Even though I’m a personal trainer, I’m a group fitness lover through-and-through. I started my fitness career teaching Les Mills group fitness classes and have continued to do so for nearly five years.
Les Mills is an international group fitness brand based out of New Zealand. Each quarter the company “releases” new music, choreography and exercises for each of its 12 programs. I teach three of those programs: BODYPUMP, CXWORX and of course, BODYATTACK. Even though BODYATTACK is the newest program for me (I’ve been teaching it for less than a year), it’s by far my favorite.
Today, I’m reviewing the latest BODYATTACK release, as I’ve taught it several times and have a good take on the music and moves. And in case you’re not familiar with BODYATTACK, I wrote an overview and tips for first-timers, which provides a look at what the class entails.
BODYATTACK 85 review
I say it every quarter, but BODYATTACK 85 is my favorite release to date.
Here’s a snapshot of why:
- There’s less of an emphasis on exact armlines throughout the songs, which makes the class more athletic and less aerobic.
- The music is diverse, catchy and enjoyable.
- The moves are simple, yet challenging.
- The overall workout is balanced and flows incredibly nicely throughout the hour.
- The tone is set immediately in the warm-up track when the standard “clap” is removed from the forward-and-back walking pattern.
- The demands are really high in the two cardio peaks, yet there is plenty of built-in recovery.
- The three strength tracks, upper-body, lower-body and core, are short, but effective.
Now let’s get to a track-by-track breakdown. Please note: Many of the songs used in BODYATTACK are remixed to account for the fast tempo, so I’m mostly linking to similar versions, not the exact music. If there’s no link, then I couldn’t find anything even slightly comparable.
- Warm-up. “Greenlight” This song certainly gives the workout the green light to get started. The first new change occurs during the step touches, in which you cross your arms in front of your body (rather than reach out in front of your body), and it creates an immediate upper-body muscle activation. Then, there are no claps in the walk, which is another big change, setting the tone for a more athletic and less aerobic class. I love the fact that the last set of the warm-up includes a hip opening stretch, as well as four slow tricep push-ups to get participants in the strength-training mode. Once again, this warm-up addresses the three dimensions of BODYATTACK: sports, strength and aerobics.
- Mixed Impact. “Crash and Burn” Another great song. I consider this track (as well as track three) as the most difficult for participants to get choreography-wise, as there is an L-shape gallop pattern which requires changing directions. The moves are perfectly complementary to the music, and the pace of the workout begins to pick up a bit here. As an instrcutor, you have to be careful to cue the “1, 2, 1, 2” faster pace of the run at the very beginning of this track, as the warm-up ends and you roll straight into this one. The last set of this track features some high-low bouncing from side-to-side, which is a great opportunity to challenge your participants to work a contrasting range and get low in the legs right off the bat. Love this.
- Aerobics. “Roar” This remade Katy Perry song is a chance to have a little fun and step back from the serious training mode about to occur in the peak track four. It progresses very smoothly from single-knee lifts to double-knee lifts, to open double-knee lifts, to the double-knee cross behind. I’ve found that although this is a tricky move, the slow transition to the open hip knee-lifts helps participants grasp the move much quicker than previous releases. I love the drop squats with the overhead arm cross, because it demands a full-body extension throughout the ankles, knees, hips and arms. It’s hard to believe that the first clap of the release doesn’t take place until the very end of the first set of this song. Great fun.
- Plyometrics. “I Came Here to Party” This is the hardest track four of a BODYATTACK class I’ve experienced to date. Even though I’ve only been teaching it for less than a year, I’ve been taking BODYATTACK for much longer, and I believe this track four is the most challenging we’ve ever seen. It starts easy with squats jumps, running, plyo lunges and more running. However, once the third set hits, fatigue is already there before the first round of burpees to a wide-tuck jump occurs. As an instructor, you’re doing extra burpees because you have to preview the new combination at the very beginning of the third set, while the class is still doing squat jumps. Quite honestly, people in my classes are totally failing in the wide tucks nearly halfway through the third set, but they keep trying. The fourth set is a manic rush to get the burpee to a wide-tuck jump combo back-to-back with plyometric lunges done four times. So far, I’ve taken the low option of squat jumps for one round of burpees to catch my breath and be able to finish the track. It not only lets me recover so I can coach the full track and give plenty of verbal motivation, but it also lets the members know it’s okay to be completely exhausted and exerted. This track is hardcore plyo training. The song is good, but you’re so focused on making it through the five-minute peak that it’s hard to notice the music.
- Upper-Body Conditioning. “Waterfalls” Another tough one. There are two combinations in this track of three different range push-ups in a row. First, it goes from tricep-to-middle-to-wide-chest push-ups. Then, during the last set it goes from wide-chest-to-middle-to-tricep push-ups. I like the fact that this combination shows participants that there are different types of push-ups and each works slightly different muscles. During the second set, you add an arm jump between the push-ups, which is super challenging, and I like it. It seems like a very short song and goes by quickly. I love getting the participants out of their comfort zone and on their toes for the final eight push-ups at the end.
