NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Well guys better late than never here is the update from BODYCOMBAT 64! As some of you no doubt know I’ve been calling in the help of guest bloggers since I am currently living in Dubai. This time we have the honour of hearing from the expertise of not one but TWO Les Mills veterans Deb Shafran and Ralf Galle. Deb and Ralf have both attended filmings before so they know the ins and outs very well! If you’ve seen BC63 then you have some idea of the new format for track 4. I have no idea if this is permanent but certainly we have a similar theme in 64 too. And… I’ll be at the next filming up front and personal myself so looking forward to seeing what BODYCOMBAT 65 has in store. Anyway enough from me, take it away Ralf and Deb!

Les Mills BodyCombat 64 Filming Review
By Deb Shafran and Ralf Galle

BODYCOMBAT 64 filming - image courtesy of facebook

BODYCOMBAT 64 filming – image courtesy of facebook

Hello, my name is Deb Shafran and I am from Boston, MA, USA and my name is Ralf Galle and I am from Nuermberg, Germany. We met 2 years ago, in January of 2013 at the filming of Les Mills BodyCombat 56 at Les Mills Auckland City and we became fast friends. We shared the Les Mills love for BodyCombat and told each other that we’d reunite in 2 years – and here we are, in 2015, reviewing the latest BodyCombat filming release for all you BodyCombat Instructors and supporters, all over the world! This is a cardio driven release that not only has many of the ebbs and flows you have grown to love, like fast boxing in track 3 and leg punishing in track 6, but also has some tricks up its sleeve to keep you on your toes!

Track 1 starts with bass-thumping, gritty sounds that will surely get you ready and raring to go, straight out of the gate! The music cranks and the bass drives the movement. Ralf says it is a song that they call in Germany “Ohrwurm” (English equivalent of -> earworm), it is a catchy song. Once you listen to it, you will have it in your ear all day long! Endurance is the name of the game and you’ll soon feel at home with all your fellow BodyCombat fitness freaks by your side. The upper body warm up has level changes of intensity, but they are sure to ease you in and give you options, right from the start. Anyone, at any fitness level, can succeed with this program and the warm up showcases this fittingly. Simple movements are repeated for longer intervals of time than you may be used to, but this training effect will surely help get you fitter faster! You will need to stay grounded and compact, take deep breaths and exhale sharply, in order to take your imaginary opponent out. The lower body warm up comes in with the sounds of a keyboard and synthesizer, increasing at the start and taking over. There is musical drama at this point of the class, which reminds of Deb of the Muay Thai track of release 42 – you are going to want to nail this at your gym relaunch events! When the drum and bass increase, so does the speed of your movements. Just hold on, as this opportunity to increase the heart rate so early in the class and is a foreshadowing of what’s to come! Overall the warm-up is “simple” but for all the instructors out there, the right coaching will make all the difference!

For those of you in Boston, track 2 will feel like home to you And as much as Deb would love to say the artist is New Kids On The Block – FAR FROM IT! Just know you might feel like you are driving over the Zakim Bridge and a fight is about to break out You will want to sing along to this track, loud and proud! Ralf feels this song sounds familiar to him too, as he is an employee of an Irish Company (more hints!)!

Track 3 gets your heart rate increasing immediately in this boxing track. You will need to think fast and move fast, relax your shoulders and be agile, to win this fight! Options are given, to make every level participant feel successful – take whatever option you need here, to make it through this track…. there’s A LOT more to come! There are not only beginner options, but also more advanced options for those of you who want even more! Efficiency is the key in this classic track 3 combo… double the intensity, to double the impact of your efforts. Added footwork will bring even more momentum. Acceleration is the name of the game – chase after the music and get ready to train!

Track 4 sounds deceiving, with the guitar riffs at first, but then the bass kicks in, takes over and drives the movement! You need to first train slow, and then gradually increase speed – while maintaining your technique. When you need to balance, focus on the guitar licks – think strong, sharp and massive! There are even longer intervals than in your warm up, so get ready to deliver power, precision and intensity! PSST – get ready to do something you just saw in release 63 here. We can’t tell you what it is, but we can tell you that you are in for something that is going to completely smash you, so early in the class! Integrated work helps us train more efficiently, keeping it fresh and fun – yes, we said FUN!

Track 5, as you might expect, is all about challenging your speed and endurance. (Ahhh, there is that endurance again!) This release is relentless, get ready to focus on one move, and one move only, as fast as you can – and then recover. Interval training, at it’s best right here! Brace your core and get ready to FEEL this track! This track also brings in a new movement pattern, in short but effective bursts, which we haven’t yet seen before in BodyCombat, and continues to showcase the evolution of this program – ladies and gentlemen – THIS IS HOW YOU GET FITTER. Own your training and commit to yourself. Ralf shares that this track has some HIIT “moments” to the point that he thought once ”Am I in the right Les Mills Program?!?” PS – this track WILL creep up on you, so focus on your technique and efficiency to make this track super effective. If done correctly, you will be gasping for air by the time the music stops.

Rach, Kat, Dan, Deb and Ralf

Rach, Kat, Dan, Deb and Ralf

You might be relieved to know that track 6 is shorter, but please also know it is no joke! You are going to love this one, until you hate it – in the best way possible This is leg brutality at it’s finest, firing up those fast twitch muscle fibers that we know work! Get low and long and get ready to feel the burn… that feeling when you know you are getting fitter by the second! This is serious leg training. Again, lots of great options provided and you are motivated to work to your maximum level output. Ralf liked it the first time, after the third rehearsal he hated it and after filming, he LOVED IT! Ouch!

