Monday, January 24, 2011

Program Development

Something I've been thinking about lately is program development. It's interesting how at this current point in time, 4-5 releases are, in some form or another, "active" if you will. For example, with Attack right now:

  • Attack 70 is the most recently launched release at my club. Granted, we seem to be one of the last places in the world to launch new releases, but we still market 70 as the "newest release" as of this writing.
  • Attack 71 is set to launch in 2 weeks. I pretty much have the entire thing memorized. This would also be the release performed at the most recent quarterlies here in the USA, and the new posters are being hung, teased, etc.
  • Attack 72 was filmed in early November, and is in the final stages of post-production. I received my "30 day notice" from my agent for autoship about a week ago.
  • Attack 73 is set to film in 11 days. This means the entire routine is pretty much finalized, the presenters are about to head to New Zealand for rehersals, and things are nearly ready to go.
  • Attack 74 (I'm assuming) is currently in its infancy, with music selection in the works and initial ideas on choreography being written in pencil.

I can't imagine the life of a Program Director. They never really get the chance to teach old stuff it would seem, since probably a good portion of their teaching is devoted to trialing and refining the new stuff. I suppose it never gets boring, but I would miss my back catalog!

Attack 72 Tracklist/Poster, 73 Presenting Team

News has started to hit the web! Included below is the BodyAttack 72 Poster and Tracklist (courtesy of Glen Stollery at* and the BodyAttack 73 Presenting team.

BodyAttack 72:

Warmup: California Gurlz – Club Madness
Mixed Impact: Starstruckk (Kris McTwain Remix) – Star Wipe
Aerobic: Hammer To The Heart – Freedom Seekers
Plyometric: Move It – Rhythm Twins
Upper Body Conditioning: Drummer Boy – Alesha Dixon
Running: Saturday – Starburst feat. TT
Agility: It’s On – Amanda Myers
Interval: Like A Rainbow – ReCon & Demand
Power: Do You Love Ya’ Hardcore? – Northern Accelerators
Lower Body Conditioning: Club Can’t Handle Me – Chani
Core Conditioning: Start Without You – Alexandra Burke feat. Laza Morgan
Cooldown: One Day At a Time – Mondo Libre

BodyAttack 73 Presenting Team:
  • Lisa Osborne (Program Director)

  • June Anderson (New Zealand)

  • Bevan James Eyles (New Zealand)

  • Nathan Jones (Australia)

  • Mid Thomas (New Zealand)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What just happened???

I had to write about this very briefly... Yesterday I took my regular Attack class at the Chandler club at 4:20. Mondays are the one day a week I participate, so I dedicate myself to do all high that day. I've been doing all high on my appointed days for the past 2 months or so, and it's made a huge difference on my fitness levels.

So I go to my class, and start going. I don't know what happened... maybe it was just an off day! But I was dying during track 4!!! I had to drop to low for most of the track, and didn't recover until 6. I then pushed myself hard during the 2nd cardio block (I kinda had to... I shadowed track 8 and taught track 9, both of which were unexpected) but man, I only had about half the energy I normally do!

Maybe I wasn't getting much sleep, maybe I ate the wrong kind of food for fuel... but it was like none of the past 2 months had happened! Does anyone else have a problem with this? Was it just an off day or should I worry?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

BodyAttack 101: 02 Mixed Impact

"The bridge between the warm-up and the real BodyAttack action!" -Lisa Osborne

Ahh track 2... so you're warmed up, you're probably panting a bit already and thinking "Wow... what have I gotten myself into?" Fear not fellow Attackers! You can do it! Just take a deep breath (literally), have a little faith in yourself, and get ready for the work ahead. It is here that we begin to gradually progress the body from the warm-up to the aerobic training zone.