- Running. “Applause” This is a pretty easy running track, which is needed after the madness of the plyo track and the upper-body track just before it. The split stance, lunge, hold and run combination can be a bit tricky for people the first couple of times, because you have to run off your back foot. Otherwise, this one is fairly straightforward. I love this song and have noticed that class members are smiling as they clap and enjoy a familiar Lady Gaga tune while getting their heart-rates back in the training zone.
- Agility. “The Roof is on Fire” This track is easier than some of the most-recent agility tracks (especially the many snowboard jumps of BODYATTACK 82). As an instructor, I love that the three sets are nearly identical, save for the snowboard turns in the second and third sets. I love doing the ladder run, because it forces people to move so much more quickly than they do in their normal lives. There’s nothing better than quick feet to rev the metabolism and get people light on their legs. This song goes by quickly and the track is just four-and-a-half-minutes.
- Intervals. “I Surrender” Love this. I’m always a big fan of track eight. Typically, by the time the class gets there, you can ride high on your endorphins to finish out the challenging hour. The big change in this interval track is that there isn’t such a huge focus on arms being perfect. You just let your members swing their arms as they wish, and reach high when it feels right at the peak of the intervals. The moves fit perfectly with the music, and this track is the perfect lead-in to the second and final peak.
- Power. “Summer Night in July” The first time I heard this track I didn’t like it. Now it’s my favorite track of the release, favorite track nine ever and continues to stick in my head throughout the day after I teach this release. There are three sets, each beginning with some easy knee repeaters or knee lifts, which gives participants and instructors a chance to recover. All athletes need recovery, and that’s an essential part to emphasize as an instructor to your class. The high-knee runs are fierce, and you really have to push participants to get their knees up, even when they’re tired. I love the jump-jack-tuck combination and you get the chance to do that 16 times in this track, not too shabby! As always, it ends with a big high-knee run push, which is a great time to get everyone in the middle of the room pumping their legs and arms and motivating each other.
- Lower-Body Conditioning. “We Are One” I was so excited to see the single-leg deadlift make it into BODYATTACK. As a personal trainer, I know how badly people need to do single leg work, because so many of us have imbalances. This move is great for balance, core and of course the legs. This track has three simple sets, which are all effective. The loading of the legs during the triple-pulse lunge to step-in pattern is awesome. I have noticed the struggling facial expressions of my participants, which lets me know they feel the leg and glute activation, just like they should.
- Core Conditoning. “Everybody” This is a short and simple core track. The triple-pulse crunches provide a lot of tension in the middle abdominal muscles, and the c-crunch leg extensions fill in the rest of the ab work. I love it when we end a core track with fast mountain climbers with a race to the finish-line, and BODYATTACK 85 provides that opportunity.
- Cool-down. “Celebration” A simple cooldown, with the perfect end to an intense workout. I have trouble memorizing cooldowns, but this one seems to stick in my mind.
There you have it. BODYATTACK 85 is awesome.
This one has so many repetitive sets that it’s easier to learn than some of the previous releases. However, the fitness-level required to teach BODYATTACK has become more and more demanding, and BODYATTACK 85 is the hardest yet. Track four alone is huge. You have to train outside of the group fitness room to be able to teach this class. Enjoy the great music, don’t talk to much over it, and let your members be a little more free with their arms. Give them plenty of options right off the bat, and remind them to go back to those options when they need it.
Another important note for instructors: Don’t always call out a low option as a “low option,” there are plenty of other ways to say “pull-back” “take another path” etc. to let people know they can perform a move that requires a little less impact or challenge when they need it.
Have fun. Go hard. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. The moves in this release are pretty easy to catch on and perform, although the challenges are big. BODYATTACK is never going to get easier, because you’ll always have to push yourself more. Just go with it. It’s the best one-hour sports cardio workout in the world. And the feeling you get after it’s done is one that can’t be matched. BODYATTACK is best done two-to-three times a week, so take rest and recovery and listen to your body.
That’s a wrap! I’m going to teach BODYATTACK 85 a few more times before I start adding in some old songs to my classes. But it’s safe to say, this is the best BODYATTACK release I’ve ever taught, and I’m loving the training effects from all the big challenges.
All things Les Mills
If you enjoyed this review, please check out my previous Les Mills posts:
- CXWORX Initial Training
- BODYATTACK Initial Training
- BODYPUMP Advanced Instructor Module 1
- BODYPUMP Advanced Instructor Module 2
- Les Mills Groundworks
- BODYATTACK Certification
- How to learn Les Mills choreography
- BODYPUMP 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYATTACK 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYPUMP 89 review and launch
- BODYATTACK 84 review
- CXWORX 101 overview and tips for first-timers
- BODYATTACK Advanced Instructor Module 1
Questions of the day
Have you tried the latest BODYATTACK release? Do you prefer to do cardio or strength training?