NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Hello! Long time no speak! Seems like every time I write a blog post these days I start it with an apology for my lack of communication. And… this will be no exception. Sorry! In my defence I have been all over the show. My new role as the Brand Manager for Les Mills here in the Middle East means I do a lot of travel. A lot. It’s barely April and I’ve been on four separate overseas trips visiting seven different countries! Not that I’m complaining of course!

One of those trips was to IHRSA fitness event with the LMI crew in San Diego. Man, what a blast that was. A full week of fitness immersion! Most of it I can’t really comment on (what goes on tour stays on tour!) but if we’re friends on facebook you may’ve seen a few sneaky snippets. ;)

Anyway – the below is an exact copy and paste from the Les Mills website on the next filming coming up very soon. You’ll notice LM are ‘auditioning’ people for some of the filmings this quarter (whoa bit flash!) If you are going and want to write about any of the filmings let me know!

 

MAY 2014: Q3 2014 FILMING DATES:

Q3 2014 will be filmed on Apr 30 and May 5th. Tickets will be available on Feb 3rd for the filming of RPM™, and the casting for Les Mills GRIT™ series. Please be informed this timetable is subject to changes without notice:

Wednesday April 30th 

07.00 – BODYVIVE 32™
08.30 – BODYBALANCE 66™
11.00 – BODYATTACK 86™
12.30 – SH’BAM 17™
13.30 – BODYPUMP 91™

Monday May 5th

07.00 - RPM 64™
09.00 – BODYCOMBAT 61™
10.30 – BODYJAM 70™
13.00 – BODYSTEP 97™

Wednesday May 14th

Special classes will be filmed off-site this round. If you want to join this team, you need to go though the casting process.
Morning – CXWORX 16™ – to register, click here >
Afternoon – BODYSTEP™ REEBOK – to register, click here >

If you are not a Les Mills New Zealand club member or instructor, you will need to purchase a casual pass. Casual passes are sold online and are giving you access to the filming classes and all other classes in the club (There is a fee for some classes like RPM™). You can purchase a pass anytime. Keep in mind the price is more expensive at the club. To purchase a casual pass valid between March 1st and May 31st, 2014, click here >

To join the filming group of RPM™64, click here > 

To be a participant for CXWORX™16 filming (date and time to be confirmed) click here >

To join the casting process for Les Mills™ GRIT 10 filmed on May 8 and 9th, click here >

Well here we are.. the big SIX-ZERO. Hard to believe BODYCOMBAT has been around 15 years huh? And man how much has the program evolved? Even since I moduled (BC37) which was back in 2008 it’s like the program has been supercharged – but if you really want to see contrast check out how BODYCOMBAT 1 looked!

Not exactly ‘Turbulence’ is it ;-)

So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that BODYCOMBAT 60 was filmed over the weekend. D&R presented with T, and joining them was Brian (from LM Asia/Pacific) and Carrie shadowing (as an aside LMI puullease give Carrie a mic she’s absolutely amazing!) If your facebook feed was anything like mine it erupted with post after post of pics from the event. I must admit seeing them made me very homesick – this is now the fourth filming I’ve missed out of the last five since moving to Dubai – and that’s after not missing a single one in five years!

This event was even more pronounced as it was GFX – that’s the biggest event on the NZ Group Exercise calendar. All the filmings and workshops rolled into one massive weekend… along with one massive party!

Of course having been to three prior GFXs I can tell you they are absolutely manic. People start queuing at 3-4am in order not to miss a spot. It’s crazy but it’s what you had to do if you wanted to get into the front few rows; or at least what you used to have to do… Which brings me to this blog post.

BODYCOMBAT 60 team: Brian, Carrie, Dan, Rach and T.

BODYCOMBAT 60 team: Brian, Carrie, Dan, Rach and T.

As in the last few filmings I had a guest blogger do all the work for me. This quarter it was Violeta. She’s no stranger to this blog having written the post for BC57 last year, in fact if I’m honest she’s a much better blogger than myself! Which I guess is why she now has her own blog.

You can almost feel her emotion as you read the post. It can’t have been an easy one to write, so I take my hat off to her (and thank her sincerely) for having the kahunas to write it. So without further ado, I leave you in the hands of the amazing Vi: BODYCOMBAT 60 review and the rest.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you’ll know I’ve been to a lot of BODYCOMBAT filmings, I think this is my 18th or 19th one, my first one was BC38! And I have to say given the venue was Super Saturday in Stockholm Sweden (whoa that’s a lot of S’s!) this one was something pretty freaken special! After all this was the first time Les Mills have ever filmed outside Auckland, I mean Studio One at Les Mills Auckland Central fits, at most I’d estimate 250 people. Well check out this pic snapped at the BODYCOMBAT 59 filming!

Image

Reports vary depending on who you’re talking to but there was at least 2,000, possibly closer to 4,000 people in that room absolutely ripping it up! In the middle of it all I must admit I stopped for a moment, looked around and just soaked it all up – the whole weekend was something truly quite special. I’ve posted quite a few pics to my facebook page – take a look it’s very surreal!

I must admit having been to so many filmings I thought the glitz and the glamour of it all had worn off a bit (cynical old veteran that I am haha) but I was like a kid in a candy shop again for this one! So I’ll try and put some of my childlike excitement aside and attempt to give you an objective look at the release. Thankfully by the time BC59 rolled around I was already very smashed from BODYPUMP 89, GRIT Strength 8, CXWORX 14 and BODYATTACK 84 so it probably offset my buzz a bit.

BODYCOMBAT 59 was presented by a pretty huge team (not as large as BODYCOMBAT 58 admittedly!) Dan and Rach (well duh) with Pernilla and Mika from LM Nordic, as well as a support crew that included T and Will from NZ and the “big boys” Petter and Fredrik (apologies if I forgot anyone!). This was the first time I’ve seen the team present in Reebok gear; I have to admit the clothing did surprise me a little as it didn’t feel very “combaty” – however I’ve since learnt that this wasn’t actually customised gear for Les Mills made by Reebok (that is coming) but actual regular Reebok gear branded with the program names (not sure I’m explaining the distinction to well but let’s just say BODYCOMBAT specific clothing made by Reebok isn’t out… yet). So hopefully that has a more combateske feel (look at me making up a bunch of new words).

