How We Learn New Releases
Since Craig’s topic has struck a familiar chord with so many, we have decided to post again how we learn our routines (click here to view our prior post on this topic from last year). And I feel pretty ‘safe’ writing this because I believe it to be a non-controversial subject so I won’t be whacking a beehive.

Craig and I have totally different methods of learning. He is a technical person and writes computer codes for his real job. Therefore, when he rewrites his notes – that’s what it looks like to me, computer code. And only he can decipher it. (Or another computer person). He will watch the DVD and write down the moves from that. I only watch the DVD if I don’t understand a certain move. I need the notes so I can see the timing before a move actually starts, between breaks, pause, etc.

When the new release first arrives, I play it over and over again. In the kitchen while I’m cooking the King his dinner, in the car, on the treadmill, etc. This helps me to learn all the tempo changes, the places where we can ‘jazz’ it up, etc. When I know we are getting ready to launch, and I know what songs I need to learn, usually about 1 week before, I then take the notes and go to the basement where our workout room is. There I have a huge dry erase board hanging on the wall and I will rewrite mine using pretty much what the notes say. I use many abbreviations so I don’t have to write so much too. For example, 2/2 overhead press becomes 2/2 OH. I know that it is a press. For the Clean and Press combo – I will write ‘C & P’ –I know there are usually DRs’ (deadrows) right after. If not, I’ll write ‘NO DRs’’. So in essence, it looks somthing like this:

PUSH IT – Chest
16ct set up – from btm
4/4 press 1x
2/2 press 8x
3/1 press 2x
sngl 8x
4/4 press 1x

Doing it this way makes it easy to practice without having to keep looking at the printed notes with really small writing. And since usually I can’t find my glasses anyway – this works best for me.

As I’m writing it out I will also look for patterns in the notes. It may be how a sequence is repeated 2 or 3 times. Or how it’s always a 2/2 on a certain phrase. Or maybe I notice there is only one set of bottom half squats. Or no 3/1s’ in the entire song. I try to keep this in the back of my mind. And then I practice. And practice. And practice. I will do the song till I get it right. When I play it in my car, or listening at home, I’m doing the moves in my head. I don’t worry so much about when to start calling out the next move because if I know my music and choreography well, I will know when the changes come. I think it takes being really comfortable with the music. And even after hours of practice – you can still goof up. The trick is moving on through it. It’s easier when you have a partner to teach with because between the two of you, you should know the choreography. It’s tougher when there is no one to back you up!

I remember when I first started learning BP and I was overwhelmed at the amount of information that needed to be memorized – especially at my age… But for the newbies out there – don’t give up! It gets easier with each release. Now I can learn a new song 2 hours before class if I need to. I prefer not to because I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to BP and worry about getting it wrong without enough practice, but it can be done!

So there you have it. I’m sure Craig will add a few things when he is not working so hard. He is up in DC and he has been going to the Body Pump class up there. Anyone seen him? : )
16 Comment(s):
On 26 April, 2006, Blogger reymond said...

Keep writing, Tami. Besides, it's your (and Craig's) blog. And I always enjoy reading what you wrote... :)

On 26 April, 2006, Blogger Craig Warman said...

Tami thinks that nobody can understand how I code the songs. Well just for the fun of it I'm going to demonstrate it right here.

So this is the example she gave:

PUSH IT – Chest
16ct set up – from btm
4/4 press 1x
2/2 press 8x
3/1 press 2x
sngl 8x
4/4 press 1x

Okay, so here is how I would code that:

PUSH IT – Chest
(start at bottom)
2 2 2 2    2 2 2 2
3 3
1 1 1 1    1 1 1 1

Now - to me, at least - that's easy to read. At a glance, I can see that I've got one 4/4, two sets of 2/2s, a half-set of 3/1s, two sets of singles, and a 4/4. She looks at that and goes cross-eyed (just like when I try to read her notes).

I guess it's true what they say. Opposites attract.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

On 26 April, 2006, Anonymous Dylan said...

Ha ha! I love the way you say you "code it." I'm a 20+ year computer programmer, and I use Tami's style,

(Though I could get used to your "Machine Code" style, I think I prefer Tami's more intuitive C# style.)


On 26 April, 2006, Blogger Tim said...


Craig I bet when you write with a pen it comes out in a fixed length font !

Really enjoy your blogging.

Maybe you could post on how you convinced Tami to cook your dinner ! Curious minds wnat to know...

On 26 April, 2006, Blogger Craig Warman said...

Interesting you think Tami codes in C# style - I never thought of it that way!

So you want to know how I got Tami to cook my dinners. Well, I'll tell you. I offered to be her very own kept man. If you've ever seen a kept man you'll know what I'm talking about. A kept man just kind of walks around wearing a dinner jacket, holding a drink, and is generally pleasant to everyone he meets. He basically has no redeeming value - except, of course, for the lady to which he is beholden. My big goal in life has always been to be a kept man.

(At the risk of overstepping my bounds, I'm going to take this opportunity to point out that - well, all things being equal - many ladies would probably like to have their very own kept man)

So, anyway, I made Tami an offer. I said, "I'll be your kept man, and you won't have to pay a dime for me. In fact, I'll work like a dog, keep the a roof over your head, squish any bug that scares you, fix all the stuff that you break, and even look the other way when you crunch the front bumper of my pickup truck. All I ask is that you cook me up three square meals a day." So she said "I do", slid a gold lasso on my left ring finger, and suddenly I had like fifty pairs of shoes lining the walls of my closet.

