Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bodypump Review

I'm not sure why but there are many negative reviews of Bodypump out there on the Internet. I'm not sure why some people want to trash it so badly. Of course, they are entitled to their opinion. To me, it boils down to your goals. This is true for any workout regime. Not all exercise plans are right for everyone and every workout has its limitations. It's always important to vary your moves, muscle groups worked, weight, repetitions, tempo, etc. Varying your routine along with proper diet and sufficient rest is really how you achieve the best results.

Here are some of the complaints I've read about Bodypump.

1. You don't burn many calories
2. You don't get stronger
3. You don't achieve muscle tone
4. Some moves are not practical/functional
5. It's impossible for the instructor to ensure each participant uses proper form and the routine could, therefore, be dangerous to some

To address them individually, starting with the first complaint: yes, it is true that you will likely burn more calories during a cardio class, depending on the intensity, than in a Bodypump class. You may burn 600 calories in Zumba or 800 calories in spin while burning only 300 or 400 in pump. This is true of any weight lifting routine. Cardio exersice burns more calories during the exersice however when you lift weights, you build muscle and when you build muscle, you burn more calories than you would ordinarily, all the time, even at rest. The benefits of cardiovascular exersice can be great for heart health, weight loss, etc. but during cardio you also risk losing muscle along with fat. This is one of the reasons I favor bodypump.  It works for my goals. I want to increase my muscle, I want my body to function more efficiently and I want to burn more calories at rest.

The strength factor: it's very true that lifting heavy weights and maxing out will make you stronger faster than lifting lighter weights and performing higher repetitions. So if you're looking to build strength fast, bulk up or achieve hypertrophy, bodypump is probably not the program for you. That said, you DO get stronger. I've noticed myself getting stronger and lifting heavier things with ease and I've increased my weight selection over time so I know I've gotten stronger. It's always important to introduce variation in your program. Taking a day- or several days (maybe even a week) off of Bodypump to do a different type of strength program can help you stimulate muscles in a different way than you might in bodypump. What I always find when I return to bodypump after a short break is that the length of time under tension seems that much tougher after a break even if did strength training during my time off. Very few programs have you perform as  many reps as bodypump so the benefit there is that it increases your muscle endurance (your ability to handle the long period of time under tension). Again, it's important to change your routine periodically to achieve maximal results. You'll achieve better bodypump results by mixing other workouts into your bodypump routine.

I don't know how to argue this next point other than to say you DO get toned. I know because I can see it in myself and other frequent bodypumpers I see in class regularly. We're not bulky but we've got defined shoulders, biceps, triceps, etc. Diet plays a huge role in the look you achieve, though. If you want to look toned, it's helps a great deal to eat enough PROTEIN, carbohydrates and healthy fats. (Try a low calorie protein powder mixed with skim milk post-workout, as well. No, you will not bulk up from this.)

Some moves are not practical or functional. Ok, point taken. Not all strength training moves are 100% functional. If your goal is to get strong doing only functional/real life types of moves, then maybe bodypump is not for you. One reviewer said something along the lines of why would you ever need to lift a small weight 100 times versus lifting a much heavier weight only a few times. I can see both of those scenarios presenting themselves in the real world. The fact is that practicing both of those training methods will help you get stronger. Switching out bodypump for a more traditional strength training routine where you lift heavy weights for fewer repetitions every so often can be very beneficial and help prepare you for those real life scenarios. It goes without saying that doing any routine over and over without changing it leads to plateau and you really won't be working your body, meeting your goals (whatever they are) or achieving the results you want if you don't vary your routine.

Bodypump could be dangerous If the moves aren't performed correctly. This is a given as with any fitness routine. It's certainly difficult for the instructors to ensure that each participant is using proper form. Good instructors demo the correct form before each track. My favorite instructor has recently taken to approaching the students and actually correcting their form. There are instructors out there who are not as fabulous and thoughtful. There IS a potential for injury. My gym offers technique classes every few months for people to brush up on their technique,  which is great. Using improper form is a huge concern, of course. Sustaining an injury will knock you off your fitness regime and cause a delay in achieving your goals. Using proper form is something I always have in the front of my mind as I'm doing the moves in bodypump (or in any workout). This point, I can't really argue against because it's valid but hopefully you have a good instructor who can help guide you or you have the presence of mind to know when to ask a trainer or other instructor for extra help to ensure you're performing the moves correctly. This is essential in any program. Personally, I find that bodypump has actually helped me to learn and perfect proper weight lifting form because of the many repetitions,  the low weight load and the constant demoing by my fave instructor.

All in all, I think it's a great program. It's that much better if you have a great instructor (one who pushes you enough). I like the structure that it provides and that it's a full body workout in one hour. You're not kind of off on your own in the weight room. It can be tricky to provide a great, efficient, effective workout for yourself and really push yourself while on your own (for me, at least!). Having the tracks preplanned by the instructor pushes me harder than I would likely push myself on my own. Traditional weight lifting routines generally focus on a few muscle groups per session to be switched out each workout (so at the end of the week, you've gotten a full body workout). I like that bodypump hits all muscle groups, there is little thought or planning on the part of the participants because the instructor varies the training periodically and plans which tracks you will do on a given day. It's taught me proper form for weight lifting and I love the group setting and the music. It fits well into a varied workout routine and if your goals are to tone, build muscle, strengthen and support your bones, rev your metabolism, have a structured weight lifting routine and enjoy yourself, bodypump can help you achieve your goals.