So, as for the release itself – well BODYCOMBAT 59 has got a few surprises that’s for sure! (not as many as BODYPUMP 89 but that’s a story for another day). The Upper body warmup kicks off with a upbeat mix of a track by a young country and western singer (I kid you not!). Certainly made me smile (heck if we can punch to Call Me Maybe we can do it to anything!) The track has another surprise in that it has a move that you would NEVER expect in an upper body warmup – and no not the shoot – much worse!! Certainly gets the body warm quickly that’s for sure! The LBWU is a remix of a song from my youth – oldie but a goodie! And has a bit more of a BC feel to it. One thing I did like about the warmup is it introduced a couple of the unique combos used later in the class – great work D&R.

The thing that stands out about most about Track 2 is the music! It’s a track taken from a very well known hit movie from the 80s! I can’t really tell you the name of the movie as that would give the track away in a heartbeat – but let’s just say if you guess it you can be my wingman any time. ;) It’s certainly no where near as tough as recent track 2s that’s for sure.

Track 3 what can I tell you – definitely solid track from Hixxy, Sy & Unknown. I really enjoyed it. Uplifting and happy!

Track 4 was rocky and certainly not my favourite track of the release. However the theme for the track was fighting which obviously fits combat very well! The choreography felt a bit all over the place in this track if I’m honest, none of the combos seemed to flow. But I’ve heard others say it was one of their favourite tracks of the release so there ya go! Certainly is a track you can grit your teeth and smack it out to that’s for sure!

Track 5 – BOOM! Another Sy & Unknown track and it was fantastic! I was a little afraid that we might see a flash back to old time rock and roll like BC57 again but thankfully it seems like that may’ve been an anomaly (phew!). If you teach BODYATTACK you’ll recognise this track as a recent interval track – it works in combat too – builds to an amazing peak that will give you goosebumps! Just let the music do the talking when you teach this one.

Track 6 is when the release starts to get a really interesting! Leg loading anyone??! The track combines two of the most vicious leg loading moves together for the first time and trust me it hurts! Thankfully it seems really short which your legs will thank you for – especially if you’re an instructor who teaches combat every day! It’s dubstep (think Skrillex style) and it’s freaken nuts!! The other crazy thing is that I think this song has the exact same lyrics as track 2! I really liked it – even the pain – maybe I have issues haha.

Muay Thai I enjoyed as well! I’m not a religious guy but I think I literally looked up and thanked the heavens when I realised it wasn’t Airbourne! It had a drum and bass feel – it’s great! I don’t remember too much else I was pretty smashed by then… but if like me you’re not a fan of the ‘Born to Kill/Raise The Flag/Stand Up for Rock and Roll’ type MT tracks of late I think you’ll like this one.

Track 8 – OH YES! By far my favourite track of the whole release!! OMFG it’s epic. It’s a lot more Happy Hardcore than the recent track 8s we’ve had – which I just love! Fast, uplifting, long and epic! Exactly the peak you need when the energy starts to dip at the end of the class. I LURVED IT!

Conditioning I liked but I have to admit I didn’t actually do – but if you look closely at the pic above you’ll recognise the move. More dubstep by the way! And the cooldown I didn’t actually stay for but I’ve heard reports the music is fantastic.

So there ya go! BODYCOMBAT 59 in a nutshell (without me giving too much of the game away!). I don’t know about you but I’m not completely in love with 57, I don’t dislike it, but it’s certainly far from my favourite. I’ve heard amazing things about 58 and you can DEFINITELY look forward to 59!

And to the powers that be at Les Mills if plans aren’t in the pipeline already you really should make this an annual event and combine Super Saturday with filmings again as it was truly something special. You could even move venues and have it at a different location around the world each year. It’s gives instructors from the other side of the globe a chance to experience the magic, plus the energy was just off the chart and I’m sure it will look phenomenal on film! A massive well done to everyone involved and cheers to the next one! (hint hint!)

Here you go guys, how great is this: BODYCOMBAT 58 review number two!

Another glowing report! Here’s the amazing thing about this. Both Raina and Zhengjie keep it real. Sometimes when people attend filmings they get so swept up in the experience that they walk away from every single class going “OMFG THAT WAS AMAZINGLY-CRAY-CRAY-TOTES-UBER-EPIC!!!” – even if the release perhaps wasn’t actually that great, just because the whole thing can be so surreal. Both Zhengjie  and Raina have been to sooo many filmings that they know what to expect and they’re used to the process. As such to get two stand out reviews from two hardened veterans can mean only one thing – BODYCOMBAT 58 is obviously something pretty special. (another 53 perhaps?!)

There’s one other consistent fact in both these reviews: Dave Cross. The guy clearly stole the show! I tell ya what they breed a pretty amazing calibre of instructor in the UK! Every time a member of the UK trainer team is sent over they shine like a freaken rockstar! (Dave Cross, Dave Kyle, Shaun Egan, KC Van-Roose, Tanya Walker… I could go on and on!)

Anyway – thanks so much to both my guest bloggers you guys went above and beyond the call of duty. And I’m happy to announce I even get to write the review on BODYCOMBAT 59 myself as I’ll be in Sweden for Super Saturday in September! Woo hoo! But first thing’s first: Take it away Rai-Rai!

BODYCOMBAT 58 FILMING

I’ll be honest, I tend to avoid filmings these days – the only reason why I attend is to support friends who are presenting, and in this instance, I attended BODYCOMBAT 58 due to my AIM2 trainer/friend Carrie Kepple being onstage as one of the EPIC team.  I just wish she had a mic! Before I get going into the review of the release, Carrie, I just want to say that you are AMAZING and I loved seeing you up there – I know it meant a lot to you, and I am sure it will not be the last time we get to see you.

