Posts Tagged ‘BODYCOMBAT MASTERCLASS’
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Well 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.
BODYCOMBAT 55 is officially in the bag!
Usually before a filming I’ll get a chance to head to a trial class and get a preview of what’s coming but been so busy lately that didn’t happen. As such I literally went into this filming class knowing absolutely nothing about this release other than a few peeps on both facebook and twitter warning me about the intensity of track 2 – and for good reason! But more about that in a moment…
Like last quarter the masterclasses were all filmed in the morning this round. This again meant BODYCOMBAT 55 was quite a bit quieter than usual as really the only people there were the super keen who took the day off work to attend (like me!) or the internationals that had flown in especially. Of course this means more room to punch and kick which is A-OK with me!
The filming team for 55 was Dan, Rach and Andres from Hong Kong (last seen on BC50). As always they were in the latest LM gear and man was it sharp! Possibly the best looking combat clothing I’ve seen – colours were black and dark purple (possibly maroon) and it just looked phenomenal. I’ll be first in line to grab that stuff as soon as it’s online for sure. The men’s t-shirts were compression fit – super tight with what appeared to be a skull on one shoulder (mean!) – I’m not a big fan of the standard cotton tee for combat (I tried it once and it was like wearing a wetsuit it was so heavy with sweat by the end of the class!) so this lighter fabric appeals to me a lot more. Rach was wearing a much more feminine top, off one shoulder with little crystals all along the top (not sure if those were added especially or whether they will be standard issue on the top but the looked pretty cool!). The shorts were really awesome too, again black and purple. So look out for that range when it hits lesmillsclothing.com for sure!
As for the release itself? Well again, disclaimer applies I cannot mention anything super specific about the music or chorey (sorry!) – I can give you a feel for the release and my opinion of it. And once again 55 is a total ripper!
Now I know 99% of you won’t have seen BC54 yet but if you read my BODYCOMBAT 54 filming post you may recall I mentioned how massive track 2 is. I actually tweeted last week that BC54′s track 2 would be the toughest t2 ever; it’s 6.5 minutes long, and is freaken H-A-R-D-C-O-R-E. It has a roundhouse challenge in it that will really challenge you and push you to the limit… and it’s only the second track! Well, I definitely spoke too soon as 55′s track 2 is even harder!
Honestly without giving the game away 55′s track 2 feels more like a leg-conditioning track that we’re used to seeing in tracks 4 or 6… it’s really tough! Are we seeing the evolution of the programme here? I mean, when you think about it making track 2 one of the toughest tracks makes a lot of sense. Consider BODYPUMP as a comparison, we warm the body up then we move right into the heaviest weight of the class while we’re fresh. Making track 2 a BIG track while we still have a lot of energy does seem smart. Plus, being that track 3 is a power training track with no kicks it gives the legs a bit of an opportunity to recover before track 4 (which doesn’t happen when we have leg-conditioning tracks as a track 6 as we move straight into muay thai). So it all makes sense to me. The flip side of that is that is that smashing us in track 2 makes the rest of the class considerably harder – I was absolutely crushed coming into track 3!
So yes, much like BC54 track 2 is a real standout in BODYCOMBAT 55 which is awesome news as for me (and let me know if you feel the same here) track 2 has always been a bit meh. It’s very rare that we have amazing track 2s. Frozen was great, and looking back there’s a been a few awesome ones over the years (United Vibe as an example) but generally the second track has always been a bit vanilla. Well definitely not the case in 54 or 55 – yay!
What else can I tell you about the release. Well let me say this about the warmup; D&R haven’t been afraid to grab one of the more crazy pop hits of the year and use it as a lower body warmup – as soon as it started I just cracked up. If you thought ‘Sexy and I know it’ was a laugh you’ll love this one too! (no it’s not Gangnam Style – though who knows what could happen in BC56 haha!) You’ll have a lot of fun hooking into the lyrics with this track in class.
Track 2 I’ve mentioned (YOUCH!). The music style was kinda difficult to describe, it’s definitely not rock. Maybe you could almost call it a dubstep remix of another track musically? Hard to explain. Track 3 much like BC54 was another standout. OUTSTANDING. Really really good.