How do we do this? We use a mixture of low-impact and high-impact moves. This track is the perfect place to start showing options. As you perform the low-impact moves, you can emphasize that they either stay with the low, or... and then show the high. There's lots of options for different movement patterns, and usually any "complicated" choreography will appear here. Because of the low-impact, there's a bit of room to focus on coordination and technique. Mixed impact is fun. It's usually early enough in the class that they start to feel the highs of aerobic exercise without feeling quite so exhausted. Track 2s are considered Aerobic under the new 3D structure.

Along with the warm-up, track 2 featured a small section of stretching up through release 56. I'm not sure why it was taken out, my guess being it restricted music selection because of adding extra time in for the stretch. One interesting point: One of my favorite instructors usually teaches warm-ups and mixed impact tracks from the same release almost every class. I've adopted this for most of my classes. It'd be interesting to ask Lisa if she designs the different tracks within the same release to work together. For example, if you work the heartrate hard in track 3, maybe track 4 focuses a bit less on heartrate and more on coordination? In any case, I keep 1 and 2 together, and I usually also keep 10 and 11 together.

So, without further delay, here's my top 10 favorite Mixed Impact tracks.
  1. 64 - Don't Give Me Your Life - My favorite!!! The song is so catchy... it makes me want to push myself into third gear even though this is only track 2. Usually if this is on, I work out more in third gear anyway. Plus you've got the L-step curl which I love, and the U-step curl which I love even more (probably because I can actually do it!) The ending is a little long, but overall it's a really fun song and challenging choreography.
  2. 55 - S.O.S. - This one is great for participation from the members. Everyone knows the "Oh! Oh! Oh!" line. I also love the gallop square which is the main focus of this track. It's very repetitive, but this track introduced the gallop square so the point is to help them learn and feel comfortable with it. It's a fun beat and a very popular song.
  3. 46 - Oh L'Amour 2003 - This is one that I love because of the song. The choreography is pretty standard for a track 2, but has a nice mixture of different moves. Again, there are 3 identical rounds with running/arms, curls, and gallops, and then a fourth round that's entirely different with a side-flick square. I'm pretty sure in track 2s, the last round being different is in order to push the heartrate fully to the aerobic zone.
  4. 65 - That's Not My Name - Another popular song (and another case of me liking the remix much better than the original). Another opportunity for attitude PLUS the return of one of my favorite moves, the side tap. Side taps apparently were much more prominent in the earlier Attack years, and have since been sorta phased out. But it's a fun move that's cool looking and provides variety. The track also shows the gallop square! This is a shorter one, so make sure you keep your track times in mind when mixing.
  5. 66 - Womanizer - YES!!! The song was one of my favorites when it came out, but I didn't really expect it to make it into Attack. It's a fun remix that has the heel dig (another rare track 2 move that I love), and an arm combo at the end of the song. The end is long and repetitive which is why it's number 5 and not number 2 on my list. Also, the intro of the song is a partial fade from the 66 warm-up (Just Dance) and it's noticeable when the 2 of them aren't paired, so I always teach them together. It's a fun and butt-kicking combo that powers you into track 3!
  6. 57 - A To The B - 57 was the first release where track 2's changed, with the stretching taken out. Even though it's a personal favorite of mine, I'll be honest in my comments. I feel like it's a bit too complicated for beginners. There's lots of different moves... curls, L-step curls, heel digs, side flicks, gallops, and even a leap-frog heel jump. If you don't cue it correctly as an instructor, it's a nightmare for beginner Attackers. This is one that most instructors at my club don't teach much. Despite all of this, the song is fantastic (it's also in Pump - and oddly enough, I've never taught that version) and it's overall fun and worth a go in front of the right audience.
  7. 47 - When You're Looking Like That - I just started teaching this 2 weeks ago because I didn't have the music until then! I REALLY like the song... it's very different from most track 2s in terms of the music. It's not a techno remix, but an original version of a pop song. The choreography is standard, although you start with a gallop which isn't the norm. A nice variation on the music, and a fun song at that.
  8. 62 - You Keep Me Hangin On - Another crowd favorite. This song has been around forever, and the remix is close enough to the original that people know what song it is. We get requests for it a lot. The chorey is standard, but there is a slight play on the L-step curl where it becomes more of an L-step hop. I sing along to this one, which makes me push myself harder. Good times!
  9. 54 - Hung Up - Who doesn't love Madonna? The remix is HOT!!! Similar to A To The B, there are LOTS of moves, but the combos are better organized and easier to follow. It has the side tap (yay!), running/arms, side flicks, and a telephone move that's used for fitness magic. Again, not many teach it at my club, but I like it and break it out for variety.
  10. 61 - Don't Mess With My Man - Similar opinion to the warm-up for 61. I think Lisa was trying to do stuff she'd never done before when she wrote 61, because most of those tracks are quite different from the average choreography we see in Attack. And that's the exact reason I like this track. I don't teach it unless requested because I can't play on the lyrics as a male instructor, but I enjoy participating. There's a gallop-repeater knee combo that's a lot of fun! Plus Kendall presented it on the DVD, and hey... she was one of my Attack trainers. How could I not love it? :)

