Les Mills BODYPUMP 91 class review

Happy Thursday! For all of you Les-Mills-group-fitness lovers out there, this one is for you. If you’re not a Les Mills lover, then check back tomorrow for some fun “Friday Favorites“or read on to learn a thing or two.

I talk a lot about Les Mills, because it’s something that is so much bigger than me. In fact, there’s a whole community of people around the world, who are just as obsessed with Les Mills group fitness classes as I am. If you’ve never tried a Les Mills class, I highly recommend it. Take a look on the class locator to see if there are any gyms near you offering any of the more than 10 programs. And now, it’s time to talk Les Mills BODYPUMP.

What is Les Mills BODYPUMP?

BODYPUMP is my original group fitness love. It’s the class that got me started as an instructor, nearly six years ago in Orlando, Florida. For a full overview of what the class really entails, head on over to a previous post I wrote. “BODYPUMP overview and tips for first-timers.”

All you need to know to get through this post, is that BODYPUMP is a one-hour resistance training class done in the group fitness room with a barbell, bench-top and various sizes of weight plates. Participants follow along with an instructor in front of the room (like me), who leads the class through 10 songs, set to popular music. By the time the class ends, you’ve hit all the major muscle groups and completed around 800 reps. Not too shabby!

What is a class release?

Every three months, Les Mills releases brand new music and moves to instructors in more than 80 countries around the world. The 24 Hour Fitness gyms in San Francisco where I teach “launched” or “debuted” the latest Les Mills releases during the end of September.

I’ve now taught BODYPUMP 91 quite a few times and am ready to offer my thoughts on this particular release. 

Les Mills BODYUMP 91 review via A Lady Goes West

Overall feedback on BODYPUMP 91

  • There seem to be more times than ever in which we don’t use the bar and rely on plates. Because this gives us a chance to work each side of the body on its own without the help of a barbell, I find it to be a great change. This helps fix muscle imbalances and at times offers a little more work for the core as you must actively stabilize your body.
  • The music selection is very strong, but not the best. There is a good mixture of old and new songs, across many music genres.
  • There isn’t really anything out of the ordinary in the tracks, except for the fact that we use plates in the last set of the warm-up and go onto the balls of our feet with a full-extension squat press in the lunge track. 
  • My favorite tracks include chest, back, biceps and shoulders. 

