NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Are we getting too serious?

Posted on: April 9, 2010

Recently there was a thread on a group fitness forum about BODYCOMBAT entitled “Are we getting too serious?” – I won’t link to the forum as it’s a private site and you’d not be able to read the thread without joining – however, the basic gist of it was that many instructors feel BODYCOMBAT is starting to take itself a little too seriously; almost turning into a hardcore MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) class instead of a fun group fitness class.

Here’s a paragraph from the thread:

Has Combat become some sort of religion?  Am I going to Combat “Hell” because I enjoy teaching my Monday morning (predominantly mums) with humour and fun, rather than screaming at them from the start of track 2 (or worse, whistling the change of chorey like they’re dogs)?  All I seem to be hearing at present is:  “If you don’t have a martial arts background, you’re worthless as a Combat teacher” and if your class is not “hardcore”, then you’re not giving an authentic Combat class.

A lot of instructors weighed in on the discussion… and, almost all agreed. Another instructor commented; “I am so with you on this one!!!! 90+% of my participants are moms who want to work up a good sweat and take out their frustrations/stress on imaginary opponents.  They couldn’t care less about martial arts , MMA, the difference between a snapping front kick and a pushing front kick, etc.  They don’t plan out their Combat gear before coming to class. Body Combat is just a fun, safe, great workout for them. AND THAT IS FINE!!!!”

They have a point.

Let’s get one thing straight – I do believe it’s important to teach BODYCOMBAT with some level of authenticity. After all, proper tech equals safe technique and when your participants are copying your positioning it’s vital you role model correctly. However, our members don’t come to a BODYCOMBAT class to get a lesson in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they come to get a workout, blast out any stresses of the day and most importantly have FUN.

Yes “fun“. This was a facet of combat that was hammered home to us during the Advanced Instructor Module (AIM) – people come to a BC class for the enjoyment of it! Straight after the AIM I wrote a post and mentioned that my absolute favourite instructor in the world is Hernán López. His classes are fantastic! Yes they are high energy, and motivating, but they are also fricken hysterical. I mean, if he wasn’t a group fitness instructor the guy should be a comedian. Even if you’ve seen Hernan on the DVDs (where yes he is funny “Kung Fu Panda” anyone??) he’s even more hilarious in his own classes where he’s not quite so scripted. They are just so much fun.

And that’s what BODYCOMBAT should be right? C’mon guys let’s not lose sight of the fact that this is group fitness… we’re not training to fight in the UFC here!

Maybe we should just chillax a little? For myself personally the serious nature of BC has even been taken to a higher level as I tend to get slammed for posting tracklists here. But, I make a point of never posting the tracklists first – I always wait till they hit the net somewhere else. Case in point I’ve had the tracklist for BODYCOMBAT 44 for weeks but haven’t posted it as no one else has. But, by the same token I’ve never once been reprimanded for posting tracklists for any other programme (and I do post them at the same time)… just BODYCOMBAT.

I mean really guys let’s step back and put this in perspective, we’re not nuking foreign countries here – this is an aerobics class! It’s meant to be fun… it’s meant to be a laugh… should it be taken all so seriously?

Love to hear your thoughts….

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51 Responses to "Are we getting too serious?"

I totally agree! I happened to take one of Hernan’s classes at LM in Auckland when I was there visiting my Dad last year, and then bumped into Hernan in Auckland Central Foodtown on my next trip and he was a really nice guy who LOVES BC but also had a great time in his class!

I have stopped taking BC recently because I found that some of the chorey became way too hard for me – my mind is fried with all the work and uni work I am doing, and sometimes I want to “tune out” and just do it… have found myself taking more Pump classes instead.

I agree Cyndi! The thing is I hope others don’t start dropping out the programme too…

I actually added to the thread myself and mentioned that I now tread A LOT more carefully with combat now and as a result my passion is fast turning towards the other GF programmes…I mean can you imagine a serious BODYATTACK class?? It just wouldn’t happen! Which is a shame as my love for BC is what got me into group fitness and LM in the first place.

To my mind it’s kinda a shame that it’s kinda gotten so serious that I get in trouble for posting BC information on this blog – as I like to think of myself as actively promoting the programme – I know a lot of people that have begun doing combat after reading my posts – but sometimes it does feel like I’m seen as the bad guy? Weird….

I think a lot of this comes down to the actual instructor.

1 – know you class, if you’ve got mums that don’t want you screaming at them to go harder, then don’t do it.

2 – Teach your class as you. You don’t have to copy everything that’s in the DVD, if it doesn’t feel right to say it, then don’t.

I teach my classes as me, and let the other instructors teach as themselves, I don’t try to make them say the same stuff that i would. The only thing i make sure they’re doing is pre-cueing and getting terminology correct.

In terms on “the difference between a snapping front kick and a pushing front kick, etc”, then focus on the benefits instead of the technical details and the various martials arts that it’s taken from.

It has been driving me crazy for quite some time now how seriously we are taking things. Sometimes I just think to myself……”we are all aware it’s a freaking group fitness class, right?” I love teaching, I’ve been teaching LM classes for 8+ years and am utterly devoted to the programs and being a great instructor. But I mean, come on, reality check.
(Not only do I doubt my participants care about the difference between a snap kick and a push kick…..I don’t really, either!)

