NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic


Well just when you thought you were a good instructor… turns out you’ve got a lot of work to do! That was the message I took away from the AIM. The thing is, as a group fitness instructor once you’re certified (which is usually right after you’ve done your first module) you really don’t get that much feedback on your instructing… especially if your numbers are good.

And that’s basically the situation I was in. My primary gym is really happy with my classes and numbers, my combats are the busiest classes on the timetable and as such I guess I kinda starting thinking of myself as a big fish in a small pond… after all the city I live in is reasonably small. HOWEVER, when you’re thown in a room and on stage with the likes of Will Pritchard and Ang Hunter (who also did the AIM) and being assessed by Matt Thraxton and Tauvaga “T” Siolo – you soon realise how much more work you’ve got to do! And that is a GREAT thing.

That is reason enough alone in my mind to do the AIM. As I said it’s not often you get an objective assessment of your instructing once you’re actually certified and it’s easy for bad habits to slip in.

One thing I was a little disappointed about was the turnout. There were nine of us in total, which is a pretty low turnout considering this was the first BODYCOMBAT AIM in NZ. I was expecting 40-50 instructors myself, after all why wouldn’t you do it? The small group did mean more one on one time with Matt and T and also meant we were able to fly through the schedule pretty quickly. It also meant the quality of the instructors who actually did the module itself was very high.

So, what can you expect if you’re thinking of doing it? Well, the day started with our first assessment, we were randomly assigned a track (literally by pulling numbers from a ‘hat’) – I got BC43 track 2 (Love Drunk). The “funny” thing about this is I teach 4 BC classes per week, and as a result I’m rarely nervous (only time I ever feel butterflies is usually on release night when you wonder if you’re going to remember all the chorey!). However, as soon as you’re put in a room with someone like Matt or T holding a pad a paper taking notes on you the nerves kick in and your normal teaching style just flies out the window as you try to actively think of initial and follow up cues etc etc. So it was little surprise to me when the first thing I was told is that I need to relax more on stage (easier said than done in those situations!)

After the assessment came discussion about the essence of BC, where it sits in terms of the needs of our participants and what we can do to meet those needs (all great stuff). Maybe a couple of hours of theory which was all new information not covered in the initial module (in case you were wondering). From there a short break and then real fun began… the physical part of the day!

We spent maybe 40-60 minutes (on each) covering in depth four martial arts. Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Capoiera and Muay Thai. Karate involved tonnes of traditional karate drills in traditional stance (think wide and low in the legs – ouch!). Capoiera we looked in depth at the ginga and esquiva as well forming a circle and in the middle pairing up and ‘dancing’ as capoeiristas do (that was fun). Next came TKD which was really enjoyable for me as I’ve done about 8 years of it (in my youth) we did tonnes of kicking drills including kicks not in BC (like the hook kick, axe kick and spinning back kick – actually the hook kick is in Guitar Damage and the spinning back kick is in Shut Up and Drive but only as a finishing move so you know what I mean). We built into a killer combo which was two front kicks, axe kick, jump kick, low side kick, high side kick, round house, hook kick (all same leg) then spinning back kick. Try doing that over and over again on each side! Loved it!

Next came the tough part. The muay thai drills. We were taken down to the kick bags and paired up with kick and punching pads and basically smashed each other with punches and kicks using kick boxing drills (1 – jab, 2 – cross, 3 hook etc) – as well as ‘courage’ drills where you “wall” up and the person with the pads basically smashes you back while you protect your body. I was paired up with Will. Now if you know Will you know he’s a big powerful guy and man can he punch! We were pushed and pushed with drill after drill (including 100 roundhouses into the pads as fast as we could – per leg!) – everyone was left absolutely gasping for air at the end. BUT, it did demonstrate how much further you can push yourself when you have someone breathing down your neck not letting you quit… an awesome lesson to take away to your classes (though I’d never advocate pushing your class THAT hard!)

Finally came the second assessment where hopefully you put all the feedback you’ve received and the lessons learnt for the day to work (I say hopefully as we were all pretty tired by then!)

In summary – it’s an awesome awesome day and I highly recommend it. It’s hard work (no doubt) but you’ll learn a lot about your teaching style, and a lot about yourself. There’s still two more days to come (the generic components) which are still a few weeks away yet so I’ll be sure to keep you posted about that. In the interim, if you do get the chance to do it I couldn’t recommend it enough 🙂

If anyone else has done the BC AIM overseas or any other AIM for another programme I’d love your feedback!

