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Body Pump 61 Review
If there's any one shift we've consistently noticed with Glen Ostergaard's twelve short months as Pump head choreographer, it would have to be towards a more "listenable" playlist. No one style dominates all the tracks, nor are they all over the place. Just good, solid music that - together with input from head Pump trainer Susan Tolj - has yielded workouts with a distinct look & feel, yet remain true to the classic formula. With that in mind, let's take a look at what 61 brings to the table:
Warm Up - Just a few releases back (#59, to be exact), the warm-up formula suffered from a bit of unfortunate tweaking by way of an abrupt termination at the end of the lunge sequence. Thankfully, 61's warm-up is tastefully finished with an overhead press / curls combination that feels right at home to the veteran Pump crowd. But while the warm-up routine might be sacred territory, we'd welcome some tweaking in the music department - somehow, we've just never gotten happy with working out to love songs...

Squats - Don't let the super-slow start fool you - done correctly, this squat workout effectively gets right down to business with double-half squats followed by some extended time in the basement. Instructors, take note of the coaching cues and work with the builds in this track. Sometimes less is more - no need to shout your way through this one.

Chest - Pink returns to the BodyPump tracklist for a classic ultra slow, ultra intense chest workout that's certain to be a class favorite. This routine makes a strong case for slow motion workouts - if you've ever questioned their value, this track will most certainly make you a believer.

Back & Hamstrings - We're so used to E-Type back & hamstrings tracks that it seems almost surreal doing clean & presses without that little robot guy singing in the background. Having a Cascada song for this routine is no major departure, mind you, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

Triceps - A short round of tricep pushups whets the appetite before a full course of kickbacks. Top it off with extensions and presses for dessert and you've got a tricep routine that's sure to satisfy - even if it is a Justin Timberlake track...

Biceps - Short, fast, to the point: If you've been trying to break past a biceps weight barrier, this is the track for you. Plenty of performance opportunity for charismatic instructors - or just let the music speak for itself - either way, this one gets the job done in classic style.

Lunges - When was the last time you actually looked forward to lunges? (we thought so) Listen, we could write an entire review on this track alone - in fact, we soon will. For the meantime, suffice it to say Emma Barry's intro of this routine as "The Mother of All Lunge Tracks" might just, believe it or not, be an understatement. Bench or no bench, you will feel this one. Yeah, we left our bars sitting on the floor...

Shoulders - We love the MAC raise, so we're quite thrilled to see it return with this release. Keep a close eye on class participants, though - it's easy to lose the benefit of isolation when the entire torso rotates (keep the belly pointing forward, only allow a slight shoulder rotation if any at all).

Abs - It's the typical Pump abs track - or so it seems, until the music bridge. That, you see, is when it's time to roll over and commence the hover. And, as if hovers weren't enough, strap on a few triple pulse leg abductions and you've got an excellent core workout. Thankfully it's one of the shorter #9 tracks...

Cool Down Stretch - This Top 40 Snow Patrol tune will be instantly recognizable to the younger crowd, but plays just as well for the rest of the class. We love the long stretch sequences - another 30 seconds for the arms would've been icing on the cake, but this is definitely one of our favorites.
Aside from some of our nit-picky musical comments, we're really quite impressed with this release. Here's our ratings:
Music - One point we've harped on time and again in past reviews is how "playable" a release is - we like a playlist that sounds just as good on the iPod as it does in class. Instructors spend a lot of time listening to their music, so playability matters (our sympathies go out to the BodyPump choreography team, by the way, for finding that middle ground between entertainment and playability for a worldwide audience). So we're quite happy to report that #61 is definitely one of the more playble releases. Having said that, we gotta take a couple points off for yet another love song in the warm-up, and for some relatively predictable choices for tracks #4 & #9. Add a couple points back for awesome biceps, lunges, and an exquisite cool down stretch selection, and we've got a solid B for this playlist.

Workout Routine - The MAC raise is back, we've got some hovers, a killer chest track, and a refined cool down stretch sequence - that alone makes for an excellent release. But when you factor in a lunge workout that redefines the standard, there's no question this is an A grade workout.

Instructor Video - The tech crew continues to refine their technique, from enhanced stage lighting to overhead shots during the cool down stretch. The trainer shots were first-rate, the audio is very nearly flawless. Our only nit was a couple of close-up participant shots that lingered a bit long. And about the only creative suggestion we can offer up is to allow a sequence or two that deliberately includes some of the camera crew as they film the master class - sort of like what they do on The Discovery Channel. The Head and Neck Stability educational video is an absolute must-see, not only for its informative content but also for excellence in presentation. So, it's our pleasure to give this instructor video an A, and to highly recommend that instructors watch more than just the masterclass.
Well, there you have it, our review of the 61st BodyPump release. Agree or disagree? Click the Comments link below and let us know what you think!
14 Comment(s):
On 26 March, 2007, Blogger Tim said...

Your back!

I would have agreed with the lunge track comments, but yesterday we did "Hard to say sorry" with a bench. I am here to say that it hurt me a lot more than the new lunge track can.