I like what you write here Glen, so keep it up.

For me, I need the high energy workout and I really like it coming from a point of authenticity where there are challenges for me to meet and master. So I see BC as it is, as an evolution to where its come from over the last ten years.

Role modelling and presenting the programme with sharp queuing, chorey and coaching stamped with your own ‘brand’ as an instructor hasn’t changed. All this is with a decent amount of fun, humour etc is what keeps people coming back not the oh so serious attitude.

Great post. I’ve seen a similar trend in RPM. We have some hard core cyclists teaching RPM and they even intimidate me! I agree that the key is to have fun & get a good workout.

Ive got the RPM AIM workshop this week end. I’ll be interested to see if we get the fun aspect as well.

Cheers – Martin

Thanks guys… I agree with your comments completely.

Katherine – you summed it up perfectly: ”we are all aware it’s a freaking group fitness class, right?” spot on. Unfortunately I feel the “take it all so super serious” attitude stems from the top – I just wish some people could maybe relax a little more and enjoy the ride. 🙂

Martin enjoy the AIM – from what I’ve seen you’re going to be taught RPM is all about “high energy” and “power” – but again that’s not to say it shouldn’t be fun as well!

Thanks again for your thoughts 🙂

I don’t normally feel compelled to comment, but just have to today so here goes:
I think there is a BIG difference between taking the program seriously and taking yourself too seriously and abit of over-reaction. Fristly I think some of the issues come from people who take themselves too seriously, they need to get a life and realise we are all doing abit of choreographed, relatively slow “shadow boxing” in time to music, it’s pretty hilarious when you think about it…
BUT secondly I think it’d be awful to go to a class with an instructor who doesn’t take the program seriously, a joke is all good if thats them (if it’s not that’s OK too) adding personality is good, however if they were nambying around not punching hard and with poor technique I’d serisouly consider leaving!
For me I agree with FGW: “I need the high energy workout and I really like it coming from a point of authenticity where there are challenges for me to meet and master. ” Personally I like having a snap kick and a push kick, heck I don’t do either perfectly but it’s way more fun and brings more variety, which is a big part of why I rate BC above BA. These sort of things also bring challenges so that you can continue to learn, improve and be challenged mentally aswell as physically by the program longterm.
Lastly I think it seems abit overzealous the way LM jump on you for posting anything before the releases, personally tracklists and little snippets get me excited about the program, the sizzlers are well.. IMO abit lame.
Ok so this has been abit of a mammoth essay and I don’t think I even got my point across very well, to summarise; totally agree that BC should be fun, but for me that comes when we take the program seriously but not ourselves. And please keep blogging Glen dont be put off by abit of over-reaction I (and many others) throughly enjoy the blog.

I feel so bad. I just subbed a Combat class for an instructor friend of mine and I went in there and screamed and yelled, drill sergeant style. And I wondered why they weren’t responding to me. Well, as you touched on, they were moms that just wanted some fun cardio. I probably hurt their feelings with all the yelling.

I’ve known for quite a while that I need to quit being so serious in my Combat classes – ever since I was a GFM and read a member comment about how mean and ‘belittling’ I was in a class. It can create an unwelcoming environment.

BUT secondly I think it’d be awful to go to a class with an instructor who doesn’t take the program seriously

Oh I’m 110% with you on that.

I take the workout seriously… I’m there to push my participants hard and hopefully help them get results they may not be able to get on their own. But, I think when you see BC44 you’ll understand a bit more. More martial arts being introduced, ground fighting styles that to my mind aren’t necessary – ground fighting styles… in a group fitness class?? We’re literally crawling along the floor in BC44… I think we might need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

As for my blog – I must admit recently I’ve started to wonder if this is all getting too hard. When a programme director threatens me with legal action for publishing a tracklist that’s already on both lesmills.com and the Les Mills Japan website… you have to ask what’s going on. I’ve always considered myself one of the biggest promoters of BODYCOMBAT, and lately I’ve started to feel that some see me as the competition? can’t work it out myself…

Erin – can’t imagine you being a drill sergeant! I’d pay to see that personally! 😉

Thanks again guys – really appreciate your support 😀

Agreed! Lets have fun. I have a background in Kung Fu…but if I want the discpline and seriousness of a martial art I go to training with my club, if I want a high energy, fun, stress releasing work out I go to Body Combat. As long instructors are teaching correct technique lets just have some fun and get a damn good work out!

hmm well even if its not the greatest im intrigued and dead keen to see 44 now! which is exactly why I agree you promote the program more than anything else. legal action! when anyone could look on lesmills.com … RIDICULOUS! they’d be shooting their own foot off!

haha looking foward to bums up crawling on the ground, surely no-one can take that too seriously… like the kimono dragon, good workout, but pretty funny if you take a look around the room.

Haha – well a lot of people at the filming sat that track out actually – yes think of the komodo dragon but moving forward… it would be funny to watch! (I’ve not seen the DVD yet maybe it is!)

I’ve only seen and done BC44 once so perhaps it is a great release… I’ve really got my fingers crossed that it grows on me!

