Hi! How was your weekend? Mine was great! I taught a couple of group fitness classes and got to tag along with Dave to the Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience concert, where he had to meet a client for work. Not a bad gig, right? We were in a suite with a great view of the stage. It was a last minute thing, and I was very grateful to be included. I’ve seen JT a few times, and this was one of the best, because he had no opener and spent nearly the entire two hours singing, dancing and interacting with the audience without a lot of extras.
Now, let’s get to business for today. Before I go through my weekly workouts, which I always do on Monday, I wanted to take a minute to share with you some of the most popular questions I get about Les Mills.
Most popular questions I get asked about Les Mills
If you’re not familiar, Les Mills is the global group fitness brand out of New Zealand, which creates the super popular programs like BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK and CXWORX (all of which I teach). Les Mills’ more than 11 programs are enjoyed by participants in more than 80 countries around the world. There are more than 100,000 instructors who are part of the Les Mills tribe, and we’re all just trying to be the best we can be.
A lot of people stumble upon A Lady Goes West on the big ole’ interwebs because they are searching for a Les Mills topic. And I often get emails from budding instructors or participants who have questions about what to expect when they enter the land of Les Mills. So I thought it might be a good idea to put all those questions in one place. I am by no means an expert on Les Mills, but because I’ve been teaching Les Mills classes for five years and am certified in three programs, I have a pretty good take on it all.
How do I prepare for my first Les Mills initial training?
First and foremost, you should take as many classes as you can of the format that you are going to attend an initial training in. Why? Because you should be as familiar with the moves, class set-up, flow, technique and essence of the program as you can be. While taking classes, make sure you can follow the beat and stay with the tempos, because teaching pre-choreographed classes like Les Mills requires you to be able to feel the music and stay on beat and time, no matter what. If you can properly count in your head and make it through a Les Mills class, then you’ll be much better off in training. A couple weeks before your training, you’ll receive the release that you will be doing during your training and offered some track assignments to memorize. Just focus on getting the moves down, so you can give the name of the move, timing and stay with the beat of the music while doing the move. You don’t have to know how to teach yet, because you’ll learn that at your training weekend. You just have to be able to do your tracks, knowing how and when the choreography flows. However, you should be familiar with all of the tracks in your release, because you’ll be assessed on your technique throughout the weekend as well. Once you’ve passed training, you have to shoot a video of yourself teaching the full release, and you should definitely plan to shoot at least a couple times to make sure you get a good finished product.
What should I bring with me to a Les Mills training?
You’ll be doing a lot of working out during training, so plan to bring a few changes of clothes. In addition, when you go through the book-work and education portion of the training, you’ll be sitting still in a cold group fitness room, so make sure you have some sweatpants and a sweatshirt handy. You may also want to bring an extra pair of sneakers or flip-flops to wear home, because being in the same shoes all day moving around can be a little uncomfortable. As far as equipment, you should bring your iPod, some headphones, a notebook, pen, and if you can, the DVD of your release loaded on your phone or tablet, so you can reference the video if you need to. You should also bring a lot of food and snacks. Even though all trainings include at least a 30-minute lunch-break, I would recommend bringing a cooler of all the food you’ll need throughout the day, so you can use your lunch-break to study your music, and stay in the room to ask questions of your trainer or other participants. I’ve always found it is much easier than having to run out somewhere to get food. Soak in as much as you can from the weekend, and be present.
How hard is a Les Mills initial training weekend? What’s it like?
I’ve been to three initial trainings and several advanced trainings, and I can say that they are all doable. The initial training is usually two days, from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The first day will start with a master class of the release you are training on, followed by introductions and a very long technique session. During the technique session, your trainer will make sure every participant can execute every move properly. You’ll also spend some time learning about Les Mills and the coaching model, which is a very helpful portion you can use for teaching any program. Depending on the program you are training in, your first track presentation will happen at the end of day one, or at the beginning and end of day two. You will usually present at least twice, and then you’ll get feedback as well as get to watch a short snippet of video of you teaching, which the trainer will take of everyone. Believe me, seeing yourself teaching on video for the first time is eye-opening! On the first or second day, there will also be a physical challenge, which is determined by the program that you are training in. I won’t give away what is involved in the physical challenge, because it’s basically a rite of passage for all Les Mills instructors. Yes, it’s hard. But yes, you can do anything you put your mind to. You’ll be tired at the start of day two, and will have had some homework to practice in between each day, so be prepared to devote your entire weekend to the Les Mills experience. At the end of day two, you will do your final presentation and get an outcome of whether you passed training or have some things you need to work on. That’s it. It’s a pretty amazing experience, and you’ll be an all-around better person for doing it.
How long does it take you to prepare your choreography for class?
Because I’ve been teaching BODYPUMP for so long, I can pick up on the patterns in the choreography pretty quickly. It only takes me a few hours to learn a new release, although I like to spend time practicing and scripting as well. It does take me a bit longer to learn BODYATTACK, because the choreography is so involved, but after a year of teaching this program, it gets easier and easier. I don’t have a regular CXWORX class, so I teach this program the least, and I’ve found it was always fairly hard to learn because there are long holds and phases that don’t have exact counts. Yet, CXWORX is also the shortest program at only 30 minutes, which makes it much more manageable. If you’re new to teaching Les Mills, I would give yourself a couple-hours-a-day for at least two weeks to prepare to teach a new release in its entirety. Check out this post for more: “How to learn Les Mills group fitness releases.”