BODYPUMP 91 class review

  1. Warm-up: Ten Feet Tall by Sum Two. Right off the bat, this warm-up is different, because we’re asked to use two small plates instead of the bar in the final set to engage the smaller shoulder stabilizers. I like the uplifting tone of this song and think the warm-up hits everything just right. I like when the sets in the warm-up are repeated, such as they are in this one, because it gives members a chance to get used to the tempos and moves from the start. In addition, it helps to show the slow clean-and-press move early in class, because then members are ready for it in track four as part of back training. 
  2. Squats: Somebody Told Me by The Killers. This squat track is challenging and offers more singles in-a-row than ever before, with two sets of 24. I think the moves go well with the beat of this song, and this is a strong start to the workout. The recoveries are short, even when we change our feet from mid-stance to wide-stance, so instructors have to keep members alert to the movement. The key to this track is to hit full range in the singles, and it’s not easy once the tempo speeds up and you start to fatigue. I use my normal squat weight on this track and would not recommend increasing.
  3. Chest: Goodness Gracious by Ellie Goulding. No bar for the chest track? It’s true. This is the first time I’ve taught a chest track without the bar, and I like it. We begin with the A-press, which is a great way to target the chest muscles while holding plates and working each arm. While I know members probably prefer a little grittier of a chest song, I really enjoy this tune. We go back and forth from A-press to push-ups, and boy the push-ups seem harder once you start to fatigue. I think this is one of the hardest chest tracks that we’ve had in a while, especially with the double-time push-ups at the very end. Very hard and good stuff.
  4. Back: Beautiful Life by Armin Van Buren feat. Cindy Alma. We’re back to good old-fashioned clean-and-presses, rows and deadlifts in this back track. It’s a combination of slow strength and explosive strength, perfect for making fitness gains. I’m glad to see this track just how it is. Even though there are only three sets, it’s killer. I think the moves go well with the music, and the song is nice and intense. As always with the back track, the most important thing is keeping the bar super-close to your body in the clean-and-presses and rows. I use my normal back weight here and wouldn’t recommend going up.
  5. Triceps: Hey Brother by Avicii. No me gusta. Although I love this song, I don’t like it for triceps, because the beat just doesn’t go well with the transitions from move-to-move. We do not use the bar and rely on bodyweight and a single large plate for the work. While I like the dips, push-ups, kick-back rows and overhead extensions in the sequence that they appear, I just don’t feel like the beat drives it properly. Not the hardest tricep track ever. Overall, a bit of a dud for this release. And I think the members feel it too. They don’t seem enthused during this one, as they are during others. 
  6. Biceps: Bad Company by Bogus Love. Even though I’ve liked the chance to work biceps with single plates as we’ve done in the past few releases, I think this is a great track. It’s challenging, includes some bicep rows and seems to go on forever. I like the mid-range pulse, because it’s a great chance to show members where they should be feeling the work, while keeping the move minimal. The only thing I see as a downfall in this track is that we should do more bicep rows, so we have greater time to introduce it and show members how it’s different from a regular row. While this song is a little mellow, it also has undertones of intensity, so it works perfectly. I use my regular biceps weight here and wouldn’t recommend going up. It’s tough and you can definitely feel those mid-range pulses.
  7. Lunges: Find You by Zedd feat. Matthew Koma & Miriam Bryant. This is a great song, and it’s a nice change of pace from the rock of the biceps song. I don’t recall a lunge track in sometime when we haven’t used the bar, and I like it. However, I don’t think that the one-heavy-plate option offered in the choreography notes is enough. I’ve been adding a second large plate (so I hold one in each hand) then stacking them as we move into front squats and presses. The big change in this track is that we rise up onto the balls of our feet for a full extension with the squat presses, and I love that. I’ve always wished we targeted the calves a bit more in BODYPUMP, and this track answers that request. It’s a completely functional and important way to work, because going onto your toes is part of daily life. The lunge portion is short and sweet, but those squat presses can be tough if you use enough weight. Oh and there are two super-slow squats at the end that I have the hardest time remembering! Members seem to get a major high from this particular track and song.
  8. Shoulders: Eat Sleep Rave Repeat by Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr feat. Beardyman (Please note: this is not quite the right version linked here, and beware of the lyrics). So this song is also used in the latest BODYATTACK 86 class, which is not fun for someone like me who teaches these classes, sometimes back-to-back. I just don’t like when the Les Mills folks do that. However, I think this song works well for shoulder training. We start with a heavy bar, then grab two sets of plates. I’m a big fan of the rotator pec dec move with the two plates, and we have the chance to do that in the last two sets. This is a challenging track for sure, and my shoulders are spent by the end.
  9. Core: Trumpetsby Jason Derulo. This core song is very short and very easy. While I like the tune, it seems a bit of a let-down moves-wise. We start with a few crunches, then move into the hover and side hip lift. I like the fact that we have long enough to set members up in great form for the hip lift so they can work their obliques in isolation, but the track ends before we really get to the burn.
  10. Cool-down: Burning Bridges by OneRepublic. This cool-down is a good one, and it features a new way to stretch our chests — kneeling forward with one arm at a 90-degree angle pressed into the floor. I like the calming nature of this song and think it closes the workout perfectly. 

*There is also an alternate core track, which I have not taught. I generally stick to the original line-up, rarely learning the alternate tracks, which are provided in case you are teaching in a club that might protest suggestive lyrics or themes in one of the main tracks. Good news is that San Franciscans don’t offend easily, so I never have to switch out.