Track 7, feels like a longer track and the music feels like that familiar Muay Thai driving beat, where you know the intensity is coming and you want to go after it! As always, elbows and knees are the focus here and the sharp club beat drives the effort. We both LOVE this combo! The music intensity of this track is reminiscent of the lower body warm up in this release. You’ll need to crunch before you fire and stay focused to make it through this track. You can make this track as hard for yourself as you want to – take the opportunity to maximize every beat! You will need to push yourself, to make it through this track. This track shows that if you change the same strike in a slightly different way, you will increase the impact!

You will leave track 8 feeling alive, yet smashed at the same time – isn’t this the moment we all love to get to, at the end of a BodyCombat class? Dan and Rach will challenge you on the last round, only if you execute this move effectively. Take it. Own it. Deliver it. With intensity. This move will make your shoulder blades burn for days. Yes, we said DAYS. The class finishes with one minute to go, the best way we know how – just let it go!

As in recent releases, there is no run around the room before track 9, we go straight into the conditioning track. Get ready to get shell-shocked as you are challenged to use all parts of your abs and sling muscles during this hip-hop feel track. There is posterior chain work, including glutes and a mid-back focus, at the end.

Track 10, your cool down, has a melodic, calming and soothing feel to the music. Celebrate the hard work you have just completed and recognize your class participants for how amazing they are and their accomplishments! Let the energy flow from the palms of your hands and out of your fingertips with a beautiful kata to close out the class.

We want to thank Glen Stollery for the opportunity to share our thoughts and do our best to give you a sneak peek of what’s to come, in about six months time, to a live class in a fitness studio near you! Dan and Rach continue to evolve the world’s most popular martial arts group fitness class and bring Les Mills BodyCombat to another new level with their latest effort, with release 64. As they say, keep it real and stay with the fight! Kia Kaha, our fellow fitness warriors!

63Well writing this post took a lot longer than it was meant to… sorry guys! Better late than never huh?

So, let me just say right off the bat this was probably the most interesting BODYCOMBAT filming I’ve ever been to! (and I have been to a lot of filmings!) Why? Well, if you follow Dan Cohen on Facebook (and let’s face it if you’re ready this blog you probably do!) you may recall him talking about BODYCOMBAT 63 being the first of the “new vision” for Combat. Sounds fascinating right??? Well let me tell you it was!

Now unfortunately I cannot give the game away as that would ruin all the fun come release time – but I can tell you the intensity of BODYCOMBAT has been dialed up… And Up… AND UP!!! Right from the upper body warmup it kicks off and then it’s game freaken on!



But, before I get into as much detail as I’m allowed about BC63 lets talk about the presenting team… as… Carrie’s back! Yee ha! And this time she’s teaching! (yes I’m a big Carrie fan haha – it’s okay wifey knows and she’s okay with it). Tauvaga was also ripping up 63 and there was a massive Les Mills Asia Pacific contingent in support on the stage too.

This was also the first filming held outside Les Mills studio one in Auckland in a long long time (Super Saturday last year excluded of course). The filming was done in the Viaduct Events Centre right on the gorgeous Auckland waterfront which was great as it was huge! (and it needed to be the place was rammed!)

Now you should also know that I didn’t make any rehearsal classes for this release. Which meant my first, and only experience of 63 was at the filming itself. Which probably wasn’t ideal as I spent most of the class just trying to keep up!

So, on to the release itself. Well, it kicks off with a 90s dance rift that pretty much everyone will recognise… except you may not as you’ll be thrown of immediately by how freaken fast you’re moving! I recall Dan cracking a joke about how intense everyone’s faces looked right off that bat – that’s definitely true as the warmup has some unique timings, unique combos, and definitely lifted the heartrate in record pace! I think everyone was just thinking “WTF!” It felt more like a freaken GRIT accelerated warmup!

Track 2 was taken by T and it makes Turbulence look like a walk in the park in terms of roundhouses, busted glutes, pounded hip-flexors and intensity. My butt was on fire by the end of this track… I completely lost count of the number of roundhouses we did but I do remember thinking “this is only track 2 we’re in for a heck of workout!”

Track 3 was taken by Carrie and she absolutely smashed this one out of the ballpark. Great track and amazing delivery. Look forward to this one.

Now, track 4 was presented by Dan, and this is when things got, shall we say “interesting”. I’m not going to say too much but this is a track 4 like no other and clearly marks a shift in BODYCOMBAT. Throw everything you know about BC out the window on this one trust me! The music was rock/metal which isn’t traditionally my preference, but again, you’ll probably not even notice while you pick yourself up off the floor after it… Literally!

Track 5 – A-MAZ-ZING!!! Farking incredible track! For those of you that have been doing Combat since the late 20s you’ll recognise the tune from one of the most memorable combat tracks of all time. This one is such a favourite there’s even an internet Meme about it! The reign of epic track 5s goes on and long may it continue. Fantastic D&R well done.

Track 6 – the intensity just keeps going up again. I believe this track was presented by Jon by LMAP but to be honest by this stage everything was such a blur I can’t be sure! A very “combatty” track, the theme was “FIGHT” – it had jumps, kicks, knees, you name it! Awesome track – honestly could’ve been a muay thai track.

Speaking of muay thai – this track had a very appropriate name! It was rock again (no not Airborne for a change haha) – this band has been in combat before (as a muay thai actually!) but what was really unique about this track is the way it ended! I can’t say too much but think old school track five – very different!

And then, track 8. OMFG. MOST EPIC TRACK EVER. Just phenomenal! Goosebumps, hair raising on the back of your neck, shivers – just that good! I’ve not felt like this about a track 8 for some time. Just unreal. The room just erupted during this track it was truly something special to witness. The track peaks and pulls back and peaks again – just out of this world.

Track 9 was a core busting track (youch) and track 10 a beautiful track by a group that has featured in BC before – very epic end to a very epic workout.

So guys – in summary, BODYCOMBAT 63 is definitely a game changer. Think a shift in intensity – but also very achievable for new people as the combos are clear and easy to follow. I guarantee you there will be quite a few raised eyebrows when you see this release!

