Are we heading in the right direction?

Every release Les Mills puts out has pros and cons. Not everybody is going to be satisfied with the choreography or the music. We’re instructors. We’re only human.

The feedback BodyPump 84 garnered at Union Street Athletics over the weekend was mainly positive. New innovations, great music and a hardcore workout have had people coming back for more this week.

A visit earlier this week to online forums on the Les Mills Web site produced quite a bit of feedback on this release, and it wasn’t positive. I stumbled upon a thread entitled “BodyPump is moving in the wrong direction with Release 84.” Most of the comments, as expected, were directed towards the propulsion moves in Track 7 (lunges) and the hammer bicep curls in Track 6.

I can certainly sympathize with the way some folks feel about the new moves in Track 6. Some gyms don’t have the necessary equipment. Some instructors I spoke to this week stated their clubs only possess the Don Oliver kilogram plates, which don’t have any handles on the outside. Our gym has such plates, but we also have regular plates with handles on the outside, so our members didn’t have a lot of trouble with the new moves.

As expected, there were plenty of complaints about Track 7, which for the third consecutive release, featured jump squats in the back half of the track. One poster on the aforementioned forum even wrote that BodyPump should “go back to the proper lunge tracks.”

Let’s get something clear here. BodyPump, like any other fitness program, is evolving as the future of fitness evolves. Prior to us launching Release 82, the last time I had done a jump squat was in high school. Prior to Release 80, a typical lunge track went like this: Lunge on one side, take a break, then lunge on the other side, put the bar down and move on to shoulders.

Some people have stated the current lunge tracks aren’t as challenging as say 5, 10, 15 releases ago. Of course, no two BodyPump tracks are similar, but what some folks may not understand here is we’re engaging the same muscles with different moves. Others were complaining that their members struggled to make it through the propulsion-style tracks. I wonder if those folks realize there are options, and they should be cued before the play button is even pressed and that bar goes on the back.

For example, with Track 7 this time around, we’re using our weights for the first 3 and a half minutes before we even get to the jump squats. If the bar is loaded appropriately, you should be feeling the heat by the time your legs are ready to go off the ground. My participants gave me some positive feedback on this particular Track 7, and my colleagues have expressed their love for it as well.

Now to answer the question you all have been dying to hear: Is BodyPump headed in the right direction? Yes. The product is evolving for the future. The future is very bright for this program and all Les Mills programs. The bottom line is you have to change things up once in a while, or your members will get bored and your classes will become a ghost town. There’s always an option in every track.

Feel free to send along any feedback on this column in the comments or on Facebook!

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.