Current faves: Review of BODYPUMP 112 release, a book, new year catch-up and workouts

Welcome to our first current faves post of 2020! Today, we’re talking about some of my favorite topics like Les Mills, books and more. Before we do that, let’s get caught up, because we haven’t chatted in real time on the blog in a while …

Quick catch-up 

I had a great birthday and Christmas with Dave and Brady. Dave took a few days off around the holiday, and that was the best part. 

Family pic at Broadway Plaza by A Lady Goes West - 2020

Family during Christmas Eve by A Lady Goes West - 2020

And the holiday season was made even better when my mom flew in to surprise me on Christmas night. She’s still here too. Yay!

Ashley and Mom at Grizzly Peak by A Lady Goes West - 2020

During the first week of her visit, we went out to lunches, went on walks, laid around, shopped, played with Brady, saw “Little Women” (it was amazing) and had a great time laughing and enjoying. And then on New Year’s Day, I got the flu. And then shortly thereafter, my mom got the flu. And then my flu turned into bronchitis, and I found myself at urgent care getting a chest x-ray for potential pneumonia. So that was fun.

The good news is that I’m finally starting to feel better, but I did have to sub out my classes this week, which makes me really sad. Anywho, Dave heads off on a work trip and my mom flies out this weekend, so it will be an empty house for a few days. But I’m looking forward to getting fully back to my routine and feeling strong again. Being sick totally sucks. Now for the faves …

Current faves

Les Mills

Review of Les Mills BODYPUMP 112 release

It’s time to talk about Les Mills, folks! I taught the latest Les Mills BODYPUMP 112 release several times in December, and WOW, am I ready to share my thoughts on it. If you haven’t done BODYPUMP in a while, then you are in for a real surprise when you show up to take BODYPUMP 112. It’s building off some of the new moves and innovations in the last couple releases, to add up to be a really athletic release with quite a bit of a cardio kicker, in between all the resistance training. Also, we don’t just stand there and use the bar the whole time. Things have changed!

Truthfully, I feel like the BODYPUMP releases are getting harder as a whole, and this one is very hard. You definitely feel extra challenged and spent at the end of the release. And I’m SO pleased with the changes, because it means we’re all getting fitter and stronger, as we introduce new challenges to our bodies.