Be very excited for this one!!!!



While the rest of the world is enjoying the epicness of BODYCOMBAT 60 back in NZ the filming of BODYCOMBAT 62 is officially in the bag! Once again as I am in Dubai I have called in a guest blogger to write a review of the release. This time it’s the super experienced instructor and friend of mine Tony Ball. As you’ll read below Tony and I actually met through this very blog so it’s really cool that he’s filling in for me.

I must admit I was quite nervous to receive this in my inbox this morning, as I personally feel both BODYCOMBAT 60 and BODYCOMBAT 61 are two of the best releases in the history of the program. Without sounding pessimistic sometimes when we have a really amazing release (like 53 for example) the next one can be a bit spotty. I recall loving 49 and 50 – then 51 hit (if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you’ll know my feelings on 51! haha). Could D&R pull off three absolutely epic releases in a row?! By the sounds of it they have!

I’ll leave the rest to Tony but before I do, if you’re planning a trip to NZ for a filming make plans to come in November! Trust me on this – November 3-5 2014 book your tickets ASAP! This will be the biggest filming event ever! I’ll be there personally for that one – get a loan, sell your car, remortgage your house, just get to NZ for the November filmings! Take it away Tony and thanks for this buddy!

BODYCOMBAT 62 filming review – by Tony Ball

G’day, BodyCombat 62, For me this was a totally unexpected release, I must say I hadn’t been to any of the rehearsal classes, due to trying to fit everything in with my teaching Schedule. So I must admit was a little bit worried when I was asked to move to the front because I had LesMills/Reebok gear on. One of the internationals, which had been to every session though, said to just watch out for the ‘Slow kick’, and we were off.

Might be jumping the Gun a little haha, My name is Tony . I have been an Instructor since 2003, Starting with BodyPump, and now teach Group fitness full time. I moved to Auckland 2 years ago after starting to attend the Filming ‘s in 2009, after reading this actual Blog and another from my good Friend Raina Singh. It got me so excited spending all day reading through past releases, hearing about how the ‘magic’ happens in Studio one, I contacted both Glen and Raina, (thanks guys I know it must have been a bit random), I went and booked my tickets for the July/August filming BC42 the release with that epic Muay Thai Track ‘Excalibur’.

Back to the BC62 filming though, I had already attended RPM earlier that morning, so when I went to get changed I was expecting the Stairs to be filled with people waiting to do the release, ( normally there is such a wait) but by the time I had changed and come back up the stairs the was only a handful of people waiting. Just before 9am we were asked to make our way into studio 1, there was no ‘rush’ for spots, everyone seemed to be in good spirits and the was a good energy around the Studio. I went to about the middle of the room, as I had been to filming before, wanted to let any ‘newbies’ find the good spots, even suggesting where they should stand. I then got asked to go up front for what I was wearing. Let me just say at this point, I have no problem with this LesMills/Reebok branding, as the filming is not only for Instructors anymore (A teaching Aid) it is also part of a bigger product that Les Mills is developing, with the introduction of Virtual classes, hopefully to allow more people to experience what we already know as awesome Classes.

BODYCOMBAT 62: Andres Vesga and Tony

BODYCOMBAT 62: Andres Vesga and Tony

I did have a problem with not having done any of the practice rounds, but was soon happy to find out that my worry was unfounded. The release was actually good to follow and reminded me a bit of the late 30’s early 40’s and by the end, found myself dripping but smiling and thinking, can’t wait to teach this one.

Release 62 was a mix of High Intensity Interval Training HIIT v’s Fun

‘Mixed Martial Arts is a journey for our mind and a journey for our body, and our muscles are hungry for change, and in order to create change we need to create pressure. This pressure is going to take our heart rates up and our heart rates down, this is where we get really fast results’ Dan Cohen

Also a focus on the new participant to know they absolute permission to take a break, maybe do the first 4 tracks in this class and each week to add an extra track.

The Presenters were  Dan & Rach and a Regular Favourite Andres Vesga (by the way congrats to you and Xiomy, about to become Parents)

The release

  1. Upper Body Warmup (Dan)

This felt really familiar (a Squat track from BP) a good start with boxing combo’s and some lower leg work, very uplifting and energising, definitely what the peeps will need as they move forward.

  1. Lower Body Warmup (Rach)

A techno feel to the song, a good showcase of the kicks, a little bit of Dance Magic in the middle and as I was to discover it set up a sequence for later in the class, always a bonus to preview the stuff in the middle.

Good short warmup, I personally like that, leave the workout for the workout. Have a bit of fun, say hi to your peeps, preview what’s coming and bang into it J

  1. Combat 1 (Andres)

Good rock song (also from BP, an older Chest track) people will be singing this one. Starts out with an easy upper body combo, that quickly progresses to include more and more, lower body combos. It is short again with Andres giving a little ninja performance in the middle.

  1. Power Training 1 (Dan)

An upper body blast (a good remix of a BP warmup) this song is short, with long boxing combo’s, through constant training of a movement to lift that HIIT training effect, you end up going really hard in this one, getting to work the levels and then it’s done, your left feeling almost ‘was that it’.

  1. Combat 2 (Dan and Rach)

Everyone will recognise this one (From BB this time) this track was the first real highlight, this has a great Tai Chi feel Kata, it really works well with this song, and an epic kick Kata by putting 2 kick combo’s together to really  help shape and tone the butt, this actually was where I was happy that it was a small crowd, it gave us a chance to enjoy the kick Kata, without fear of collecting a kick from someone close, or worse giving someone a kick.

  1. Power Training 2 (Rach)

Energised techno feel, Boxing Training power v’s speed, again the idea of HIIT training, short intense rounds, really started feeling my Shoulders in this one, and an emphasis on controlling and using your core.