Yep Liz you said it; high energy, fun, stress releasing work out probably in that order too 🙂

Here’s my 2 cents worth.
As a mum of 2 preschool age whipper snappers, I do body combat for a variety of reasons other then getting fitter & trying desperately to lose the baby & chocolate flab-
I am there to have a laugh, giggle when I go the opposite direction or if I’m the only 1 making a noise but most of all I do it because I feel the instructors love it, actually LOVE it, but aren’t strangling it.
I’ve been doing it on & off for 3 years now and I love it- if I had the body and time for it I would definitely love to teach it. Hahahha
But really I think if u are a hardcore instructor, u will have hardcore participants but I agree with Liz, if u want the discipline of martial arts, go to a specific club for that, not an aerobics class, which should be catered across the board- mothers, beginners to the gym lifestyle or exercise, the fit for that matter. There’s nothing more intimidating then someone in your face screaming at you when u r there to work out pent up energy out yourself.

Robynne it’s something I’ve tried to reign in myself. Actually it was a comment that Erin made last year that changed my mindset quite a lot (the very same Erin actually who commented on this post just a wee while ago). She mentioned instructors when she was a GFM who scream and yell (ironically like a drill sergeant which apparently is what she’s been doing herself) and come to the gym to work out for themselves as opposed to for their members. Ever since then I’ve tried to pull back on my screaming and yelling – though I admit sometimes I finish the class absolutely drenched in sweat, with my ears ringing, no voice, and a headache and think to myself “hmm maybe I pushed everyone a tad too hard there!”

It’s all about balance, and, it’s all about having a great workout and an enjoyable experience… bootcamp type training has its place, but no one’s going to continue a bootcamp type regime forever in my opinion…

Hahaha…I totally agree with this. It’s fun to understand the martial arts background of the moves we’re learning in Combat. Because of Combat, I discovered that I actually LOVE martial arts (which I never gave second thought to before).
My classes are above all else – FUN. People are laughing, smiling, talking, yelling – not pretending they’re in a UFC fight. (Most of them don’t even know what that is.)
You can’t have your “hardcore Muay Thai I’mgonnakillsomeone” face on for 10 tracks.
BALANCE is key! Keep Combat fun, people:) Great discusssion topic, Glen.

“When a programme director threatens me with legal action for publishing a tracklist that’s already on both lesmills.com and the Les Mills Japan website… ”
WOAH…seriously?! Not cool. You do good work here and I love your blog! As long as you’re just sharing information that’s posted elsewhere, who cares?!
Geez…this is all getting a little toooo serious.

hi Glen/team,

I totally and absolutely agreed with your postings…!!! After learning and hearing from you, a lot others and also LM, 3 things stand out for me as an instructor’s role and responsibility in a class…
a) communicating to connect (fun) with audience and communicating to coach the right techniques (or alternate techniques) so that audience feel safe and motivated to do the “right” things (right here does not mean kicking high or doing 100% accurately; at least they kick according to their capability and they feel good that the instructor shows them)
b) variety of track selection to provide challenge, exciting and interesting moments in class…instructors can sing along etc..otherwise boring moments will creep in if instructors continue to repeat the tracks over how many times in a month…???!!!
c) instructors continue improve their techniques so that they know the safe and alternate ways to do it that allows them to teach the audience too!

In our gyms here…most instructors are poor or moderate in all these areas…some instructors continue to PUSH their audiences to the limit (some hardcore ones) without doing (a) and (c)…some continue to use selectively certain tracks for whatever reasons…and their class have become boring…some instructors even think they’re so good that they are more concerned on pushing you and at the same time, showing they’re the “BOSS” on the stage…to me..it’s CRAZY and no fun at all….

so, what is LM gonna do about it..continueing educating perhaps through the forums/quarterlies…hopefully it helps…thanks buddies!

Yup, Glen sorry, on LM or the programme director getting too seriously with anybody including actively promoting the programme, I can understand their reason but if they do it to people like you and another instructor..then they’re going out of their sane mind! They’ve totally forgotten the marketing word…”word of mouth”…..within legal boundaries of course!!…I strongly believe a lot more people (thousands or tens of thousands) joined BC or even encouraged their friends to join BC or other programmes because this blog and information sharing you guys did..and you do a freaking AWESOME JOB here for FREEE!….i wonder they (LM) know how to spell this…thanks really! keep up the great passion (not job!!) 🙂

Totally agree Glen. I go to two BC classes a week. One instructor is a bit stern and grumpy, and actually ruts under her breath at people who have bad form, or gets a bit irritated. The other one is always positive, tales the time every session to demonstrate good form for newbies and throughout every track, and creates a fun, supportive atmosphere. I always find I work harder in the second instructir’s classes. I think with the first one she’s such a perfectionist it almost makes me want to give up as I know I’ll never be perfect (no way!). With the second one I get inspired to new heights because I’m having so much fun and she makes me BELIEVE I can do it. Isn’t that the whole point of group fitness?

Sorry that should be ‘TUTS under her breath’. God knows what rutting under your breath would be!

Hey Glen –
I like a good balance of both – of course I like to have fun and like a good instructor with a great sense of humour. But also want my instructor to be tough… and I think it’s possible to be all of these things.
One of the reasons that I never get tired of doing Combat is because there is so much room for growth (at least for me). If it wasn’t such a challenge figuring out the difference between the push kick and other types of kicks, perfecting my side kick, back kick, roundhouse, etc. , it wouldn’t be as much ‘fun’.
My fav. instructor screams a LOT… jokes and laughs a LOT.
The key is that if his peeps prefer to just keep jumping up and down any old way without paying attention to what he’s saying, he doesn’t freak out, he just lets it go, even though I KNOW that that is difficult for him.

