Tuesday, November 10, 2009

BodyPump at Bakar gym

Around a year ago I started going to the BodyPump class at the gym next to my work (Bakar at the Mission Bay UCSF campus). Even though my gym offers a BodyPump class on every single day of the week, the majority of the classes are at times that are not working well with my work and social life schedules... Because of that I was skipping many classes and I never had a feeling that I made a good progress at increasing my muscle strength or endurance.

After coming back from India I decided to go to the BodyPump class three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30pm) no matter what. My spirits were pretty much down and I knew that one way of brining them up is by supplying my brain with endorphins. Actually other types of exercise (e.g. running) work on my brain much better than body pump, but I was not sure if I would have enough will power and persistence to kick my ass to go running regularly by myself, so I thought going for an organized class would work better at that time for me. That indeed was the case. Moreover, by now (in mere 5 weeks) I achieved the fitness level that fully satisfies me.

So what is BodyPump? It is a 60-minute long work out aimed at improving strength and endurance in all major muscle groups of the body. Each class consists of ten 4-5 minutes long parts that target different muscle groups and always happen in the same order:
  1. warm up
  2. legs/squats
  3. chest
  4. back
  5. triceps
  6. biceps
  7. lunges
  8. shoulders
  9. abdominals
  10. cool down/stretch

All exercises are accompanied by and choreographed to the music (mostly upbeat popular chart or classic rock releases) and between each track there is a short break to allow for stretching the muscle just exercised, and change weights for the next track.

As I mentioned above, my gym offers a BodyPump class on each single day of the week and has several instructors all of whom are great:

Monday - 5:30pm - Jeanine
Tuesday 12pm - Frances
Wednesday 5:30pm - Alan
Thursday 12pm - Frances
Friday 5:30pm - Chantilly
Saturday 8:30am - Katie
Sunday 9:30am - Alan

I am almost tempted to go to the class every day, but I know it would not be smart, as after such intense exercise muscles need some time to recover. But I will try to add Sunday morning class to my schedule.

There are multiple reasons why I like BodyPump. First and foremost, I would never do weightlifting by myself for such long length of time and in such consistent fashion targeting all the major body muscle groups. Second, I enjoy the fact that all exercises are accompanied by the music. Third, it is very satisfying to see that with each week I can lift more and more weight! Fourth, I like to see big muscle-pumped guys swallowing their egos... (I'm bad, I know...)

It happens at least once a week that a new guy joins a class and thinks that he can lift more weight than all those tiny skinny looking girls around him. He takes as much weight as he would for his regular weight-lifting exercises and one minute into a track, he drops his bar and reduces the weight to the one that other people around him lift... In moments like this it is very difficult for me to control myself and suppress the smile that pops out on my face... :)

BTW, in the great Internets I found a smart guy's description of his first BodyPump class:
When I first entered the class, was shocked to find out that ladies outnumbered guys. Before the class started, like everyone else, I first took a platform (use as a bench), a bar and some weights. Once I felt that the weights were like plastic material, I was wondering whether guys can get a real workout with them. I have been doing weight training for close to two years, so, I took some heavy weight. Also, I told myself I better took more weights than the lady beside me. This choice was a big mistake indeed which I will share with you why. (...)
One should focus in the forms than taking heavy weights. I went for heavy weights and failed to maintain the correct postures after few repetitions. Worse, muscles sore like hell after the first class. So, swallow your ego.

Every three months the music, and therefore choreography, changes. Currently we are at the release number 71. Here are the weights I am lifting this week:
  1. warm up - 20lbs
  2. legs/squats - 48lbs
  3. chest - 20lbs
  4. back - 30.5lbs
  5. triceps - 20lbs
  6. biceps - 15lbs
  7. lunges - 48lbs
  8. shoulders - 20lbs
  9. abdominals - 5.5lbs
  10. cool down/stretch