  1. Combat 3 (Andres)

Techno with a bit of a Brazilian flava,  working the squats and kicks, with a progression of getting deeper into the move, think Capoeira, this is the one that had that ‘Slow Kick’, challenging track but it is short, hmmm a bit like Andres’s joke about Dan J definitely a butt toner.

  1. Muay Thai (Dan & Rach)

Electric guitar , hardcore Floor filler, high energy and you real need to tap into it, knees knees and have some more at a higher intensity, running man on steroids,  good combo to separate the chorus, I actually had a little pull in my calf in this one, so really looked forward to the punch sequence and just let the music go. Finishes going all out like Muay Thai track should.

  1. Power Training 3 ( Rach & Dan)

Think Turbulence Hardcore Anthems club dance feel, good solid workout putting together Power v’s Speed, I got the feeling early in my Shoulders and it was kept up all through this track with moments of reprieve before a huge ending combo.

  1. Conditioning. (Dan)

Good flow to this song a bit beaty a bit of rap. No retreat, no surrender, I think Dan calls out, this is really a gut buster, I teach CX and this is a hard challenging track with an emphasis on our Obliques. I was groaning near the end, but I was taking all the ‘high’ options. Dan really coached this track, CX is his thing though. I actually thought this was a great workout at nearly 5 minutes of ab pleasure.

  1. Cooldown (Rach)

Beautiful song by a well-known Diva, The Kata from 4 returns and covers all the stretches we need, really fitting as we lost a combat Warrior the week before (RIP Joe)

All in all great Release and I look forward to teaching it.

Thanks Glen for letting me have a go, wish I could of given you more but only did it the once :)

Hey team! We are lucky enough get a second review of the BODYCOMBAT 61 filming! This one comes courtesy of the lovely Laura Jackson. So awesome for me to see Laura’s enthusiasm come through as Laura was one of my superstar combat participants when I taught back in NZ – now she’s a superstar participant at the big show!

Once again this review is a really good one! (these people have talent!). Enjoy!

BODYCOMBAT 61 – by Laura Jackson

Okay, I’ll admit that I still get excited about filming class. But not for the “OMG I get to be on camera” part that I know some people might be rolling their eyes about. I get excited for filming because of the new people that I meet every single time.This is my fourth consecutive BODYCOMBAT filming, and 8th overall filming and every time I meet somebody new from somewhere different in the world. I get excited for filming class because it shows me (and sometimes I do forget) just how massive and phenomenal our Les Mills tribe is. So from wherever you are in the world, whether it be Auckland or the Arctic Circle, thank you for being a part of this amazing worldwide family.

Sincerities aside, a little background since none of you know who I am or even what I do. I’m Laura, and I’ve been taking part in Les Mills classes for seven years now. That doesn’t really sound like a long time until I mention that I’m 20 years old, so those seven years equate to almost one third of my entire life. I work in the LM Auckland City building and I plan to module in BODYATTACK and BODYCOMBAT later on this year, which is a far cry from the shy 16 year old that I was when I first started hanging out at the back of Glen’s BODYCOMBAT classes. I’m now that front row participant who occasionally shadows and what a huge journey it has been!

Here's me during 61 filming. It's the only decent photo of me ever at a filming class!

Here’s me during 61 filming. It’s the only decent photo of me ever at a filming class!

Sadly I must start with a negative and say that I continue to be disappointed with some of the organisational aspects of filming. The week before filming, signs were posted in the stairway to studio one (if you have been to LM Auckland City you’ll know exactly where I mean and how long the stairway actually is) stating that the first three rows of participants had to be wearing Reebok/Les Mills gear exclusively. There was also an option to wear unbranded fitness gear, but I can’t remember the last time I saw someone at filming wearing unbranded clothing. If you have read reviews from Q2/GFX filmings, you will know that class participants got black-tape plastered all over their non-Reebok brand logos and I was one of those people. However this time I was prepared for it and came armed and ready, proudly wearing my newly acquired Reebok BODYCOMBAT singlet. 

Trying to be stealthy resulted in some terrible photography skills.

Trying to be stealthy resulted in some terrible photography skills.

Whilst lining up for filming behind the international instructors who had been queing since 7am (BODYCOMBAT had the 9am filming slot this time around) I was handed a camouflage wristband and told that I could stand in front of the yellow line in the studio. This yellow line divided the visible participants from the non-visible participants in the final production and if you look in the second row when 61 releases you’ll probably see my silhouette somewhere there. Interestingly enough, and clothing issues aside, the people that were handed wristbands had to be fluent English participants. I asked why this was happening and was told that in previous filmings there have been issues with speakers of other languages not being able to understand instructor cues properly – and since this is a production and not a regular class, all of the participants needed to be moving at the same time, in the same direction to the same beat.This is rather interesting as BODYCOMBAT is a global program, but whatever keeps the production team/LMI happy, right? 

Camouflage armbands?! Awesome!!

Camouflage armbands?! Awesome!!

My first thought when I reached studio one was, “where is everybody?” I had spent most of the previous night worrying about being able to move during filming and even practiced lower kicks in the bathroom mirror to compensate for the amount of people that I was expecting. But these expected people were nowhere to be seen and I think a lot of the instructors in the room were quite pleased that we wouldn’t be drenched in each others sweat this time around.  Some people reading this (hi Alex) know that I attended BODYCOMBAT 60 filming back in February, of which the filming coincided with GFX 2014. Anybody who has attended GFX before knows how crazy and busy it gets, and because it was summer here in New Zealand it was stinking H-O-T (and even then that’s an understatement.) There was absolutely no room to move, and because BODYCOMBAT is not one of those filming classes where you have a fixed position on the ground, I ended up with a rather disgusting amount of other people’s sweat on my body. Not to mention the feet/hands/bums that ended up in my face… yeah it was gross. I’m only writing this to draw a comparison to how different the filming class for 61 was. It was still relatively busy but this time around people actually had space to move.  I’ve attended four filming classes now for BODYCOMBAT, and atmosphere/energy wise – this was my absolute favourite of the lot. There was no fighting for spaces unlike 58 and 60, and everybody seemed to have a mutual understanding of where their place was in the studio. If you’re planning on attending a filming class for any Les Mills programme make sure you pick an event that isn’t part of GFX! I can guarantee that you’ll have a much better experience and that you won’t end up having to throw away your sweaty (Reebok) clothing afterwards ;)

To give you an idea of the scale of filming, these are the same cameras used to film rugby matches here in NZ. Talk about serious.

