We will discover the history and development of this type of barbell workout, and we will also look at the class structure and health benefits of BodyPump. Lastly, we aim to introduce a little of the history behind this revolutionary sports routine and its creator, New Zealand's Olympian Les Mills.
BodyPump is a type of physical activity patented by the company Les Mills International, a group dedicated to creating immersive training and workouts. Among their most popular programmes, we can list BodyBalance and BodyCombat.
BodyPump consists of using light to moderate weights with lots of repetition which gives you a total body workout. By combining aerobic movements with weight lifting, you shape and tone your entire body, increase core and bone strength. The sessions range from 30 to 55 minutes and have been designed to fit even the busiest schedule.
All you need for a BodyPump class is comfortable workout clothes, gym sneakers, a water bottle, and a sweat towel. The gym will supply you with the barbell and step. Typically, BodyPump is done in a group, either in gyms or dance halls, but home practice is also possible using videos.
This exciting new way of exercising has become extremely popular partly due to the great music that is incorporated into the programme.
The classes are engaging and fun, and each muscle group is targeted for the duration of a song. This way, while one song is playing you'll be exercising the abs, and as soon as the playlist changes you will move on to a different area of the body. This translates in a full body workout, as well as increased pulmonary resistance.
As it is the case with most workout routines, you will start with a light warm-up to help avoid any injuries. The class instructor will make sure to guide everyone through the movements and prepare them for the first song of the class.
Once the warm-up is over, participants will be informed which muscle group they need to work for each song.
A typical 45 minutes class will start with calf and glutes exercises, moving upward to the torso (back, arms, and chest), and finishes with the abdominal muscles.
Once the workout is done, the final 5 minutes are dedicated to relaxing and stretching while listening to soothing music.
Anyone can start practicing BodyPump regardless of their fitness levels. Have a chat with the class instructor beforehand, and they will decide how to adapt your workout so that you're comfortable and not at risk of injuring yourself. You can start with just the bar for the first few classes and then gradually add and increase the weights.
After a few sessions you will find that your strength has improved and you will be able to sustain more effort.
Exercises vary depending on what muscle group you're working at the time but generally speaking, you will use the weight bar to increase muscle strength, and gradually add weight plates that increase the difficulty of the workout.
Among the most used exercises are push-ups and squats, as well as deadlifts and overhead squats. The step is also an essential element used in the BodypPump workouts.
The magic of BodyPump is that by combining high intensity exercises with reduced resting times in between sets the results are visible in record time.
The frequency of the BodyPump classes depends on factors such as fitness levels, available time, and intended goals. As a rule of thumb, the creators of this barbell workout programme inform us that "BODYPUMP will really challenge all of your major muscle groups, so we recommend you do no more than two to three classes a week and make sure you have a day off in between. Add two to three cardio classes into the mix and you’ll shape and tone your body in no time.
The health benefits of BodyPump start well before the actual results can be seen on the body. By spending time in an energetic, engaging environment with likeminded people, we instantly become disconnected from daily stress and become more in tune with our own bodies and needs.
As one might suspect, the physical benefits of this type of barbell workout are vast, and they contribute to building a stronger core, and muscle mass, as well as improving bone health and helping with weight loss.
During a BodyPump workout "you’ll burn calories, but more importantly, you’ll strengthen, shape and tone your entire body. While people can burn up to 560 calories during a 55-minute workout, it’s the building of lean muscle mass that provides the long-term benefits."
Last but definitely not least, working out releases a myriad of endorphins which improve our state of mind and ultimately reflects in our physical condition and improved interpersonal relations.
Les Mills, a New Zealander and four times Olympic winner in track and field competitions, started his first gym in Auckland, New Zealand in 1968 and has enjoyed the support of his athletic family throughout his professional endeavors.
His son, Phillip is a former track and field athlete, his wife Colleen and daughter Donna all represented New Zealand at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games.
Phillip became involved in his father's company in 1980 and after witnessing the aerobics phenomenon in the United States, together with wife Jackie, began developing high-energy aerobics and strength classes. From then on, they embarked on a life long journey of creating fitness and wellness programmes which eventually culminated in the creation of BodyPump which took off in 1997 and became the international phenomenon we know today.