. Now, over a year later, I use weights heavier than I used as a participant.

I also agree that instructors should be role models for the class, but I also believe that it is most important to inspire the class. I am 5'7" and weigh 145 lbs. I know I could stand to lose 10 lbs, as can many people!!!

On 02 April, 2006, Blogger fitstew said...


Yes. Brisbane has great instructors. Obviously this isn't the place to get into a debate about who is and isn't in shape.

BTW - my squat record (performed perfectly of course!) is 5 X 5kgs and a 2.5kg each side (so 10 X 5 kg and 2 X 2.5kg) plus metal bar. Just curious. Some-one out there must have seen something crazy during a class.....

On 02 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks you really take LM too seriously. Talking about out of shape and wegiht selection. Way to judgemental for me. I am just happy to get people and get them sweating whatever weight they use. Most of us are not physical therapist or physicians so expecting instructors and participants to pack on the weight is crazy. Frankly, I focus and coach good form. I also take the time to know participants and refer them to appropriate services at my club.

On 02 April, 2006, Blogger fitstew said...

anon, thats not even worth commenting on. There are 5 key elements to instructing. (choreography, physical
execution, instruction, performance
and communication - they're the old ones). We should do them all, all the time. Knowing participants, coaching good form.... there's 2. 3 more....
By the way, the physio/physician comment doesn't make sense. I've studied and have more experience regarding resistance training and exercise than either my GP, physio, or chiro (and 10 years of teaching Pump) That's why I'm an exercise specialist.
Hey Tami. This is a great can of worms you've opened!!

On 03 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tami is right on with everything she said - even in our chorey notes (56, I think) LM touched on the importance of "looking the part" as an instructor!! you can kid yourself all you want about being fun, and having the numbers in your class, but if I see an instructor that needs to lose weight/get in shape, it's not inspirational or motivational at all. BP is supposed to be the "fastest way to get in shape". What message do we send if we are not in shape ourselves?

On 03 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He Tami, I love your sight and boy did you open a can of worms. I actually would not be classified as to your standards as "in shape." (I am 5’5” and 155lbs) I have a whole lot of muscles and I know I am very strong in fact I usually out do the guys except for on arms and chest obviously because I am a girl.

My question to you is have you ever been overweight? I teach at least 6 classes a week including BP and BS and in addition I sometimes may pick up other classes. or I take them if my body can take it. I eat very well and I don’t think you realize how hard it is for someone to really lose weight that has been overweight their whole life. I am three sizes smaller than when I started teaching and I think that is fabulous. I would like to loose one or two more sizes and then I think I would be good. I don’t ever want to be super thin, I love my body and I comfortable about my physical shape.

It takes a long time to get fat so it is going to take a long time to lose fat and people have to be patient. Also like someone else said above some of the best teachers are not sticks, it all depends on the attitude and the execution the instructor puts into the class.

I think the main point of any group exercise class is to have FUN and to move, anything is better than watching TV or eating junk food. I really love your sight and all that you guys post, but I totally disagree on this post, sorry about that.

On 04 April, 2006, Blogger Niki said...

Wow, wow, wow!!
BIG can of worms, with lots of opinions, but I have to lean on the side of Tami's opinions.

First of all, as hard as it was, I LOVED the Instructor Challenge (IC)! I also agree that we do need to have it to challenge ourselves, perhaps every 3-6 mos......maybe in between launches like at week 6 of a new release, or every other release. It was a killer, but didn't we enjoy it and the high it produced too? Weren't we amazed at what we could really do when we were pushed to that limit? Isn't it good to be reminded of that when sometimes we fall into a routine or plateau?

I agree that if we aren't setting goals and pushing ourselves (for ourselves), how can we expect our members to do the same? How can we push them and ask them to do this if we don't? Keep in mind though, that everyones goals will be different and they have to be personalized for them. We can't compare how much weight we all pack on as the measure of success. I thought the goal in each track of BP was to push to the "individuals" level of hit their "ugly face" by the end of each track where they feel like they can't do one more rep at the weight they are at.....THEN when they get to the point where it is no longer as difficult, they can try adding weight to push that "ugly face" again! Every persons ability and level is different, and that is why BP is so great, because it has so many options for the different levels........just so we encourage people to set a goal personalized for THEM in each class. Some members may be at their top weight what are they going to do? Well, perhaps on one track, like the lunges, they should try dropping their weight or using NO weight one week and instead increase their range of motion....take the knee a little lower to the ground, put a tighter squeeze in the glutes through each rep and see what me, you can still feel it! That is just one example. I have had members using major weights in the biceps track and they are working hard and they get through every rep, but their form STINKS! Yea, they got through it all, but they had half the range of motion and they were rocking their bodies using momentum to get the bar up(despite all the proper cueing!!)....what if they dropped their weight a tad and actually performed the track with proper form, full ROM and a tight core? Don't you think they would still feel that and actually gain better results? On the flip side, there are members who don't put enough weight on and they coast through every track "la di da" without a single bead of sweat.....why are they there? Just something to do for an hour that's better than watching TV? So you see, we have a responsibility to try and reach all of our members different levels by providing them the best information we can.