The presenting team, which you will see, is the largest presenting team in the history of BODYCOMBAT, and I’d hazard to say, across any program, ever.  I believe the last one that would have gotten close would have been BODYJAM 45 with a 10 person team (if I am wrong here, please let me know!).  I was concerned that it would be to clutteriffic on the stage, but I will say right here and now that very rarely are all 14 members of the team onstage at any one time.  If any of you have seen BODYATTACK 80, you will see that the presenters rotate on and off the stage.  In some of the rehearsals there *were* tracks where they had the whole team on the stage – it looked super cool in the room, but I was a bit like o_0 over trying to picture what it would be like trying to watch it on a DVD (or, as I learn my choreography… on an iPhone. That is a small screen!)

Before I get into talking about the release itself, firstly, let me go over the filming experience.  I’ve been to a few, being an Auckland resident, but recently there seems to have been changes.  Firstly, when I stumbled up to the gym at 6:45am, I was staggered by the line of people that was trailing out of Studio 1.  It looped down past Studio 1, Studio 2, past the changing rooms, over the bridge that connects the two buildings at LM Auckland, and down into the main gym area.

That be a long queue!

That be a long queue!

Regular members of the gym were walking past the queue, completely bewildered as to what these idiots were lining up for, haha!  I was right at the back, with a few concerned people who were very worried that there wouldn’t be any space, but there was *more* than enough space for everyone, so there was no reason to worry.

One thing I will say, and this was covered in Zhengjie’s review as well, there was a bit of confusion about positions in the front.  Pete Manuel said over the mic several times that members of the LMI production crew *would* be moving people around and to expect to be moved if you were in the front few rows, but at that time of the morning it might have come out sounding a bit like wahp wahp wahp wahp, never mind language barriers and all of that.

That being said… once everyone had been arranged… it was one of the least stressful BODYCOMBAT filmings I’ve ever been to!  Normally I will get irritated at a filming due to all of the pushing and shoving (BODYCOMBAT and BODYATTACK are chronic for this sort of thing as your position is not fixed on the floor), though this time, everyone had their space, everyone respected their space, and for the most part of it, everyone had room to execute the moves safely.  I say ‘for the most part’ as I was lucky enough to have a guy in front of me that would jump backwards every time we were supposed to move forwards. Bless his heart.

TRACK 1A – Oh how I love thee!  This track embodies in my opinion, the perfect upper body warmup.  Modern, upbeat, fun, and with ample space in the music to cue and introduce each of the moves  correctly.  I don’t believe in complex combinations in the warm up, I believe the warm up should 1) warm you up, obviously, 2) teach you the moves and 3) elevate the mood.  This track ticks all three of those.  Also!  There is a little dubstep interlude. *squee* I hear you now, “ What???? Dubstep you say?!  I hate it immediately.”  Seriously, the little bit they have in there is a WICKED contrast, and I feel that using dubstep *this* way is a great way to get people used to the sound.

TRACK 1B – Also, how I love thee!  This track flows on perfectly from 1A, my only criticism is that it brings back the shoot.  Using the shoot isn’t a problem, but I personally believe if you’re going to introduce a move in the warmup, it should then be present somewhere else in the release.  The shoot wasn’t present elsewhere, so in my opinion, it’s introduced for nothing.  But, the tune is awesome, sooooo… whatever! :D

TRACK 2 – David from France presented this track, and let me just say this… I observed him in team teaches during the week and he struggled with the odd timing of the first combo.  Due to no doubt a lot of hard work and practice, he NAILED the timing at the filming.  The timing is odd though, and it takes a while to get used to.  I LOVE the tune – though I am biased, if EDM were a human being, I’d marry it.  It’s aggressive, dark, full of contrast, has lots of anticipation and build up, and very modern sounding.  It’s not as aggressive on the musical palate as First Of The Year, so if you are worried about members not being used to the sound, this one is easier to digest, and they’ll probably be too distracted over how much their quads are hurting anyway!

TRACK 3 – Zhengjie mentioned in his review that his pet peeve is when songs are recycled.  I’m not a fan either *when* the sound is similar. For me, the tune that is used here, while recycled, is AWESOME, and is different enough sounding that you can continue to use the original track as well. Think of the difference between No Good (38) and Don’ t Need (49).  Same melody, but different sound, and different training.   I really like this one, it does the job, gets the heartrate up, is fun.

TRACK 4 – Time to do ALL the capoeira.

The first time I saw this track, I was like “OMG I’m in love.”  The second time I saw it, I went “… the music changed?!”  I talked to Carrie after a team teach and she said that they weren’t able to acquire the worldwide rights to it, so had to do a last minute switch to another song, with the same choreography.  The timing was slightly different even though the chorey between both tracks was the same.  Giovanni did a really good job of adjusting to the new rhythm in the short space of time, so well done.  This track is going to KILL your legs!

TRACK 5 – My favourite of the release.  It’s a recycled track, but the sound is so different between this and the release it was originally used in that you could continue to keep both in your library, and in your mixes.  Daniel from the Netherlands presented this, and while he did a good job at filming, I actually want to draw attention to a moment in one of the team teaches that I was inspired by.  The first team teach I attended, the microphone was absolutely murdered.  What do I do when I don’t have a mic?  Screech as loud as I can.  But I don’t need to teach in Studio 1 to 100+ people.  The way that he managed to precue every combo, every move using non-verbals, man!  Totally inspiring.  I know there was a BODYATTACK ed session a while back where Nathan Jones(?) demonstrated how to teach a track non verbally, I think having one for BODYCOMBAT would be a great idea.  I have no doubt it would show most of the techniques that Daniel used that day.

TRACK 6 – The first time I saw track 5, I was like “YAY we don’t have a lame, cheesy track 5!  It’s all going to be good stuff from here.”  Then track 6 began and I went “… what the hell is this???”  I’m not a fan of the song, but I understand why it’s in there, and I tell you what, over the course of the week, it grew on me BIG time.  By filming, I liked it.  This track is completely different from everything else in the release – every other track has a dark edge, a thumping beat, and a throbbing bassline. Even the upbeat upper body warmup has that dubstep interlude which adds darkness to it.  This one is all rock, and all fun.   Plus, you get the bonus of UK presenter Dave Cross.  This guy is pure class and I hope that he comes back and presents again.  WOW.  He basically presents an AIM2 masterclass in a matter of minutes.  Every time he taught, I was blown away.

