NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Posts Tagged ‘RANDOM STUFF

I almost always avoid “plugs” for other sites simply because I get several requests a week to promote various links and if I honoured all of them then this blog would look like an infomercial; however one popped into my inbox this week that made me look twice.

It is a link to a survey for group fitness instructors regarding care for their voice being conducted by Dr. Anna Rumbach, Division of Speech Pathology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at The University of Queensland. Now not too long ago I would’ve shrugged this off with the response “huh?” but something happened to me a few months ago that made me sit up and take notice. Late last year I got a pretty nasty chest infection, mucus, phlegm, all that nasty stuff that I really don’t want to go into. As a result I took a few days off teaching, then when it “cleared” I jumped back into my usual routine full force. But for one significant difference; my voice had noticeably changed. It is now raspier, deeper and permanently ‘hoarse’. I figured it was a side-effect of the illness and it would clear. However here I am, probably six months later and it’s still the same. It’s almost as if at the age of 36 my voice “broke” again.

It’s not that big of a deal except I used to be able to sing… now I can’t hold a note to save myself (some would say I probably never could to be fair!) – my vocal range is significantly decreased and whenever I run into someone I haven’t seen for awhile their first reaction upon hearing me is “Oh no are you sick?” – well no. In fact I’m the fittest, fastest and strongest I’ve ever been in my life thanks to group fitness – just my voice sounds like I swallowed an entire box of sandpaper!

I know we use mics but it’s inherently part of the job to raise your voice. Let’s face it, at the peak of a muay thai track or peak of track 8 in BODYCOMBAT, the music is pounding and everyone is fatiguing, you can’t just suggest to a packed class of 60 people they delicately  “unleash” – you really have to sell it: “UNLEASH!!!” – now I’ve been doing this for four years I guess my voice is doing the same.

Anyway – although this survey is for Australian GFIs only, it really is food for thought. Does LMI need to start incorporating vocal training into our education sessions? My hoarsey semi-baritone new sound probably votes yes. Check it out: How fit is your Voice.

3,000,000 visitors! Thank you!

Hey guys – again quick apology for the lack of updates lately – it has seriously been a crazy couple weeks! Things are winding down for the summer holidays here in NZ so hopefully I can start writing regularly again (fingers crossed!)

Something quite staggering happened over the last few weeks however; this very blog had its THREE MILLIONTH visitor. I’m humbled so many of you have come along to read my (sometimes barely coherent!) ramblings. Thank you so much.

As such, and given it’s the end of yet another year I thought it quite an opportune time to look back at some of the posts that (judging by traffic and comments) were the most popular. Of course, the Les Mills tracklist posts and filming posts are always well read, and I do try as hard as I can to keep them as up to the second as possible. However, the posts that got the most reaction were the opinion pieces, where I (sometimes controversially) would voice my $0.02 on a variety of Les Mills or fitness related issues.  I’ll link to a few of these at the end of this post so do take a look – but MUCH more interesting than the post itself are the comments that follow them. Some of these have over 100 comments and they make for fascinating reading if you’ve got a few spare minutes. Take a look at the links at the end.

And, believe it or not we’re only just over a month away from the next batch of filmings including BODYCOMBAT 52 and BODYPUMP 82. I’ll be attending and as always will try to give you the low-down (as much as I am allowed).

Finally, I’d like to wish you and your families and very Merry Christmas and truly amazing 2012. Thank you for your support, both here online, through connecting via facebook or through the many real friendships I have made meeting you in person at the various filmings and events. I appreciate you taking the time to pop by and I won’t let you down and will keep this blog as cutting edge with the latest info as I can.

Cheers to YOU and an EPIC 2012!

Hi guys just a short update to let you know I’m still here! I’ve actually been in the UK for the last few weeks and was only in any one part of the country for a day or two before moving on (catching up with friends and family and TWO weddings!) so my internet connectivity was sporadic to say the least!

