BODYCOMBAT 61 filming (1 of 2!)
Posted May 7, 2014on:
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.
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?”
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.
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.
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:
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: 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.