Hey guys

Awesome comments and I agree literally with everything you’ve all said.

Susan/Leslie you’re both dead right it is about a balance… I just this minute got back from a bodypump class, I pushed the class really hard in squats and chest (Paralyzer – have to push in that one!), then pulled back and had a bit of fun in biceps and shoulders (well we did So What by Pink – hard to be serious to that track!)

Reggie thanks for your kind words too – your passion for combat is contagious.

Anne I can see why you prefer the other instructor’s class – who wants to spend an hour looking at a grumpy face!

And Leslie, yes, I wish I was joking but I’m not.

On the one hand I do understand the “surprise” aspect of holding off on publishing the tracklists and chorey – but you can’t stop the internet. Once they are on there and someone googles “bodycombat 44 tracklist” they’re on there. Whether they’re on one site or 50 – people will see them. If LMI were really serious about this then they need a worldwide release date. Bring all the countries into one then we all release together. Having one country release months later (sometimes 4 months later!) is just silly if you expect the tracklists to be a secret.

Besides all that – again – let’s remember – it’s just a group fitness class! Let’s all just relax and have fun with it!

Thanks again for your comments guys, love your work 🙂

Ok I definitely wanna weigh in on this.. fantastic topic.

I’ve been doing BC for about 6 months and get 3 classes in a week (which I wouldn’t miss for the world) and in that time I have grown to really, really love BC for the following reasons

1 – Fitness – my cardio fitness has really increased. Now I’m 47, 5 ft 2 and 120kg (eek gained 20 back!!!) but I can keep up !! I run with the best of ’em.

2 – learning technique. Now I am not one for just flopping my arms about hither and thither… I like to know how to properly punch, jab, hook kick and undercut like a boxer/martial artist would. I think it’s essential that we (99% of us being female in our class and 70% of that being mothers) need to learn this for getting the maximum workout and even self defence.

Since learning how to do these techniques properly, I feel much more confident in that I could at least have a go at defending myself should God forbid, I get mugged or something. I do my punches and jabs HARD as they should be, to get the maximum workout. I believe that proper technique burns those calories.. anyone can flop their arms about.. good technique makes you FEEL as if you are a fighter (we can fantasize can’t we lol) .. it makes you feel hardcore (and looks heaps better too)

3 – Getting out, socialising – I’d rather be at a Combat class having fun and getting fit(ter) than sitting alone at home on my wide (______I______). I’ve made friends from other combatants and even instructors! How wonderful!!!

I like the classes to be both informative and fun. All our instructors don’t take themselves too seriously and make sure we all both participate properly, as in technique.. and have fun!

They always encourage us to call out and lately we have been encouraged to yell out “KIA!!” when back kicking in 43/6 and whistle in 43/1b and YEAH!!! in ‘kickstart my heart’. I don’t need encouragement.. so if our class is a bit shy, the instructor always gets me to be join him/her in being the ‘example’ of being loud and proud. I happily oblige (other combatants also ask me before the class to be vocal… so they don’t feel embarrassed if they call out haha)

I appreciate the instructors who move around the class, being encouraging and helping those who need to brush up their technique by showing them the way… I appreciate the instructors who sing along with the music (even badly – I don’t care) and who SMILE… and crack jokes. I appreciate the info they share with us about what each move means and how it applies to self defence and what muscle groups are being hammered..

I know I wouldn’t appreciate being yelled at all the time in a serious manner as if I was in the army.. I can guarantee if that were to happen in our classes , they’d diminish pretty quickly.

Glen I LOOOOOOOOVE your blog.. I love the little snippets we get and the wonderful insights you give us. It makes me love BC more and helps me get more people into our classes. Keep it up and thankyou 🙂

Annie thanks so much for sharing!

Much like Reggie your passion is contagious – I only had to see your pics from the BC43 release on facebook to see that!!

You’re right – authentic technique is vital. I’m quite lucky in that I’ve got over 10 years of real martial arts experience under my belt in that regard. If BC has increased your confidence in the “real world” then f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c! That’s awesome! And, all the fitness you’ve gained is absolutely priceless should you ever be faced with some sort of confrontation.

A friend on facebook just left this quote on my wall:

“Fitness has to be fun. If it isn’t, there will be no fitness. Play is the process. Fitness is merely the product.” —Dr. George Sheehan

That says it all to me.

Thanks so much everyone for your kind words too – sometimes when I have pressure on me from the powers that be I wonder what’s the point – your words literally make it all worthwhile.

I sincerely mean that with all my heart.

Ok so as a participant I go to combat for two reasons – one to get my cardio done and burn a heap of calories and two because it’s fun.
If I wanted to learn karate I’d go to karate that being said I like how combat is authentic to the martial arts it presents. You can tell the difference when you go to a class with an instructor that knows martial arts and one that doesn’t.

My point is in my experience most people go to burn calories have fun and feel empowered by punching and kicking it makes you feel like you could hold your own in a fight you can let go of your stress by imagining we are punching our boss, our ex – come on we’ve all imagined it but what makes a class extra special for me is if you can tell the instructor is passionate about the program – they want to teach you, they want you to have fun and at the same time they want you to have kick ass technique and do the best you can.