TRACK 7 – This one does the job.  It gets your heart rate up, knees and knees and knees and knees… it doesn’t do any favours for getting away from the stereotype of T7’s being “the track with the knees”.  Rach coaches like an absolute machine in this track, so as I was paying attention to her the whole time, I honestly couldn’t tell you about the music if I tried! (sorry guys!)

TRACK 8 – Dan says off the bat that this track is 1 minute 30 seconds (at least) shorter than the norm.  I think this is FANTASTIC.  One thing that we’ve seen is a trend towards longer tracks, which makes building mixes to time all the more challenging.  It’s also harder if say, there is an equipment based program before yours on the timetable and you need to gain back some minutes to ensure the remaining classes don’t run too late.  The shorter track doesn’t mean that you get any less of a workout though, as it’s basically 15 seconds… and BOOM! You’re in the thick of it! Love love love it.  It’s a great singalong tune, and I think Dan belts out a good verse or so partway through his presentation of it – and he’s in tune! Go on Dan, I’m sure they’re still taking auditions for NZ’s Got Talent? You could call yourself The Singing Boxer. :D

TRACK 9 – Nothing complicated or unachievable here, good tune, and a strong focus on the core.  Dan’s doing awesome work in CXWORX, and I think that shows here too.  I know that when I participate, the last thing I want to do after blasting my shoulders in T8 is more shoulder/chest work via push-ups/planks/etc.  I tend to just sit there and look grumpy instead.  This has been recognised, and there is a moment given for your shoulders to recover while the muscle focus is shifted elsewhere for a bit.  Massive thumbs up from me.

TRACK 10 – This cooldown is seriously amazing.  I don’t think there was a cooldown that was as ‘meant for’ BODYCOMBAT as this one.  Cooldowns don’t need to be soft rock – they don’t need to be Bruno Mars, or Bon Jovi, or whatever.  The tune maintains that dark edge that is present throughout the release (sans T6), and the moves meld so perfectly with the melody that it takes your breath away.

Overall, a very good release.  I actually stopped participating in BODYCOMBAT for a good period of time due to favourite instructors of mine moving to different countries, and had no real interest in doing it again.  This release makes me want to start doing it again.  Dan and Rach, you’ve done a really good job with this release, I’m really looking forward to when the rest of the world gets to see it.

OMG I can’t believe the last post I made to this blog was the BC57 review 3 months ago – I am useless! I promise to improve my hours here have started to be a little more “normal” (as in 10 hour days rather than 14!) so *hopefully* I’ll have more time to blog. Anyway – you guys are in for a real treat this quarter as I have not one but TWO guest bloggers writing about BC58 (which was only filmed this morning as an FYI!). The great thing about this is we have two perspectives on the release! And I think you’ll find the opinion is unanimous – BODYCOMBAT 58 is a winner!

As you’ll read there was a HUGE BC team for this filming  - in fact the biggest ever! From what I’ve been told the star performer was Dave Cross from the UK. This comes as absolutely no surprise to me as having seen Dave in action at a Super Quarterly in the UK a couple years back I wrote “if this guy isn’t on a BODYCOMBAT DVD soon I’m hanging up my combat gloves” – he is absolutely amazing so I’m so glad to hear he rocked the stage.

Anyway, enough from me for now, here’s review number one courtesy of my great friend Zhengjie. Enjoy!

BODYCOMBAT 58 filming

Hi everyone, I am Zhengjie from Singapore. I promised Glen to write a review for BC58 so I thought I’ll wrap this up quickly while everything is still fresh from the oven, so all BC fanatics can get the soundbites from the latest filming. BC58 is my 4th consecutive filming and 11th overall, so no doubt that I’ll be doing some comparisons from my past experiences.

In a nutshell, what I would say about BC58 – “It’s A Fight Till I Die”. Music was uplifting and most participants connected with the tracks instantly. No fancy new moves this time round, D&R have stuck to basics and integrated free flowing choreography to a brilliant tracklist. Virtually everyone who attended the filming and trial classes loved the release. Without sounding like a fan boy, I compare this to BC57, where there were 3-4 tracks which weren’t my cup of tea and took some getting used to.

For this quarter, BC58 was once again allocated the 7am morning slot. Fanatics including myself queued up early for the filming, even though we all knew we would not be standing in the front row. The filming process was a little different this time round. The crew positioned random people to the front row, with the intention of having different cultural and racial representation to be captured on DVD as BC is supposed to be a global program. While the intention was good, the execution was sub-optimal. What was supposed to be an orderly movement resulted in chaos as some participants just moved themselves freely. Furthermore, some of the participants who were moved to the front row were very unsure of the choreography of BC58 and seemed uncoordinated most of the time.

After the dust settled, the presenting team came on stage. For this time round, it was a huge team. A total of 14 people on stage – Dan & Rach, David from France, Jorge from Argentina, Giovanni from Colombia, Daniel from the Netherlands, Dave from England, and shadow presenters Tauvaga, Will P, Pena, Mel, Charlotte, Carrie and Sarah R. Needless to say, the team was bursting with energy. We’ve had just Dan & Rach for quite a few of the recent releases – while their chemistry is amazingly superb, it does help if we have guest presenters to bring up the energy, especially if they are of such good quality like the 5 guys this time round.

The team’s outfit has been revealed on Facebook and Instagram. A bit more detail on the outfit. The boys wearing the sleeveless tank top had the words BODYCOMBAT in GREEN, while the two wearing sleeved top was more of the compression design with words BODYCOMBAT in YELLOW across the side (under right elbow). For the ladies, the tribal designs were in gold. What I liked about both the tribal designs was that they managed to integrate the fern leaf (showing NZ roots) into the design beautifully.

For all LM clothing fanatics, this is your last chance to get the LM gear. During BC57 filming, there were rumours that LM tied up with Reebok on a 5 year contract, and the rumour has become a fact now. Disappointing for many who do not like Reebok designs, but I guess this was a business decision to further the commercial causes of both companies.

BODYCOMBAT 58 team

BODYCOMBAT 58 team

Into the release proper!

