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BodyPump: What It Is and Why I Love It

I covered a BodyPump class tonight for a fellow instructor who has the plague that’s going around. I was prepared for a full class and was so excited to arrive to find the gym already filling up.

We ended up with around 45 participants tonight. I was surprised to see a LOT of familiar faces. It seemed like all of our regulars were in attendance plus a few newbies.

After class I got several “that was really hard” comments and even one “you’re the hardest teacher…but I mean that in a good way.” This was probably due to the fact that I put together the most challenging playlist that I could think of. Push ups at the end of the chest track? Check. Dips and tricep push ups? Check. Over 100 squats including 24 bottom half? Check. 😀

Here’s hoping they come back on Thursday evening. Happy New Year – let’s get strong!

And since I haven’t really talked about what exactly BodyPump is since last summer, here’s a quick overview from the BodyPump website.

“BODYPUMP™ is the original barbell class that strengthens your entire body. This 60-minute workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight-room exercises like squats, presses, lifts and curls. Great music, awesome instructors and your choice of weight inspire you to get the results you came for – and fast! Like all the LES MILLS™ programs, a new BODYPUMP™ class is released every three months with new music and choreography.”

The great thing about BodyPump is that no matter where you go in the world (seriously – it started in New Zealand and is offered in gyms worldwide), the class format will always be the same! While instructors can mix and match from releases, we have to use Les Mills music and choreography. You always know you’re going to get a great workout! In a class you will complete the following in this order:

1. Warm Up
2. Squats
3. Chest
4. Back/Hamstrings
5. Triceps
6. Biceps
7. Lunges
8. Shoulders
9.  Abs
10. Cooldown

BodyPump is appropriate for every fitness level from beginner to advanced because you control your weight selection thus controlling the intensity of the class. The classes are fun and seem to fly by. Before you know it, an hour has passed and you’ve  tackled more push ups, squats, lunges, bicep curls and more than you ever thought possible!

(This is one of my co-instructors, Kathryn. I subbed for her tonight – get well soon Kathryn!)

I totally credit BodyPump with changing my body and helping me discover a love for strength training. In the past, I never enjoyed strength training and didn’t do it on my own in the gym. I somehow stumbled into a BodyPump class a few months before my wedding and got totally hooked. I couldn’t believe the transformation it made in my body. Strength training changed things that years of running never did.

In fact, I loved BodyPump so much that I got certified to teach it! I also teach Total Strength classes at another Y in town where I write my own class plans. I have loved learning more about strength training and helping others discover that it can be fun and deliver awesome results!

If BodyPump is offered in your area, I encourage you to give it a try. Please let me know if you guys have questions about it – how to set up, how to choose your weights, etc.

And a quick recap of the day…I was up at 5:15 a.m. for ashtanga. I haven’t practiced ashtanga since before Christmas and I was in serious withdrawal. I had a pretty good practice this morning and it felt so good to start my day on my mat with a self-guided practice.

Breakfast was pumpkin banana overnight oats and I came home for lunch.

I made a salad with mixed greens, spinach, avocado, dried cranberries, goat cheese, carrots, celery and a crumbled veggie burger. Dressed with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil and a crank of salt and pepper.

A piece of Great Harvest Dakota toast on the side.

I snacked on almonds and a couple pieces of dried mango at my desk before BodyPump. I had a fun vegetarian dinner planned for dinner.

I roasted extra firm drained and pressed tofu, sugar snap peas, green pepper, carrots and onions (drizzled with sesame and olive oil) at 425 for about 20 minutes and then added topped it all with a sesame maple ginger sauce and roasted it for another 5 minutes. I served it over soba noodles. The sesame maple ginger sauce included: 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar.

Dinner was based on this recipe from Eating Well but I doubled the sauce (and added ginger) and added more veggies. I LOVED the sauce. It was so easy to put together and really flavorful. This is definitely a keeper recipe. I think the sauce would be tasty with shrimp too.

I finally sat down to relax (a.k.a. collapsed in exhaustion and soreness) at 9:30 p.m. Brandon made me hot tea and an ice cream sundae. He’s wonderful!

Pictures of the bedroom update coming soon. I want to get some good natural light shots but I will post them for you! It looks great.

Hope you’re all having a good week and getting back in the swing of work, workouts and healthy living.