So instructors go out try different martial arts, immerse yourself in the program learn why you do what you do so that when you deliver karate, muay Thai, boxing you are teaching within the essence of that martial art and then comes your fitness magic – but at the end of the delay relax be approachable and make us smile if you do this we’ll keep coming back 🙂

Thanks Stace – of course I agree… though you may be a little biased – you do my classes! x

I teach a perm class on a wed night and sub on a Tuesday night.. I’ve been teaching for approx 2mths and no offence to the mums!!!(which is my wed class) but I’d have hardcore participants(Tuesday nights) over mums 9/10! I’m not a serious instructor, I make mistakes and have a laugh almost every class however I do perferr to have HCP “grrrring” back at me!

From a participant POV…I WANT instructors to be more serious… Too many clubs I’ve been to JUST go for a laugh… The dedicated participants don’t want a joker instructor!

Have a think about that before u teach!

😀

Great post Glen! Made me think a lot ….

When I went on the AIM in September I got some positive feedback, but the gist of the negative feedback was that I was “too cheerleader”. I was told I was too happy when teaching! I smile too much! and should try to be more “grrrrr” and hardcore.

At the time I took this on board – I qualified in jam a year ago and thought that maybe my jam style had started to spill over too much into my combat classes – jam is all about having fun whereas combat (so I thought) should be more serious.

So I tried to be more grrrr, and I tried to smile less and be more hardcore, and you know what? My confidence took a huge nose dive. I felt I taught some of my worst classes. I really questioned whether I should carry on teaching at one point as I felt I just wasn’t getting in that zone, you know? My classes were falling flat. It just wasn’t ME.

So I thought about it some more and decided – you know what, I *did* always have a huge grin on my face when I was teaching. And why is that? Because I LOVE it!! I’m doing something that makes me SO happy, how could I *not* show that on my face? How can that be a bad thing??

So recently I have gone back to being myself. I smile, I crack jokes, I am full of energy and enthusiasm and have a blast. Yes, I work my class hard. Yes, I tell them to go harder. Yes, I try to improve their technique (although I accept there are always some who will just wave their arms around and be quite happy. And that’s ok- that’s their choice.) Yes, I love to go all out mad crazy on the SBDPs and I do get my grrrrrrr on – in certain tracks (Muay Thai in 42 for example! Even cheerleaders can’t fail to get grrrrrr on that one!!!). But I do it all with a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my face.

And I think my classes are enjoying themselves again. I feel like I’m teaching better, my classes have fun, and we all get that combat high. I’m back in the zone. We work hard, but we also have fun!

Wow – that turned in to a bit of an essay – sorry! But the gist is – yes. I agree! Combat should be FUN!!!!

Kacie – definitely you want your instructor to push you… I’d hate to go to a class where the instructor was “just going for a laugh”

Beth – wow – I can’t imagine someone intentionally dumbing down their enjoyment… peeps LOVE to see that their instructor is enjoying the class.

Your AIM does sound like its in stark contrast to ours. We had the fun emphasised… and emphasised… and emphasised!

At the end of the day you do have to be yourself on stage… that’s key.

Your classes sound awesome… I guarantee your participants LOVE you! 😀

3 things:
1) It’s a martial arts BASED cardio workout program
2) SAFETY comes first
3) We wanna have FUN while we burn the calories

Like you said, they are not at class to learn perfect BJJ technique. They would have joined a proper BJJ class for that. That said, as instructors we have to role model good technique and encourage our members to do the same so that they get an effective and safe workout. If members do it wrong, it’s our responsibility to try to get them to do it right. And when they do…ahhh that feeling of achievement! 😀

It’s not hardcore if you try to do a roundhouse to the head and end up straining some muscles. That’s actually kinda dumb.

And it’s a music based workout. Our GFMs and Head Teachers encourage us to use the music to deliver our coaching. No need to go all drill sergeant in the warmup!

Most importantly, if you’re not having fun, the members aren’t having fun. So let’s turn it up, and rock the house!

*just my 2 cents*

There are so many great posts here that I would just add that it’s really cool to have instructors who present the themes seriously and get you fired up about capoeira or muay thai or whatever, and it’s also good to have instructors who push you harder than you thought you could go. But both those things need to be done with a smile, so I’m very glad I have not had to encounter the problem you outlined, Glen.

Re: the program director’s legal threat, that I find astounding. I doubt it’s got the backing of the LMI General Counsel. Not that I am looking for a fight, but it sure seems like there are enough of us here to give the grassroots opinion. The idea about the worldwide launch strategy seems like the most sensible remedy to this whole situation.

Hi all!

I felt compelled to write a comment (my first time ever!) because I’m considering becoming a Combat instructor! I’m really apprehensive about what the participants will think of me and particularly if they’ll find me fun and exciting enough. When I imagine myself getting up on stage with my own class, I really picture myself drilling technique, making sure that the participants’ hooks are sharp and don’t swing all they way around etc. I even sometimes see others in class doing kicks incorrectly and in the back of mind I sort of cringe… not that I’m one to talk as I haven’t done the training yet! This post had made me think that perhaps I take Combat a tad too seriously and has also made me question whether participants would really want someone like me as an instructor…?