Oh my God what a night! An absolutely packed class (I think we came close to setting the gym’s record… all up about 50 people!!). All the regulars, a few new people, plus other Combat, Pump and Step instructors from gyms all over town showed up in support. So many friendly smiling faces – how could I have possibly been nervous! Such an honour and definitely something I was never forget. The whole class (to me) seemed to last all of 7 or 8 minutes and was over much too quickly…. it was just a blur!

One thing I will say is that many people made for one hot room – I was a red sweaty mess come the end of the muay thai track that’s for sure!

After the class the assessor took me aside, her first words were “Well there’s absolutely no question you passed!” – was hard pressed stopping myself from cartwheeling around the gym at that point!

Honestly the support I’ve received has been amazing and it truly made all the difference. From my trainer (Mel – you rock babe!), family, friends, other instructors and messages of support from you guys – I jumped on stage thinking “I’ve got this nailed” and as a result didn’t make a single error. So thank you thank you thank you!!!

Day after tomorrow I’m bowling along to the BODYCOMBAT 38 release so I’ll be sure to post a full review here as soon as I can. Until then thanks again guys! YOU ROCK!!! 😀

So tomorrow at 5:30 I have my BODYCOMBAT instructor assessment. Even though I’ve been instructing BC for a few months now (some classes alone, most team teaching), and passed module no worries – I’ve still got this last piece of the puzzle to complete before I’m officially “certified”. And I’ll be honest… I’m FREAKING OUT!!

So much so I almost didn’t post this! Even though I’ve taken 4-5 BC classes per week for the last few months all these horrible thoughts were going through my head like “what if I don’t pass” – “maybe I’ll just post afterwards that I passed, and if I don’t I just won’t mention it!”. But hell, pressure is a good thing (what’s the saying “pressure makes diamonds”?) so I’m sucking it up and proclaiming it here that in about 24 hours (give or take) I’ll be in front of a live Les Mills assessor having my every move judged.

The fantastic thing about my gym is that we have a live assessor come into the class and critique us live – and we get the result immediately after the class. The horrible thing about my gym is that we have a live assessor come into the class and critique us live – and we get the result immediately after the class!! 😉 I guess with a DVD you can watch it afterwards and worse case if you don’t like what you see redo it. That’s the one plus there. The downside, well there’s the 3-4 months of waiting for a result.

Anyway, in all seriousness from what I can tell the only way I’m gonna balls this up is if I get so nervous I freak out and forget all the chorry. I can’t really see that happening as all I’m doing is running straight through BC37 and I’ve done that so many times I know it backwards. So I’m just gonna relax and do what I always do… everyone keeps telling me I’ll be fine – so I’ll just blame them if they’re wrong! haha 😀

I’ll post the outcome Thursday morning… good or bad I promise!

My God what a weekend. I’ve never exercised so much in all my life! All up there were eleven of us, all Combat junkies and a really really cool group of people. Quite a broad age range (about 30 years between the youngest and oldest), and there was quite a broad range in combat experience in the group too – from one person who’d already been teaching combat for years to others who’d never actually stepped on a stage before. However every one of us came with the same mindset which was simply marvellous.

The module was taken by Sarah Robinson and Amy Styles which was fantastic as they are both veterans of not only combat but also Jam, Attack, Step, Pump and RPM so they were able to draw on their experience from those programmes and their respective modules.

To be honest the module involved a lot more theory than I thought. I envisaged lots of time doing various kicking and punching drills, perfecting technique and even more time spent on stage, and there was quite a bit of time spent doing those. However we spent most of our time seated with pen and paper in hand discussing the ‘essence’ of BODYCOMBAT, the various factors involved in coaching, and the components of cueing, being a role model etc. The fact your technique was up to par was almost considered a given due to the fact you were there.

The biggest wake up call for me (and probably the moment of truth as far as I was concerned) was watching myself on video. I’ve never seen myself on screen doing combat before, and to see how the participants see me on stage definitely made a difference. Before the module we all had to complete a questionnaire detailing our fitness experience. Sarah told me she specifically gave me track five after reading about my obtaining a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. TKD is primarily kick based, and track five has NO kicks! Evil woman! 😉 Kicks are definitely my strong suit – in fact out of all the compliments I’ve had on my technique all of it has been on my kicks! So it was definitely a wake up call to see my hooks and uppers on tape as they do need some work. Great to know now though however and I’ve already seen improvements in a couple days.