{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Matt @ The Kitchen of a Runner January 4, 2011, 11:00 pm

    I totally need to try body pump! Going to see if my gym has it 😉

  • Katy (The Singing Runner) January 4, 2011, 11:16 pm

    So, if I were to go to a BodyPump class for the first time, I would learn everything in the first class? I want to go, but I’m scared that everyone else is going to know what they are doing and I’m going to have no idea and look stupid! Do you teach the releases every single class for newbies?

  • Caitlin January 4, 2011, 11:16 pm

    Love the post! I have been dying to go to a Body Pump class at my gym…..BUT, I don’t have a gym buddy and I am nervous about attending my first class by myself :/ Can you give me some tips on how to set up, choose weights etc. when I go? Thanks so much! I’m so excited to try it out 🙂

  • Alaina January 4, 2011, 11:17 pm

    I’ll be going to a Y in Boston and I’m really hoping that they offer BodyPump! I really need to get back into the strength training.

  • Kelsey January 4, 2011, 11:47 pm

    I did my first BodyPump class right before Christmas and LOVED it!! I think I over did it on the weights though. I work out regularly, but am not very good at doing my own strength training routines, which I why I am loving BodyPump.

    If you could recommend weights to choose, that would be so helpful!!

  • Becky January 5, 2011, 7:50 am

    I want to find Body Pump near me. My gym does have some strength training classes, which I love, but I don’t always get to them. After hearing so many good things about Body Pump, I’m anxious to give it a try. It might be the class that busts me out of my strength training rut.

  • Whitney January 5, 2011, 8:09 am

    Can’t wait for my BodyPump class tonight! Glad you are a supporter of Pump! Have a great day 🙂

  • Ashley Sawyer January 5, 2011, 9:52 am

    Ummm!! You just happened to stumble into Body Pump? How about, “my sweet friend Ashley got me going.” Hahaha :)Check out my new blog. I have had it for awhile (from my first half), but never really updated it much except for race updates. Now I am trying to stay as committed as possible to it – although, right now I am a day off of updating because I have the sickness that is going around. I swear I think that I got it from the gym – so be careful! Hope all is well!

    • Ashley Sawyer January 5, 2011, 9:53 am



      • Jen January 5, 2011, 9:58 am

        Ashley – if you had not been there for my first BodyPump class, I am fairly certain that I’d have never gone back. I TOTALLY owe you!!!

        • Jen January 5, 2011, 9:58 am

          Oh and so excited to check out your blog. I am sorry that you are sick!!!

  • Summer January 5, 2011, 12:13 pm

    Jen, I enjoyed your blog this morning! I will say that I have found strength training has not only changed the appearance of my body and its capabilities but also helped me tremendously in my running ability! Keep up the good work! You’re such a great motivation!

  • Emily January 5, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Totally want to try BodyPump! Sounds great. Update on my yoga studio experince: I love it. I am practicing Bikram right now, and it’s very different from the yoga I have experinced before, but getting used to the heat is a good thing for me especially living in Florida.

    Do you count your yoga as calorie burning? I hear that many people do not but I can’t see how after 90 minutes of hot yoga, there isn’t SOME caloric loss.

  • Claudie January 5, 2011, 1:47 pm

    Jen, what about if we already strength training on our own? I had been thinking about trying out BodyPump for a while, but I’m afraid that on top of my own gym sessions (which include the squats, curls, push-ups, etc), it’ll be a bit too much… I guess my question is: does BodyPump differ from regular strength training apart for the group and music?

    And btw, I’ve meant to ask you for a while: you’ve got absolutely amazing arms. Is it as a result of the BodyPump or the Yoga? And what exercises would you recommend? thanks 😉

  • Holly January 5, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Hi Jenn! I have been reading your blog for a few months now, and I love it. You’re lifestyle is so inspiring, yet realistic at the same time! I do have a few questions about Body Pump. I’ve been wanting to try a BodyPump class for awhile now, but I have been too chicken to do so. For some reason, classes where I have to set up anything or choose my own weights are intimidating to me! I think this post may just be the inspiration that I needed to finally attend a class at my local Y. Do you have any advice on how to set-up and choose my weights? I’m 5’3″ and have a small frame. I have done strength training in the past, just not regularly in the past three months. Since I have never attended a BP class, I have no idea where to begin! Any advice would be much appreciated.