I did get to the gym a lot there, probably visited 8-10 different gyms and saw a variety of different instructors and styles. I would always discreetly come in, hide at the back and ensure I did my best not to put the instructor off by following everything they did rightly or wrongly. As always, some were amazing, and some, were, well… not.

One thing I did notice which blew my mind as a Kiwi (as I’ve NEVER seen this happen here) is in multiple gyms, in multiple towns I witnessed BODYATTACK instructors teach with their backs to the class. The first time it happened I was taken aback and thought “wow this person must usually be a freestyle instructor – maybe she’s covering?” and kinda shrugged it off as an anomaly. Then, I went to another gym chain, in a completely different part of the country to do my second BA class and saw it again!

Whilst I understand that typically in NZ we don’t have mirrored walls on the front of our studios (in the UK most gyms that I’ve seen do) and this means participants there can see the instructor’s refection in the mirror – I found it odd as this isn’t the way we’re taught to teach an LM programme (or am I wrong and in the UK this is acceptable?) I believe the instructors who do that must do it as they feel it makes it easier for members to follow if everyone is facing the same way, but I think it comes down to what you’re used to as I found it very unsettling to be staring at someone’s back for 55 minutes. Plus, isn’t there an element of connection lost? It certainly must make it harder to correct a member’s technique if you are looking at their reflection and trying to make eye contact that way… And surely it removes an element of the fitness magic as well?

I pitched this on twitter at the time and I’ve had loads of feedback about it in the past weeks; ranging from ‘unacceptable’ to ‘this is common where I live too’ – as such be really keen to hear your thoughts on it.

I also had the amazing experience of being invited to the UK Super Quarterly Workshop during my visit (thanks Fitpro!). It was amazing it really was. I’ve written a post about that which I’ll post in the coming weeks (or look for it in Kia Ora Magazine if you’re in the UK). It was phenomenal I can’t rave enough about how much fun I had.

And, believe it or not filmings roll around in just a few short weeks too! (I know how quick has that been?!) I’ll be sure to post about those as well.

Finally, just before I go here’s something interesting. You may recall a blog post I wrote back in January about the calorie count on the Sh’bam poster; Burn rate 600 calories per class. I thought that seemed excessively high given the class is only 45 minutes – that means on a per minute basis Sh’bam burns more than BODYATTACK  which to me seemed quite surprising given the nature of the two classes (and many of you commented and were just as surprised as I was). Anyway, a newer poster has since been released (below) so obviously someone agreed with us. Until next time!

Two Million Visitors?!

A couple weeks ago whilst I was away in Sydney for UFC 127 (I know how lucky am I!?!) without my realising it this very blog had its TWO MILLIONTH visitor. How crazy is that?!

Just goes to show how many fitness fanatics there are out there! In a time where it seems people are getting less fit and moving less it’s just awesome websites like this are going from strength to strength – in fact when I started this blog a couple years ago it averaged about 50 visitors a week – now it averages 5000-6000 per day!

I do thank you for visiting and I will try to keep this updated as I can …though admittedly these days with 45 hours per week at my “day job” and teaching 10-12 classes per week on top of I seem to be running out of hours in the day!

However, lots to write about. I’ve still not technically written a review of BODYCOMBAT 47 – but I will be doing that shortly as I’d love to hear your thoughts. Plus – I’ll just have to write about BODYPUMP 77 – how amazing is that release! And, the filming of BODYCOMBAT 49 is just a few weeks away so will be sure to tell you all about that too.

Anyway, the point of this post is really just to thank you for coming and bothering to read my aimless ramblings. When I began writing this I actually just did it as an outlet for all my random BODYCOMBAT and fitness related thoughts – I never actually figured anyone would be interested, let alone read it – but what it’s turned into is a little mini community of likeminded people all sharing their passion and that is just AWESOME. So big thank you to you, it’s such a thrill to make contact with so many motivated and passionate people, whether it be here, at the filmings, or on facebook. In short – YOU GUYS ROCK!

Santa doing BODYCOMBAT!

Santa doing BODYCOMBAT!