Track 4 was side kicks, side kicks and more side kicks! A little bit of leg loading (much like 54 there are no esquivas in BC55) but there is a move in this track to challenge the legs. But definitely a lot of side kicks in this one! Musically another highlight for me.
Track 5 was a little crazy! Definitely a cardio peak, again you’ll have a lot of fun with this track. Initially I thought the track was Mr Saxobeat (it’s not) but that kinda gives you an idea of the actual style of the music. It was a fun one.
Track 6 is a track that was in BODYPUMP 84 and it’s also in a few other programmes this quarter. Tae Kwon Do and Karate based – Andres presented this and he did a great job! Loads of back and front kicks and not much else!
Muay Thai, killer track. Again not sure how to describe this musically It’s not rock – but its not trance – it’s kinda a rocky techno track? Bit like the muay thai in 54 – very difficult to pin an actual genre on the music. You’ll understand when you hear it. My absolute favourite move is back in the muay thai in BC55 so I’m a very very happy man. Loved it.
Track 8 was phenomenal too (nothing unusual there). If you remember the surprise at the end of Your Shining (gah, really hate writing the grammatically incorrect “your” but that is the actual name of the track), well this track has something similar. Just when you think you’re done… well… it’s not!
Solid track 9 and lovely cooldown to round the class off.
Sooo… in closing. BODYCOMBAT 55 is another total winner for me. 53 is still my favourite release ever but 54 and 55 are very close behind. It’s fantastic. Loads of kicks, fantastic music and not one single track that I didn’t enjoy. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming months be very excited!
The filming for BODYCOMBAT 56 is scheduled for either Jan 23 or Jan 29 2013 (those are the two filming dates which programmes on which day not confirmed yet but will post as soon as I know), if you’re going I’ll see you there! In the meantime enjoy BC54 guys, when you see it definitely let me know your thoughts!
Writing this I feel I’m at risk of being labelled a bit of a BODYCOMBAT fanboy who always writes glowing reviews. I recall reading on a Les Mills forum recently that someone was sick of, quote, “happy clappers” – thing is if I have been writing rave reports on the releases it’s for a reason! Fact is I’ve been pretty harsh on some releases in the past; if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you’ll know that my review of BODYCOMBAT 44 was less than stellar (I called the release “bleh”!), and even more recently I wasn’t all that enthused (to say the least) by BODYCOMBAT 51 either… however this is now the third release in a row that I’m going to write a glowing report as BODYCOMBAT 54 is fantastic!
BC54 was presented by Dan and Rach as well as Sarah from Denmark. They were dressed in the latest Les Mills Clothing – the look was actually very similar in colour and feel to the “Tribal range” from BC53 which is currently available on the LM website. The gear looked really sharp and much more subtle than the orange gear from 51 and 52 (which may be your cup of tea – subtlety has never really been my specialty haha).
Instructors you’ll notice on the DVD that the class seemed quieter this round. It was, a lot quieter (especially when you compare it to BC53 which was absolutely rammed to capacity!). LMI had decided to run the filmings very early on weekdays (possibly to cause less disturbance to the regular Les Mills Auckland members I’m not sure) – but the day started at 7am Monday morning. BC was filmed at 8:30am – so you can imagine there were a lot less people present as compared to say 7pm which is when they usually film. Meant more room for us to kick which suited me just fine!
So what can I tell you about the release itself. Well, disclaimer as per I can’t mention anything specific about the music or choreography, I can only give my opinion… and my opinion was it’s another outstanding release! If you read my report on BODYCOMBAT 53 (which still stands as my all time favourite release in combat history) I mentioned that a perfect BC class for me is the following: Uplifting warmup; cranking track 3; loads of kicks in track 4 (or track 6, or both!); hard trance track 5; hardcore techno muay thai and a massively uplifting track 8 to round it all off. Guess what – just like BC53 BODYCOMBAT 54 ticks all those boxes!!!
54 starts hard and heavy with a big warmup track. Sarah kicked the class off and man she did a great job. Outstanding work. Must be so hard for guest instructors to fly in and just teach with D&R – she really held her own; top job! Sarah also took track 3 and again, amazing work.