To give you an idea of the scale of filming, these are the same cameras used to film rugby matches here in NZ. Talk about serious.

After the standard pre-filming announcements (emergency exits, please wear Reebok etc) Dan and Rach were cheered onto stage along with Eduardo Kill, representing Brazil from the USA. What an AWESOME last name for a BC workout! I’m personally a fan of smaller filming teams because I do get confused and overwhelmed with too many instructors on stage – I never know who to follow! Following microphone set up and sound check, Eduardo quickly left the stage so that Dan and Rach could film the virtual introductions. Dan and Rach made a few mistakes and completely took the piss out of each other which was hilarious to watch because it set the mood quite nicely. I’ve noticed that BC filmings have such an intense, serious atmosphere as compared to other programs like Attack where everybody is all happy and almost spacey, so this slight bit of entertainment was definitely welcomed that’s for sure.

I’ve written a substantial amount on everything bar the actual release so here we go, BODYCOMBAT 61! 

BODYCOMBAT 61 is a “beast of a workout”  in the words of the presenters. And they couldn’t be more correct! It pushes every boundary both physically and emotionally and I literally walked out of class the first time I did it back in March saying “what the hell just happened?!” Unlike 60, where I’m still a little unsure of the song choices, 61 hits the spot with a decent mix of modern chart hits, a popular rock anthem and a couple of unknown upbeat tracks. Choreography wise, this release pushed my heart rate through the roof and is definitely challenging to even the seasoned Combatter! At 56 minutes long and being one of those “play and go” releases, I must admit that I have concerns for instructors that take classes that precede an equipment based class like BODYPUMP. I’ve seen instructors get angry over this issue before and 56 minutes might just be cutting it a BIT too fine! During filming we had a few extended breaks, due to technical problems and I can easily say that without these breaks I may not have made it through the entire release, so let me know when it releases later on this year how you go!

Track 1a is a remix of a recent chart topping hit by a certain infamous diva and I must say that I enjoy the remixed version a LOT more than the original. It’s got the same kind of feel to it as Track 1a from BC58, which I absolutely loved so no surprises that I love this one too. It introduces most of the moves that are incorporated in the release, including proper technique for uppercuts and hooks. For an upper body warmup there are a LOT of jacks – but hey it gets me warm so I’m not complaining! Rach offers low-impact options, which I always enjoy because it does reinforce the point that absolutely anybody can do BODYCOMBAT. In my opinion, this warmup is everything that a warmup should be – a little bit difficult to raise the heart rate, introduction of moves to be performed and also motivating. All in all a good warmup that I’m sure will be on instructor’s playlists for quite some time when it releases.  

Track 1b I love this track! And to give you an idea, I don’t say that very easily as they are usually my least favourite tracks of the release. This one is another chart-topper, but more explosive and darker than the first track. If your legs weren’t fired up from the first warmup then they definitely will be from this one! It has alternating shoots, knees, roundhouse kicks, basically everything you’d expect from a good lower body warmup and more. Because this track allows for so much time to introduce new moves it’s a rather good track for new participants to learn proper technique and execution before the release really gets going. 

Track 2 – There are three words for this track, OH MY LORD LEGS. And if you think that it’s going to get easier the more that you do this track, then you’re in for quite a surprise! The legs take an absolute hammering in track 2, I’m still trying to foam roll the pain out of my glutes. Yeeeooowwwcchhhh. I don’t particularly like the song choice, but that’s because I’m biased as I’m sick of hearing it on the radio already. In saying that, I do like this song choice a LOT more than BC59 with the crazy sound effects! None of that in this track thankfully. 

Track 3 is a solid power-training track. It’s an upbeat, energetic remix of a popular 1980’s song that is a guaranteed sing along for anybody. Pretty basic combos choreography wise, but after track 2 and the concentration required it’s nice to have something a bit easy that you don’t need to think about. This track really spikes the energy in the room and gets the heart-rate back up there again. 

Track 4 is meant to “unlock speed potential” according to Dan. In all honesty, I didn’t like this track because the choreo is all over the place. I found it hard to follow and I’ve been doing the track for a while now! Combos of 4’s, 5’s, 8’s, 15’s… it was a nightmare to say the least. I’m an ex-dancer so I will always count in 8’s so maybe this is just me. And don’t even get me started that this track is FULLY RECYCLED. As in, it’s been used in a BC release before and I’m sorry Dan and Rach, but I didn’t like it then and I still don’t like it now. I get that there are only so many suitable tracks for group fitness classes, and I understand that sometimes these things need to happen… but please, next time just pick a better song to reuse. 

Track 5 was presented by Eduardo, and he did a really great job of bringing some new energy to the stage. It’s another upbeat, catchy tune by Odyssey so you know it’s going to be a good solid EDM song. Choreo wise, it’s easy to follow with quite a few chances to slow the movement down and catch your breath. There’s a fair bit of level involvement in this track – namely head, body, head shots – which are one of my favourite combos as I definitely feel the abdominal muscle recruitment! This track is quite long though and may have to be used cautiously if you decide to mix it with one of the famous 8 minute track 8s! Bit of careful planning there for instructor playlists maybe. 

