I left myself a sticky note on my computer when I left work on Friday, because I knew it would bring a smile to my face when I saw it this morning:
It definitely did.
This weekend… man, what can I say about Bodypump instructor training except that it truly was an amazing, intense, (dare I say??) life-changing experience. And this is exactly how the instructors at my gym told me it would be.
I’ll try to break it down as quickly as I can, so not to bore you all with every single little detail. But first, if any of my fellow Bodypump training teammates are reading this: Hello! Or should I say “Kia Ora!” (or maybe I’ll just sing a few lines from “Grenade” and you can think about how much you love lunges…)
So, I might not have the order completely accurate as to how Saturday went, but I’ll do my best (I also didn’t take a single photograph that day- a first for me!!). The training began at 8:00 am sharp on Saturday. Google maps said that it would take about an hour and 10 minutes to get to the training facility, so I left at 6:30. In reality, it took under and hour, but I’m fine with being early (I usually am). When I arrived, there were already a few ladies there. We chatted as more people came in, and then did formal introductions and an ice-breaker activity. The group was all women, which really didn’t surprise me. And every one of them was in killer shape! Our training leader was a guy named Ipson (he’s Brazilian), who has been a certified Les Mills instructor for over 10 years (he is certified in 4 different classes, I think??).
After all the intros, we talked a bit about the program and were asked to list what our strengths and weaknesses were. I listed my strength as teaching; making a connection with people in the class and speaking with a loud, powerful voice (I’m a teacher for goodness sake- I do this every single day). For my weakness (or area to improve upon) I said form and technique. I know that my form is not perfect for each exercise, and there are definitely some exercises that I need to work on executing (ahem, push-ups) properly. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Constantly improving.
Ipson then led us in a Bodypump class, and we all went through release #79 (the latest release). Everyone was HIGH energy and ready to GO! After the class, the rest of the morning was spent with a few lectures mixed with some physical work, and “bootcamp,” where Ipson broke down each track and demonstrated (and had us follow along) perfect form. We basically did each exercise until we couldn’t lift anymore. We finally got a 30-minute lunch break at 3:00 (!) and then came back to work for 3 more hours, in which we had to each teach the track we were assigned. My track was LUNGES. The lunge track is definitely the least-favorite of most people, because it just kills your legs and has no breaks. But, it seems fitting that I would be assigned a “leg” track.
We were videotaped and then had to watch ourselves as Ipson pointed out everything we did wrong. Fun times. But, seriously, it was helpful. The only thing was, by the time each of us presented, we had been working our muscles all day long, and achieving perfect form was quite difficult. The day ended close to 6 PM (it was scheduled to end at 5:00, but we didn’t finish everything we needed to on time) with everyone exhausted. Ipson wanted us to go home and work on our tracks and practice more to be ready the next day. I can tell you that at least for me, that didn’t happen. I did look over the notes he gave me and listen to the music and practice the counts verbally, but physically, I was spent. I couldn’t have done another lunge if I tried.
When I woke up Sunday, I was in great pain and very tired, but at the same time, I was rarin’ to go! I was already halfway through training and had an idea of what to expect for the day, and just wanted to finish what I started. The sports complex where our training was held was literally in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, this was the scenery around it:
It did make for a very pretty drive!
Here’s me at 7:45 am, looking VERY TIRED and running on fumes, but excited to get on with the training!
If only I knew what Day 2 had in store for us…
I thought Day 1 was hard and physically exhausting, but seriously, it had NOTHING on Day 2.
Day 2 started with a little warm up, in while we did this exercise called the caterpillar game, which is basically a lot of sprinting a push-ups. Luckily, my team won, so we got out of the 20 push-ups that the losing team had to do. After that, we each taught our assigned tracks to the group (and we were filmed again for this). Since there were twice as many of us as there were assigned tracks, we got to go through the whole release twice! Yipee! When I presented my track (still lunges), I thought I did okay. I had no problem remembering the choreography, but I was so focused on trying to execute my lunges properly (because my quads were so exhausted and felt like they were on fire) that I didn’t make much of a connection with the group. My timing was also horrible at the end, because again, I could barely even execute a lunge at that point. Ipson gave us a little feedback after each track, and then told us that we were going to do something very nice and refreshing next (that we would really like). What that ended being was an outdoor run. Now, normally, I would love an outdoor run, but I was already spent. I was slooooow, but kept on going. I also knew that the next thing that we were going to do was going to really test my mental and physical strength!
