Workout of the Week: BodyPump

Moves like this overhead press are common in the weight-lifting oriented BodyPump classes. — File Photo by Ralph Stewart

Group exercise is not my cup of tea. There’s something a little too choreographed, too dancey, about most of the classes offered. Mid-kickboxing session I’ll lose my rhythm, miss a move, and suddenly I’m stumbling around like a toddler after a pint of tequila. Workouts like Zumba are simply out of the question.

So when I peeked into the group exercise room at the YMCA one evening, I was delighted to see a class hoisting barbells above their heads, lowering into squats and lunges, even firing off push-ups. It looked a lot like the kind of workout I did in the weightroom. It looked like actual exercise, not a silly dancefloor of people getting a half-assed cardio workout. It looked…fun.

The class is BodyPump, concocted by New Zealand Olympian Les Mills. It’s not about heavy lifting, but rather high repetitions with lighter weights. The result is a great fat-burning and muscle-toning workout.

Of course, I made a rookie mistake and put too many plates on my barbell. Lifting 30 pounds a couple of times was no problem, but lifting 30 pounds 100 times left my limbs functioning like Twizzlers. The class filters through major muscle groups including biceps, triceps, shoulders, back, and legs, with each exercise repeated for about 70 to 100 reps. It’s wise to start with light plates and get a feel for the class before packing on all you can lift.

BodyPump is designed with an upbeat playlist to keep your head in the game. Plus, the classroom vibe gives you the “we’re all in this together” effect for when those squats really start to burn. Best part is, the routines switches up every 90 days; I’ve continued to use it as a tool for busting boredom and plateaus.

BodyPump is offered at the YMCA of M.V. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 am and 5:30 pm, and Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 9 am. For more information, call 508-696-7171 or visit