Track 6 I will admit I didn’t actually do because I was too busy taking photos and nursing my tight calf muscles. But I can say that the song choice is definitely interesting – think Middle Eastern meets drums meets electronic and then some more. Choreo wise, this track will push your legs to their absolute limits as they’ve already been obliterated from track 2. I was standing on the side watching everybody struggle in pain for this one, and to be fair I did see at least ten people also give up and join me on the sidelines! Since I didn’t do this one, you get to see the photos of the other people I took instead ;)



Photos taken whilst I was being lazy. Ooops.

Photos taken whilst I was being lazy. Ooops.

Track 7 – I don’t usually like rock tracks for Muay Thai (more of a Nick Skitz fan, infact Hardcore Angel is still my favourite Muay Thai track ever) but this song choice does work. It’s fast, it’s got a pounding beat and it’ll make the older generation of combatters happy as it’s a classic sing-a-long anthem. I absolutely loved one of the moves in this track, and this may or may not be a hint but it definitely made me feel like superman that’s for sure. I understand why this track is here, as the rest of the release is definitely very electronic and this track does have a “badass” vibe to it that’s for sure. 

Track 8 was the highlight of the release for me in so many ways. If you’re an Attacker like I am you’ll probably recognise this as an interval track, and as much as I love the song in BODYATTACK – I think I love it more in BODYCOMBAT. BA85 stole a track from BC48 so safe to say this evens it out a little bit?  It’s a total sing along with perfect choreo to match and wow, what an incredible shoulder workout! The only thing I don’t enjoy too much about this track is that there is no run-around music afterwards. This is usually my time to take a breather and grab some water. This has also been a time for instructors to engage with their class members, whether it be a hi-five or a, “well done we made it” and I do have doubts that this may impact upon a much needed rest break and the importance of instructors interacting with their classes. I know it’s only like twenty seconds, but hey, it counts right? 

Track 9 seriously made me feel like I was in a classroom back in primary school. Dan ‘coached’ this track (there was a massive emphasis on coaching this release) and whilst I totally understood the point of it, I feel like once the atmosphere of filming is long gone that instructors will have a hard time replicating Dan’s very precise coaching. The song itself is a track from Major Lazer’s latest album and for a core track it definitely works. It’s catchy with a funky beat that drops for the chorus and almost makes you want to get up and start dancing (but save that for BODYJAM, please.)

Track 10 probably has to be one of my favourite cooldowns ever. I like how Dan and Rach have moved away from the “typical” cooldown, and by typical I mean music that belongs in a BODYBALANCE class. It’s nice to have a cooldown that actually energises you, particularly if it’s a morning class and the rest of the day is still yet to come. 

To conclude, I did love this release. I’ll admit that I didn’t particularly like 58-60 in terms of song choices and some choreography decisions. However, I think that Dan and Rach have done an amazing job with BODYCOMBAT 61 and it has definitely turned my opinion of BODYCOMBAT around that’s for sure. I’m still a massive fan of the older BC releases, infact I still play tracks from 44-48 most days when I’m driving around but I have been impressed with BC61. 

Please remember that we are all individual human beings and that’s what makes us so awesome. I didn’t like a couple of tracks because I have my own preferences, and you will all have yours too. It’s part of being human and besides, who wants to be all the same anyway?

Until next time guys, keep it real and stay with the fight! :) 

Hey team! BODYCOMBAT 61 is in the bag! As some of you may know I now live in Dubai, and whilst it’s an amazing place to live I no longer get to experience the thrill of each and every Les Mills filming like I had for many many years. So I have to live vicariously through others… and thankfully I have some very amazing friends as every three months they’ll put pen to paper (or more accurately finger to keyboard!) to write a full report of each release for us. I now know just what it’s like to be on the other side of the world so I know how much these updates are appreciated!

Well you’re in for a bit of a treat this quarter as you not only get a full report about BODYCOMBAT 61 – you’re getting two! And I don’t doubt you’ll see a really interesting contrast between them. The first is from seasoned blogger and my dear friend Raina Singh. Now Raina is not only a very experienced instructor, but a long time member of Les Mills and much like myself a veteran filming attendee. In fact she may’ve even attended more filmings than myself over the years (which is saying something I think I’ve been to 15 or 16 of them!)

Odds are if you are reading this you’re in one of two camps; you’ve either attended a filming or, it is on your bucket list. Which is great! I highly recommend it! But definitely the first time you go it’s like ‘#OMFG-WTF-ERMAGHERD-THIS-IS-TOTES-UBER-AMAZEBALLS!!’ – which means quite often the reviews can be somewhat skewed by the epicness of your first LM Auckland experience.

Nothing wrong with that of course! But let’s just say Raina is not in that camp at all having been to more than a few! So what you’ll read is a little more “real”. Which makes her glowing report all the more meaningful. Without a doubt the review below is one of the most thorough and detailed you’ll ever see, so thank you so much Rai-Rai! On that note, enough jibberjabber from myself… here it is;


BODYCOMBAT 61 filming – by Raina Singh

When it comes to filmings I am pretty much immune to the excitement. In fact, if you were to encounter me at a filming I’d have the resemblance of a surly child in the backseat of the car on a family road trip whining “Are we there yet?” Most times in the last two or three years, and this is probably blasphemous in the Les Mills community, I don’t enjoy or want to go to filmings.

In the past, I have attended as a member. Which means I just swipe my membership keytag at reception, and in I go. This time, I wasn’t a member and had to collect a pass which had been organised by Les Mills New Zealand. Of course, I arrived and they had no pass for me. I know that this doesn’t usually happen to most instructors, but remember, I’m the surly child with the ‘Are we there yet?’ type psyche.