I can’t believe how quickly 2010 has flown by! Thank you so much for your support, comments and facebook friendships over the past year… been awesome to even meet many of you in real life at the various filmings – as well as on our travels around the world. Highlights for me have definitely included teaching in Dubai with the inspirational King Kong, meeting so many of the Les Mills community throughout the UK, and of course partying it up with hundreds and hundreds of you at the GFX!

It’s been a huge 2010 for me personally and thank you to all of you that read and comment on this very blog, I sincerely appreciate it, it’s so wonderful being part of such a motivated, fit, supportive and super friendly community!

You guys truly rock… I look forward to sharing the group fitness love with you next year; have a Merry Christmas, a brilliant New Year, and cheers to a MASSIVE 2011!

So we’re officially half way through our month-long mini world tour. First stop was Dubai.

Now Dubai is known for many things; its economy; its INCREDIBLE buildings; its culture; even its man-made islands! One thing it’s not renowned for is its group fitness… but perhaps it should be. Make no mistake travelling is tough on the ol’ midsection. You eat out every meal. You sit for long periods on airplanes. And you face jet lag, which can make you feel lethargic which can make you move even less. And, I don’t know about you, but personally I find it very difficult to relax unless I know I’ve exercised – or, have exercise planned at some stage for the day. So, to counter all of that we make a pact to try to get in as many classes as we practically could. In fact, we arrived in Dubai at around 6am, checked into our hotel, and jumped straight online to try to find the nearest class (hey we’d been sitting for well over 20 hours we need to move!) We found a BODYCOMBAT class at a nearby gym and pretty much went straight there. The class was, well, okay. The teaching was good but it was the release of BC44 (you guys probably know my feelings on that release!) yet for some reason they only taught tracks 1-4, 6, 8 then the cooldown. Although we hadn’t paid for the class I’d probably be a tad frustrated if we had… after all why have a recovery track (track 6) if the class is only 45 minutes? It wasn’t much of a workout and I began to wonder if we coming from NZ (the home of Les Mills) we’d set out expectations a bit high.

Stace, Me, Amir and Jo - BODYPUMP Aviation Club

Turns out I needn’t have worried as the following day we were invited to “The Aviation Club“. Now, if you’re ever visiting Dubai this is the place to go. The instructors are without a doubt WORLD CLASS. We did numerous BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK and BODYCOMBAT classes there with a variety of instructors and every single class was absolutely fantastic. Amir, Simon, Linda, Basel and Jo thank you so much for inviting us into your club and showing us how it’s done. I had the pleasure of team teaching a couple of pump classes with Amir, and, well, let’s just say I now know why his nickname is “King Kong” – the guy is a machine! Even with a busted foot he absolutely smashed it! We did our first pump class with him on day 2 of our trip – when we were still on NZ time. The class started at 7:30pm Dubai time, which was 3:30am for us! Not that we’d have noticed, the moment the class started any jet lag we had went straight out the door. The Aviation Club has awesome classes, brilliant members and phenomenal instructors. I can’t say it enough; if you go to Dubai – go to the Aviation Club to train. Experience pump King Kong style! Simple as that.

However, as you can probably tell by the title of this post things didn’t quite stay on that high note. Now I don’t want you to think I’m some sort of crazy instructor critic. I’m not. I know we all have off days. I know we all make chorey mistakes from time to time. To me, accidentally switching out 2-2s for 3-1s in pump is no big deal. Cueing 8 bottom halves instead of two sets of 4s is no big deal. Cueing an upper cut off the front arm instead of the back in bodycombat – at the end of the day what does it matter, we’re still going to get effectively the same workout right? It happens! No biggy. However I do expect a couple of things when I attend a Les Mills group fitness class. Number one, I’d expect the instructor to follow the Les Mills prescribed format (this kinda goes without saying doesn’t it?). I’d expect maybe 95% of the chorey to be correct (again we all have brain farts – its part of the fun!), and I’d expect a certain level of proper technique and proper coaching. I’m not a nazi about this, I realise some instructors have been teaching a lot longer than others and therefore there will be some whose tech/coaching isn’t perfect (hey, I’m pretty new to this teaching thing myself mine needs a lot of work so I can’t talk there!) I also know everyone teaches differently and every instructor is different – but for the most part you do expect a certain level of consistency and professionalism – after all – the instructor has obviously passed their certification in the programme they’re teaching… right?