Anyhow, Glen, I’d really like to thank you for your blog. I used to continually check it, multiple times per day, until I realised I could subscribe and receive email updates! I know LM have become very restrictive about what you can and can’t say, but I think particularly following the filmings, it’s great reading your posts even if you can’t delve into the specifics. It’s nice to hear your perspective and initial thoughts on the new releases. Would love to hop over to NZ (I’m in Aus) some time to attend a D&R class and now a Hernan Lopez class too based on your rave reviews about him… and yours too of course!

Cheers

Love your blog Glen. What a shame you get threatened with legal action for posting stuff, that’s quite ridiculous. LMI should be seeing you as an asset, not a threat. Just Google bodycombat and your blog comes up pretty high on the frontpage- well for me at least.

Audrey absolutely bang on. There’s a time to be a drill sergeant and the warm up aint it! (muay Thai track definitely!) but you said it, have fun, then the members will have fun!

James I think you’re right about the legal threat. To be honest I’m not sure what basis it could possibly work on… Unless lm are claiming the track list is copyright… But even then I don’t think there’s any possible way that could be enforced. However I wasn’t going to rock the boat and pulled it down straight away.

Yen thanks for your comment. There’s a place for that kind of training definitely. Just this morning I was watching the BC25 DVD and its all very staunch. Even the light hearted track 5 is taught in a fairly rigid manner. But you teach to who’s infront of you and some participants may not respond to that style as well as others.

Rosh, I agree. And as I mentioned I was a little put out by it, after all I think of myself as one of BCs biggest supporters! *sigh*

Erin army for 10 years?! Remind me never to get on your bad side! 😉

Rob Hernan is the best BC instructor bar none imo. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him teach the numa numa warmup… It was so funny I laugh now just thinking about it! That type of track fits him perfectly… But on the flip side he can really push you too. Awesome combo.

Thanks again for your feedback guys! x

Yep Glen, you’re right – I did post here that one big peeve of mine is when instructors seem too focused on *their own* personal workouts and just sort of flail around barking commands without ever stopping to connect or coach.

I ONLY scream and yell in Combat class, and I don’t exactly know why. Didn’t do it in RPM, Step or Attack, don’t do it in Pump… Just Combat. It has nothing to do with ME wanting to work harder – I think I just want THEM to really push, envision making serious “contact” with their opponent, bust some heads and get a way better workout. Just by nature of the fact that Combat is a somewhat aggressive program, my coaching comes out very aggressively when I teach it. Too aggressively. It’s not a good thing.

When I teach BodyJam, for example, almost nobody is getting the moves exactly right, and very few people truly appear to work themselves up into a true ‘breakout,’ but I don’t yell at them. I don’t care – they came there to have fun. They’re moving their bodies in whatever fashion they want to move, and they’re loving it – and I love that. It makes me happy. I let them do their thing. I need to apply this same logic to BodyCombat. I need a BodyCombat attitude adjustment.

I recently gave up my Sunday morning Combat class, but when I used to teach it, I’d drag my butt in there feeling tired and run down from a long week of workouts (plus maybe one too many glasses of wine on Saturday night). All of my dedicated Sunday morning participants would drag themselves into class feeling much the same way. It was kind of understood that we were just going to try to get through that class together as best we could, and maybe try to have some fun. And in THAT class, I didn’t scream, didn’t yell, didn’t try to force people to kick harder or better or whatever. And we had a great time.

So I guess what I’m saying is, maybe if I teach Combat hungover more often, I’d be a kinder, gentler instructor? Ha.

But actually, the introduction of new martial arts has HELPED me somewhat, because then I have to pull back and be a real educator/coach so as to teach them the moves. I recognize that it will take them a few weeks to master it and I go easy on them. Whereas when a track is full of good ol’ fashioned punches and kicks, I bark and scream and say things like “You’re not going to hurt anyone with those sissy punches!” Seriously.

Crawling on the floor sounds a little ‘out there’ though…

(P.S. The drill sergeant thing comes more naturally to me than you might expect – I was in the Army for 10 years! Mind you, it was the *Canadian* army…)

Yeah, another vote for Hernan – was lucky enough to catch a couple of his classes while I was passing through Auckland about 12 months ago. Great instructor and a great bloke outside of class too.

Had a couple of comments that my classes were just that bit better after that trip back downunder (I was going to say home but I’m an aussie……) and that’s simply down to Hernan.

Back in the participant days my favourite instructors were always the ones who were inspirational, motivating, fun and maybe just a tiny bit cheeky – I didn’t want to go along and get screamed at for an hour (had that with a few spinning instructors – never felt like going back).

So, how would you go about finding out what participants like about your class then? I always thanks them at the end for coming, to let me know if they have any comments, requests or feedback as it’s their class and I want it to make it the best I can for them and I’m always happy to hang around for a bit afterwards to chat. I don’t want to sound like I’m fishing for compliments, just after some constructive criticism – numbers are usually near full in a good few of my classes at peak times so they can’t be too bad I hope!

Essay over…..back to the day job 😦

“but when I used to teach it, I’d drag my butt in there feeling tired and run down from a long week of workouts (plus maybe one too many glasses of wine on Saturday night). All of my dedicated Sunday morning participants would drag themselves into class feeling much the same way. It was kind of understood that we were just going to try to get through that class together as best we could, and maybe try to have some fun.”

