When you care about something you do, you have to continue to improve your craft.
I’ve been teaching Les Mills BODYATTACK group fitness classes for just over eight months, which means I was finally eligible to attend a Les Mills Advanced Instructor Module (AIM) in the program. On Sunday, I attended BODYATTACK AIM 1 in San Francisco.
What is a Les Mills Advanced Instructor Module?
The overall objective of a Les Mills Advanced Instructor Module is to provide instructors with more information about the essence of their particular program (there are more than 10 Les Mills group fitness programs), as well as go over some advanced coaching tips and advanced technique drills. All of this work is supposed to help instructors pack their classes, so more and more people can enjoy and become addicted to the power of Les Mills.
My BODYATTACK Advanced Instructor Module experience
To say I was in BODYATTACK condition the morning I showed up to training would not be entirely true. Not only did I just come back from a vacation in Cabo, but I was also tired and a little sore from teaching two days-in-a-row beforehand. However, I powered through it, and I’m glad I did.
This was my second Les Mills Advanced Instructor Module 1, (I attended one for BODYPUMP last year), and I also went through a very different two-day Advanced Instructor Module 2 for BODYPUMP in December. Based on those two experiences, I knew I was in for some work, but wasn’t quite sure how much.
What’s does an Advanced Instructor Module include?
The day is full of movement and learning sessions, facilitated by a Les Mills trainer. Most of the lectures take place on a projector and each instructor gets a handy workbook to take home …
My BODYATTACK AIM 1 looked like this:
- Welcome and intros
- Quick physical challenge (Battle of 300s)
- Presentations and feedback (everybody is assigned a track and they present about the first two minutes of the track to the class, or to half the class)
- The Essence of BODYATTACK lecture
- Advanced technique drills
- The BODYATTACK coaching model lecture
- Presentations and feedback
The day runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a couple of breaks in between. Unlike Initial Training and AIM 2, no outcome or grade is given to the instructors in attendance.
What is different about BODYATTACK AIM?
BODYATTACK AIM was much more physical than BODYPUMP AIM. In fact, we started the day with introducing ourselves while doing BODYATTACK moves. Then we moved right into a team challenge (Battle of 300s) in which each group of four had to complete 100 push-ups, 100 burpees and 100 high-kicks as fast as possible. We broke up the moves with each person doing 25, but it was still quick and intense.
Of course, the presentations were also physical, because that is when we each took turns teaching a track of the class. When you weren’t teaching, you were participating.
The day continued with some workbook lectures, discussions and more technique drills, finally ending with everyone running around in a circle clapping and yelling.
What do you learn at a BODYATTACK AIM?
I learned a lot about technique and a little bit more about the essence of BODYATTACK.
Les Mills conducts thorough research into each of its programs to uncover exactly what it is that participants want when they go to a class. When people take BODYATTACK, they want challenge, high-energy and fun. That helps define the essence of the program, and everything we do as instructors should support that essence, so we can always deliver the expected quality in every single class.
I also learned that BODYATTACK has gone from being a high-high program to a high-low program, which is a lot more inclusive. Today, BODYATTACK is for everyone, and as instructors we have to welcome new people and offer plenty of low options throughout the challenging class.
Yet, the real meat of the day came in the drill portion …
BODYATTACK advanced technique drills
The advanced technique drills were definitely the most valuable and eye-opening portion of training.
Because there are some important technique elements that can make or break your ability to do the moves safely and effectively, we spent a lot of time on drills designed to help us with proper glute activation, perfect BODYATTACK posture, correct running position and how to keep our heels grounded in every move. These are things that are only touched on slightly in initial BODYATTACK instructor training, so you have to continue to work at each of them as you grow.
We did glute activation work, in which we had to put one foot on a piece of tape on the floor, hold it still and drop into a single-leg squat, then move our free leg slowly and precisely around our body, while keeping our chest up and our knees in perfect alignment. We followed that up with tough one-minute interval stations, in which we all had to coach each other to finish exercises like shuttle runs, squat jumps with weights, burpees, box jumps and more.
However, the most memorable exercise of all was the BODYATTACK posture drill.
Even if you think you stand up straight, chances are your shoulders roll forward and chest drops when doing big BODYATTACK moves like jumps and kicks. That’s why this drill called for duct tape. We took turns taping each other’s shoulders back in a criss-cross pattern all the way down our backs to our lower waists. This created an X shape of tape on our backs (done on bare skin over the sports bra), which pulled our shoulders back and down. Then, we proceeded to do BODYATTACK moves with this contraption on our bodies. It was an incredible feeling, because it really helped us all keep that perfect BODYATTACK posture, all the way until we started to get sweaty again and the tape fell off.
It sounds weird, but if you think you struggle with posture during cardio, I’d recommend you find a partner to help you do this same trick. (Proceed with caution of course!)
Tying it all in with final presentations
Finally, we ended the day with our second presentations. This is when we were supposed to show some improvement on whatever feedback we were given earlier in the day and incorporate some of the advanced technique and coaching.
Based on my presentations, I received the feedback that my coaching is definitely my strength. I provide the proper introductory, follow-up and motivational cues to get my members moving. However, I need to work on some arm-line technique and improve and increase the levels that I show with my body to match what my words are saying. That’s something that comes with practicing BODYATTACK in front of a mirror or taking video of myself teaching a class to watch and critique.
We all had to write down our plan of action to continue improving as instructors. To commit to it, we were asked to do an outline of one of our feet on a poster and then write down our first steps to make a change together.
Here’s a shot of the group showing our plans for “Tomorrow I will” …
It was a long and tough day. Yet, it was worth it. I spent quality time with 10 fellow instructors who all work hard to help people get moving in their classes.
I walked away with some things to work on and a new appreciation for one of the greatest group fitness classes around.
No matter how tired we were, as BODYATTACK athletes, we all pulled out the high energy for one last photo before we left …
That’s me, far left with the tuck jump. Tired, sweaty, but somehow smiling ear-to-ear.
Questions of the day
Have you ever taken BODYATTACK? If so, what did you think?
Instructors out there, what are your tips for teaching a great cardio class?
Is there anything that you’re working to get better at in your life that might be just a little bit hard?