All the stars aligned for me to finally attend Les Mills BODYATTACK instructor training this past weekend.
I have always been a big fan of the program and becoming a BODYATTACK instructor has been on my “list of big things to do one day” for about three years. But it had never worked out until now.
Up until just a couple of months ago, the program was not even offered at any gyms in San Francisco. And there were no trainings for new instructors on the calendar in the state of California any time in the near future.
Fast forward to today, and BODYATTACK is now on the schedule at four different 24 Hour Fitness locations within a few minutes of where I live in the City, and I am going to be teaching one of those classes starting very soon.
Once I heard that BODYATTACK was being added to more gyms, I found an open training in Florida near my parent’s house and made some last-minute travel arrangements to attend. I wanted to visit my parents anyway, and it made perfect sense to combine the two.
My wonderful Mom equipped me with new workout wear, supplies, a cooler full of food and even drove me there-and-back to the first day of training, heading to the gym in the wee hours of the morning. It was very nice to have a warm meal waiting for me when I arrived home, as well as have someone wash my bag full of sweaty clothes when I was too tired to lift my arms. I didn’t have enough time at home to do a round of visits with all of my friends and loved ones like I would have wanted to (since it was mostly business), but I did sneak in just a couple hellos in between sweat sessions.
What is BODYATTACK?
Like the name implies, BODYATTACK is a challenging group fitness program.
Les Mills bills it as “the high-energy, sports-inspired cardio workout that builds strength and stamina.” It’s a program consisting of aerobics, sports and strength moves. There is a warm-up, two 20-minute blocks of cardio, upper-body and lower-body conditioning, core work and a cool-down, for a total of 12 songs. The class runs just under an hour. You don’t need any equipment, and you do a whole lot of running around and jumping.
What is BODYATTACK training like?
Since I have been to two other initial instructor trainings for Les Mills, I had a general idea of what to expect. But every single training is a new and different experience, and this one provided a whole new set of challenges.
Training is two days, including a full day of work (usually from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) on both Saturday and Sunday. We had a bit of a hiccup in our training, because the trainer, Andres, was in a minor car accident on his way down to the gym on Saturday. He had to wait for the cops to come to file a report and the tow truck to take his car, so he didn’t arrive until 9:30 a.m., and we didn’t kick off until 9:45 a.m. That meant we ran a bit late the first day, but ended a bit early on the second day. And don’t worry, he wasn’t hurt and was still able to teach an energizing Master Class after arriving.
There were 11 total budding BODYATTACKers in my training, who mostly lived within an hour radius of the host gym, which was YMCA – Lakewood Ranch in Bradenton. Some of the participants were already freestyle group fitness instructors, some were personal trainers, one was a professional runner, one already taught seven other Les Mills programs and two were just starting out as instructors. It was 10 women and 1 man, ranging in age from 23 to 40 or so.
We learned about the goals of the program, the basics of how to teach a Les Mills class in the Les Mills way, the elements of sitting in the essence of BODYATTACK, and of course, were pretty much pushed to the limit physically. We each presented (taught) one track from the release to the class two times, both of which occurred on the second day. Once in the morning, which was video-taped, then once at the end of the day, in which we also shadowed someone else during a second track (doing the moves in front of the class, but not teaching).
The outcome for a Les Mills training weekend is based off the combination of both your presentations. You have to know your choreography 100%, be able to coach the position, stance and timing of each move and execute with great technique. You don’t have to be perfect, but you have to show improvement and master a few elements.
There is an official BODYATTACK Fitness Test and a BODYATTACK Challenge, which all instructors who have attended training have had to complete. I was incredibly nervous about the test and challenge, and both were hard. I surprised myself with my performance in the fitness test and did a lot better than I would have guessed on the running and strength portions. Not so much in flexibility though. Guess I better get back to yoga.
How do you prepare for BODYATTACK training?
Before attending training, I had been going to about two BODYATTACK classes per week, in addition to teaching my own BODYPUMP classes three times a week. I had one week to prepare for training, because I registered past the deadline. Usually, participants are given their music and presentation assignments two weeks ahead of the start of the training weekend to have plenty of time to get comfortable with the release. The week leading up to training, I did the full BODYATTACK release with the provided DVD by myself five times, then worked on memorizing the moves and choreography for the two tracks I was going to present at training. I walked into training with my tracks memorized, but had never taught them full-out while doing the moves. Big mistake.
I was assigned a peak sports track (track 4), which featured big plyometric moves. That meant I had one of the most physically challenging tracks to do and teach. Just my luck.
How hard is BODYATTACK training?
Even though I already teach two other programs and feel like I am in good shape, BODYATTACK is an entirely different animal. There are huge sports moves, like tuck jumps, plyo lunges, jumping jacks, high-knee runs, endless pushups, burpees and agility moves, which are not only hard to do, but even harder to do and teach at the same time.
Just like many other nervous participants, I did a lot of research and asking around to find out exactly how hard BODYATTACK initial training was going to be. People told me some details, but I had to experience it myself. I could list out the elements of the physical challenges and tests, but sometimes it’s better to be surprised and leave those little secrets to those who choose to take it on. So for now … I’ll leave it at that.
Suffice to say, I worked incredibly hard. I walked in the door thinking I would be able to pick up teaching easily, but now realize I have a LOT of work to do to get in BODYATTACK instructor shape.
I received some good feedback from the trainer and some notes on things I need to improve on. (Soft knees when landing big jumps is a major one, so I don’t wear out my legs before I turn 30!) Our trainer was an incredible BODYATTACK instructor, a great role model of technique, and we were all in awe of how high he could jump.
Overall, I walked out of training feeling proud of receiving an official “PASS” for the weekend and completing the physical tests, but I know the hardest part is still to come.
To achieve official instructor certification, I have 60 days to shoot a video of myself teaching the full BODYATTACK 82 release, showcasing perfect technique, mastered choreography and good coaching.
As of today, I feel like my BODYATTACK journey is just beginning.
Really, initial training just gave me the tools I need to grow. I have a lot of practicing in my future, a lot of sweating, a lot of huffing and puffing, and a whole lot of tuck jumps and high-knee runs.
Our trainer told us it usually takes instructors about 60 to 90 days to get into the shape they need to be just to teach the class. And of course, you just keep getting better the longer you teach. I believe it. Three years into BODYPUMP teaching and I am always learning new tricks.
I will make my BODYATTACK instructing debut at the end of the month when my own class begins, and luckily, I won’t be alone. As with other new programs at 24 Hour Fitness, I will team teach with an experienced BODYATTACK instructor for the first few weeks to show participants who are new to the program how to do the moves, with someone always showing the low-impact options. Thank goodness for that.
Just as the members are building up their ability to take BODYATTACK, I’ll be building up my ability to teach it. We’ll definitely need each other to get through every single class.
And that my friends, is why I love the power of group fitness …