Squats, in the build up to the singles, it's just made for shouting ;-)

Chest track will stay in my play list for sure - it's a classic. Squats & Abs will make it back regularly, as will biceps for all the reasons you mention, and perhaps the back track when it's time for a challenge on the weights. The others will be "requestables"

 
On 26 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not find chest that hard. Lunges is definitely a killing, don't try it with weights at the first time.
Serie 61 is playing since 3 weeks here already and once you know what to expect it is actually not that difficult.
The last 3 tracks are the toughest, especially with some instructors doing a variation of the shoulders track starting with 24 push-ups.
Abs is tough if done properly.
Enjoy.....

 
On 26 March, 2007, Anonymous spaceman said...

My impression from Sydney is that this is one release that got buried pretty quickly. Maybe because it followed on so quickly after 60. Then, for some reason, we get to wait an absolute eternity between June and September releases...

Tracks 2 through 4 are all both solid and enjoyable. That is probably the main thing to keep me happy.

The warm up is an absolute Barry Crocker (shocker). Like the one on 60 it is full of weird timing and pauses. More instructors get these two warm ups wrong than right, and it can set a bad tone for the entire class.

For an extra challenge on the chest, pass on the break and do super-slows instead. You can do the same on release 60, but that is harder!

For lunges, drop weight by about 1/4 if using the step. Last week I saw one of the more adventurous instructors completely re-choreograph the 58 lunge track -- a tough one -- to make use of the step. Very interesting.

I'm sorry to say that I've already forgotten most of the other tracks...

 
On 26 March, 2007, Blogger reymond said...

WELCOME BACK, CRAIG !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
On 27 March, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to have yall back in the game!

 
On 01 April, 2007, Blogger Niki said...

Good Sunday morning to you all,

I finally have a minute to respond to your review. I agreed with everything you said, but am adding my comments based on my first real run through it at our launch yesterday.

As for the warm up music; it's a nice song, but I have to agree that the past several warm up songs are too "light". I just think that the warm up should set the tone for the rest of the class...grab you and peak your interest. Yes, it is true that you are just warming up the muscles, but my mind is still asleep from the music. The best way for me to explain is by referring to the warm up "Rise".......that one grabbed you right away. I'm not against the nice, inspiring and sometimes motivating lyrics in the warm ups, and the music is nice and catchy, but it just doesn't get me mentally ready for the workout ahead.

I like the squat song......chory is a bit tricky at first trying to find the timing of the first 4/4 after widening your stance, but just like any other tricky chory move, the more you do it, the easier it is. We launched this release yesterday and since I knew I wouldn't be doing all the tracks, I went up on my weight.....surprisingly, I wasn't dead at the end, so maybe it's not as challenging as other squat tracks?? I may change my mind when I teach the whole release in my regular classes this week! I agree with the "less is more" in terms of coaching/talking.......the music really does the talking.

Love the chest track.....slower and more controlled gives a great workout. The music is great! Instructors should use the lyrics in their coaching...lots of possibilities there.

Back-great work out! 4 sets of triple rows plus 7 rows really challenges the members, especially if they go up knowing they have several breaks.

Triceps-I'm not a J.T. fan at all, but this song grew on me and fits the work out well. Members always like the kick backs, and double pulses are a good challenge too...to keep yourself challenged, I believe you can go up on your bar weight at the end though.

Biceps-I always enjoy having some good rockin' sounds and this one is easy to learn......you can probably lift more than usual on this one and be ok. We had some fun performance ops.

Lunges-yes, definitely the mother of all lunge tracks. I practiced this one twice, without weight, before our launch and it killed me. However, it wasn't quite as bad as I had remembered the third time around when we launched, so either I need to pick up the bar now, or re evaluate after I do the ENTIRE class myself! Members loved the music and we had some fun performance ops in it as well.

Shoulders really packed a punch, and this one is challenging with all the mac raises!

Not crazy about the abs song, but I am a hover addict (hee hee-I love the hover) so I enjoyed the new twist with the leg abductions....just glad you don't have to hold that hover too long after you are done with those!

Love the cool down song. I agree that it would have been nice to include the arms a bit more, but you can't always fit everything in. It works the way it is and I know I will use it a lot.

I look forward to doing this release over the next 3-4 wks. I think it will be a very good one overall.

Sorry to be so long winded! It's fun to share with other instructors and see what they think about all this stuff too!

So glad you guys are back doing these blogs! Hope it works out to meet this summer!!

Take care and thanks for letting me B.L.A.H.!!

Niki

 
On 05 April, 2007, Anonymous Steve K. said...

Great review, Tami and Craig. I really love this release.

I noticed that in some of the comments, instructors mention using the bench top with lunge tracks for releases earlier than BP 60. I was at the Houston Quarterly last month, and Susan Tolj said that we should NOT use the bench lunge unless it is specifically called out as an option. The reason is that the bench lunge tracks are choreographed specifically (number and tempo of reps) for using the bench option. With previous releases with many reps, she said there is too great of an injury risk. There is a thread about this here -> http://www.lesmills.com/Community/forums/thread/4526.aspx.