How often do you switch your music in classes?
This is a loaded question. When I used to teach two BODYPUMP classes a week at the same gym, I would often have the same members twice-a-week, so in that case, I switched my music every-other-week. Essentially, I did the same selection of music and moves four times with a class before moving on to something else. However, these days, because I jump around and teach at different gyms, I teach the same release or music selection for three weeks per program. Every three weeks, I completely refresh my BODYPUMP playlist and switch half of my BODYATTACK playlist, so most of the time, my members will do a workout three weeks-in-a-row, then we switch to something new (or old). However, when it comes to the brand new releases, I always teach those four times in a class before moving on, because I like to make sure we’ve really gotten used to the new moves and have started to increase our weights in BODYPUMP or improved our jumps in BODYATTACK. I know some instructors who like to change their music every week, but that doesn’t work for me. Not only is it very time consuming, but I find that members like to have a few weeks to master something before moving on.
Do you create your own mixes or teach from full releases?
I have always preferred to teach the full releases for all my classes. Why? That’s because I feel that the program directors spend so much time making sure that the individual releases have balanced music, moves and song durations, that I don’t want to mess with it. For instance, if we do push-ups in the chest track for BODYPUMP, then I don’t want to do a shoulder track with a lot of push-ups. Also, sometimes songs are longer than others, and if you paste together a release with too many long songs, you may run over time in your class. And I can tell you that doesn’t fly in the gyms I teach in San Francisco, because there is no buffer between back-to-back classes, so you have to be quick. The only exception I make to splitting up releases is with BODYATTACK. Sometimes I teach the first half of one release and the second half of the other as I transition out old music, as mentioned above. There is nothing wrong with creating your own mix, as long as you put the tracks in the appropriate order and feel that you’ve compiled a diverse workout. I’ve seen some instructors go with themes, and there’s a lot you can do if you choose to mix and match.
How many times a week should I take or teach Les Mills group fitness classes?
As a participant, it’s great to take a variety of classes each week. I’d recommend two BODYPUMP classes, two BODYATTACK (or BODYCOMBAT OR BODYSTEP) classes, as well as a CXWORX class and some outside stretching (yoga or BODYFLOW) as a strong routine. You don’t want to go to BODYPUMP two days-in-a-row, so try to space out the resistance training. As an instructor, I don’t think it’s deal to teach more than three classes of each program a week, so you don’t overuse your muscles and voice doing the same workout too many times. Breaks and rest are very important for both instructor and participant. I’ve had weeks in which I’ve taught five BODYPUMP classes, and that’s far too much repetition for the body. My current sweet spot is teaching two BODYPUMP classes a week and three BODYATTACK classes a week and doing some other outside workouts on my own. Of course, your routine is up to you, but strive for variety and balance.
That’s it. Some of the most popular questions I get about all things Les Mills answered. If you have any additional questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below.
For a look at plenty of other Les Mills posts, check out some of these:
- 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
- BODYATTACK 85 review
- BODYPUMP 90 review
- BODYATTACK 86 review
- BODYPUMP 91 review
- How music makes you work harder when you exercise
- Les Mills Good Protein debut
Now let’s get to how I’ve been moving over the past seven days, much of which has been Les Mills-related …
- Monday – Taught one-hour BODYATTACK class, foam rolling
- Tuesday – Attended one-hour Power 60 hot yoga at Body Temp Yoga
- Wednesday – Taught one-hour BODYATTACK and BODYPUMP classes, foam rolling
- Thursday – Attended one-hour Barry’s Bootcamp Hardcore Abs Body class
- Friday – Taught one-hour BODYPUMP class, foam rolling
- Saturday – Taught one-hour BODYATTACK class, foam rolling
- Sunday – Attended one-hour Barry’s Bootcamp Full Body class, foam rolling
What was good about my week of workouts?
Well, let’s start with the positive. This week had plenty of cardio, plenty of resistance training and even a hot yoga class. I think the hot yoga class, although not what I thought I was showing up for that day as I didn’t full read the class description, was the highlight of the week. It felt so good to stretch, lengthen and loosen up my body while getting completely drenched in sweat. I definitely worked hard this week and did a bunch of new-to-me movements in the Barry’s Bootcamp Hardcore Abs class I took on Thursday. That class included such things as pikes, mountain climbers and more using dynamic mode on a the treadmill. Tough and intense!
What could have been better?
The obvious thing that could have improved this week was the fact that there was not a clear rest day. I did do yoga, I did do foam rolling, but I didn’t take a full day off and should have. However, I know I’ve got a much lighter week of workouts coming up with the holiday this week, so I didn’t mind fitting in an extra sweat session on Sunday. Rest is in my future, as is a full day of riding in a car along the California coast.
Alright, folks. I have a super busy day today and tomorrow, and we’re off to San Diego bright and early on Wednesday. Hope your Thanksgiving week starts off great!
Questions of the day
How was your weekend?
Any Les Mills instructors or participants out there with any other questions?
Has anyone else been to a Justin Timberlake concert?