Track 1a – This is a popular pop song by a female artiste which has been used in other programs, but this is a different mix done by LNG Label. It’s catchy and it’s fun and when Rach was presenting this, she was clearly having fun with the song and encouraging people to sing along.  I think D&R have found a perfect formula for the warm-ups, using popular songs remixed to a suitable beat for the warm-ups.

Track 1b – Another track which has been used in several programs, but this version is completely different as well. The ‘shoot’ is back and this time we’re doing it for many reps this time. What I love about this is we really allow ourselves to get warm to prepare for the workout ahead. This is also another catchy pop song by a male artiste remixed to a faster beat. Incidentally, both of these tracks appeared in the same BODYJAM release. Am I giving away too much here?

Track 2 – Talking about BODYJAM music, track 2 sounds like it could easily make its way into a BODYJAM tracklist. It’s one of those techno EDM sounds which is just brilliant when the kicks come in play. The contrast in the music was perfect to showcase the levels in the 2 sets of combos. There is a slight propulsive move here, but just a mild one. The timing for this track is somewhat weird at first and needs getting used to.  David from France presented this track and he really nailed it during filming. Good improvement from the final trial class.

Track 3 – One of my pet peeves regarding LM music is the use of recycled tracks. This is a recycled track from BC30, even though the version is different, I would much rather this track to have not been used at all. Similar to Hymn being used in BC28 and BC56. There’s so much music out there, why reuse the same title? This track is a typically boxing combo track to a hardcore tune – think jabs, hooks, footwork, all infused together.

Track 4 – From what I understand, this track 4 (presented by Giovanni) was a substitute for the original one. Apparently the original track 4 didn’t get the necessary clearance to be included in BC58. But this track rocks! The music is really good. This track is all about capoeira – think Bad Girls (BC55) and Gimmie Dat (BC50) but with a twist… A combo!

Track 5 – Presented by Daniel from the Netherlands, there’s no Rock’n’Roll this time but just pure techno/rave/electronic. Ok, if i were to be anal about this, I would say that the track is a recycled track from BC38, but thankfully the version is very different. Very very powerful track with a big finish. You will definitely feel it in your arms and core.

Track 6 – I must say that ALL the guest presenters were brilliant, but the guest presenter Dave was exceptional for this track. He was exemplary in his coaching and he used the lyrics brilliantly to enhance his cues, so much so that this track could possibly be my favourite of the entire release.  This surprises me even further because I hate recycled tracks, and this is actually a recycled rock song from BC29. D&R must also take some credit for the choreography for this track. Wonderful.

Track 7 – Presented by Rach, it’s a fight which is a head busting fight. Think nonstop knees, running man knees. We have a break from the propulsive jump knee, but this track is still going to challenge our heart rates and fitness levels. I love this track.

Track 8 – Presented by Dan, this track is unusually short for a conventional Track 8, but the short sharp bursts start almost immediately without warning. For this track, Dan sings the entire stanza of the track, which must be a record. But definitely a sing-a-long for all. There’s been a slight debate among participants whether this track is too short, but everyone seems to like the music for this one.

Track 9 – The focus is very much on the core. It’s a pop track by a female artiste who is no stranger to BODYCOMBAT, but watch out for the surprise in the music as we go for additional reps!

Track 10 – This track, WOW. I don’t even know how to describe this. Just had goose bumps the first time I did it. The layout was akin to a martial arts setting, with D&R in the middle, and ‘disciples’ at the side. I guess the only way is to wait for the DVD to be released. The kata is strong and inspiring. A wonderful way to finish the release BC58.

In conclusion, I would say BC58 is a very good release and I enjoyed it very much. There’s no secret to a great release. Uplifting music and fantastic choreography. Like I mentioned earlier, there are no fancy new moves, but we don’t need that for every release.  Right now I can’t wait for BC58 to hit us at the quarterlies soon so we can launch it right away, that’s how much I’m looking forward to this release!

First of all team I’d like to announce I am still alive and kicking! One thing about living in Dubai is the extremely long working hours – to give you some idea some days I work from 8am to midnight! As such that doesn’t leave too much time for blogging as I dearly treasure my downtime and tend to cocoon up and rest! However, I have the latest posters, tracklists and details on the new releases and will be posting them soon…

In the meantime, BODYCOMBAT 57 was just filmed this week and I have to thank the amazing Violeta Gregoriou (aka Vi) for her PHENOMENAL filming post below! I tell you what I have some amazing friends as these guest blogger filming posts put mine to shame! You’ll really feel like you are there when you read it!

I’ve had many people send me feedback about 57 and let’s just say the feedback has been consistent. The lower body warmup and the muay thai seem to be universally hated. Dan and Rach if you read this please move away from this band for muay thai – people just don’t connect with them!

Now, if you’re heading to the filming of BODYCOMBAT 58 on July 17 then I’m looking for a guest blogger for that so hit me up! Don’t worry about BC59 as I’ll be there myself for that one! Yay!

Anyway – enough from me… keep your eyes posted in the coming days for further updates. Take it away Vi!

BODYCOMBAT 57 filming – by Violeta Gregoriou

My name is Violeta Gregoriou and I am a BodyCombat & BodyJam instructor from Sydney, Australia. I want to thank Glen for allowing me to review BC57, as it is an honour to do so and I hope I have done it justice. I also want to say that when reading this review keep in mind that we all have different tastes and different ideas of what we think a great track is etc – so I have tried to make comparisons where applicable so ‘both sides’ can get a picture for what it was really like.

This was my second trip to Les Mills Auckland – my first time was last year late July/early August for the filming of BC54 and this trip also inspired me to do my Module Training for BodyJam as well as my AIM1 training for BodyCombat – because that’s what Les Mills Auckland City is – INSPIRING! I must say I was a little less nervous this time around, it felt a little more like home. LM Auckland is world class – more classes than you know what to do with and excellent facilities. If I had a gym like this at home I would probably be there day and night. :) If you do ever fly over come a few days before filming to catch the rehearsal classes – it definitely helps you feel a little less uncoordinated come filming day and it gives you an insight to how it all works – most of all you learn stuff (it’s hard not to) from how to improve your technique to using different cues etc.