Track 2 was HUUUUGEE!!! Very different to recent track 2s which have had a very rocky feel – I loved this track it went off like a fire cracker! Massive start to the class. And, fantastic track 3 to round the first block off – just what you’d expect, uplifting and awesome!
Track 4 was a cover of a VERY well-known rock track, as was track 6. You’ll know both these artists really well and definitely know both songs. If you’ve been hurting from all the leg loading we’ve had in last four straight releases (50, 51, 52 and 53 all have esquiva and/or leg conditioning tracks) you’ll be happy to know you get a break in 54. No leg loading in 4 or 6 in this release… But, prepare to kick, kick and kick again though OMG!
Track 5…. BOOM!!!! Another incredible t5!! Seriously awesome track! Just like 53 track 5 is one of the highlights! It’s uplifting trance again and man it’s wickedly good! Track 6 is covered above which brings us to muay thai…
And… again, just like 53 track 7 in BC54 is unbelievably good!! Straight after the class I got a facebook message from a friend in the class (hey Violeta!) asking if I knew what the track was as she wanted to download it immediately! Unfortunately I don’t, all I know is the main three words – but if I could find that track I’d be blasting it right now – IT WAS CRANKING!
Track 8 is huge too! A massive track to finish the class and it absolutely went off. D&R really have the format for track 8 nailed it’s consistently amazing from release to release and this is no exception.
Conditioning will definitely make you laugh when you hear it! Similar in feel to 53 and 52 but a little more lighthearted. And the cooldown was great too – lovely finish to the class.
So all in all BODYCOMBAT 54 is fan-freaken-tastic. For me personally it didn’t quite top 53 (which would be pretty much impossible 53 is almost perfect in my mind) but it would be a very close second! Combat is definitely heading in the right direction – I’ve been teaching the programme now for 4 or 5 years (that was my 16th time to a filming!) and my passion for the programme has never been stronger – it just keeps getting better! (oh and thanks for the shout out too Rach!)
So in short my friends be massively excited! My guess is 99% of you haven’t seen 53 yet so man you’re in for a real treat for the next few months! If you’re attending the next filming round see you for BODYCOMBAT 55 on October 23!
If you asked me to visualise the perfect release for me personally this is what I’d say: Uplifting warmup; cranking track 3; loads of kicks in track 4 (or track 6, or both!); hard trance track 5; hardcore techno muay thai and a massively uplifting track 8 to round it all off. Guess what; I just described BODYCOMBAT 53!
Honestly I love BC52 but for me BODYCOMBAT 53 has got be be a near perfect release.
Firstly what I’m most excited about: I’ve made no secret about my preference in muay thai music selection. My absolute favourite muay thai is Hardcore Angel from BC39, I also love Ravers Paradise from BC38 (yes I’m a Nick Skitz fan!), right up there as well is So What! from BC27, Party Non-Stop from BC36… you get the idea – uplifting hard trance for a muay thai just goes off as far as I’m concerned. So whilst I’ve loved the last few releases, when you look back at the muay thai tracks over the last six releases they’ve all been rock (or aggressive rock verging on metal) – in fact if you look back since Dan and Rach became Program Directors at BC21 overwhelmingly track 7s were hard trance tracks until around BC40 when it changed. Since BC40 we’ve really only had Excalibur 2000, Mortal Kombat and Braveheart as trance muay thais (I love all three of those by the way!) – 3 out of 13 releases, other than that recently it’s been a reign of rock. Until now. The muay thai in BODYCOMBAT 53 is a hard trance, massive anthem of a track and it is freaken EPIC!