The run was basically a warm-up for “circuit training from hell.”
Ispon set up 5 stations, which each had 2 exercises to perform. Each of the exercises were those that are performed in Bodypump (for example, 1 station was 20 (bar) bicep curls followed by 20 weighted tricep dips). But, the kicker was- we had to do at least twice the amount of weight that we normally used on our bars. We stayed at each station for 4 minutes and then rotated to the next one. When we finished the circuit, we were all exhausted, and then Ipson said “alright- go through the circuit again!” Seriously?!?!
But, really- it was AWESOME. The whole point was to show us how strong we were and push us to our limits- and it did. I would have never put 60 lbs. on my bar for squats- but I did, and I could do it just fine (not sure if I could last for an entire 5 minute squat track with that weight, but that’s another story).
We got our 30 minute lunch break after that, and to be honest- even though I had been working so hard all morning, I really wasn’t hungry. I just had to force myself to eat SOMETHING so that I had some fuel to make it through the afternoon.
I packed a wrap with some hummus and veggies:
I wolfed it down so that I could spend the rest of my break calling Greg to tell him about the morning.
Still smiling at this point:
I knew that for the remainder of the afternoon, I just had to push, push, push to get through. I didn’t know it before the weekend started, but there’s a chance that you can go through all of the training and not PASS! If you don’t pass, you have to come back and attend ANOTHER training (I shudder at the thought!). Thankfully, I passed. I pledged to just give it all I had left- which was ALL mental at this point (the physical strength was long gone!) Our final evaluation of the afternoon was coming up- we had to each present out tracks again (and yes- again- that meant going through the whole release twice!). This time we had to focus on our “coaching” and “connecting” more than anything- which was interesting since everyone was beyond any kind of physical and mentally exhaustion that we had experienced before.
I have to say though- these ladies ROCKED. We all dug deep and pulled it out. I was so impressed with everyone, and it was just this indescribable group dynamic. We were all feeling the same thing and were on the same page. And, we made it through!
After the final performances, we talked about the next steps and how to get certified. Once you pass your training, you have to go back to your gym and start team-teaching Bodypump classes with certified instructors. Then, you have to be filmed teaching a full 60-minute class, which is sent to Les Mills to be assessed to get your certification. So that’s the next step for me, and I’m anxious to get it started asap! Well, after I rest my legs for at least a day, that is.
I got the ladies (minus, Susan! Who was taking the picture) and Ipson to pose for a group shot at the end of the day:
I could have KICKED myself for not bringing my DSLR to get a nice group shot (this was taken with my craptacular Droid camera).
The last part of the day was a one-on-one assessment with Ipson, where we talked about how did did and what we need to work on. Shockingly, he said that my strength was in technique and form (!) and that I needed to improve my timing (duh) and my coaching and connecting with people. I was a little surprised by that, because I thought that was my strength! But, if he says to improve it, that’s what I’m going to do. I think I’ll also do A LOT better when I have more rest. In all fairness, he was assessing us teaching when we were already exhausted. The day ended around 6:00 and I got home and made love to my foam-roller to help ease the pain in my quads so that I could walk the next day.
So, in the end, I made it through training. I pushed myself to the limits physically and mentally. I didn’t quit, even when I thought that I had nothing left to give. I’m so excited about the role that Les Mills will have in my life, and even went into work with a much better attitude today (even though I am sore from head to toe and feel like I could die, still).
And, I have SO MUCH respect for Les Mills instructors everywhere- I had no idea what they went through for certification. It is truly no joke. Talk about weeding out the weak and building up the strong!
Sorry for writing a BOOK here- I easily could have written much more though! Have a great Monday!
Have you had an experience in life that has pushed you to the limits? Or, has there been an event that has been “life-changing” for you?