Baby steps: Healthy Eating

I've got my exercise regimen down but healthy eating has never come naturally to me. I said to myself I'd start eating healthier soon but never did and with a 3 year old learning my bad habits it made me feel super guilty. I did not want fruit snacks, chips and fast food to be our staples but the convenience of grabbing whatever is quick and available overcomes you when you're on a hectic schedule and constantly on the go. Isn't it so true that when you're hungry you'll eat whatever is in front of you? No? Well, for me it definitely is which is why snacking on a box of cheezits was a typical occurrence for me. Even when I didn't really want cheezits. They were there and I was hungry. That brought me to the realization that if I bought healthy food to store in the house, I would eat healthy food when I'm hungry. I could no longer preach healthy eating in good conscience to my son while doing the opposite. (Do as I say, not as I do is ineffective parenting). The moment I decided to make this change wasnt the type of revelation that occurred to me one day and then I suddenly reformed our eating habits overnight. (Does that actually work for anyone?) The first step I took was to speak with my husband and share my plan. I figured I would need to get him on board. He was not as enthusiastic as I was about this change. He's slim and healthy like me but his habits include a pastry and a coffee for breakfast, fried chicken, burgers and Chinese food takeout. I started to feel deflated like I was fighting an uphill battle to get my boys to start eating better. Another factor that complicated my ability to shift our diet: I can't cook to save my life! And another: we don't have a working oven! And finally: my husband is a really picky eater! Yikes! I wanted throw in the towel just thinking about this. Despite these factors I was determined. I realized when they are hungry, they, like me, will eat whatever is close, easy and available. If I stock the house with healthy options, they will have no choice (and they certainly will not allow themselves to go hungry, that's for sure)! I started by making small changes. Whole milk to 2% and then 1%. Fruit snacks to REAL fruit- strawberries, grapes, pineapple, etc! I began by buying the pricey pre-chopped fruit (justifying the cost because so long as it's eaten, it's worth the price!) and then I began buying whole watermelons among other types of fruit. I found out my little one is a major watermelon lover! When he's hungry and dinner isn't ready, he goes into the fridge and grabs whatever is there. Instead of grabbing high sugar yogurts, like go-gurt, or grabbing candy, he grabs his watermelon, strawberry and lower sugar yogurt while waiting for dinner. As for my husband,  instead of picking up big breakfasts from McDonald's, it's homemade eggs (what's better than that?) or cornflakes. Occasionally he buys his pastry but that's on him :) As a small change, I began by buying pre-chopped stir fry vegetables like onion and peppers and progressed to buying whole onions, peppers, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, avocados, scallions, ginger, etc. As a self-proclaimed bad cook, you cannot go wrong with a slowcooker, no matter how bad of of a cook you are. I have two. My hubby hates them, though :(

But knowing I have the power in my hands because I buy the groceries and I do the cooking, I began following easy dinner recipes. This week, I'm making recipes 1,2, 3 and 5 from this list:
Easy. And healthy. Trust me, if I can follow them, anyone can. The chicken with artichoke hearts came out pretty good- not perfect, but that's due to my poor cooking abilities. The boys did not go hungry, though! And I liked it so much, I enjoyed it as a leftover sandwich the next day. The stir fry was a BIG hit and I was overjoyed to get Angelo eating brussel sprouts and loving them! Dessert was a pear, strawberries, orange juice and a single piece of chocolate. I even got Angelo to enjoy the skin of the pear! Even my picky hubby was satisfied. I'd say it was a success all around! And, as a tip, the chicken and the stir fry require one pan only so clean up is quick and easy. The natural flavors of the foods are so satisfying and totally beat the comfort of digging into a greasy fast food burger any day! I'm sold and I think my family is too! It takes some planning and prepping i.e. making a grocery list with all of your ingredients for the week and stocking your fridge accordingly but the bit of time spent in advance saves you the anxiety when 6pm rolls around on Tuesday evening and you have no idea what you're going to do for dinner and you call for takeout or drag everyone to the diner (ok, maybe that is just me). I'm going to keep up the momentum and choose some tasty and simple recipes to make next week. All of that said, I am not the type of person to deny myself an indulgence if I'm really craving something! I allow myself to have a couple of pieces of chocolate or some handfuls of chips but the fact that I feel gross and lethargic after eating too much of those types of goodies and that I feel fabulous,  energetic and ready to take on the world when I make better choices, is sufficient reinforcement to keep up these habits. I encourage myself by telling myself to make small changes and to do it little by little. It also helps knowing that I am properly fueling my workouts to get better results. Afterall, what's worse than working really hard for something and getting mediocre results? Another motivator for me is reading about how food affect us. I had no idea that food can affect your mood in the way it does until I read this article:,,20621800,00.html
I knew that exersice improves your mood but I had no idea diet had such an effect! Proper eating and exersice really are intertwined and I realize I really cannot separate the two if I want to perform at my best. Over the past couple of nights at dinner, I have been sharing with my boys a single fact about the food they are eating in hopes it makes us all feel good about our dinner and I hope it sinks in. At the very least, knowing that my guys really have no other choice, we'll be eating well until I say otherwise!