Well maybe not. I’m going to name names, nor name clubs but a couple of days ago I witnessed without a doubt the worst example of teaching I’ve ever seen. Imagine an instructor who walks in late, turns on the music and picks up the bar. No intro, no set position, nothing. Then imagine that instructor constantly stops their movements to consult their choreography notes DURING the track. Then imagine they make changes the class structure and then teach a warm up (Release Me) as a tricep track and just make all the choreography up! I’m not kidding. Compared to the above their other faults seem minor but I’ll mention them anyway; their 2-2s and 3-1s were indistinguishable (I always follow the instructors timing out of respect – even if it’s wrong – so I paid close attention to this). The chorey on the tracks they didn’t just make up was all wrong, and their tech was dreadful (squats right to the floor, bent over rows right to the ankles etc.). I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life… Stopping midway to read their chorey notes off the floor next to the bench? WTF?!! THANKFULLY we’d downloaded a free pass off the net and didn’t have to pay as the casual rate for this gym was NZ$80 each. Can you imagine how furious you’d be if you’d paid $160 for that class?!

I can only hope that maybe this person was called in, at the very last moment to cover this class and as a result had zero chance to prepare. It still doesn’t excuse some of their actions but it’s literally the only way I can possibly rationalise what happened… even then I’m really struggling to fathom the whole thing.

On the plus side, with two weeks left in our trip the only way is up!

As some of you may know I’m off to the UK for a month leaving this Saturday! The reason for the trip is my partner is English and she’s a bridesmaid at a wedding and as a result has a whole heap of “girly bridesmaidy” stuff to do… I on the other hand am really just heading along for the ride and have literally zero plans apart from sightseeing and training! So, if you (or your gym) is located anywhere near any of the below regions do let me know as I’d love to come participate or even team teach some classes with you! I do have a car and am able to travel if required.

If you have sent me a message about this before maybe just flick me another one letting me know a date and class time and I’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as I can. You’re welcome to add a comment below or message me on facebook. Can’t wait!


  • July 4-9 Dubai
  • July 9-11 Leeds
  • July 11-13 London
  • July 13-15 Eastbourne
  • July 15-18 Paris
  • July 18-25 Eastbourne
  • July 25-28 Devon
  • July 28-30 London
  • July 30-August 1 Hertfordshire
  • August 2-5 Singapore

Crikey we’re all over the show! The week we’re in Eastbourne (18-25) I can travel around so just give me a bell if you’re within an hour or two (or 3!) from there. Hopefully that all makes sense, thanks so much to those of you that have invited me to train with you so far and looking forward to firming up the dates! 😀

Well it’s not really a world tour at all per se, but I will be hitting a few countries in just over a month and would love to come party it up in a few classes with you guys if I happen to hit your area!

Here’s the plan:

  • July 4 – 9: Dubai
  • July 9 – 16: England; includes London, Leeds, Eastbourne, East Sussex, Dartford, Southampton, Crawley, Hertfordshire, Devon… in fact all over the show! If you’re based anywhere within a couple hours of any of these areas I’m more than happy to take a drive to do a class or 3 (great excuse to see the countryside!)
  • July 16 – 18: Paris
  • July 18 – Aug 1: Back to UK
  • Aug 2 – 5: Singapore

So basically, if you’re based in anywhere above I’d love to come and participate in your classes with you (or even Team Teach if any instructors are up for it) and of course I’ll write nothing but rave reviews – that goes without saying!

I’ve mentioned this on facebook in the past and already had tonnes of offers from instructors and participants alike – it’s so awesome that we’re on big happy family no matter where we are in the world. If I have spoken to you in the past just drop me a line again as I’ve actually got a more formal itinerary made up now and I’ll be able to give you specific dates.