For instructors

This is a solid release, and other than the fact that we put the bar down more than usual and use plates, there is  nothing out of the ordinary and no major new moves. Don’t talk too much over the music and make sure your participants are using enough weight to hit fatigue at the end of every single working track. That’s about it. I found this release very easy to learn, because many of the sets are repetitive. And by the way, if you’re looking for a few tips on how to pack your classes, check out my post on “Top 10 ways to grow your group fitness classes.”

For members

If you’ve been attending BODYPUMP for a long time, make sure that you are starting to slowly increase your weight on a couple tracks at a time. While there are a few hard tracks in this release, such as squats, back and biceps, which wouldn’t be great times to add on, you can always try to add in the other tracks. Even though your instructor will try to help you achieve perfect form, you are also responsible for how you move. The A-press in the chest track and the clean-and-press in the back track are two of the moves I see the most problems with in my members. Feel free to ask your instructor to assess your form one-on-one before or after class, because it could make a big difference for you in your gains. Oh and have fun. It’s group fitness. It’s supposed to be fun. For a few tips on how to get the most out of the classes you attend, check out my post on “How to get better results from group fitness.”

Speaking of fun, my Wednesday nights now consist of a BODYATTACK and BODYPUMP double-header, so it’s quickly become my favorite night of the week. If you’re a Bay Area reader, please come join me one day. Send me a note for details. Hope you enjoyed this review, and as always come back and visit A Lady Goes West again.

All things Les Mills

If you enjoyed this review, please check out my previous Les Mills posts:

Questions of the day

Have you ever tried BODYPUMP? Instructors or members, what are your thoughts on BODYPUMP 91? What’s in store for your Thursday?

Ashley signature

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    1. Hi Lauren, Les Mills group fitness certification is a several step process, while you don’t need an outside ACE or AFAA to participate, of course that helps. You have to go to a two-day training workshop, in which you are assessed on your performance and drills. If you pass that, then you go back to your home club and have to film a video of yourself teaching a full class. There is no written test. It’s different for every certification, and I’d say Les Mills is one of the tougher ones. Are there Les Mills classes offered near you? I’d imagine since you’re in a big city.

  1. Great review! I’m in the midst of learning it as we launch on the 25th (learning my RPM tracks set me back a bit), so it’s fun to read instructors’ thoughts who have already taught it a few times. It definitely seems like an intense workout, so I’m excited to teach it. I think the music is alright – not my favorite, but not that bad. Some songs I like, but I don’t know if I would’ve necessarily chosen for BodyPump.

    1. Hi Ashley, That’s the great thing about Les Mills — sometimes you’ll love the music, sometimes not, but they’ll always surprise you. Enjoy learning it, it was a quick to pick up for me because of all the repetition.

  2. Great review! I like the fitness aspect of this release a lot, but the music is def not my fave. Sadly! I think the members feel the same too….but it’s still a good workout. I’m ready to switch things up now though!

    1. Hi Annette, Me too, I’m going to go back to an older release in my next BP class I think. I usually try to do the new one about four times in a class so they get a good feel for it before moving on, but it’s time for a change.

  3. Thanks for sharing this review – I’m excited to do the new release 🙂 I’m also really happy to hear about NO BAR for chest. Chest kills me! Haha.

    How do you feel about people subbing out plates for hand weights? I can’t always get a good grip on the plates!

    1. Hi Emily, As instructors, we used to tell people they should NOT use dumbbells. But because Les Mills now designed these new weights that have a dumbbell grip, it’s no longer an issue (those are called SMARTBar weights and are super expensive, so most gyms don’t have them). It’s okay to use dumbbells if you HAVE to, but the point of BODYPUMP is to use the bar and plates to have a compact station using the most weight possible in front of you, so I prefer the plates. Also, you need to watch your grip alignment to make sure you still face the dumbbells as you would face the plates and don’t let your wrists beak. Does that make sense?