Ha. I hear you there – I have a Sunday morning class and it’s one of my best of the week. Being Sunday I can get away with adding on “any hangovers” to the any “injuries, medical conditions etc” talk – there’s usually one or two who sheepishly stick their hands up and if no one does I’ll sneak in a “liars….” with hopefully what they take as a cheeky grin. That Sunday class does end up being one of the rowdiest ones I have though – a mate covered for me there for the first time and she was a bit surprised at how rowdy they were and also that they were singing along to the words….

Having a blah day at the office and actually feel a bit better thinking about that class. Launching 43 there on Sunday – god help me when they get to do the sword moves in T6.

Fascinating to read all of these responses. I actually posted one of the comments on the message board that Glen used in his original post. I started taking Combat on release 8 and then trained on 16 and have been teaching it ever since – I’ve seen the program grow and evolve over the years. I def. believe that it’s much more “hardcore” now. I also believe that, in order to keep people coming back, you’ve got to make it a fun, engaging experience for them. I really don’t believe that people come to the gym on their own time to be screamed at for an hour. They come to exercise, escape the stresses of the day, and do what they need to do to feel better about themselves. My job as an instructor is to help them accomplish those goals, and one of the ways I choose to do it is by making class as fun as I can. I want my participants to leave class feeling like they’ve been successful, not beaten down.

To clarify, I do take what I do seriously – I know my chorey inside and out. I try to role model the best tech that I can. I do explain the benefits of the different moves, etc. I do push the participants to work as hard and as aggressively as they can. I CRC when appropriate. But, I don’t get upset if my people don’t get it or don’t take all the high options, etc. Ultimately, I’m here for them. If they stay safe, have a good time, and keep coming back, then I’ve done my job and I’ve done it well.

BodyCombat was the first ever class I had ever done and also my first workout ever at the gym, we had just signed up at the day before. I went with my mom and my younger sister. The instructor greeted us really warmly and told us that the number one rule of combat is to have fun, it’s a tough class, and it takes 3 or 4 times to really get a hang of it, and after that it is incredibly addictive. Someone in the front row noticed we were new and gave me their spot. It was incredible. I was exhausted after 3 songs, and it felt like torture each time we switched legs. I wanted to die, I was out of breath, and confused. But, I stayed. I finished the class because, well i wa sin the front row and had no way to escape discretely but most importantly because the instructor was so good! She didn’t yell like a drill sergeant, she yelled at us like a coach. She was pushing, but she made it a team effort. We were all in the fight, we all had each other’s backs, no one was going to lose, because we were all in it together. I had never been good at sports, never felt part of a team, but I had finally found a team atmosphere. So I came back. I had fun the first time, the second time, and every other time I did combat. It was because of combat that I tried, bodypump, then bodystep, then rpm, and then bodyflow. The atmosphere of a group fitness class is incredible, it is fun, and it always is with a great instructor who brings a fresh energy to the class each time.

another great topic Glen…
I’ve mentioned before that I would not be doing any sort group fitness class if it wasn’t fun… Sure you are there to work out and get fitter / lose weight…etc.. but if you can do that and have a bit of fun in the process then that’s great.
our instructors usually say it’s based on martial arts… one instructor always says before his classes ‘Body Combat is just 5 punches, 5 kicks – anything more complicated I’ll talk you through it’…
I just love the energy in BC as well as the music, the moves…etc… I agree with Mohamed, the atmosphere is great, and when you have 50-60-70+ people in a BC class giving it there all it’s just amazing!

Hey guys!
It’s almost like we’re gettin’ down to the values of what makes a great combat class here… *great* stuff.

I’d have to say one of the big things that lets you reach more people, is to have a lot of variety in your delivery.

To have fun and to drop down & get serious if need be. There are some tracks that just beg for a more serious approach. Yet others that scream fun (Burn it to the Ground V Tuttie fruitti!)

I’ve found that changing the mode of the delivery during a class is a great way of keeping it fresh for your participants. It lets the serious martial arts guys cut loose & have fun. It lets the community and fun focused participants join in & have a great workout.

Here’s an idea for when the Drill Sergeant mode starts to get people to back off. Have a think about the impact you’re making. (- Soldiers are trained to comply, the participants are in your class because they want to be).
Use a similar mode of vocalisation, and get a different result, by changing your focus. Communicate a sense of urgency, build anticipation and excitement.
Now, you’ve got a strong delivery technique that encourages class buy in rather than diminishing it.

After all, a big part of the ol’ connection is being able to tell what’s working with your class, and adjusting to keep them engaged and enjoying the workout.

I reckon, get that right, & your participants will feel just as invigorated after Du Hast (Rammstien) as they do after Anytime, Anywhere (Sarah Brightman).

well… I’ll continue to add on. As much as I agree that it’s meant to be fun, i also teach to moms and I don’t have a fighting background, I also think some instructors under those excuses and pretexts fail to accurately showcase the program, including proper form, execution and coaching.

What makes BC different from TKB, TaeBo and who knows what else is the dedication and nice blend of martial arts. i, personally, don’t think anyone is asking anything else other than “to live within the essence” as LMI puts it. I’ve see so much out there, far beyond where your hands are in your guards, it’s about the total lack of core control, making up choreography, poor coaching, which ultimately only leads to an unsafe experience for participants, not mentioning compromising the integrity of other instructors who actually do the work and invest the time to prepare and deliver an excellent class, as it’s meant to be.