Day 3 was definitely the killer. We’d had two full on days (day two was about 10 hours long) so by day 3 we were all starting to feel a little worse for wear. However just to spice it up a bit on that day we all presented twice which meant 22 cardio tracks that afternoon. What really killed was the order was randomised, and we ended up with consecutive track 6’s, followed by track 4 and the Muay Thai – all in a row – by then my legs were killing me. And, there was absolutely no way you could ease off, I put 100% into every track as if I were fresh as that’s what my fellow combaters deserved.

I took the very last track of the day at about 4:50pm Sunday evening, and there was no way I was holding back – everyone absolutely gave their all it was simply awesome. All in all it was an amazing weekend and I learnt a lot and made some great friends that I know I’ll keep in contact with. Bring on the next challenge! 🙂

Just got a call from Les Mills head office minutes ago, called me to tell me I’m taking track five for the instructor module “Let’s see how far we’ve come” – which is very exciting! It was one of the ones I was hoping for – out of the eight cardio tracks I would’ve been happy with 1,2 5 or 8. Not too fussed on 3  as the chorey is so simple, I didn’t so much want 4 just because it’s quite repetitive and I’m not a huge fan of the back kick. 6 is quite slow – so hard to really work the levels and pump participants up (although you can of course make them go LOWER) and as for track 7, to be honest I’m just not a huge fan of the music!

But track 5 is all good! The only track I maybe would’ve preferred over this one is track 8, and that’s only because I just loooove the song. When teaching this track we’ve been calling it ‘combat-oke’ as we always make the members sing along… it’s a really upbeat track with loads of energy, and you can really work the levels and make people push harder and harder when teaching it. So yay!

On one of the group fitness forums recently someone asked for tips as they were about to go into their instructor module training, here’s one of the more informative replies:

“1) I suppose someone has accidently dropped the DVD/CD in your gym bag? Get to know the music!!!

2) I think there have been other threads on this but the usuals – change of clothes (several!), snacks (cuz you ain’t gonna get the breaks). Get some good rehydration drinks (lucozade sport, maximuscle). You’re going to need to keep hydrated as you’re basically doing about 5 combat’s per day!

3) I think Roger was wise in saying book the Monday off and book in a sports massage (cuz your gonna seize up!).

4) If there is someone at the gym, try and go through the tracks. I don’t know your background – have you done ETM or GI? Have you team taught or even shadowed with someone. We’ve two grasshoppers who just did the DL module this past week with Tanya. One, who hasn’t taught up front before (despite my saying – get up front with me) got Track 1. So was the first one and didn’t even know what to do with the mic!

5) Have fun – cuz you will. Throw your self into it. Step way out of your comfort zone and enjoy.”

My first reaction? Jesus Christ! I pretty much assumed we’d be doing non stop combat for like 8 hours but no breaks? Seizing up? Take the Monday off and get a massage? Crikey what have I got myself into!

Haha, seriously it sounds hardcore but I think I’m pretty prepared. I know Body Combat 37 like the back of my hand, I’ve taught it now probably 15-20 times? So I’m pretty confident on stage. Having shadowed my trainer on stage for months and months now I thought I’d be pretty confident with the mic, but it’s a lot different. Definitely when I first started micing up about a month ago I was pretty shaky (nerves and all that) as it’s a lot to remember; You have to know the choreography by heart (obviously!) but that’s not the biggest issue. The biggest for me was the pre-cueing, both verbally and also cueing the next movement 2-4 beats ahead, whilst ensuring your own form is perfect. Add voice projection, giving technique tips, motivational tips, working the levels and it all adds up!

The other thing is working on your natural voice cues. Some of the things Dan and Rach say on the DVDs don’t feel entirely natural to me, so I’ve had to work on cues that do feel right – otherwise (in my mind) it could feel a little forced. It’s much easier to enthusiastically shout out a statement you feel comfortable with rather than something you don’t. Some of the cues like “Rambo said live for nothing or fight for something” – which are not only in the DVD but actually suggested within the combat notes are a little too cheesy for me… but in saying that others feel fine and in hindsight they’re super cheesy too (like at the end on BC37 track five when staying in the scissor sequence I’ve shouted “I wanna see you tear up the carpet!” – yep sitting here that seems kinda lame but feels comfortable to me on stage!)

So, moral of the story is next weekend I’ve gotta take a boat load of confidence, a boat load of clothing changes, and a boat load of protein bars!

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