But I just need to take a couple deep breaths and calm down as I’m getting waaay ahead of myself.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the release (or as much as I’m allowed to say) I have to make special mention of what a fantastic job the PDs are doing. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll possibly know that Dan and I haven’t always seen eye to eye over everything, and we’ve even had the odd moment or two where we’ve exchanged a couple heated words over the years (I’m guessing we’re both type A personalities and that will often happen!). But I have to speak out because there’s a thread on the Les Mills forums entitled “New Program Directors for Combat“. It’s basically someone saying it’s time for a change, that BC is stale and boring… and get this, too easy??! To the person who wrote that you know what? You’re an idiot. BC51 is gut bustingly hard, 52 is massive too and 53 is nothing short of phenomenal. Add to that the fact that Dan and Rach choreographed BC53 whilst LITERALLY on completely different sides of the globe (I mean how did they do that – over Skype?) and there’s no denying they are doing an amazing job. So to the person who started that thread and wants a PD change; shuddup already you are WRONG.
Right, on to the release! As usual I cannot mention anything specific about the music or the chorey (or Dan and I really will have a falling out haha) – but I can tell you my opinion and a general feel for the release.
BODYCOMBAT 53 was filmed very early on Saturday May 12 as part of LMNZ and LMI’s massive GFX event. GFX is basically the Super Bowl of the group fitness industry – it’s THE biggest event on the group fit calendar and man it showed the place was chocked to capacity every class of the weekend! You may recall in my BODYCOMBAT 52 post (which was just after Hernan’s passing) I mentioned how absolutely packed the class was. BODYCOMBAT 53 felt even busier! The class kicked off at 7am and I know there were people queuing outside before
5am! **Correction: 3am!** Thanks for the heads up Kiki… but 3am?! That really is dedication!
Just as with BC52 Dan and Rach presented on their own this round (I’m assuming mainly because Dan was in the UK until a week or two before and training someone else would’ve been a tough task); they went away from the orange clothing of the last couple of releases and were wearing green (I think?!), and it’ll come as no surprise they did a spectacular job.
Both warmup tracks are dancey and uplifting! Upper body was in a recent pump release (same mix too as far as I could tell) and the lower body was in a recent attack release. Don’t fear if you teach those programs (as I do) as the warmup is awesome regardless and the fact the tracks are reused won’t bother you. I mentioned my only issue with the warmup from BC52 was that there’s a move in it that’s not in the actual release (the shoot – and there’s eleventy billion of them!) – well there’s nothing like that in 53 from memory – it’s good stuff and a really really great start to the class.
Track 2 was typical of the last couple releases, kinda rocky – a song everyone knows the words to and can sing along with! Track 3 is where the intensity picks up (and doesn’t pull back either!) – great track – definitely uplifting! (can you tell that’s going to be my word of the release?) Musically it felt a little like We Dance On from 48.
Track 4 was definitely the most ‘sinister’ track of the release. It’s a very dark remake of an old track. Tae Kwon Do/Karate based – A track you can really grit your teeth to and kick, kick and kick again! (did I mention kicks??)
Track 5. OMFG they’ve done it again – another AWESOME track 5! D&R again please keep this format it is absolutely going off! Love the (here’s that word again) uplifting trance track 5s! LOVE THEM! This track has also been in pump as a back track (actually there’s 2 pump back tracks in this release!); I loved this track in pump but man it’s freaken amazing in combat! Such a great track 5 – power track in the truest sense (yay!)
Track 6. Ouch. Leg conditioning x 1000. Tough track, but haven’t all the leg conditioning tracks been lately? We’ve had leg conditioning tracks in 4 releases in a row now (Gimme Dat, Another Way to Die and Ring the Alarm), and this one is just as hard as the others! Musically it’s of a similar style to 50 and 52 if that makes any sense. The esquiva is back – and that’s all I can recall to be honest as I barely remember anything but the pain!
Track 7. BOOM!!!! Massive muay thai! I wish I could tell you more about this track other than what I said at the top of this post but I can’t! Know this though – it simply goes off! I just wish it was longer as it felt really short!
Track 8 was awesome too! Massive finish to the cardio part of the class – outstanding!
Track 9 is an artist that’s been used as a track 9 recently (mwap mwap) solid track; and track 10 is kinda RnB and a nice finish to the class.
So, yes, if you’ve not worked it out yet the word for BODYCOMBAT 53 is UPLIFTING! Another word would be OUTSTANDING. And yet another would be EPIC. Seriously this is one cranking release. I’ve heard some comments about BC51 being too rocky (and I kinda agree to be fair) – but rest assured if you are one of those peeps you will LOVE 53. Just love it. Just like I do! Cannot wait for this one!!!!!