  4. My gym rolled out 91 last week and I’ve done it a few times. I do agree that the back track is really tough! There aren’t really many breaks/recoveries and all of those clean/press combinations in groups of 3 get to me by the end. The shoulder track is also pretty hard for me, but I like that they included those new plate moves in the warmup to get people ready for it and also so they know how much weight they will need. I do love the squat/lunge track at the end and how we use the calves!

    Like you, I didn’t really care for the tricep track that much- and it is very hard to find any track to increase weight on in this release as well.

    1. Hi Amy Lauren, Well it sounds like we are in total agreement on this release then… I’m so glad you’re a BODYPUMPER. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi. I really enjoy your blog and fitness posts. They are informative, fun and honest. I’ve been doing bodypump for a couple of months twice a week. I get anxious about my weight choices. I squat lower weights because I can’t heavier weight above my head. I’m guessing if I can’t do that, I have no business squatting that weight? For example, I use 7.5kg on each side. For biceps I can only do 2.5kg on each side and I feel the burn but I see other women smaller than me (and older) doing far more.

    How do you advise increasing weight in the different portions. I’m proud of myself for going regularly and I love it but I see/read all these women talking about heavier weights. Am I just a weakling? Any tips would be greatly appreciated–you definitely know your stuff!


    1. Hi Ani, First of all, thank you so much for reading and for your kind feedback. Great job going twice weekly to BODYPUMP. Do you do any weight training outside of BODYPUMP? It’s possible you could increase your strength a bit quicker if you did a little heavier weight training with shorter sets in the gym once a week. However, it’s totally okay if not. I would say, don’t compare yourself to others, because those smaller women may have been coming for way longer than you. Never lift more than you can and compromise your form. Form is most important. For biceps, you can add a tiny extra plate outside your clips for the first set or two, then quickly drop it off, in order to try out heavier weights. Choose one track each week that you are going to try to go up a little on, don’t try too many at once. And no, you shouldn’t squat that weight if you can’t lift it. Brace your core and use your legs to get it up over your head (using the clean/press motion). Does this help at all? Continue your efforts and you’ll see progress soon enough. Oh, and make sure you eat protein to fuel muscle growth. That about does it!

  6. I just got a chance to read your review and found myself nodding a lot… especially for chest and triceps. Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat was used in this quarter’s BodyJam too. It was a great track, but having just taken Pump right before I took Jam… yeah, I’m with ya there.

      1. My guess is it’s easier with licensing – I can handle repeat songs easier when they’re different versions in different quarters… or even just different quarters! And then you’re not getting the same song back to back (like when BP87 ended with Troublemaker for abs and then BC started with Troublemaker in the warm up… BP/BC double and the same song within 10 minutes!).

  7. Hi Ashley! Great blog! I just stumbled across it doing a BP cert search and loved your group fitness tips. After doing BP for 10 years (I started on 51), my gym nudged me into getting certified, which I am doing in 2 weeks on 91. My tracks should be assigned any day now, and I am crossing every finger that it’s not triceps! It’s not a hard track to do physically, but it sure is an odd song choice and requires such crazy and quick transitions! Looking forward to reading more!

    1. Sure is, Terra! I’d really miss BODYPUMP if I didn’t have it. And I’d make sure to get in some weight-training sessions on my own. Good luck to you!

  8. Hi,
    I am interested in getting certified in BodyPump. Just wondering how long does it take you to study the materials/dvd to teach the class? I feel it would take me at least 8hrs to learn the routine perfectly–does it normally take more or less time?

    Or like how much time do you normally put into learning the routine to teach it without flaw?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Hannah! That’s great you’re interested in teaching BODYPUMP. At first, it takes a LONG time to memorize the releases, but gets much quicker the longer you do it. I can memorize a BODYPUMP release in a few hours now, but at first it took me weeks. You can read some more on these two pages.



      Good luck!

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