Group fitness classes have grown immensely in popularity as of late. Soul Cycle, Crossfit, Body Pump — you name it, there’s a class for it. Part of the demand for group classes comes from the desire for comradery, while others like it because it makes exercise less intimidating. In a group fitness atmosphere, a certified instructor is the mastermind behind the operation. He or she is telling you what to do, so you don’t have to worry about injuring yourself, looking stupid, or performing the wrong moves.
Certain companies and institutions have made significant strides thanks to the uptick in enthusiasm for group fitness. SoulCycle, a Manhattan-based chain of health clubs, has quickly become well-known across the country, especially thanks to celebrities and New Yorkers praising the spinning business, and another less exclusive fitness-focused company, Les Mills, has also benefited immensely, drawing athletes from all over the world to try its many fitness classes.
If you yourself are a gym rat, or you know of any, you’ve likely at least heard of Les Mills. As explained by its website, Les Mills is a New Zealand company that is the world’s largest provider of choreographed exercise-to-music group fitness classes distributed to health clubs. Les Mills classes are currently offered in 15,000 clubs and gyms and across over 80 countries. Popular, right? Many exercise fanatics have tried the classes and love them, and what’s more, Les Mills programs are updated every three months with new choreography, music, and instructor education, so the programs are always fresh and exercisers are constantly challenged.
So, just in case you’re in the mood for a new workout, or simply want to know what the famed Les Mills programs are all about, today we’re providing a breakdown of the many classes that Les Mills offers. The programs are offered in many clubs across the U.S., and a quick perusal of the company’s website details where exercisers can find them. Though Les Mills’ fitness portfolio currently contains 13 different classes, today we’re simplifying and focusing on the most popular: BodyPump, RPM, BodyCombat, BodyAttack, and BodyBalance.
Perhaps the most popular Les Mills program is BodyPump, a weight-based group-fitness class that promises to sculpt, tone, and strengthen the entire body. The program combines cardio and strength training, and is taught in a 60-minute format, arranged to the 8 tracks on a CD produced by Les Mills International. The soundtrack to BodyPump involves eight separate muscle-group specific songs along with an opening warm up track and closing cool down track.
The workout challenges all your major muscle groups by using the best weight room exercises like squats, presses, lifts, and curls, and participants determine the amount of weight they should be lifting based on their own body weight and strength abilities. Though the BodyPump program is refreshed every three months, the structure of the class usually begins with a warm up, moves on to squats, then focuses on the chest, back, and hamstrings, and after that the triceps. Next: biceps, lunges, abs, and finally a cool down.
Next up is RPM, an indoor cycling workout that is very similar to spinning — another popular kind of group fitness class. Unlike BodyPump, the entire RPM class is spent on a stationary bike, and the program is purposed to stimulate a challenging (and hilly) outdoor bike ride. A typical class is 45 minutes long, and the Les Mills website classifies the class as one with “moderate to high intensity.”
One team coach leads the pack as he or she guides the class’ participants through hills, flats, mountain peaks, time trials, and interval training. A motivational music playlist is the soundtrack to the class and the program promises to increase one’s cardiovascular fitness, burn fat, tone and shape the legs, hips, and butt, increase leg strength and muscular endurance without building bulk. RPM is also reported to burn up to 600 calories in a normal 50-minute structure.
Back on our two feet, we come to BodyCombat, another group fitness cardio workout that, as explained by the Les Mills website, is “inspired by mixed martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi, and muay thai.”
During BodyCombat, participants strike, punch, kick, and kata their way to an average calorie burn of 737 calories from the 55-minute class. Like all the Les Mills programs, a new Bodycombat class is introduced every three months, designed by BodyCombat Master Trainers and mixed martial arts experts, Dan Cohen and Rachael Newsham. BodyCombat promises to improves heart and lung function while also reducing the risk of heart disease. It also tones and shapes key muscle groups, while teaching its participants the primary moves of martial arts.
BodyAttack is up next, and this is another sports-inspired cardio workout that is purposed to build strength and stamina. The 55-minute class burns an average of 675 calories and combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. It is a program based around HIIT, or high intensity interval training, and it’s all about improving participants’ speed, fitness, strength, and agility. A typical class begins with a warm-up that is followed be a gradual increase in intensity as exercisers work through way through high-intensity and recovery cycles. The first half of the tracks concentrate on the upper body, and then the lower body follows. The final track is for recovery and cool-down.
Last up is BodyFlow, another popular class that falls under the Les Mills umbrella. BodyFlow is different than the aforementioned programs because it concentrates more on building flexibility and strength than it does on cardiovascular exercise. According to Les Mills, BodyBalance instructors take their classmates through a carefully structured series of stretches, moves, and poses to music to control breathing and create a holistic workout. A state of harmony and balance is the end goal for this program.
A typical BodyFlow class is 55 minutes long and burns around 390 calories. It is classified as low intensity and inspired by yoga, Taichi, and Pilates. Each class is made up of 45 minutes of simple but challenging exercises, followed by 10 minutes of relaxation and meditation. The program will hopefully improve your flexibility and range of movement while also increasing your core strength. It is also purposed to reduce stress levels and focus the mind.