AIM-ing to raise the bar

Every athlete has a hero that they look up to. Growing up in the 1990’s, almost every basketball player I knew wanted to be the next Cindy Blodgett or Michael Jordan, while some of today’s athletes aspire to play on the same court, field or rink as Paul Pierce, Tom Brady or Tim Thomas.

But for BodyPump instructors, we look up to folks such as Sheldon McBee, Glen Ostergaard, Susan Renata, among others. Why? Because they are in a select group that includes the world’s top instructors, and they are frequently invited to New Zealand to lead the Masterclass filming of the latest releases.

There’s no doubt it’s a long road to get there, and for some of us, it’s even an unreachable star. For those like me who live and breathe Les Mills, it’s an Impossible Dream similar to the one that Red Sox Nation experienced in 1967.

In order to advance your career as a BodyPump instructor, there are Advanced Instructor Modules, also known as AIM. There are two parts, and in order to attend Part II, where high-quality stamps such as Elite Status are on the line, you have to pass Part I.

As my skills kept developing, my girls at BBAC suggested I try AIM I, since there happened to be one in August. To attend it, you must be certified in your program for 6 months, and with 11 months under my belt, I figured it was time to take the next step.

The modules are very few and far between, so I was lucky to find one on the East Coast. The bad news was, it happened to be in Burlington, Vermont, which is one of those pain-in-the-butt cities to get to, in the immortal words of my BDN sports colleagues.

Fortunately, the module was on a Sunday, so I didn’t have to waste any personal days traveling. But I had to spend my whole Saturday trailblazing Route 2 from Bangor to Burlington, which took nearly 7 and a half hours.  Only for PUMP!

I spent the night going over my choreography and relaxing, knowing that even though this was a one-day module, it was not going to be easy, and I headed to the club early the next morning. Our trainer was Jacki Kellog out of Tennessee, who is about my age, which made things easier. However, as was the case at initial training in 2010, I was the only guy in the group.

The training was very simple: We were assigned a track from BodyPump 78 (I had biceps), we had to present it twice, and go through some rigorous training in between. In the morning, I was a tad nervous and made a couple mistakes, but I had to regain my focus and be ready for the afternoon presentation.

I decided to try to go up on my weights, since I figured I had nothing to lose at this point, and what do you know, I nailed it! Jacki marveled at my presentation, and it really skyrocketed my spirits!

I wound up with a PASS, which made the long 7-hour drive back to Maine a happy one. I’ve got a long ways to go before I’m on the same level as national presenters, but rome wasn’t built in a day! I know there is an AIM II waiting for me at some point this year, and even though the dream of Elite Status is very, very tough to attain, that’s what everyone in Red Sox Nation said in the spring of 1967.

Kia Kaha!

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.