Mixed Impact is a good opportunity to showcase options and cater the class to all individuals. Reminding participants that they can take the class at their own level, and continue to have fun with the music and people before you're too dead to do so! :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

BodyAttack 101: 01 Warm-Up

"It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it." -Nicholas Sparks

Let's talk about warm-ups. I'll admit it... it's my favorite track to teach, and is almost always the first track I learn when I get a new release. I think part of the reason why is because I'm not having to focus as much on technique and breathing. I'm less fatigued which means more time to think about smiling, saying hello, and just having fun with my class. One thing I've always said is I'm extremely picky about warm-ups and cool-downs. I am a firm believer that the beginning and ending tracks need to do something very specific for the participants, and even for the instructors for that matter.

I like music that's either fun and uplifting, or makes me want to move. Top 40s are always good, and stuff that hasn't been remixed too badly. The music of most of the late 40s and early 50s releases are a bit too choppy and remixed. Choreography-wise, most of the warm-ups are fairly standard and contain the same moves as mentioned in the Overview. This, I would assume, is proven to efficiently raise the heartrate, provide a bit of a stretch for the body and get the mind interested.

One thing that should be noted is that up through Attack 56, the warm-ups and mixed impact tracks all featured a short section of stretching. I'd be interested to ask Lisa why it was taken out, as I really enjoyed it. Maybe the theory is that people are stretching on their own, or the stretch in the beginning wasn't helpful enough (it was rather short). Some studies I've read indicate that stretching before isn't really necessary, but I've found this to be highly inaccurate for me personally.

