Trying a gym class – BodyPump

As I mentioned on Saturday, I’m looking for ways to get more engaged with my fitness activities, and as my new gym offers a range of classes within the monthly membership fee, I thought I’d try out a couple.

First exploration was last night, when I tried a class called BodyPump™. This is described in the gym brochure as A non impact resistance class, using barbells and adjustable weights. This class works all major muscles using a variety of exercises including squats, lifts and curls., which sounded like the sort of thing I wanted…

It seems that many of the classes offered in gyms are licensed products, so 5 seconds in Google allowed me to find the website of the company who created this class. There’s an extensive description of what’s involved, and some videos too, so you know what to expect.

The last time I was involved in any king of group fitness activity (about seven years ago) it looked like this – no air-conditioning, no trademarks on the workouts, as far as I could tell no-one was ever wearing lycra, and the instructors definitely didn’t have fake tans!

I felt a little self-conscious lining up for last night’s event, especially when the instructor and most of the other participants appeared to have fake tan and lycra in sufficient quantities to open a shop… Also notable that even though I’d picked what sounded like one of the more “gender-balanced” classes, there were only two of us males to a dozen females…

What did we do?

See the website – says it all.

How it felt

It’s hard work to follow an instructor who is calling above a music track without PA and in accented English!

Some exercises were relatively easy, whereas others did push to localised failure of the relevant muscle groups. Presumably with practice I would learn better what weight to use for each track.

Quite a lot of lactic acid build up.

Certainly got sweaty, but didn’t get out-of-breath at any point, so probably little or no aerobic benefit.

At the time I didn’t think there was much training benefit, but see the notes below.

What I liked

It was something different, and exercised muscle groups and movements which I haven’t exercised in other gym contexts.

What I didn’t like

I felt that my form in doing the exercises was compromised by trying to follow the instructor, and synchronise moves with the calls and the music track – I’d rather fit the moves to my own rhythm.

After about 30 seconds of track 7 (Lunges) I stopped because I could feel pain from my knees. The instructor’s reaction when she saw me standing out was to encourage me to continue!

Training notes

Next day I can feel some slight post-exercise ache and fatigue in biceps, triceps, quadriceps, abs and back (especially lower), which suggests there has been some training effect to these areas. Given the high reps / low weights nature of the exercise I suspect that the long term effects would be in the areas of tone and muscular endurance.

More worryingly, I have got some knee pain when I walk upstairs, which confirms my decision to temporarily step out during track 7 (Lunges).

Clearly my knees are still an area of vulnerability – I need to target exercises to strengthen the muscles which stabilise the joint, and lay off anything involving high impact or deep knee flexions for the time being.

Will I do this class again?

Probably not in the short term – will see how my knees feel after another month of training.

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