In contrast, Susan said that it is fine to use the modified wide grip rows (where the elbows head toward the ceiling) in previous releases, because those moves are close enough in intensity. I just wanted to share those insights Susan gave.

Cheers,
Steve

 
On 06 April, 2007, Blogger Niki said...

I may be opening up a can of worms by saying this, but I do not understand why any instructors would change the original chory.......it is pre-choreographed, and we have agreed to follow it, like it or not. While I do agree some tracks are not as difficult as others, I believe the team at Les Mills has a reason for the way they chory every track in every release. It all balances out. I know instructors who completely do their own cool downs too, or just make it up as they go. Sorry, it just really bugs me, and for those members who are regulars, it is confusing to them when they get different chory from instructor to instructor. It shouldn't be that way. They like knowing what is coming and knowing they can do it.

If instructors feel the need to have more control over the chory, then perhaps they should be doing a separate class on their own that they can chory themselves. Please just leave Les Mills programs chory to Les Mills.

I never change the original chory, but I will offer the appropriate options to certain exercises if the members need more challenge (for instance, arms wider than 90 on the side lat raises), or using a plate on the chest for crunches if they want more intensity in the lift,etc., but only options that Les Mills has already suggested.

Say what you want, but I believe you make your classes "yours" by injecting your own personality and style into them, not by changing the chory.

Am I alone in this?

Niki

 
On 07 April, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nikki,

I keep the choreagraphy les mills
gives me, but I think it is wasted energy to figure out way instructors
make up there own choregraphy, as long as you are doing it right that is all that matters.If it bothers
you, either talk to the instructors
or quit the gym your at. I have been to classes were instructors have made up there own choreagraphy and the
members dont really notice. Sometimes though Les Mills does some chorreagraphy that I just wont do, like the warm up for shoulders in 60 there are to many shoulders at the end.Remember just worry about yourself and not other people

 
On 11 April, 2007, Blogger Niki said...

To anonymous-

To be honest here, I am not worried at all about myself, but worried more about the participants that take BP classes. It is our job to worry about them when they take a BP class. We owe it to them to make sure we follow the guidelines we have been given. There are good reasons for those guidelines like their safety and making their workout effective.

I have no reason to "quit the gym" I am at as I have no problem with the gym or my fellow instructors. We all work as a team and we all try to bring our members the quality instruction that Les Mills requests. It's never about "us"........it's about them. Without them, we have no one to teach/lead/coach. They are there to make some sort of change in their health and fitness. Each gym decides what they want to offer to their members to help them with these changes. There are a world of options for all the members, and the Les Mills programs are just one of those options.

I do not "waste" any energy on figuring out why a Les Mills instructor doesn't follow the program given to them.........my energy is spent taking the program I am given to the members who show up, with all the passion and energy and personality that I have to give.

Do I love every chory move or every piece of music selected???? No, not always, but that's not my job. It's my job to bring it to the participants without my personal judgement and make it work for them in that one hour. They might love it! They might gain great changes with it. While I agree with you that there are certain choreography moves that make no sense to me, I still do them. I also have the choice once each release is launched to never do them again if I don't want to, unless someone requests it. But I still do it as is. Does that make me a better instructor than anyone else? NO! It's only part of the bigger picture. Am I trying to be better than other instructors? NO! I am in competition with no one but me. I can only make changes in myself to bring the best I can to our participants. If I get caught up in comparisons or how others are doing this (or not), then I have lost sight of why I am doing this.

My questions about changing the chory is not about the individual instructors, but about bringing the same consistancy to the members no matter whose class they take, no matter where they take it. I believe that is what Les Mills wants.....they want someone to go to a class in New Zealand, London, New York or China and know that outside the personal style of each instructor, the basic program will be the same.

My opinion, is just that. I'm not trying to change anyone else's opinion, and certainly mean nothing personal to you or anyone who feels differently.

Call me "by the book" or "boring", but I prefer "loyal",

Niki

 
On 12 April, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Nikki,
Very well put.I hope I didn't offend you with my last comment. I do agree
that we are there for the members and
we should make sure there safe. Today
I taught pump and make wife who is a
doctor did a 1 minute lecture of the
spine as it pertain to squats. When thing I dont do is the las couple releases they give option for the bench lunge,, from my own experiences most people dont do lunges the right way, I think you should learn them right before using the bench , I dont give the option for the bench and the only reason is because of safety I we can at least agree on this

 
On 12 April, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider this, seriously: by using the bench people could actually improve their technique! Why? Because they're force to do a longer, correct stride.

(Note: personally I prefer lunges the old style, i.e. without the bench.)

 
On 12 April, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you , but I think if they use the bench they shouldnt use the bar

 
On 18 April, 2007, Blogger reymond said...

My deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones. I read the newspaper and I was shocked that it all happened where you guys live.

Love you guys.
Reymond

 

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