Here are my top 10 favorite warm-ups (Attack 46 forward):
  1. 46 - If I Could Turn Back Time - It's also my most played ITunes track at 213 plays. I would arguably do this warm-up every single class if I could. I love everything about it. The intro is perfect, starting off on a very bouncy/happy, yet active, beat. There's enough time to hit play, turn the volume up and get back in front of the class (from an instructor's point of view). It has a really good mix of commonly seen warm-up moves (including my favorite... the squat-tap), and the combos aren't too complicated. The outro of the song is also perfect... the music lifts right at the end, which the choreography matches right on. My ONLY complaint about this warm-up? It's also the shortest at 4:04. If they would've added on another verse or another chorus and bump up the time about 30 seconds, it would be perfect. Still, I always know it's going to be a good class when we start off with this warm-up!
  2. 66 - Just Dance - The remix used is just sexy and the artist used to cover the song sounds pretty similar to Lady GaGa. This warm-up is dark, which is a contrast to most of them, and ordinarily might dissuade me from teaching it. In this case, the beat is just so good that it makes you want to move regardless. Lisa amazes me with her innovation sometimes. Here, she shows two different moves at different times, then puts them together for a combo. In addition, there are 3 sets of repeater taps/knees that build up the intensity. Just a sexy song that makes you want to move.
  3. 58 - High Enough To Dream - This is one of the longer warm-ups, but just by looking at the title, you should be able to tell it's a fitting song. It definitely has an electro sound to it and a funky background vocal... I've always wondered what they were saying! Heavy focus on the grapevine. This track also raises a question I've had for a while... it has 3 rounds, with the first 2 being identical, and the last being completely different. Of course, this adds variety and works something different, but is there a specific reason why they decide to change it up completely during round 3? Attack 71 track 9 does the same thing, which I've been rehearsing for launch, which is what brought it to mind. Regardless, it's a great warm-up and you truly will be High Enough To Dream!
  4. 57 - All Over The World - I find myself jamming to this song in my car all the time. The lyrics are, once again, fun and warm-up appropriate. You work in each corner of the room, then the outro has an entirely different move than the rest of the track. There's a bit of jumping right at the end, which makes it a bit more high impact than the rest of the warm-ups. But if you're ready for "a party all over the world", this one is for you, and is one of my favorites!
  5. 71 - One Love - Another darker sounding warm-up (similar to Just Dance, and oddly enough... one of the combos from that track is back in this one). The song is not your typical "happy-we-can-do-it", but more of a "we-can-fight-through-the-pain-and-make-it". This message is TOTALLY applicable to a lot of people in the group fitness arena, so I feel it's a bit more real, and the darker sound is a nice contrast. This song also features a fun "walk-it-up"/grapevine combination.
  6. 56 - Paul McCartney - Simplicity with a fun disco-beat. The focus in this warm-up is the tap repeater. There are 4 identical rounds with only 3 moves each, and there's a fun arm combination that changes in the later rounds. It's a fun opportunity for some fitness magic moments, and lots of room for drilling technique in the repeaters. If you ever wanted to do a 70s/disco themed class, this warm-up is ideal.
  7. 70 - Feels Like A Prayer 2010 - SUCH a fun remix (I actually like it better than the original... don't hate!) This one is a real crowd favorite, and there's lots of room for play on the lyrics. There's some fun innovation with the "walk it up" where you move to one corner of the room, then the other. The choreography progresses naturally and in a fun way, with round 3 putting the different sets of movements together into one big combo. This one gets requested a lot, and we did it for 2 extra weeks after launch, so it will be around for a while!
  8. 65 - Everywhere - Michelle Branch always was one of my favorite artists. I will admit to two things though... 1. This warm-up grew on me over a long period of time and 2. I liked it much better once I started teaching. The beat is a lot of fun, but doesn't start with a bang. The grapevine is back, and lots of people know the song and sing along. 65 is often among people's favorite releases, so it makes sense that this warm-up is popular.
  9. 69 - I Gotta Feeling - As soon as this song hit the airwaves I hoped it would become a warm-up, and I wasn't disappointed! The lyrics make for the perfect introduction to a class. The remix they use is really good, and of course I'm happy that the squat-tap makes a return after an extended absence. There's a fun repeater/step-touch combo. Once thing that I don't necessarily like is the ridiculously long intro.
  10. 61 - Faith - I actually really like this warm-up. It's a bit of a different song and has different choreography than most of the warm-ups. It's a bit tricky... with a side-step/tap combo and some armlines that haven't been used since the mid 50s (or since). But the song is fun and it's a different feel which allows for some variety. Unfortunately, I think because it's different, it's not used much. Since I started at my gym 2 years ago, it's only been taught twice in the Attack classes I've been in (that I haven't taught). I like the lyrics and it's one that I throw in for "something different". Check it out!
The warm-up is the place to smile... to grab your participants and pull them in. Make them forget their troubles and help them prepare the body and mind for the work ahead. We've all made an intentional decision to be there, in that room, together. The warm-up also sets the tone for the rest of the class. So ask yourself... what kind of class are you going for that day? Is there any theme or mood you're going for in particular? For example... I always teach Proud from 52 when The Biggest Loser premieres, and challenge my class to work a little harder. Bottom line: bring your best foot forward, and get your class moving!