Review of Les Mills BODYPUMP 112 release by A Lady Goes West

Here are my thoughts in a track-by-track breakdown …

  • Warm-up. Great song, very welcoming and upbeat. This is a perfect warm-up, with all the usual exercises we expect to see. And there’s also the introduction of a single deadlift to upright row combo, followed by a single deadlift to high pull combo, straight into the clean and press. It moves fast, but is doable, and is a great way to get warm. I love that there is some repetition, and we repeat the same exercises in set two and three to really nail down the combination and focus on technique with a light weight. Thumbs up.
  • Squats. Cool song, big changes and lots of challenge. This track includes four nearly identical sets, however, even though the patterns stay the same, we actually have something we’ve never done before in the squat track with the bar — the squat with a calf raise, which comes at us quite quickly. You can stay with the bar for all four sets or switch to plates for the front squat in the second half, which is what I did as the instructor when teaching this release. You definitely need to use less weight on the bar the first few times trying this track, because the single squat to single squat with a calf raise is really challenging and requires a ton of lower-body strength and coordination. I encouraged my participants to pick up more than one large plate for the front squats, because one large plate (which is only 10 pounds at our gym), is not quite enough to really feel it. Two is plenty. And I love that we add the plate press with the calf raise in the last two sets. I would teach this squat song forever, but of course, I changed things up this week to an older release. So good! So hard! Also, the moves go so well with the music, and the repetition doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Major thumbs up.
  • Chest. Classic song remixed and a different feel. I may be in the minority, but I love this chest track. First of all, this one took me a very long time to learn, because the downbeats are strange, and it’s just got a different vibe and feel than we’re used to in chest work and in BODYPUMP in general, but that’s fine by me. There are three sets, and we not only work from the top down, but we also work from the bottom up with the bar and from the bottom up with the pushups too, which are really hard. The track itself seems short, and we’re not with the bar long, so I was able to go up in weight just a little with this one. However, I find that I’m totally spent after the pushups. Thumbs up. 
  • Back. Fun song, super quick moves and combinations. Is this my favorite one of the release? It may be! I generally love the back track, and this one is so good. It’s three sets long and each set is just a tiny bit different. We have the double row, which is a newer move. We also have a super-fast single deadlift, to single high pull to single clean and press, and it’s killer, but so effective at training power and strengthening the backside of the body. This track is incredibly athletic, and I want to see more of this in the future. Also, the moves go great with the trap music. Major thumbs up.
  • Triceps. Catchy song, with very quick transitions and combinations (and we all love to see Pink songs on BP releases). This triceps track has footwork too! This three-set track includes overhead extensions with the plates, kneeling kickbacks, tricep pushups and the new addition of walking feet planks and plank jacks in and out in combination with tricep pushups off the bench. The double plank jump combination is super quick, and I feel like it is borderline too fast for the music in order to execute with great form. I saw a lot of people taking the option of staying in plank on the knees or doing just one pushup during that portion. This track is quite difficult and athletic, and although I love it, I do think it may be almost a little too crazy for the everyday BODYPUMP participant. But I’m a big fan of including more lateral footwork in the track. Thumbs up.
  • Biceps. Such a great song, with a lot of slow movements and drama. This is one of my favorites to teach from the whole release. We use the bar the whole time, which I’m a fan of, and after two big sets, the biceps are definitely toast. I actually took a long time to learn the patterns of this track, but then once I had it, I had it. There are a lot of slow curls, some bicep rows and a mid-range bicep curl combination. There’s no official break, which makes it even harder. Major thumbs up for this one.
  • Lunges. Super catchy song, with a ton of difficulty. This track has us moving all over the place and features a lot of cardio and challenge. We start on top of the bench holding one plate for squats, moving into alternating step back/down lunges. Then, the killer challenge takes place in the second and third sets when we do a lunge and squat combination stepping off the back and side of the bench and adding an overhead plate press and triple pulse. It’s very, very taxing on the legs and core and gets the heart-rate up. This is one of the hardest lunge tracks ever, and I absolutely love it, but I did see a lot of participants need to put their plate down, which means they were pushed to the limit. Major thumbs up.
  • Shoulders. Okay song for an okay track. This song was also used in the latest BODYATTACK release, and I’m not in favor of the songs being used in more than one release at the same time, because so many participants and instructors do both programs. Anywho, this track is a little boring. We use the plates the whole time for three sets, and the moves include front raises, side raises, mac raises and the tipping rear raise too. This track is the only one from the release that I’m not really into, and it also doesn’t seem that hard, but perhaps that’s an intentional move because of the challenge from the rest of the tracks. Thumbs down.
  • Core. Fun little song and a short track. There are three short sets, and the moves include hip bridges, bicycle crunches and the new move, the shoot out, which features a plate and is quite challenging, but only happens in the last set. Based on the difficulty of the rest of the tracks, I’m glad there were no hard-core hover variations in this track. It’s a solid core song. Thumbs up.
  • Cool-down. Awesome song. This cool-down is strong. The patterns of moves are a little different with a standing overhead stretch in the first set we don’t usually do right off the bat, but nothing much else to report here. Thumbs up.

*I did not teach the 45-minute combo tracks, so won’t comment on those.

By the end, you will feel VERY worked, perhaps more so than normal, because of all the extra functional moves that get your heart-rate up, while still challenging your muscles. There are options throughout the track to make things a little more doable for all participants, but still — this one is tough.

Overall, I think this is my favorite BODYPUMP release to date, and I literally cannot wait to see what BODYPUMP 113 is like. Thank you Glen and Les Mills team for keeping this program fresh after so many years. I’m here for it!

By the way, you can try out BODYPUMP for yourself at home or at the gym using Les Mills On Demand with my special 21-day trial offer here. It’s the best!


“A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts” by Therese Anne Fowler

My latest book review! I picked this book off the “lucky day” section from the library and totally enjoyed it. I’m not really one for historical fiction, but after reading this, it makes me want to read more. The lead character is Alva Vanderbilt, who was part of the super-rich and powerful Vanderbilt family in the 19th century and made some unpopular decisions that she felt were right for her and the cause of women overall — an early feminist, if you will. The novel follows her life from first marrying into the Vanderbilt family, to finding her place in society and then going through quite a few struggles.

A Well-Behaved Woman book by A Lady Goes West - 2020

(“A Well-Behaved Woman” by Therese Anne Fowler.)

The best part about this book is that I believe it is based quite a bit off true accounts of the Vanderbilt family, with a ton of research and interviews going into it. I loved learning about customs and practices and ways of life in the Gilded Age — so incredibly different from life nowadays, that’s for sure. It’s truly interesting to me. I’d recommend this book. Although it was long, I never got bored and was pulled into the narrative until the very end. 


My new everyday black cross-body purse

Obsessed with this! I don’t usually pick out exact gifts that I want, because Dave is really good at picking things out for me, but for my birthday this year, I asked for this one, and was so happy to open it up. I’ve been on the hunt for a good black cross-body that is different and spacious. This purse comes in two sizes, and I went with the bigger one, and it fits my full wallet, sunglasses case, phone, keys, snacks and my little on-the-go makeup bag too. 

Marc Jacobs purse by A Lady Goes West - 2020

Marc Jacobs purse by A Lady Goes West - 2020

(This may officially be my favorite purse I’ve ever had.)