So exciting! Just hit me up below or on facebook – no matter what I’ll be getting in classes every day, and there’s quite a few instructors that I’m looking forward to seeing in action, so if you happen to see a (possibly quite tanned after Dubai!) blonde dude with a Kiwi accent come bowling up into your class in the next couple months or so don’t be surprised! 😉

Launching BODYCOMBAT 44, BODYPUMP 74 & BODYATTACK 69 in the next week so reviews to follow!

One Tribe?

Posted on: May 8, 2010

You’ll have to excuse this post as a departure from my usual fitness related musings – I’m going to have a little bit of a rant about a subject I’ve been putting some thought into over the last few weeks. It’s something that personally I’ve found a little odd given the Les Mills motto “One Tribe”…

Recently, an individual reasonably high up the food chain at Les Mills has been writing a lot of comments in a blog, on the Les Mills forum and on twitter that seemed to be aimed squarely at this blog, and perhaps a couple of the other Les Mills related blogs out there. I won’t name the person writing them, nor link to the blog or the original comments… however I’ll list just a few of them below and maybe you’ll see what I mean;

  • Stay up to date with <blog name> for all the back stage info and private Bodycombat 45 news! ” the real deal”
  • if you would like to find out 1st hand how? why?” when ? we do things, and All that is so exciting about BODYCOMBAT then no need to seek out others.
  • I promise I’ll keep u all updated on <blog name> no need to look any where else. 🙂
  • thank you to all that are helping the “REAL” blog grow

More recently a participant from another country asked myself along with the person above if they could translate my/our blogs for other Les Mills fanatics who didn’t speak English and was told by this same person (about my blog) “These are NOT official lesmills – Information blogs and there for not advised to promote” (bold emphasis mine).

“Not advised to promote”?? I mean c’mon – everyone knows this isn’t an official Les Mills blog. It doesn’t claim to be an official Les Mills blog. It’s a blog written by a guy who started out a couple years ago as a participant, fell in love with Les Mills’ programmes, trained up and started instructing. My enthusiasm took me from participant, to trainee, to certified instructor teaching multiple classes in three different Les Mills programmes every single day of the week – and more recently to group fitness manager as well. I’m just a guy who loves group fitness, and who enjoys sharing my love the Les Mills programmes with others in a blog – why all the competition and drama??

I’ve blogged pretty much my entire adult life about all manner of subjects – from my random musings, to sports supplementation – I even used to have a blog that poked a bit of fun at Tom Cruise and Scientology (that was a laugh – you can read about that here) – blogging is an opportunity to share your thoughts and get others opinions on the same…. for all of us to compare our thoughts and ideas in a supportive environment.

At the end of the day, aren’t we all meant to be ‘One Tribe Changing the World’? I personally know of scores and scores of people who have been encouraged to get into Les Mills group fitness from not only the posts on this very blog – but from the thousands of comments made by other supportive instructors around the world. I personally get messages on my facebook wall almost every day from readers who appreciate being able to connect with other like minded fitness fanatics, and appreciate being kept up to date on all the Les Mills news from here in NZ.

So when I was asked if someone could translate this blog for others to read… of course I said yes! If you want to copy any information and share it with others from here… of course I’ll say yes! We’re meant to be one family, one group – working towards a common goal of Fighting Globesity. We’re meant to be Changing the World, One Class at a Time.

If I were a Programme Director for Les Mills, and I read this blog, I’d think to myself – wow, isn’t it fantastic this guy is so into MY programme! Isn’t it great he’s had over 1.1 million visitors to his blog reading about MY programme. Isn’t it great he’s doing all this free promotion, and encouraging more and more people to do MY programme! Wouldn’t that make more sense than telling people NOT to support this blog? Wouldn’t that make more sense than threatening me with the possibility of legal action? (for posting a track list? The same track list that is actually on anyway?) Why the competition? Why the drama? Can’t we all just get along??