Next stop BODYCOMBAT 54 on July 30. I can’t wait to see what’s next, if you’re coming I’ll see ya there!
The BODYCOMBAT 52 filming was always going to be a very very emotional evening. With the passing of Hernan just a few days earlier everyone was anticipating this class to be a special tribute to our BODYCOMBAT hero – and a tribute it certainly was. The room was absolutely packed to capacity with an amazing number of people wearing black armbands (including Dan and Rach) as a mark of respect to our fallen warrior. I’ve been to 14, maybe 15 Combat filmings and I don’t recall ever seeing one this busy – it was truly amazing to see so many people. Even people that never usually do Combat made the effort in his memory.
Many of you have asked me about the tribute itself. Well it was beautiful. For the cooldown Dan and Rach called up many of the Les Mills instructors present that worked closely with Hernan (names you’ll know from DVDs such as Sarah Robinson, Chris Richardson, Will Pritchard, Sharyn Sue See…) as well as Hernan’s brother Leo who had just flown into the country. The cooldown track that they chose given the circumstances was perfect. Just perfect. By the end of it the whole room was in tears. Literally the whole room. It was an amazing tribute to an amazing man. The entire room came together as one in Hernan’s honour and it’s something I’m sure I’ll remember forever.
If you are reading this as an instructor I’m sure that magical moment will be captured on film. And if you’re a participant never-fear as you too will know what I’m talking about when you experience the release in your own gym.
Hernan’s trademark was his ‘Colgate smile’ and he would’ve wanted us to work hard and have a great time so it’s something we all made an effort to do. And to be honest it was made a lot easier by the fact that BODYCOMBAT 52 is freaken AWESOME.
Dan and Rach presented this release on their own this round. They were dressed in stunning new Les Mills gear. Although LM gear does always look pretty good, this is the first time I’ve ever looked at it and thought “OMG I’m buying that!”. The male shorts especially were really cool – from memory they were a textured charcoal with orange trim; LES MILLS written in massive orange letters down one leg and ‘BODYCOMBAT’ across the other (bout time LM started properly branding us – none of this tiny discreet ‘LMI’ stuff!). The male t-shirt was pretty cool too. Just an orange cotton tee (kinda like the green one from a few releases ago) but it had BODYCOMBAT in large letters down one side and a very Venumesque logo down the other (yes I did just make that word up). That’s two releases in a row the BC gear has been orange and it works surprisingly well!
So onto the release itself. Well, as always I cannot mention specifics about music or choreography, but I can give you my opinion on it so that’s what I’ll do. Bear in mind this is all from memory and obviously my mind was a bit cloudy that night but I’ve tried my best to recall as much as I can.
Warmup – both tracks uplifting and lower body especially was very fun! Without giving too much away – this is the second release in a row we’ve gone all sexy in track one! (there that’s as much of a hint as you’re getting!) Choreography wise the track did seem a bit ‘bitsy’ in that there are moves in the warmup that aren’t in the actual release – but that’s a minor nitpick of mine and neither here nor there.
It seems we have a reoccurring artist in track 2 – again I can’t mention any specifics but this person’s music is back (again!). If you’re into rock you’ll enjoy this track. Track 3 was possibly my favourite track of the release. If you offered me $1,000,000 to tell you the actual song I couldn’t for the life of me tell you but I do know I loved it! Felt like uplifting hard trance – was awesome.
Track 4 – well, this track was in BODYPUMP 82 as well! It’s an old track (from the early 2000′s) that’s been redone as a club anthem and it’s good! Kicks, kicks and more kicks! Track 5 – well, three words. IT. WENT. OFF. Dan and Rach I LOVE the new format for track 5s as does everyone else I know. Freaken awesome just brilliant. A true ‘power’ track and very easy to remember the words to this one!