As for looking the part, I have to agree with that....does looking the part with a hard body make you a good instructor? No. Are you a bad instructor if you don't have the hard body? NO again. There are people out there who are truly inspiring in so many ways outside physical apprearance...they can connect to people and ask the questions that make people think. On the flip side, there are people who are "hot" to look at but have nothing going on the, my opinion is that if you can find some common ground by bringing the two together, that has to help to better inspire the people who come to your class. How many LM presenters or master trainers have you seen who don't "look the part"? If they are out there, I haven't seen them yet. Personally, as just a regular instructor, I am still inspired by what I see in them, so I have to believe that the general population of members wants to see that as well.

Personally, I am in the best shape of my life, but I am now generally lifting less weight in class than I did when I first began teaching.....why? perhaps because I am teaching too much and it is taking a toll on my what do I do? quit one of my classes? OMG, after all this time? that is so hard to do.....I love these people and I love what I do, so for now, I have to protect myself by dropping some weight.....not so much that I am just "coasting through" the class--no, I am still sweating and I am still getting that ugly face, but low enough that I am not paying for it in severe pain later that night or the next day. I don't need to "prove" what I can lift every time out anymore. Typically on my M, F class, I lift heavier, but on W when I have a class at 9:30 and a class at noon, I drop my weights. Now most of my members know this, and I use it as a teaching opportunity to show them that there are ways they can make things work if perhaps their schedule doesn't allow them that day of rest in between weight training or BP....make sense? If I come to a place where just dropping weight isn't enough to protect me from over training, then I will have to make that decision of what to let go. I have to take care of myself so that I can give my best to my class members. I am not perfect and I know that we all have room for improvement, but overall, I feel good about what I provide my members.......the feedback they give me matches what my intentions and goals are. I strive every day for progress, not perfection. I set a goal in every class for myself, and ask my members to do the same. I try very hard to "walk what I talk". I try to lead by example and I think they appreciate that.

Sorry to be so wordy. Thanks for letting me share though! I love your blogs and the questions you put out there for all of us to ponder! Keep up the great work and I hope you had fun with your challenge!


On 04 April, 2006, Anonymous Jco said...

Class participants are motivated by different qualities in an instructor. That's one reason we want to be the "entire package", so that we have the ability to motivate each and every person in our class. Me, I'm always working on looking the part. I'm a bit soft and squishy through the mid-section, and it's been tough going to lose that. I teach 8 classes each week, and keeping the balance between what my body demands for fuel and losing weight is tough.

I doubt that I will become a better instructor just by virtue of reaching my goal weight, but I will be a better role model.

My absolute favorite instructor, btw, is a size 18. She teaches both Pump and Step, and she is amazing.
Her ability to motivate, to get people to jump higher and go harder...I am in awe of her. I've been to a few quarterlies, and while the presenters are fantastic, they don't have anything on my favorite instructor.

In her class, you find what little strength/energy you have left, and you give it your all. It's not just me either. I've watched her classes, and I see people jumping higher. Lifting more weight with better technique. They are red-faced and sweating and the "ugly face" is goin' full on during the track...with big smiles replacing it right after. She may not have "great hair" but she rocks and is my role model.

Great blog!

On 05 April, 2006, Anonymous Michela said...

I am a participant-turned-instructor BodyPump addict and I've just discovered this site. LOVE IT! I just had to comment on this blog though ...

I love the "can of worms" you've opened here Tami, and I whole heartedly agree.

I did my instructor training less than six months ago, and the one thing our master trainer repeated to us over and over again (and over, and over, and over again!) was that YOU MUST BE A ROLE MODEL FOR THE PROGRAM. In technique, in weight selection, in appearance, everything.

Does this mean you have to lift THE heaviest weights in your class? No. I am 5 foot 5, less than 115 pounds. I can't squat what some of the men in my classes can. That said, most participants do a double take when they see some of my weights, because they can be very substantial and above what they think I should be able to lift! Your weights should be your maximum - your participants should see that you, too, are working hard and struggling, and being a role model for them.