Anyway, you probably want me to hurry up and get to the good stuff, right? Let me start by setting the scene – BC filming was the first cab off the rank and filming started at 7AM (I am not a morning person lol). Word was spreading that if you wanted a good spot near the front you should show up early (team Japan were lining up from 5.30AM, they’re hardcore!!). I arrived at 6AM and the line was already halfway down the stairwell!! It had been bucketing down rain the night before, plus it was windy and COLD, so I think this played a big part in the class size not being as big as normal – plus it was early, but there was a great energy in the room.

Once we were allowed into Studio 1 it was a mad rush to get a good spot. There was a bit of tension with a couple of the ladies in the front row – let’s put it this way, I thought BC57 was going to turn into a contact sport. I found a great spot in the second row towards the right of the stage so I had plenty of room to kick without being kicked (can’t say the same for the group in the middle towards the front).

Once Dan & Rach came on stage the room came alive (and awake) and they looked hot as usual in the new range of Combat gear. The new range was nice and simple, Dan had a black and green sleeveless T on with matching shorts which were mainly black and a green tribal type pattern on one leg. Rach was dressed in all black (I love black, so I am super excited about this range). Her shorts were entirely black and so was the tank with a gold print on the back with ‘Les Mills’ on it. I wasn’t a fan of the last purple/maroon clothing release, but this new range looks fierce. Let’s be honest, Dan & Rach could be wearing garbage bags and they would look amazing.

I was able to attend 1 rehearsal class on the Friday and it was all a bit of a blur, but I must say some of the tracks grew on me a bit more during filming. It’s hard to absorb it all in one go as you are trying to focus on what to do and just enjoying the moment.

Track 1a is a well-known Top 40 hit of late and easily offers lyrics to hook into and have fun with your cueing. It’s an upbeat track and the choreography is good and easy to follow – good energy to open the class with. Track 1b is a very well known 80’s rock song, which most people know the lyrics to, however I don’t feel it ‘matched’ the music to 1a – 2 different genres. I think some people will like it because the song itself is great but I’m still not sure how I feel about it in a warm up. The choreography is great and as usual certain moves that are set up in the warm up reappear in later tracks. Dan & Rach also had some fun with this track and I definitely think a few of us will be using their cues.

Track 2 – another great killer leg track (and yes in track 2!). I think what is introduced in track 6 of BC56 follows on from what we have in this track 2 – similar type of flow and movement. The music suits the feel of the track and gets the class pumping. There is also another ‘new’ kick in this track – all I will say that it feels great doing this kick, it’s not hard to do – but as always you can add layers of intensity to it.

Track 3 is a pretty cool track, another dance/club track which you can get the class singing to and hook into the lyrics to motivate the class. Good choreography and this track definitely gets the heart rate up and if you weren’t sweating already – this one definitely makes you sweat! The music is uplifting, but can I say it’s one of those tracks that will become a stand out favourite – probably not, but it’s still good solid power track.

Track 4 – this was one of those tracks that grew on me the second time I saw it. I think the music really matches the choreography quite well, hard hitting when it needs to be and a bit toned down to contrast different types of movements. There are some kicks, some punching, kata’s and an elbow. One thing some instructors and participants may struggle with initially is one of the kicks that in it’s name makes you want to kick in a certain direction but you actually kick in another direction, but after a couple of reps you get use to the feel of it. Have I confused you? Don’t worry it will all make sense when you see the release in 3 months. This music makes you feel strong and powerful and ready to unleash – it’s 1 of 2 songs in this release by the same band – a band which has just recently made a comeback, that’s all I am saying. 

Track 5 – hmmm?? This is where I am a little torn. I love the choreography but not too keen on the music. My kind of track 5 is Nessaja (BC50), We Speak No Americano (BC55), Invincible (BC54) & True Believer (BC53) – so if you have the same taste you may not enjoy this music as much, but it’s still a fun track. It reminds me of tracks like Johnny B. Goode & Tutti Frutti for some reason, so if you like that kind of music then you’ll love this track. Track 5 sees the return of the speedball and a spin on the jump jab that I haven’t seen for a long time.

Track 6 – am I allowed to say that there aren’t any lunges and squats in this track?? BUT – do not think this track will be a walk in the park. You’re legs will burn with all the kicks and just when you think you’re done – THERE’S MORE! It really does lift the heart rate and push you to your limits. The music is awesome, it’s a popular track by Will.I.Am – that’s all I will say. I think this track will appeal to most people and will have you and class members singing along.

Track 7 – Let me start off by saying that I loved the Muay Thai tracks from releases 53, 54 & 55, and tracks like Hardcore Angel & Ravers Paradise are my idea of a perfect MT track. I am not really into rock music for MT tracks, although I did love The Last Fight – but this music really did nothing for me and I think that was the consensus with quite a few people. Choreography wise it’s good, but I want to feel completely wasted in a MT track and this did not happen. If you were at the filming I would be interested to hear what your thoughts are on this track. Also the jump knee is back (3 releases in a row) but I like how Dan & Rach have designed it to be layered in so that it’s achievable for all participants depending on what level they’re comfortable with and they don’t feel like a failure because they can’t do a proper jump knee. I know a lot of us instructors struggle with this move and it also gives us time to build it up and be successful – and there aren’t too many of them. Can I just say that during rehearsals on Friday Curtis Pipes was standing in front of me and HOLY HELL that guy can jump – his feet were at my head (height wise that is) I literally stopped moving and just watched in amazement.

Track 8 – LOVED IT!!!! I love a good power track and this track ticked all the boxes for me. Great choreography and great music – again you’ll find it hard not to sing along. Track 8 from 56 is my all time favourite at the moment, but this track comes pretty close. You’ll be gritting your teeth and smiling all at the same time. At the end of this track you will feel smashed and uplifted – AWESOME!!

Track 9 – another track that will have you singing along, but I personally have loved the music for the conditioning tracks for the past 4 releases or so – and this music doesn’t have the same feel as those tracks – but still not too bad. It felt a little shorter than most of the past few releases – but nice simple choreography almost going ‘back to basics’ with different level changes that are achievable the more you do this track.