Friday, January 7, 2011

BodyAttack 101: An Overview

What a fantastic morning of all things BodyAttack!!! I team taught a great class with 34 amazing people, 2 great instructors and a lot of calories burned! Now I've got some of my favorite Attack music playing and getting ready to study some new stuff. I've been meaning to write this particular post for a while.

This one is for those of you who have never really taken Attack before, or just a refresher/101 type class for the rest of us. I'm going to break down the class and give an overview, and then following this I'll be doing posts about each individual track. Hopefully you'll get a bit of an understanding of what each track is, what the class objective is, and just have a good sense of what Attack is all about.

As stated on the Les Mills website:
"BODYATTACK is the sports-inspired cardio workout for building strength and stamina. This high-energy interval training class combines athletic aerobic movements with strength and stabilization exercises. Dynamic instructors and powerful music motivate everyone towards their fitness goals - from the weekend athlete to the hard-core competitor! Like all the LES MILLS programs, a new BODYATTACK class is released every three months with new music and choreography."

That's actually a pretty good summary. But let's break it down into a bit more detail. BodyAttack is a 55 minute, 12-track, 2-peak cardio class with conditioning/recovery work between each peak, and at the end. The breakdown is as follows:
  1. Warm-Up. This is where you get your feet moving and start bringing the heartrate up. The movements are all low impact, and are designed to warm up the entire body. A typical warm-up includes step touches, tap and knee repeaters, step curls, squat taps, grapevines, and "walk it up"s.
  2. Mixed Impact. This track serves as a transition, moving the body and the heartrate from the warm up to the aerobic training zone. A mixture of low and high impact movements are used. Some of these include step curls, gallops, flick kicks, and some jogging with punches and side arm movements.
  3. Aerobic. Your heartrate is now in the aerobic training zone. We sustain this heartrate for the rest of this track, and the majority of track 4. The movements are all high impact (with low impact options available). Mainstream track 3 moves include single knees, double knees, crossover knees, the Superman (signature Attack move), shuffles, flick kicks and Attack-style jumping jacks.
  4. Plyometric. Your first cardio peak! The heartrate stays in the aerobic zone, with a push right at the end to take it up one final notch! This is like the last 5 minutes of the first half of a game. You push through, but you save some for the second half. In track 4, we feature the plyometric lunge, high knee runs, squat jumps, touch downs, and more!
  5. Upper Body Conditioning. Active recovery for the heartrate along with some moves designed to strengthen the upper body (chest, arms). This is basically the push-up track of the class, and man do you do a lot of them! Both tricep and chest pushups are used, and there will usually be another stabilization exercise used such as a plank, a one-leg/one-arm extension, etc.
  6. Running. A team run! This track's objective is to bring your heartrate back into the training zone while providing some group energy and interaction. The class will do some running in a circle around the room, and then break to meet in the middle using the "Run & Reach". Other moves include single knee lifts, shuffles, knee crossovers, arm-cross combinations, etc. This is meant as a team run, not a race.
  7. Agility. Sports drills training at its finest! The class splits in half facing each other, and specific sports moves are utilized for improving speed and agility. Typical agility moves include ice skaters, 3-step hops, shuffles, shuffle runs, and hop curls, among others. The focus is less about endurance and more about sports skills, being agile and quick.
  8. Interval. A good old-fashioned aerobics track featuring knees, kicks, flick kicks, "run & reach", and more. The idea is to have 3 rounds... each time pushing the heart rate a little bit higher. Similar to the Aerobic track, this is the penultimate cardio track... pushing the heartrate up and setting us up for the finale.
  9. Power. The final cardio peak! This is the last 5 minutes of the game... where you bring everything you have and push the heartrate up to its limit. High knee runs are common, as are heel jacks (my personal favorite attack move), tuck jumps, jump jacks, air jacks, knee repeaters, and etc.
  10. Lower Body Conditioning. Bring the heartrate down while working on the legs. Squats, lunges, and repeater knees are the most commonly utilized moves.
  11. Core Conditioning. Who wants a 6-pack? Core strength is the key to a lot of success in fitness and this track never disappoints. Abdominal work is utilized featuring crunches, leg extensions, pilates scoops, oblique crunches and twists, etc.
  12. Cool-Down. Keep your body working for you by indulging in a well deserved stretch. Take a deep breath, and work on lengthening and conditioning the muscles and bring that heartrate back down to resting. Most importantly, leave the class feeling empowered, stronger, and fitter!