  • Tori January 5, 2011, 9:13 pm

    A friend told me about your blog a while ago and I enjoy reading it! I definately motivates me to work out and eat healthy. My gym in Northern VA just started offering BodyPump classes so I will have to check one out!

  • Simply Life January 5, 2011, 9:21 pm

    Oh that meal looks so good!

  • Ashlee January 5, 2011, 9:37 pm

    Bodypump has totally changed my body and my running abilities. I have a hard time convincing myself of when to go up on my weight though. For example, biceps can be fairly easy on some tracks and hard on others at the same weight. Can you maybe talk about weight selection for someone who is an athlete such as yourself and when you decide to change up your weight.
    Thanks for always posting great stuff and helping me and others stay motivated! =)

  • kat January 6, 2011, 9:17 am

    LOVE Body Pump but sadly it’s not offered at my current gym. We do have a group strength training class that I attend regularly and it’s similar – just not the exact same tracks/music/etc. I’m sure you will answer the responses re: being timid to try the first class but I just want to say this to everyone that expressed those feelings: Just go and try it! Show up a few minutes early and let the instructor know it’s your first time and she should help you w/ set up, weight selection, etc. You will love it!! Everyone has to have a “first time” and good instructors know that and are there to help you. Enjoy! :0)

  • Maddie January 6, 2011, 11:31 pm

    Now that I’m catching up on blog reading and am reading this post, I’m sad I didn’t come tonight! I left work with every intention of coming, but my drive home took me to Ashtanga instead… Only 3 in tonight’s class, but I made it through the WHOLE series! LOVED Body Pump though, and I’m definitely making it a part of my regular workouts! Thanks for encouraging me to go!

    Have so much fun this weekend!

  • Jacqui January 7, 2011, 10:31 am

    Hi PB Runner,

    Your blog was sent to me through my goodle reader this week and I love it. I am a BodyPump instructor, and novice runner, up in DC, and I am working hard (read: fighting, struggling, etc) to master healthy eating habits that encourage a muscle growth lifestyle. I have only read a few of your posts but I look forward to read more about how you manage to cook healthy meals — so often I want to plan on the weekend but just cannot carve out the time.

    For the aspiring pumpers, here is a good beginners guide to selecting weights.

    There are big, medium, and small plates, which you attach to each side of the barbell. Big =5kg, medium =2.5 kg and small =1 kg. (1kg = 2.2 lbs). The bar itself is quite light, maybe a pound.

    For each side of the barebell:
    Warmup: 2 small
    Squats: 1 medium- focus on sitting back, not bending forward at the knees
    Chest: 2 small – remember to have your hands all the way on the outside of the bar
    Back: 1 medium – practice the clean & press with Jacqui ahead of time
    Triceps: 1 small – hands directly above shoulders and don’t let elbows bow out
    Biceps: 1 small
    Lunges: 2 small if you’re tired, 1 medium if you’re ok. Step out further than you think you need to. Biiiig step. Stand up straight. Watch Jacqui.
    Shoulders: 1 small on bar and small for side raises.
    Abs: no plates

    If this seems easy after a few tracks, feel free to add 1 small. There is often a short break 2/3 through the song and you can add weight if you feel up to it.

    • Jen January 10, 2011, 5:06 pm

      Hi Jacqui – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! It’s always fun to find fellow Pump instructors! I will definitely include your tips in my BodyPump 101 post.

  • Sasha April 6, 2012, 9:42 pm

    Hey! 🙂
    I came across this post as I was searching for info on Bodypump. I was just curious–is a heart rate monitor accurate to measure calories burned in Bodypump (I have heard that HRMs aren’t accurate for strength training, only cardio?) Or, is Bodypump more like circuit training, so a HRM would give a pretty accurate calorie count?


  • jeannie January 27, 2013, 10:42 pm

    I just started going to bodypump and I’m hoping you can give me some advice. I am wondering what the ratio of weights should be. For example, I know that triceps are a smaller muscle than biceps, so usually you have a smaller weight when doing triceps. However, I noticed today that I used the same amount of weight for squats as biceps. Is there a formula that can be used to figure out how much weight you should use for each muscle group? Thanks for any advice!

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