Does being a role model mean having a "hard body" or looking like a stick? NO. One of the other instructors at my gym is not a stick, she has hips and is very "womanly" (for lack of a better description) but she is STRONG and such a role model, especially for me! The weights she lifts, WOW. I aspire to that. You don't need to look like a Baywatch model, but you need to be fit and in shape!

In the end, how can you stand up the front of the room and say "BodyPump works - it will change your body and make you look amazing" ... and have your participants look at you and think, "Uh, it didn't work for you ..."

I love participants telling me they loved my class, that it was great, I'm funny, they had a good time, etc. However, I was truly shocked once when, while discussing a participant's goals, she told me her aim was to look like me. I was so flattered (and a little dismissive, but the comment always stuck with me as to why I keep in such good shape for my classes!) To me, it meant she saw me as a promo for Pump, and as evidence that if she keeps taking it, she'll look great too.

In the end: Practice what you preach.

On 11 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about having to make an anon post here, but i'm not a blogger and don't have a website...I read this blog like crazy though!

As a longtime BodyPump participant, I fully agree with Tammy. Fitness instructors should be fit! There is a definite difference in how hard instructors push the class when they are working hard too. The best instructors are sweating, they tell you when their quads are burning, they are taking their squats lower than the "hunch with bent knees" position, they challenge everyone to up the weight with them, and so on. I've had plenty of unfit BodyPump instructors who were uninspiring not because of their looks but because they were exhausted and low-energy by the end of the squat track! I even quit a new gym after trying it out for a few months purely because their instructors were not physically fit and seemed to just be leading people through the motions. It really made me appreciate my old gym, where our instructors constantly scanned the class to correct poor form, got to know how much weight we usually use so they could razz us when we started letting it get easy, and most of all, were fitness and form role models.

At the same time, it does not bother me when instructors with injury or pain issues use alternate forms for different exercises, like the three-legged lunge. Good instructors still show perfect form for participants at that stage, and always remind us that it's an alternate position. My very favorite instructor for example was out for three months when she had a baby. When she first returned she was an awesome role model for people just starting BodyPump, since she was starting at a beginner level. And every couple weeks, she was cranking up the intensity and weights, and the new people were going right along with her. Within two months she was back to the weights she used before she left to have the baby, and we had a bunch of newer participants who weren't just farting at low weights without making any progress.

On 13 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great topic. I no longer teach the Les Mills programs as my gym has switched to BTS, but the subject is still the same. As a male instructor who is still overweight (for now :)), I actually agree with Tami.

Here's the thing. To be a salesman,(yes that what we are, salesmen and women for group fitness)it is important that we show what the program does. Though every club and location may differ, it has been proven that the majority of people choose things based on the simple senses...sight, sounds, etc. Part of the sight sense with instructions is our personal presentation. It might not be important to those that have know you for years, but it makes an impression on many new comers. One example: We are always trying to recruit men into our class. However, one man told another instructor "why would I take BP? So that I could look like him? No thanks. That's what I'm trying to change." While the other instructor got upset, I actually use that comment to motivate me to go harder. We live in world where looks do matter. Its a hard fact, but it is a fact.

About the weight selection: I think it's very important, especially if you want males to come to the class. That's one of the hard sells here in the US. Many men still think of group fitness as "girl only." A challenging but safe weight selection is a big seller to men taking the class. One of the problems is that people teach too many weight training classes to be at their best all the time. But that's another subject for another day.

Once again thanks for the topic and keep up the good work, Tami and Craig. We've disagreed on other topics (ie, LM v BTS)but I must say that you've hit the nail on the head with this subject.

On 14 April, 2006, Blogger Tami W. said...

Thanks anon for your comment. I think sometimes a rude, but tactful awakening is what we need. Speaking for MYSELF - since I came from an overweight backround - it is even harder to stay on track. In my mind, I think well, I work out so much I can eat whatever I want! But thats not reality. Problem is I love pizza, chocolate and Craig's homemade ice cream! So we have both learned to eat in moderation. Smaller meals, and also eating mostly organic has really helped.

I don't have the perfect, hard-core body like the big names at the quarterly - but I do try my best to stay in shape without spending 6 hours a day in the gym!

Thanks again for your comment!

On 15 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree about having to lift a heavy weight. Even on the releases, when I see mike up there
it looks like he is not even breathing properly, he starts to use momentum to lift the weights.
and his form starts to lose structure. When I take a Bp class
I am lifting really heavy weight.
When I teach it is much lighter
so I can mantain good form and not
try to show off to the other members. I sometimes see instuctors trying to push themselves to hard and I wonder do they know that there are there for their students workout and not theirs


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