Plyometric moves DO belong in BodyPump

The debate of whether plyometric moves belong in BodyPump has been a hot topic of debate for the last year as the evolution of Les Mills’ most popular group exercise program has added high-impact moves.

Some instructors and members think BodyPump is heading in the right direction. Others don’t. Just like any topic, there are going to be different opinions. And that’s OK.

Instructors and participants alike have gone back and forth like two heavyweight fighters on message boards for quite some time. The mantra that Les Mills instructors are “One Tribe” has fallen apart to a certain degree.

In conversation regarding BodyPump 85, which will feature plyometric squats in which participants will be jumping onto their benchtops and soaring to new heights, one person commentor stated “adding plyometric squats to BodyPump is like adding squats to Zumba.”

First of all, comparing BodyPump and Zumba is like saying LeBron James and Bill Russell are the same breed of basketball players. You’re mixing apples and oranges. And they’re not going in a protein shake. We’ve had plyometric moves in the lunge track since Release 80, which was launched in early 2012. And now people are starting to complain. The translation: Plyometric moves have no place in BodyPump. This program is going down the tubes. People will bail on our classes and find a Planet Fitness.


Each track has options for instructors and participants alike. And, it’s up to us instructors onstage to be role models for those who can jump high, but those who need the lower-impact options.

Alex Kattar, an instructor from California, echoed those thoughts.

“Give others options, demonstrate then and do them,” was the advice he offered. “It’s not [the instructor’s] workout, so you don’t always have to jump as an instructor, just as you do not always have to have the biggest weight on your bar.”

Kattar’s classes have been soaring to new heights since the plyometric moves were introduced.

“Over three-quarters of my class do them and absolutely LOVE them,” he said emphatically.

Suze Antrican, who is as big a Les Mills fanatic as I’ve ever met, believes the program is going in an upward direction and will only continue to do so.

“We have to remember that we all start somewhere and that we build into what we want,” said the Tennesee-based instructor. “I’ve got people who 6 months ago would’ve never attempted these options, but are now soaring to new heights because I’ve given them the tools they need to reach beyond their prior limits.”

That is what we instructors have to rememer as we look toward the future. The naysayers will have their opinion. That’s fine. We all have first-amendment rights.

However, we have to remember that plyometric moves in Track 7 have just as much effect, if not more, than tons of bottom halves. It’s just a matter of us instructors motivating the participants to break through barriers they thought were unbreakable, and showcasing how far this program has come.

 “There’s no age, no limit, nothing that can stop us from reaching farther than we think we can,” Antrican said.

Of course, the main thing is promotion of our classes. If not for that, the rooms would be empty. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve heard the words, “Ryan, are we jumping tonight,” or “Ryan, you motivated me to do an extra three push-ups on my toes.”

“I will say that I, too, have seen members embrace these challenges because I hype it up,” noted Lisa Schwarz of Pennsylvania.

Schwarz, who I will also note is a huge Penn State football fan, mirrors my feelings almost perfectly. Members enjoy these challenges because we build them up. People come to BodyPump wanting to get their butts kicked, not for milk and cookies. The original barbell workout remains just that. It’s just revolutionizing.

“Don’t push back on it and keep an open mind. Offer alternatives and let’s see how and where it all goes,” Kattar said when looking toward the future of BodyPump.

Team USA launches BodyPump 85 this weekend, so our members’ opinions on the new plyometric moves remains to be seen. But if the last five releases are any indication, they’re going to be jumping through the roof.

 No matter what, there will be the occasional “BodyPump is heading in the wrong direction” and “BodyPump is becoming Zumba” jibber-jabber.  We just have to ignore it, or let it motivate us even more.

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.