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Zumba and Les Mills Classes: Body Combat, Flow, Pump, and Step

Updated on April 4, 2014

Amateur Exerciser

I work out about 2-3 times a week, and I go to classes about every other time. Here is a bit of my experience with the classes, mostly for those who have never tried them or are interested in knowing a bit before you try. I know I, for one, am more likely to try something new if I have an idea of what to expect.

Body ________ and Zumba

So the classes that are offered at my gym (and many other gyms) are called BodyFill-in-the-blank. These are Les Mills classes. My gym offers BodyCombat, BodyFlow, BodyPump, and BodyStep so these are the ones I am most familiar with. There is also Zumba, which is not Les MIlls so it's name does not have the word Body in it. If you go to the Les Mills website you fill find other classes that are offered that are official Les Mills classes, both with and without the Body title. Apparently, at least in Omaha, the other classes are all mostly offered at YMCAs or specialty gyms.

For all the classes, make sure to bring plenty of water (I usually go through a 16.9oz bottle per class) and a towel for wiping off that sweat.

In the future, when I say Les Mills Official Website, I will be referring to this, since I can't reference it too many times in one page.

BodyCombat

This was definitely the class that has challenged me the most of the Les Mills options available at my gym. By the middle of the class I was ready to barf I was working so hard. I don't know how people do it on a regular basis.

This is not my favorite of the classes offered, Les Mills or not. I just don't get a kick (pun intended) out of punching and kicking for exercise. Maybe it's because I am a wimp and I can't take the intensity of this workout. According to their official site, a BodyCombat class burns over 700 calories! A friend of mine just became a BodyCombat instructor - as you may imagine this is her favorite of the Les Mills classes. If you enjoy taking out your daily stress imagining someone at the other end of your strikes than this may be the class for you.

BodyFlow

BodyFlow is another term for yoga, although according to their official site, it combines more than just yoga techniques. Confession time! I have never actually attended this class. I am just not really a yoga, touchy feely, meditation kinda gal. I am also the least flexible person alive. Sure, you may be thinking "well then, shouldn't you attend the class?" to which I would reply "the gain is not worth the cost."

BodyPump

BodyPump is probably my favorite class. If you go to the Les Mills official site, they won't give you a calorie count. I am assuming it is because it all depends on how much you push yourself.

My gym offers an introductory Body Pump class which I attended twice. I probably would have been fine only attending one, and might even have been fine if I just went to the normal class. I have seem some people come to the normal class as their first time but I'm not sure how they did because I was trying not to be creepy and focused on myself.

When you go to class, you have to set up your "bench" which is made by using the same bench they use in body step and putting two risers underneath each edge to lift it up. This is to allow your legs to bend down when you are laying on the bench. If you are especially tall you might need three risers but I've only seen someone use three once.

Some folks in the class also grab a yoga mat. I guess they find it more comfortable for laying on. I am not that picky.

Then you will need to set up your bar. The bar itself weights 5 lbs or less (I can't remember the exact number) and there are several choices of weights. You will want to lock these weights onto the bar using the little clips that are provided. How much weight you put on is totally up to you. Just for reference, I do the warm-up with 5lbs (2.2 kg) on each side and add as needed. If you have a good instructor, or you tell them that you are new, they will give you advice on how much to add: "double your warm-up weight for the next muscle group" etc. Now, take these recommendations with a grain of salt - sometimes it depends on what you are going to be doing for the exercise. If it is your first time, I would definitely recommend less than you think. Sure, it doesn't seem hard to do bicep curls with 10lbs for 5 reps, or maybe even 10 reps, but when you start to reach 30 it can be crazy!

You will be exercising the following muscle groups: back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, back, abs, butt, hamstrings, and quads. Each class is different and each teacher is different, so one time you may do lots of squats for quads and butt and another time lots of lunges. I like this aspect.

The hardest move is the one where you work on your back. It is called a clean and press. I have included it in a short video down below. This is the primary move that I believe one should know before going to a normal class because it is the most difficult and most difficult to learn. I have gone to several classes and I would say that I still don't feel like I do it perfectly and it took me about 5 classes (including the two introductory classes) before I felt relatively comfortable doing it. The rest of the moves are the ones most people are familiar with: bicep curl, chest press, etc.

Les Mills is all about doing things to music. BodyPump's little motto is "reptition to rhythm" or something like that. You do a lot of reps as the music is playing. It is a great workout!

Clean and Press

BodyStep

BodyStep is my second favorite Les Mills class. Go to their official website to find out the amazing number of calories you burn. I used to go to this class all the time in the summer when I could go during the day, but the nighttime class offerings are not conveniently timed for me. I noticed though as it got toward the end of the summer that there was a lot more "athletic" options built into the BodyStep class. What this means is that they do more difficult options like getting down on the ground and doing bicycle kicks. No thanks! Apparently eventually there is supposed to be a BodyStep option and a BodyStep athletic option. My instructor friend told me that adding the athletic option is an effort to attract more men to BodyStep classes. Good luck with that Les Mills.

Anyway, I like BodyStep because I like dancing, and that is pretty much what it is. You have the option of doing just the bench or adding one to two risers on each side. I started off with just the bench and by the end of the summer I was adding one riser. There were enough people doing each option that no one felt weird by their choice. Some people even did some of the moves on the ground which was a suggestion our teacher made for those who have bad knees. I highly recommend this class - it will get your heart pumping and it will be fun. As with every class, it can take awhile to get the moves, but don't let that discourage you!

Zumba

Zumba is a class all of its own. Unlike Les Mills classes which are obviously regulated, it seems to me like Zumba teachers are pretty free to just do their own thing, despite the fact that they are apparently all one group. I have been to classes taught by four different teachers. The male teachers had classes that were mostly inspired by current popular songs. The female teachers tended alittle bit more toward the latin music that originally inspired Zumba. I gravitate more to the classes with popular music just because my abs quickly get tired of constantly getting the work out.

Zumba is a serious pro/con workout for me. The pro is that it is fun and it is a sure way to get me to work out for an hour straight. I would not be able to consistently go to the gym and work out for an hour if it were not for these classes. Another pro is that it is a great workout. I must burn like a million calories. The con is that it is often a bit too sexy for me. Of the two male Zumba teachers at our gym, both of them like to interject a bit of sexiness into the workout. One of them is, for me, over the top so I don't attend his classes. The other is a bit more than I'd like but survivable. In addition, since it is contemporary music I am forced to listen to crap like Robin Thicke. However, since there are no family friendly Zumba classes out there that I know of (please tell me if there is one in Omaha!) I'm not sure what choice I have.

What I also like about the teacher whose class I attend regularly is that he uses mostly the same songs over and over (other teachers may do this but I wouldn't know since I do not attend their classes). It is much more fun to go when you know the moves. It will take a few classes to learn the moves but it is well worth it.

When you go I would recommend that you arrive a few minutes early so you can get a good spot in the back of the room directly behind the instructor. If not, you spend the entire class tilting you heard in uncomfortable ways and if you are fairly new you will be lost on the moves. One time I arrived "on time" and I got a spot in the front of the room near the door - definitely the worst spot in the room.

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