It offers a full-body workout that not only burns calories but tones and shapes the body with low weights, high repetitions and a focus on time under tension. I've created changes in my post-baby body that I hadn't anticipated with the program, and I love teaching and pushing people through the moves and music.
Want to know what I don't like about it? It's almost like an exclusive club that a lot of people want to join but can't. And I want everyone to know the joy that is seven sets of bottom-halfs at the end of a squat track.
For a gym to offer BODYPUMP, it has to have a Les Mills license and instructors who have been trained by the company. The fees can be expensive and gyms aren't always willing to go through the process. It can be a bit frustrating, to say the least, as the program seems to be so popular and widespread. Fact: There are only four Les Mills licenses in my area, and one is at the university.
But just because your gym isn't a fan of Les Mills (not yet, anyway) that doesn't mean there aren't options for the PUMP enthusiast.
Group Power. A spin-off so to speak of BODYPUMP, this program is offered by Body Training Systems. It follows the same format as BP - 10 tracks, including a warm-up and cool down, and each track taking on a particular move or muscle group. I recently sampled a class as part of a regular feature I write for the paper, and I found it to be challenging. There are moves with a different range of motion that I was not ready for and the music, a bit more instrumental, had more of a hard core feel. From what I could garner from the website, Body Training Systems programs are offered in 20,000 U.S. clubs. There's only one in my area that offers it but near my grandma in Cincinnati, where BP is hard to find, there were quite a few.
Les Mills PUMP. While I think the group exercise atmosphere is integral to the BP experience, Les Mills does have an at-home workout via Beachbody that will help you get your fix. Some of the faces seen in the series are the same ones I see when I get a new release and rehearse with the Master Class DVD.
Join a boot camp or body fit-type class. My BFF is doing this insane (and insanely early boot camp) class on Saturday mornings. This past week, her instructor brought out the body bar for some fun, and many of the moves my friend described sounded like BP. Become a regular at a class like this and let your instructor know that you would love to use a body bar as part of the class. In my experience, instructors are very accommodating and want to make serve their classes as best they can.
Go big and go home. With a single piece of equipment - a body bar - you can create your own BP experience. By focusing on a single move or muscle group and changing tempo and range of motion during each set, you can feel the REP effect.
I thought I would show you some of my favorite moves, which happen to be fairly basic. The keys are range of motion and timing. Be sure to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes and cool down for an equal time to avoid injury. To spike the heart rate and increase calorie burn, try adding in jumping jacks or jumping rope for 30 seconds between each set.
But don't forget the most important thing: the music. For many, music is key to the BP experience. My new fave? "Too Close" from Alex Clare. It's a much better soundtrack than a baby who doesn't want to sleep.
Disclaimer: I am a certified BODYPUMP instructor and fitness fanatic but I am not a certified personal trainer. (Now that's an idea ...) Please consult a medical doctor before beginning any exercise program.