It’s dressy, but casual. Big, but not too big. And I’m just so in love with it! It’s an investment, but I haven’t bought or asked for a fancy bag in sooooo long, it seemed appropriate. 


Weekly workout recap

We have a lot of workout weeks to catch up on …

Weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

Week before Christmas

  • Monday: 30-minute GRIT Cardio, 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 45-minute BODYATTACK, 4:45 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 15 minutes of weights, taught 1-hour barre, 5 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 1-hour barre, 12 p.m.
  • Friday: Taught 1-hour BODYPUMP, 12 p.m.
  • Saturday: 1 hour of POP Pilates practice, 10 a.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day

Week of my birthday and Christmas

  • Monday: 30-minute full-body weights workout, 10 a.m. (shown below)
  • Tuesday: 30-minute BODYATTACK, 30-minute CXWORX, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: Rest day (family walk)
  • Thursday: 30-minute GRIT Cardio, 9:30 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 1-hour BODYPUMP, 12 p.m.
  • Saturday: 45-minute SoulCycle, 10:45 a.m., 30 minutes of POP Pilates (filming my certification video), 2 p.m.
  • Sunday: Rest day

Week of New Year’s

  • Monday: 45 minutes of BODYPUMP practice, 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: 30-minute BODYATTACK, 30-minute CXWORX, 9:30 a.m.
  • Wednesday: Rest day 
  • Thursday: Taught 1-hour barre, 12 p.m.
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Rest day
  • Sunday: Rest day

The last three weeks of workouts were a little lighter than my usual, and I also took extra days off when I got sick after New Year’s. I missed my regular workout routine when I was sidelined by illness, but the good news is that taking a little time away here and there doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things. Breaks are sometimes needed.

Here’s the solo weights workout I did on my birthday in the gym … (and you can find more of these workouts on Instagram under my “workout” story highlights tab or in this post.)

Full-body birthday workout by A Lady Goes West - 2020

Also, speaking of workouts: We love having my mom around to hang out. But we also love that she’s available for free babysitting. Not only did Dave and I get to go out to dinner on New Year’s Eve, but we also went to take a SoulCycle class with some friends, which is something we rarely get to do together. Fun fact: I have a good time in SoulCycle classes, but I’m not in love with cycling. Dave, on the other hand, loves it.

Ashley and Dave at SoulCycle by A Lady Goes West - 2020

Best reads

A few things from around the web …

  • Tips for working out on the cheap. Thanks to “Spark People” for including my thoughts in this helpful article about how to get moving when you’re on a budget.
  • Podcast with Barbara Corcoran. I didn’t know who Barbara Corcoran was until I watched her as a shark on “Shark Tank,” but now I’ve heard her name so many other places and become a fan. She’s a big-time business mogul, who started out in real estate. She’s also a mom, and she tells it like it is. I really enjoyed this episode of “The Goal Digger Podcast” where Corcoran was interviewed, talking all about her career path and advice.

Here’s the quote of the week from the Calm app …

Focus on building CALM quote by A Lady Goes West - 2020

A Lady Goes West favorite archives …

All the highlights and reflections from 2019 - by A Lady Goes West

Three things you should write down to start the year off right by A Lady Goes West

That’s it for today. Have a fabulous day and weekend, my friends! 🙂 

P.S. Congrats to Julie L. for winning the birthday blog reader appreciation giveaway! Also, there’s still some awesome products available at a major discount during the Beautycounter Sale, and you can check out the deals here. See you soon! xoxo

Questions of the day

How’s your 2020 going so far?

What are you up to this weekend?

What’s one great thing that happened in your week?

Have you tried BODYPUMP 112 release? If so, what did you think?

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  1. My gym is launching new Les Mills classes this weekend and I will be attending the new GRIT athletic for the first time! Very excited 😀

    1. Hi Julie!!! Well that is some VERY exciting news!!! So cool! GRIT Athletic is only 30 minutes, but it’s hard. You work at your highest level, take a break and do it again — lots of jumping. Do your best and you will get fitter really fast when taking the class 1-2 times a week. Have so much fun! And please let me know how you like it! 🙂 Also, did you get your package???

      1. Yes I did and I loved it! Thank you!! I put on the pants immediately and started reading one of the books already too 🙂

  2. Ugh, so sorry to hear that you got so sick! I’m happy you had a nice holiday and birthday AND that your mom got to visit! Side note, I absolutely love the sweater you’re wearing in the first pic in front of the Christmas tree – do you hapen to know where that is from? Thanks so much!

  3. Oh so sorry to hear you’ve been so sick – theres nothing worse is there. There have been so many cough and cold bugs going round over here this winter too, its horrible.

    I LOVE your bag!!

    2020 so far has been wedding and honeymoon planning – wineries next up on the ‘to organise’ list for honeymoon!

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