I had heard from several good information sources that LMI were holding auditions for the front row for BODYCOMBAT filming. I know that RPM filming has shifted to audition only attendance, and GRIT has always been audition only attendance. The reason is because of LMI’s relationship with Reebok, and the move to use the instructor masterclasses in Les Mills Virtual. I personally don’t take kindly to this approach – having been moved away from the front at a BODYJAM filming (back when I wasn’t the surly backseat child), I feel like it’s a massive dampener on peoples passion and enthusiasm.

However, for this filming that wasn’t the case. Rather, as instructors lined up to enter studio one, staff from LMI walked around with wristbands, chatted to people, and based on their attire and their comprehension, offered them wristbands which gave them access to the front row.

Image As I knew the guy who was handing out the wristbands, I asked him how many he had. He had given out at least 10 wrist bands at that stage and was holding another 10. He explained why LMI were using this approach – in the past, people who didn’t have a good understanding of the release or didn’t have the ability to understand what the presenters were saying would miss out on the precues of the presenters and would be behind on transitions between combos and sequences. This resulted in less usable footage for the filming team. I think this mightn’t have been such a big deal when the instructor DVDs were just instructor DVDs, though now with LMI using the same footage for virtual I’m guessing that they wanted as much unity of movement as possible.

While I can understand that, I think that could be a bit of a bummer for visiting instructors where English is not their first language (and seriously guys, I admire you SO much for what you do!), it’s like their nationality or mother tongue penalises them from being in amongst the thick of things.

You might be thinking, “Good grief Raina, did someone kill your puppy? Why are you being so negative?” Stay with me, okay?

When we were let into the studio and all of the filming participants filed in, the first thing I thought was “… where is everybody?”

Image Apologies for the poor quality of the photo, I was taking it stealthily.

It was QUIET. Seriously quiet. Eventually more people did come, but I was right at the back and I pretty much had half of the room to myself. Being socially awkward, I loved it.

Image There was some tape on the floor which segregated the wristbanded from the non-wristbanded folks. But honestly, it was that quiet that I think about 80% of the class were in the front section of the room anyway.

Image Again, apologies for poor quality of the photo.

The pre-filming announcements began and they were very lengthy and informative. I must say, they’ve come a long way with the communication of what is and isn’t expected at filming. They made it very clear that anyone who wasn’t wearing LMI, Reebok, or non-branded clothing would be shifted to the back ‘for understandable reasons’. Right. But at least it was clear. Violetta last quarter blogged about black tape being passed around to cover up any ‘offending’ logos, though I didn’t see any of that happening. Mind you, I was at the back though, introverting.

Three presenters, Dan and Rach as per, and Eduardo Kill who from my recollection was of Brazilian heritage but based in the USA. Plus, Eduardo has the added plus of having the best last name EVER. Totally fitting for presenting on a BODYCOMBAT release!

LMI get everyone on the floor to huddle up towards the stage to take a photo for Facebook, then after that they take photos of the presenting team for the DVD. After this, typically what happens is Dan and Rach to a quick intro, and then we roll into filming. What I noticed this quarter was that Eduardo bolted off the stage and one of the production team said, “Right Les Mills Virtual Intro #1 with Dan and Rach counting down in 4…3…2…”


Les Mills Virtual Intro #1 from Dan was super short, something along the lines of “Thanks for getting out of bed this morning.” Les Mills Virtual Intro #2 went on for a bit longer and there was a bit of fun and good humour between Dan and Rach while they ran through it a few times to get it right.

I found that very interesting. I’m wondering if over time LMI will have a ‘bank’ of Virtual intros which will be programmable into the Les Mill virtual system which will mean that gyms can tailor the intros based on time of day, etc.

Now, I’ve written a fair amount, and I certainly haven’t sounded like I’m in a good mood about it. At that time, I really wasn’t. Just bear that in mind, I wasn’t bejiggity on the excitement of filming or the anticipation of seeing the new release, not in the slightest.

If anything, I think that this gives my viewpoint on the release a bit *more* credibility.

Now, for the release itself!

TRACK 1A – Okay. If I were an instructor, looking at this song appearing in a tracklist before I’d seen the release, I’d be like “Nope.” Well actually, I’d be more along the lines of this:

Image But!  I actually really liked this track as a warmup.  Upbeat, recognisable tune, and a good job of showcasing the moves that were used in the release.  I didn’t expect to like it, but I really did.  The mood and feel is very similar to T1a in BC58, in fact, the little dubsteppy bit in that release also appears again in this track.  That leads me to think it’s probably mixed by the same DJ.  I think members will like this one.

TRACK 1B – Oh my word, this track was FANTASTIC.  Great track selection, dark, aggressive, and strong.  It meant that the introduction of the moves continued, but, some elevation in the heart rate occurred as well.  I think this means that this particular combination of T1a/1b is one of the most effective combinations as a warmup that I’ve seen.  Yes, they probably are distinct tracks, though together they are a warmup.  Sometimes I feel that the heart rate drops a bit while setting up the second lot of moves, though this doesn’t happen this time.  Purely awesome.

TRACK 2 – While the lower body warmup elevates the heart rate more, this one doesn’t do so much for it.  Instead, it challenges balance and really annihilates your legs.  The moment I heard the song I let out a little squee as it’s one that I personally love.  Loads of contrast and loads of challenge.  It’s akin to the likes of Turbulence and Strobelight with the workout it provides.  The music starts of haunting and soulful, and then bursts into powerful, aggressive electronica.  Brilliant.  Great song selection, great choreography, great work Dan & Rach.