Track 6; Youch. Leg conditioning. No esquivas (phew as that’d be 3 releases in a row!) but tonnes of leg loading. Ouchies. Track 7 is a marathon. Felt to me to be at least a good 7-8 minutes. Very simple combo – loads of knees – heart rate maxed out. Massive track. Again it’s a rock track – not my personal preference for muay thai but to be honest I barely noticed as I was too busy breathing out of my butt! Track 8 is a goodie – it has been used in a recent LM programme so I have heard a lot of this track lately… but super solid track all the same.
Track 9 is a tough conditioning track. Obviously when I’m doing a release I’m making mental notes all the way and again I have zero idea what this track was… I’m not even sure I heard a single lyric! I do know the abdominal training fired up my core though that’s for sure. And, cooldown was just gorgeous. Beautiful track and as I mentioned perfectly fitting given the tribe’s recent loss.
So, as you’ve probably worked out by now I loved BODYCOMBAT 52. It reminded me of BC43 or 48 which I also fell in love with immediately. I don’t know about you but for me BC50 was a grower. I wasn’t ‘blown away’ at first – but after doing it several times I began to really like it. Some releases are like that. This one isn’t. I was blown away right on the spot – first time. Look forward to this one guys it’s awesome
Well to be honest it only just feels like BODYCOMBAT 50 was filmed – but here we are and BODYCOMBAT 51 is officially in the bag! I *almost* didn’t make this one for a few reasons, but mostly as it was scheduled for 10 o’clock at night on a Monday! (I mean seriously what sort of hour for a group fitness class is that?!) Given I live about 2.5 hours out of Auckland and had to teach a class of my own at 5:30pm it was touch and go as to whether I’d make this one at all. But, sure enough straight after my combat class was over we jumped in the car and made the trip, arrived just in time to see almost all of BODYPUMP 81 (wicked stuff) and do BC51, before making the trip home arriving back about 2am; over 5 hours of driving just to do a single BODYCOMBAT class… things we do for the love of fitness huh?!
Because it’s really hard to get a feel for a release just doing it once I did head up to Auckland on the Saturday beforehand to make the 4:10pm BC51 rehearsal Team Teach that was timetabled. However, disappointingly at the last minute this was cancelled and a normal class was held instead. The cover instructor offered no explanation other than “Dan and Rach couldn’t make it” but I know many were disappointed. I spoke to some instructors that had flown into NZ that very day and rushed to the gym to make that class, some from Singapore and some from the other side of the world! So there were a few long faces that afternoon! So even though I did try my best to view it, Monday night was literally the first and only time I’ve seen BC51.
The actually filming class itself didn’t start till close to 10:30pm, and as a result there was definitely a lot more room to move and kick than a usual filming; I mean let’s face it, only nutters like me (and probably you if you’re reading this!) would be loopy enough to do a fitness class that finishes near midnight on a Monday! Presenters were D&R and Tauvaga Siolo (or “T”).
Before I get onto speaking about the release itself I wanna take a moment to make special mention of Tauvaga. I was SOOO happy to see T on stage – he is an absolute living legend here in NZ and he lit up the stage like a freaken rockstar the moment he took the mic. If you’re reading this from out of NZ and don’t know who T is you’ll DEFINITELY recognise him. He’s already been the face of a tonne of program posters and DVD covers, from Combat to Jam to RPM – so he has been “on” a BODYCOMBAT DVD before (literally on, as in “on the cover” of BC36, BC41 and BC42) – it’s just now he’s finally “in” it! I actually must admit I felt quite emotional when he took the stage, not only because T conducted my BODYCOMBAT AIM (along with Matty Thraxton), and not only because he’s an amazing guy and an amazing instructor, but also because it’s been a LONG time since we’ve had a Kiwi guest present on a BC DVD. Hernan lives in NZ and he’s been a regular BC presenter, but of course Hernan is from Argentina originally. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the last time we had a Kiwi presenter on a BODYCOMBAT DVD was sometime in the 20′s? Close to 30 releases ago! So it was a very proud moment that’s been a long time coming.