As always love to hear your thoughts…

This is going to be a bit of a random post so excuse the fact it’s a bit all over the show subject wise!

I’ve just spent 4 days out of town – had to travel to the South Island for a wedding and decided to make a long weekend of it. I won’t mention where I went as I don’t want people to put 2 and 2 together (you’ll see why in a minute). Anyway, of course I couldn’t take 4 full days off exercise (heaven forbid!) so we had to search out for Les Mills classes locally and luckily there was a couple of gyms to choose from so scheduled in a combat class one night and a pump the next morning – that also allowed me a chance to take two full days off training which is all good because I’ve not actually had a single day off teaching this year! I also relish the opportunity to learn off other instructors and was looking forward to picking up a few tips. The pump class was good – but it was the combat class that caused me to raise an eyebrow – the reason for which I’ve covered off a couple of times in previous posts (clearly the instructor doesn’t read this blog!)

I’ve posted before that combat tracks are getting longer – and they really are. For this reason I’ve also posted about The importance of planning your playlist – something that’s really imperative as you could VERY easily take a class well over an hour – or by the same token have another that was over in under 40 minutes if you didn’t choose your tracks wisely. Well that’s exactly what happened in this class. There were two instructors team teaching, they started with the warm up from 41 (10 minutes) – track 3 was Poison (closing in on 8 minutes), track 4 was Use Me (6 and a half), track 6 was a 6 minute track, track 7 was 7 minutes, track 8 – 6 and a half minutes (I think you can see where I’m going with this!) – all up including mic changes and switching from CD to iPod (I’m not too sure what that was about!) and the conditioning track started when the next class was meant to begin! To add insult to injury the conditioning track was a 4.5 minuter (there are 3 minutes or even under what were they thinking!) so they had to cut the cooldown short. Regardless of that the next class started over 10 minutes late – something that absolutely infuriates me personally (hmm… does that count as a pet hate or are others bothered by this as well?)

Before I went down the line I asked a question on facebook about what my friends felt was the correct procedure as an instructor; if you were popping along to another gym to do a class is it etiquette to tell the instructor beforehand that you’re an instructor? Is it best to tell them after? Did it matter at all? I honestly had no idea what was correct if anything… (if you’ve not added me on facebook please do as I’m always pitching strange questions like this and I’d love your feedback!)

Turns out it seems there’s no “correct” procedure as I got dozens and dozens of responses and all of them were different. Some felt it was rude NOT to tell the instructor before. Some felt it was rude TO tell the instructor before as it may put him or her off. Pretty much everyone agreed you always follow the instructors lead even when they make mistakes and all agreed that you never precue movements in advance (again I agree here and that does actually take a lot of concentration to do – especially if when on the floor like me you just go into auto mode!) What are your thoughts on the matter? Would love your feedback below.

As it happens because we went straight to the gym from the airport I didn’t get a chance to speak to the instructor before – and because the class ran so late I didn’t get a chance to speak to them after so the point was kinda moot in the end! Still makes for an interesting point of discussion though!

Finally I want to leave with you an image I took on my phone (apologies for the quality) (thanks Marcus for the MUCH better image!) of the poster that hangs directly above the stage at my main gym such that I see it every day. It really motivates me on two levels: One, I just love the phrase “The Deeper you dig the HIGHER the High“. That along with “When your body screams tell it to SHUT UP” just pushes me so hard and in turn I like to think I push my class even harder too! The other reason is that the poster features the lovely Mid… if you’ve not had a chance to experience one of Mid’s classes you’ve got to do it! She just epitomises energy and passion and I every time I’m in Auckland I try to get to one of her classes. In fact I’m in Auckland this Friday for the GFM module and I’m going to head along to her 6:30am attack class… if you’re in Auckland get your butt along to LM City and join me!

Motivation! Mid and "The Deeper you dig the HIGHER the High"

Motivation! Mid and "The Deeper you dig the HIGHER the High"

Once again apologies for the shotgun nature of the subjects in the post – but would love your feedback on any of it!

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