The Rockstar meets the Queen of Les Mills

Ryan McLaughlin and Susan Renata talk BodyPump during a Quarterly Workshop in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in September 2011.

Ever since I watched my first BodyPump DVD presentation in March 2010, there is no presenter I’ve looked up to more than Susan Renata. Her power and grace on stage and the way she presents and delivers the choreography are attributes instructors and participants alike can learn from.

When I heard she was going to be at a Quarterly Workshop in New York in September 2011, I did not hesitate to sign up, and booked a VIP spot in the process, meaning I’d be in the front rows for the BodyPump and BodyStep Masterclasses.

This time around, I was returning to the scene of my first workshop, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Having enough of those all-night drives, I decided to take advantage of cheap flights from Portland to JFK. The flights were only 60 bucks apiece, and I was in the city within an hour, and a 90-minute train ride got me to Poughkeepsie.

The workshop was on a Saturday, so I was able to take a PH and head down on Friday. With this being the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, I had a feeling traveling was going to be a pain in the butt. Police dogs were EVERYWHERE at Penn Station, and I even saw a couple at the Amtrak station in Poughkeepsie when I got off the train.

Without a car, let’s just say Friday night was very uneventful, and was spent relaxing, eating some pizza and getting ready for the big day. Since my NYC friends weren’t around this time, I had the opportunity to do more classes πŸ™‚

The alarm clock started buzzing at 4 a.m. the next morning (Les Mills is the ONLY thing I’ll get up that early for on a Saturday), and I managed to suck down a banana and grabbed a cab over to the gym. After spending my whole weekend getting around Poughkeepsie in taxis, I realized that this whole driving all night thing isn’t so bad.

I was one of the first people in line, and wound up chatting with a few other VIP instructors while we waited to head in and claim benchtops. One of them wound up being a Giants fan, so we talked a little football (I’ll leave the Super Bowl talk out of this blog) and chatted about our classes and the like.

Eventually, the doors finally opened, and I claimed my benchtop in the second row from the stage, dead-center, and picked up my T-shirt. We were entertained with music from back releases while eagerly anticipating the start of the workshop.

Finally, the one and only Susan Renata took the stage along with the rest of the presenters, which included local favorite Don Murphy from nearby Albany. He was a DVD presenter on one of the past releases, and he’s a great presenter too.

We did BodyPump 79, and the energy that Susan brought was outstanding. Right from the second she took the stage, you could tell this was going to be an outstanding day. During the Biceps track, “Living on a Prayer,” we all belted out the words during Sets 3 and 4, and she came pretty darn close to breaking down!

Things got quite emotional between BodyPump and BodyStep, as this weekend marked the 10-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, easily the greatest tragedy of our generation. At 8:46 a.m., the same time American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center, we stood silently for a minute to honor those who were killed that fateful day. That truly made us one tribe!

BodyStep came and went, along with RPM, Vive and BodyJam for me, and I eventually got to talk with and take a picture with Susan herself! We chatted about PUMP for about 5 minutes, and I shared my goals with her and mentioned passing AIM 1 just weeks prior to this workshop. She stated that she had seen me near the front and said, “Keep working at it. You have a lot of potential.” It was inspirational to hear those words from one of the faces of Les Mills.

She even led us through a valuable education session at lunchtime, which aided me greatly in my teaching. I’ll spare the details about the trip back to Maine, as it was truly forgettable, unlike meeting and mingling with Susan at this workshop. By the way, there were no sightings this time around πŸ˜›

Photo by Ryan McLaughlin - Les Mills instructors mingle and chat prior to a Super Quarterly workshop in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in September 2011.Ryan McLaughlin and Susan Renata mingle and talk about BodyPump during a Les Mills Quarterly Workshop in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in September 2011.

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.