Track 10 – this was the second track by the same band in this release. I actually really like this song (I also believe it was in BodyPump). It’s a bit of a ‘rock’ song so as you can imagine there is a bit of drama in the movements. Choreography is easy to follow and will be easy to learn, but I felt there could have been some more leg based stretches. I’m going to sound like a broken record but you’ll find yourself singing along again. 

Overall it was a good release. Music for me plays a major part in teaching a combat class and participating in one – so like I said my tastes may not match yours and you may think back to this review after you have seen 57 and think I was way off or you could agree with me. I have a lot of respect for Dan & Rach and all the program directors. They do not have an easy job, and I can only imagine how hard it is to please everyone, but I think with all the different music styles they try to do just that – try to appeal to everyone without taking away from the authenticity of the program.

A key focus for this release was the importance of showing different layers in a lot of the movements – making BodyCombat achievable for everyone. We were all once new to a combat class and I know I felt really inadequate the first time I tried combat – it took me a week to come back and try it again. By knowing your class members and what they feel comfortable doing and knowing when to push them you will make them feel empowered and successful.

If you have ever wondered whether going to a filming class is worth it – then all I can say is YES!! You will have so much fun, you will be super sore from doing ridiculous amounts of classes, you will make lots of new friends and you will definitely learn at least one new thing. Most of all it’s inspiring to see the legends of LM doing their thing and the hundreds of people that come from all corners of the world to share the same experience. One tribe – One Love.

Once again, thank you Glen for the opportunity – would have been great to see you, maybe next time!! Vi x

56Well one of the most highly anticipated BODYCOMBAT reviews has just hit my email inbox and, man, let me say it was worth the wait! Guest blogger Deb Shafran has done an AMAZING job painting a full picture of her BODYCOMBAT 56 experience. It was certainly fascinating for me as for the first time in something like 15 BC filmings I wasn’t there! So I was probably more excited to read this than anyone! One thing that I guess I always took for granted was having the mothership for Les Mills right on my doorstep – so it was so cool to read Deb’s recollection of her excitement of walking through those doors and into studio one for the first time. It’s something I’m sure most of you reading aim to do someday (and so you should!).

Anyway, enough of my babbling. Here’s the lowdown on BODYCOMBAT 56 – thank you Deb for doing such a phenomenal job!

 

BODYCOMBAT 56 filming review – by Deb Shafran

My name is Deb Shafran and I am a Les Mills BodyCombat and BodyPump Instructor from Boston, MA, USA. It is an honor to have been asked by Glen Stollery to provide you with a review of the Les Mills BodyCombat 56 filming experience, at Les Mills Auckland City, on January 29th, 2013. I hope I am able to not only paint a picture, but also transport you to what I heard, saw, felt and experienced at filming.

When I walked toward the gym, for the first time, I realized I had arrived at the place where all that has so positively changed my life, had begun. I was in the lobby of Les Mills Auckland City! The following minutes proved to be even more exciting, when Phillip Mills walked in the front door and casually smiled and chatted with Amanda Scales and Dan McDonogh (BodyStep and RPM Presenters from the USA)… and all I could say was, “Thanks for all you have done” and he then continued to walk away. The following hours and days allowed me to meet and personally thank many of International Presenters, whom I have watched on DVDs for years. I loved meeting Mid Thomas, Mark Sinclair, Will Pritchard, Gandalf Archer, Tauvaga Siolo, Lana Aitken, Carla Fitzsimons, Nat van Peer, Taimane Elise, as well as Phillip and Jackie Mills. I loved seeing Dan Cohen, Rachael Newsham, Susan Renata, Josef Matthews, Jericho McDuffie, Glen Ostergaard, Les Mills Jr, Sarah Robinson, Curtis Pipes and Corey Baird again. To be surrounded by such positivity and sense of the Les Mills cause, would make anyone who has experienced a Les Mills class want to come to the mecca, immediately.

Over the next week, I took several classes and also sat in the corner of Studio 1 to take notes and study how the instructors were delivering their classes. What they said was just as important as what they did not say. These instructors showed me that the journey is never ending, and I have more room to grow. I am excited about all the places I can go, and I hope to bring pieces of what I observed and experienced to the members in my classes and share with my fellow instructors.

Now onto BodyCombat 56…. Put in its simplest form, as my friend Ralf Galle expressed: “BodyCombat 54 was BOOM! BodyCombat 55 was BOOM! BOOM! And BodyCombat 56 is BOOM! BOOM! BANG!” And this is the review in a nutshell. As much as you hear everyone say, every time a new release comes out – this is the best one yet! I sincerely feel that this is true, in the case of BodyCombat 56, which is fun, fast and furious!

When I first walked into Studio 1 (not on a filming day), I honestly felt a little underwhelmed…. not disappointed, just not as impressive as I had envisioned, for so many years. But when filming day arrived, all the floor-to-ceiling black curtains were drawn shut and all the cameras were set up. There were 2 stationary cameras on large raised platforms – one in the back and one on the left side of the room. There was another camera on a large moveable arm – a jib, which was able to span the room, from above – and there was one hand-held camera, on the shoulder of a brave man who wove in and out of all the moving class participants. With all the lighting and backdrops in place, the room came alive! There was an electric energy that buzzed around the room and the studio instantly got transformed into the vision all of us instructors see every quarter in our DVDs. I felt like I was on a movie set and the stars of the show were about to come on stage and bring BodyCombat to life – again! I loved seeing mission control set up, directly in front of the soundboard, with a monitor representing each camera and the production crew diligently getting every angle the director needed. There were a few tense moments before filming could start, with the rush of participants charging for the front row center spot. But the crew reeled everyone in – calm, collected and under control – and the production was off and running in no time! Here is your track breakdown:

Track 1 is straight in and full on. Just like BodyCombat 54, the upper and lower body warm up flows from one into another, with no musical break. I really like this change. The music instantly grabs you – you definitely will think you are having the best BodyCombat dream, and you won’t want to wake up! The warm up gives you a sneak peak of what’s to come – particularly in tracks 4 and 7. During filming, there was a friendly competition of counting in the native languages in the room – Japanese, Portuguese and Germans all tried to be the loudest! You’ll see when you get your DVDs why you might want to count in this track.