BC choreography has gotten FAR simple than years ago. If you don’t have time to memorize and practice, simply don’t teach it. I say the same to any other pre-choreographed program. Instructors are not being asked to fight, it is my understanding, but it is asked to look and play the part, and i don’t see why not. Again, is THAT precisely what separates BC from other “martial arts” GX programs.

The class can still be fun and energetic while safe and effective. The differences on the moves (between a snap kick and a push kick, for example) is not so much for the “fight” but so participants feel change in the intensity, while executing “authentic” moves (modified for GX safety and effectiveness) from an actual martial art. Makes those moms say “cool, I did capoeira today!”. Dan & Rach, and a whole team of people, go through a lot to find movements that can be put together for these classes and give your body a different kind of workout, something you’ll feel and something that’s out of the ordinary. I’m sure you all know this but it shouldn’t go unmentioned and unacknowledged.

To me it’s about making a distinction, and this should apply to EVERY program in the LMI family, otherwise why bother? just do jumping jacks, hamstring curls and knee lifts all the way and every day and be done with it.

Well I like the more intense bodycombat. If you want less “seriousness” then take a different les mills class. My fitness center replaced it’s kickboxing class with bodycombat and that was a contact class and I miss it. There is nothing that can replace actual contact for strenght training in this type of exercise, but I do enjoy bodycombat and much prefer the releases and tracks that are intense and technical.

Im doing my training module next week, and I’ve heard a lot from senior instructors and master trainers themselves, all synonymously told me to just…

ENJOY THE TRAINING AND HAVE FUN!!

🙂

Great topic Glen, and I agree on all your points.
The purpose is to have fun, but also we have to keep in mind that mums not doing the moves well could hurt themselves. So a great course is one where there is a good balance between pure fun and good moves explanations.

I’ve never commented before but I love this blog. Please keep up the great work you do on it!
I am getting a little fed up though with the “mom” comments from posters on this thread as well as the bc forum. I am a mom of three and teach bc to a lot of other “moms”. I am also a fourth degree black belt who still competes and I also teach spin and compete in triathlons. Most of the moms I know are the most dedicated fitness enthusiasts around.

Please do not underestimate women simply because they may be a little bit older or have children. Ironically, much of the time these comments are coming from other women (possibly those without kids?) Part or your job as a bc instructor is to motivate the people in your class to feel fierce and this includes the moms.

As far as the class being too serious, I think that is mainly dependant on the instructor.

Thank YOU JENN! Yup don’t underestimate the drive of a mother!!
I go to any group fitness class to get fit & let off steam. Its nothing worse then if u know the instructor doesn’t think that the Mums should be there or they rather not be there themselves, as it shows & thus impacts on our training & atmosphere.
EVERYone wants to go hard in the classes, so its the job of the instructor to motivate everyone even if they are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters & even grandparents.
So come on teach the moves, cue us in & motivate us, so we can go hard & have fun! Afterall isn’t it the point?

I recently went home for a holiday and had the chance to go back to a BodyCombat class because the gym where I live now doesn’t offer it. It was probably about 10 weeks since I’d been to a Combat class, and I found that it was still great. It was still an awesome workout and it really hadn’t changed much. I’ve been doing Combat since release 36 and the only real changed I’ve noticed is in the music. It seems to be getting far more darker and have a much more noticeable bass line. While the bass line is good for getting participants to be in time and really feel the move, I’ve noticed that my instructor has had to yell even louder to just get her cues heard over the bass lines.

Also, not being an instructor (I hope then it’s okay for me to comment), I really look up to mine. She had never had any martial arts training prior to her instructing. The same with the instructor who took it befor her, and they’re both really great. They just started participating in BodyCombat, found how much fun it was and worked on their technique until it was good enough for them to become instructors. I’ve talked to both of them and both passed their fliming first time.

So, in all, I feel that BodyCombat is still great. Maybe the music is getting a bit darker and the music can really affect the mood of the class, but it’s still a fun atmosphere to work out in. Perhaps the instructors who create the release are just trying to bring more variety into the class, thus participants are finding it harder grasp the new moves. That being said, I think it would be very confusing and challenging for new participants to undertake a Combat class as the releases go on because of the variety of moves and the technique that is required to do a Body Combat class properly.

Just my 2 cents…

wow I just read all these comments all over again for the first time in months and they are just so good! Some real pearls of wisdom in here – thanks everyone so much for your feedback 🙂

I’m a firm believer that there is a different type of instructor for everyone. I lead the way I need to be led. I’m a motivator, a clown but hard core. I make noise…I Kyah and such but sing and have fun while delivering the Chorey and cueing. A class should dictate how you lead. You can’t push the energy at them if they don’t feel it. It’s symbiotic in a way. I gain energy from them and feed it back to them. You just need to feel how much and when. If you have your finger on the pulse of the class you can make it as kickass and hardcore as they want it (if it’s your style) or as low key for some of the beginners who are maybe a tad on the timid side. Be yourself and have fun. Connection is the key regardless of your level of intensity IMHO.

Jenn

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