Now, I don't know who got the better deal, but I do know this - We both kept up our ends of the bargain, and that seems to have worn pretty well for the two of us. Any evening you drop by the house, you'll probably find me standing there with a drink in my hand, being generally pleasant to everyone I meet.

On 26 April, 2006, Blogger Tami W. said...


On 27 April, 2006, Blogger pipera said...

Putting it simply I learn via the music and also learn it as if I was learning a dance routine.

Bodybalance is totally different.

More homework (new poses) I often refer to yoga texts and get an understanding of the pose.

It is the most complex program to learn every release if different. Not one release is the same and you are using the body (holistic)and physical all in one.

I find Bodypump the easiest to learn!

On 27 April, 2006, Blogger pipera said...

Forgot to mention once I learn it. It is imprinted in my head. I can pick up any Bodybalance/Bodypump and pretty much do it from memory that is because I learn the music and lyrics 100 % being from a singing and musical background (playing trombone)and also a dance background it does help :)


On 27 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your tips are great...put these wonderful tips into practice last night..a fellow bp instructor (new) noticed an improvement in calling out what was coming up..
your tips are sooooo helpful!!

thinking ahead of where i am at the moment seemed to help..
rehearsing in my head was not enough...calling it aloud helped!

nice job, tami! you & craig make a terrific team..keep smiling're the king in your palace!!

On 27 April, 2006, Blogger Mark R said...

These last 2 topics remind me of an article written for instructors a few years ago by Cathy Spencer Browning (another forbidden name!). The article was about a concept she identified as "unconcscious competence." She defined it as a kind of state of mind that an instructor reaches when they instinctively know the choreography thru the music.

I think the point of the article was that instructors needed to reach that state to deliver a truly outstanding class. When you reach unconscious competence with a release, you are free to totally focus on everything else while leading a class. (If you are counting the number of 2 and 2s you have done until the next change while you teach, you are not there yet!)

When I first saw the article, I did'nt really get it. 2 years of experience later, I do get the concept and what a difference when you get there. It takes me lots of listening and I don't get there for every track of every release, but you become so much more of a powerful influence over you class when you know it cold.

I'm also reminded of a quote from the material we got before training asking us to bring a Discman (now an obsolete thing). "training is all in the tunes" So it is today and probably always will be, in the tunes. Lots of good learning styles here, hopefully pushing each of us to unconscious competence.

Now I use an ipod to listen/train. One of the benefits of itunes is that it tracks how many times you have listened to each song on your ipod. For Bodypump 57, I think I have listened to each song about 75 times! Maybe some of the methods here can save me some time.

Your site is the best i've seen. You keep wackin' that hive from time to time.

On 27 April, 2006, Blogger Craig Warman said...

Thank you everyone for the feedback! It's always great to see our posts are being read, and to hear other ideas!

BTW Tami wrote me last night (I'm out of town right now) and said she was "laughing hysterically" at the kept man business. Which is good because when I saw her "whatever" comment I thought I might be destined for the dog house when I got home!

On 27 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this really interesting to read! Thanks! :-)

I'm a new instructor, but I've just (as of BP57) discovered a really handy way that works great for me. I basically colour-code the choreo notes.

E.g. Singles are in yellow
2-2 = pink
3-1 or 1-3 = blue (and I normally know whether a track has 3-1 or 1-3, and I have found thus far that it's normally one or the other)
4-4 = purple
Then I use green to highlight movement changes. E.g. Rows vs. deadlifts vs. clean & press, and also to highlight things like bottom halves.

So even though I can't read my choreo notes while I'm practicing cos the writing is too tiny, I just look at the colour and I know what's going on.

That said, I don't often know how MANY (e.g.) singles etc there are - I just listen to the changes in the music (and listen to the music over and over until my fiance wants to kill me.) Every now and then a tricky track throws me because there's a slight change in the music but you stick with the same tempo. But apart from that, I love my new colour system!

Plus it's pretty :-)

- Michela

On 28 April, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that would give me cross eyed. but i agree with most instructors that knowing the music and it's different ebb and flow would normally be enough for me to learn the choreo without having to do the actual movements. plus the longer you do it the easier it become to learn any new releases. for me it's like exam day every 3 months as i normally learn new tracks 2-3 days prior to our club actual release dates. but at this point i am very familiar with the music as i have been listening to it since day one.


On 28 April, 2006, Anonymous Steve said...


I also am a software engineer and I like your method:

PUSH IT – Chest
(start at bottom)
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
3 3
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

But how do you code the different moves like on the warmup?

On 17 May, 2006, Anonymous Julia said...

How would you code for a class like BodyFlow. I believe that you teach that as well.


On 17 May, 2006, Blogger Tami W. said...

Hi Julia - For flow I have to watch the DVD over and over again. Sometimes it helps when I do rewrite the notes in terms I can understand. I don't teach flow on a regular basis anymore - just as a sub. For me it was just too much to learn, and it took a long time to get the moves 'perfect'. I teach Pump, also a class called Healthy Back, and also work as a Personal Trainer so I keep pretty busy!


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