Track 2 delivers a rock song, which you may recall from a recent BodyPump release – I won’t say which muscle group it was for… that would give too much away. This one is American kickboxing style and provides a great feel, between upper and lower body combos, which sets up the workout. The choreography kicks into high gear from the get-go, so this one feels a bit like a track 4.

Track 3 could be a tie for best one yet (tied with both tracks 6 and 8 from this release)! It just feels good and I didn’t want it to stop. This track is uplifting, as most track 3’s are, but it’s a level up from what you thought was uplifting. If you remember BodyCombat 28, you will recall this song remix of a former track 5. There are simple boxing patterns, high energy and building levels…. Just let it go!

Track 4 brings back a move that you may remember (dust off your archives and see if you can figure it out) from BodyCombat 29, track 4… but they give it a new twist – which at first is a bit challenging, but once you get the timing on it – BOOM – you will be delivering it with conviction! Don’t forget to take the high option, when offered, and bring it!

Track 5 definitely keeps you on your toes. The fancy footwork will keep your imaginary opponent guessing which direction you might be coming from next. The agility work will prepare you for the second half of the release.

Track 6 delivers the new move that I am not allowed to tell you about! It is different, definitely challenging and quickly tests the brain and body to work together. Fellow instructors, I think it will take us some time to master not only being able to physically deliver this new move, but also to teach and coach it really well. This move will fire up your fast twitch muscle fibers in such a way that you will feel it for days! There is speed. There is slow motion. There is a firing action. There is significant need for you to brace your core. But have no fear, as always, there are several options provided, so even the novice will have the opportunity to feel accomplished and want to keep coming back for more! Your esquiva is back, but know that it is your active recovery here… so good luck! I think this is the most challenging track in the release and tests your balance and pace. Deliver with precision and accuracy. This one is a butt-kicker!

Track 7 has 6 rounds and 6 counts and that might be sharing too much! As you might expect, elbows and knees are the name of the game, in Muay Thai. There is a short and sweet delivery of a downward street brawl punch that I like even more than the repeaters we have done in the past. This one gets in, gets out, and gets the job done – before your imaginary opponents even know what hit them!

Track 8 could very well be a highlight of this release – the stand out – as my friend Tony Ball put it. Think endurance and a huge finish! When Dan and Rach ask for your BLAH (Be Loud And Heard) feedback – let’s just say they heard it and they’ve done something about it! Forget about standing still and hitting your jabs for 164 counts. You aren’t going to need it. This track 8 will feel a bit different than your standard track 8, but the structure is similar enough that you know this is the final peak of the release. If any track makes you feel alive – I believe – this is the one!

I can tell you there is a new animal drill in Track 9 that, when done properly, will definitely help shape and change your abdominals. There is some posterior work – think “square your hips.”

Track 10 concludes the release and makes you feel like this one could end up in the hall of fame, one of the best releases that will ever hit your personal library. This one provides a great stretch and a beautiful kata to a huge song.

This release is simple to follow, but physically challenging to complete. BodyCombat 56 continues to deliver and push the BodyCombat program to new levels and keeps it evolving. There are definitely moments for your sing-a-longs, as well as moments where you are wondering how you are physically going to make it to the end of the track!

There are so many thank you’s, to all of those who helped make this experience the vacation of a lifetime for me. It was worth every penny I saved to go. Thank you to Ralf Galle and Peter Henrici for being my German bodyguards and taking exceptional care of me! Thank you Tony Ball for being the liaison for all the international visitors, helping us navigate through all the opportunities available to us, while we were there. You were the host with the most – your efforts are greatly appreciated! Thank you DJ Olivier for onsite coordination, logistics and social media efforts. Thank you to the production crew of all the filmings (Go Maggie Go!), they were top notch! They were organized, systematic, friendly (stern, when needed) and operated like a well-oiled machine. Thank you to all of the instructors, from all over the world, who illustrated our ONE TRIBE feeling… from Andy and Maria in Germany, to Naomi and Hiromi from Japan (I wish I could take you both home with me!), to Liz and Hannah and the whole Bristol, UK Tribe, to Nadege and Thierry from France, and Daniel and Danni in Australia – I thank you for contributing to my Les Mills journey. Thank you to the local kiwi’s who welcomed me with open arms – Babs and Joanna – how amazing to hug you both in Studio 1! Thank you Carrie Kepple for greeting me in Christchurch, even giving me a ride back to my hotel after a great afternoon of classes! I look forward to returning to the place that brings me such genuine happiness and I hope to see all of you again.

For me, it was wonderful to have Josef Matthews there (he will be in BodyPump 86, that’s no secret) in Auckland. Josef was my initial trainer on BodyCombat Release 35. He was also my AIM 1 facilitator (Advanced Instructor Module training, for all you non-Les Mills readers), the first time. Yes, I went through AIM 1 twice…. I thought it was so much fun, like a BodyCombat playground, that I wanted to do it again, and got a lot of out taking the module with Angel Santiago, a second time. Josef was also one of my AIM 2 facilitators, along with Kim Ames. Josef has been with me every stop of my BodyCombat journey so far and to have him in the room, during the filming of BodyCombat 56, was more than I could have asked for. Josef, I thank you for all you have contributed to my Les Mills experiences.

Wherever you are in your Les Mills journey…. new participant to Veteran instructor… if Les Mills has had a positive impact on your life, I recommend you to make this pilgrimage from wherever you are in the world. The significant expense is well worth the investment… in yourself, to help you learn as an instructor, and in your growth as a human being. This was an experience of a lifetime and I am so grateful for every minute of it! Glen Stollery, I hope I have given your loyal following a suitable substitute for all that you have built. I thank you for the opportunity and would do it for you again, in a heartbeat – if asked! Les Mills couldn’t have come up with a more fitting slogan… I felt this every step of the way: ONE TRIBE. BE BRAVE. CHANGE THE WORLD.

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