TRACK 3 – So while T2 is haunting, dark and aggressive, T3 is upbeat and energetic.  A super catchy tune that even if you don’t know, will learn pretty swiftly just through the process of going through the track.  Super awesome fun, everything that a power training track should be.  I found myself going “… hang on?  So far I’ve liked everything?  That can’t be right…”  That changed pretty swiftly though…

TRACK 4 – The moment that this track started I let out a very audible, “Hang on?!?!”  The music for this track is recycled from a track used in a previous BODYCOMBAT release.  I’m not altogether against recycling tracks, especially given the licensing situation in Australia at the moment.  However, it smacks of laziness when the exact same mix of a song is used.  For BC58, Cold as Ice and Shooting Star appeared in previous releases, though different versions of them were used.  This meant instructors who were using said previous tracks could continue to use them as there was enough difference between the tracks.  Not the case here.  Instructors using this track from the earlier release will have to make a conscious effort to not teach the track in order to prevent their members from going “… this isn’t new? Didn’t you just teach this last week?” at the launch.

That aside.  I liked this track.  It just felt wrong to me as I know the older version of it very well.  Instructors whose classes that I attend are using this track currently.  I have sympathy for them having to re-learn the exact same music with different moves.

TRACK 5 – Another brilliant track.  Everything that a strong power training track should be.  I will say that it was at this point that I started to say to myself “… hmmm… is it just me or are these tracks really long?  I wonder if this release will come in at under 55 minutes…”  The other thing I had to force myself to do was to pay attention, I found myself having so much fun that I had to snap out of it.  If I have too much fun then I walk away with a great experience, but no detail to share with you!

TRACK 6 – Oyyyyyyyy.  The song selection for this was inspired, a real dark and gangster tune, with some ethnic overtones.  Not quite as ethnic as Kalinka, but along those lines.  Speaking of Kalinka, switch lunges?  Pfff.  They got NOTHING on what this track has in store for you.  Owwwwww my legs. Owww oww oww.  As I sit and type this my muscles are spasmming just at the memory.  Conditioning at its best right here, and as your legs have already been challenged in T2, then they’re basically getting killed twice.  Plus, get ready to see a new variation on an existing move that will really hit those glutes. So up to this stage, I’d liked every single track of this release.  I’d been surprised by the song selection by T4, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like it.

TRACK 7 – Sigh.  I can understand why Dan and Rach selected this song, but I really am not a fan of the rock genre for Muay Thai.  I ended up sitting out this track as it also appears in RPM, and, it happened to be in my playlist for my class that evening so I was zoning out and thinking about my class and not about what was happening in front of me.  Out of the rock Muay Thai tracks however, I think this is one of the better ones.  In my opinion, this is the low point of the release.  I really enjoyed ‘It’s A Fight’ and ‘Lost in Space’, but my hope for that brand of Muay Thai to continue was futile.  Rock doesn’t appear anywhere else in this release which is why I can understand why rock appeared here – and it is a shame.  I think the song is PERFECT for BODYCOMBAT.  But not for a Muay Thai track.

TRACK 8 – Thankfully, the final power track is an absolute BEAST.  I didn’t recognise the song, yet it felt familiar.  It was uplifting without being cheesy, and the choreography definitely went a ways away from jab-crossing to infinity on the spot.  I found out later that this song had been used in a previous BODYATTACK release, hence my familiar feeling regarding it.

One thing I haven’t really talked about yet in this review is the standard of the presenting team.  On the whole, the team did a solid job.  It was a fun filming, with a couple of outages which Rach managed to handle with ease by organising an impromptu roundhouse competition between three visiting instructors.  Solid stuff.

However. I actually was in complete awe of the way Dan coached this last power track.  I think it’s probably the best I’ve seen him teach, and I was there going “Oh I am TOTALLY going to steal that line.”  Fantastic.

Also, remember how in T5 I had started to think about the length of the tracks and whether it would fit into 55 minutes?  At the end of the track, the ‘run around the room’ bit had been truncated off, specifically for this release only.  Why? Dan said to the production team that the release clocks out at 56 and a half minutes, and instructors will have to teach it as a push play and go release.

TRACK 9 – As blown away as I was by Dan’s coaching in the last track swung very quickly to confusion in the conditioning track.  I watched Dan do his pre-track intro and I went: Image I get what Dan was trying to do, though I think for instructors to try to replicate what he was doing, they will either look like they’ve lost their marbles, or come across as patronising.  In a filming room full of excitable instructors it worked, though I can just imagine whipping this out in a class of mine and getting a room full of perplexed expressions in response.

If, however, you disassociated the choreography from the coaching, I think this is a really good track!  The music is a bit funky, rhythmical and the moves are achievable whilst still being challenging.  The music sounds very Sean Paul-esque, if that’s even a thing.  There were some core tracks in the releases of the mid-forties (I’m looking at you, BC44 and BC45) that logistically were impractical, and coaching was awkward too.  This isn’t one of those tracks.  The imagery in the coaching didn’t convince me, although the choreography did.

Oh, and rather randomly, Rach changed her top for this track?  I’m guessing as there will be two styles of women’s top in the next round of Reebok/LMI clothing… maybe?  I’m pretty sure multiple styles have been launched for each quarter in the past without the presenters actually wearing them on the DVD? *shrugs*

TRACK 10 – The cooldown is presented by Rach, and she’s really in her element with these sorts of tracks.  Lots of katas, and the music is strong, epic, and dramatic.  It’s a hip hop cooldown, which is good as it contrasts against the rest of the release.  The lyrics really hook into the essence of BODYCOMBAT, so I think it’s a perfect song selection for a cooldown.  There are some yoga inspired stretches in there, as well as the katas to finish off.

All in all, I rate this release very highly.  I went in there in a bad mood and ready to be underwhelmed.  My mood changed pretty dang quickly throughout the release, and I can honestly say that that’s the most fun I’ve had at a BODYCOMBAT filming for a *very* long time.  I’d go as far to say that it’s one of the best releases since BC53.  If the Muay Thai had been something closer to my preference, I would be saying with absolute certainty that it’s the best release since BC53.

I think members and instructors alike have a lot to look forward to with this release.  Dan and Rach, I tip my hat to you.  The surly child was nowhere to be found by the time BC61 was wrapped up. Awesome work.

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.

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