I always get asked a lot of questions about what the team were wearing so I’ve pinched this image from Tauvaga’s public facebook profile pic (hope that’s okay T *let me know if it isn’t!*). The team were dressed in black and white shorts with bright orange stripes and a black sleeveless top with ‘Les Mills Body Combat’ written on it; interestingly ‘Body Combat’ was written as two words and lower case which surprised me as LMI normally always ensure it’s written ‘BODYCOMBAT’ for brand continuity – but I digress. Rach’s top was a slightly different style – but no doubt you’ll see all this gear on lesmillsclothing.com soon enough. It looked great I have to say.
Right so enough preamble on to the release itself! As per usual my disclaimer stands; I can’t mention anything specific about the music or choreography. That’s all got to be saved as a surprise for the release quarter. However I can give you my interpretation of the release, its musical feel and of course what I thought. Needless to say anything I write is my personal opinion and yours may completely differ!
Having not seen BC51 before filming day I did put my feelers out to many of the other instructors who were in Auckland to gauge their opinion beforehand. Let’s just say opinions varied – CONSIDERABLY. I spoke to maybe 5 or 6 people who had seen it and there was a massive contrast in their feedback. Some LOVED it, and said it was amazing. Others, really disliked it and thought it fell flat. Not often a release gets such contrasting reactions and definitely didn’t give me much to go on in terms of what to expect!
Musically BODYCOMBAT 51 can probably be described as 3 styles; top 40, rock and dance/trance. There’s a lot of rock in there. In fact, tracks 2, 4 and 7 are really rocky! Track by track what can I tell you: Both the upper and lower body warmup were top 40, uplifting music and a great start to the workout. Track 2 musically you can probably draw comparisons to track 2 from BC47. I’ll be honest musically this track was not my cup of tea at all – but T presented it so well the crowd was cheering and kiaiing the whole time it absolutely went off! I smiled the whole time, as did everyone else! T also presented Track 3 and did an amazing job, musically what you’d expect, uplifting and fun – if anything it felt too short!
Track 4 is where the actual workout intensity started to pick up. This track is also VERY rocky, again not my cup of tea, but man did it hurt! We had the esquiva in BC37 and 38 when it was first introduced to combat – but since then I believe it’s not been in 2 consecutive releases in a row. Let’s just say that’s no longer the case and expect a lot of pain in both 50 and 51! This track is a killer, lots of leg loads and kicks, just think “youch”.
Track 5 is interesting to say the least! As you may know I have been really impressed with the track 5s of late, they are all brilliant in 48, 49 and 50. Track 5 in 51 is definitely the “fun” track. You all will know the song and you all will know the words! It’s a silly track that will definitely bring a smile to your faces (even crazier than Barbra Streisand can you believe!) Workout wise it’s not quite as much of a peak as the 3 previous track 5s but it’s still a fun track.
Track 6 is probably the favourite track of the release for me along with 8. Again, very poppy top 40 and a great workout. You will be able to have a lot of fun with it!
To my mind muay thai is normally the ‘peak’ of the class but I wasn’t a fan of this one. I’ll be honest, I really miss the hard-trance muay thai tracks like Hardcore Angel, Raver’s Paradise, Party Non-Stop, Excalibur 2000 etc. With the exception of Braveheart the last 6 or so muay thai tracks have been rock and they don’t ‘go off’ in my opinion. Chorey wise this muay thai is an absolute A++ but musically it is the worst track of the release for me.
And track 8 – well, it’s another freaken marathon (yay!). Track 8 in BC50 and 51 are massively long tracks (think I Surrender or You’re Shining) which I just LOVE. Massive end to the class – awesome work D&R.
So overall you can see BC51 for me has big highlights, and some not so highlights. A big mix of musical genres which I guess is why I’ve been getting such mixed feedback from everyone with some loving it and some feeling it didn’t peak. If you love hard rock, you’ll probably love this release. If you don’t so much, you’ll probably be a bit like me and on the fence on this one.
So in summary, both 50 and 51 weren’t instant ‘OMFG this is amazing!’ releases for me – whereas 48 and 49 definitely both were. But I know many did love it so you might too (and of course some releases take time to grow on you!). In the meantime, BC50 is about to hit the globe any week now so look forward to hearing your thoughts on that. And if you were at BC51 please let me know what you thought!