This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Friday, September 03, 2004

Body Pump with John

I was first introduced to Body Pump seven years ago in Hong Kong. My sister & I spent a summer there, and we both joined California Fitness where my brother was a member. We went to the gym almost every morning, and did Body Pump around 3 times a week. Body Pump is a choreographed muscle endurance workout that incorporates the use of barbells with adjustable weights to work different major muscle groups in the body. It became so popular, that Reebok developed a competing copycat program called "Rep Reebok". I tried Rep Reebok last year. It paled in comparison.

The first time I tried it, I was in so much pain afterwards that I couldn't bend my arms for two days. But I loved it. I had finally found a weight-lifting format that I enjoyed. Lifting weights can be fun when it's choreographed to blood-pumping music. Also, Body Pump is one of the few group exercise formats that men feel comfortable doing. In fact, I met the actor Michael Wong (Russell Wong's brother) in a Body Pump class! I enjoyed Body Pump so much in fact, that I jokingly told mom I wanted to become an instructor.

Fast forward to today, and I really have become a group exercise instructor, although I don't teach Body Pump... yet. They introduced it at Palo Alto Family YMCA this year, so I'm toying with the idea of becoming certified in Body Pump. It's a controversial topic at It's extremely popular with members but some instructors think that the format is too rigid. Unlike Turbo Kick, you have to follow the choreography EXACTLY - you can't do an extra set of something, and you certainly can't substitute one move for another. The real kicker, however, is that the music isn't 32-count, so you have to memorize the transitions via brute force.

I took John's Body Pump at Pacific Athletic Club (PAC) today. It was was recently introduced there, and is tremendously popular. It's in such high demand that classes are often full. PAC has dealt with this by establishing an online signup system where you can put your name down for a class up to two days in advance. If the class is full, you have the option of being waitlisted in case of cancellations. There is a $10 fee charged if you reserve a spot, and don't show up without cancelling.

Class was good even though John wasn't as dynamic as the instructors I had in Hong Kong. I liked the fact that he paid a lot of attention to form, described what participants should be focused on, and walked around throughout class correcting form. The music was motivating, just as I remembered, but now that I teach, it's painfully obvious that the music isn't 32-count. It must take a lot of time and effort to learn a routine. I wonder how long it would take me to memorize a Program Release? Sue, the group ex instructor at Palo Alto Family YMCA, says it's hard, but gets easier over time. The more often you teach it, the easier it is to learn the material. If you only teach one class a week, she suggested taking somebody else's class as a participant to become more familiar with the music and transitions. That's a great idea.

Taking Body Pump is a humbling experience for me because it's so hard. It reminds me that I need to significantly improve my musclular endurance, and muscular strength for that matter. Each song (track) lasts about five minutes, and those weights feel staggeringly heavy by the third or fourth minute. The actual exericses have not changed over the years. Same ol' dead lift, dead rows, chest press, etc. done at various tempos: singles, two up two down, super slow (four up four down), three up one down... I aim to take it 2-3 times a week and become RIPPED!!

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