Overall, this class never fails to challenge my fitness level, and has worked wonders for my cardiovascular fitness. One of the key sayings we use is that BodyAttack is designed to help us "Get fit, Stay fit, and Get fitter!" Are you looking for a new challenging fitness program for 2011? I have something you might enjoy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The BodyAttack 3D Evolution

Yesterday I participated (did not teach) in my first full BodyAttack class of 2011! I had done the 71 DVD on my own on Sunday after work, but that doesn't really count as it's not a live class, and I spent all of track 5 trying to fix my left shoe to help with a new injury... More on that later.

The instructor did a couple of tracks from an older release. They were fun and mostly challenging. It's always nice to see something new, or something you haven't seen in a long time. Keep it fresh, see the program evolution, etc. The thing that really stuck out to me is that Attack has definitely gotten, and is continuing to get, harder. Now this isn't new information... even since I trained a year ago (crazy how time flies!) the releases have gotten progressively more challenging. Heck, Attack 71 itself is 58 minutes long... about 2 minutes longer than the average class. I couldn't be happier about it for the most part. It helps me to push myself... aim higher, and what not. But going back to a release that is 5+ years old, you can absolutely see that the program is more intense and just at an entirely new level from what it used to be. I recently learned Viva Viva, which is the combined leg and ab track from release 46. I love it, but comparing it with the leg and ab tracks from 71... night and day as far as difficulty. The nice thing about it is that you've got lots of contrast to work with. Maybe one week you want to have the class focus on a really challenging second cardio block, and give them a little recovery in leg/abs. That option is definitely available.

This brings up the new direction Attack has taken over the past year or so. Lisa has introduced a new concept called BodyAttack 3D. The basic premise is that Attack has come a long way since the leg warmer-headband-Jazzercise aerobics days of the 80s and early 90s. It is no longer "an aerobics class". There are now 3 unique dimensions to the class... Sports, Aerobics, and Strength (SAS!) The sports tracks are specifically designed to attract athletes into BodyAttack. They help build cardiovascular endurance, quickness and agility on the feet, and overall fitness. The idea is for the instructor become a sports coach during these tracks, leading a team through a sports game. The strength tracks are designed to tone and strengthen the upper and lower body, with one track focusing on the chest and arms, one track focusing on the legs, and one track focusing on core strength. In these tracks, we become trainers, pushing our class to pump harder, burn longer, and just shred out. Finally, the aerobics dimension remains true to the original essence of the class. This is where you yell and woohoo, kick, and just have fun.

I don't really feel like this new development is such a dramatic change for the program. It puts, on paper, what the class has been doing for the past few years at least. It includes clearer guidelines, and gives instructors the material necessary to reach a broader group of people. Overall it's always been a little challenging to describe exactly what BodyAttack is when potential participants ask. What I've always said is "it's like sports and aerobics got together and had a party." This kinda makes that official!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1 down 364 to go, A note about Team Teaching

I hope everyone is having a fantastic January 1!!! I wanted to give kudos to everyone who had a successful first day of the new year and got a workout in. It was slightly bittersweet for me personally. For the past 5 months I taught my first ever class of my own, BodyPump, at noon on Saturdays. With a change in my work schedule, I have to take an extended break from teaching that class. So I went today, and my class was double the size it had been during the holidays. It was fun to see my regulars and get the workout in, but I will miss them! They sure are dedicated... I never set foot in a gym on Saturday until I got that class, save the occasional Saturday morning Attack class.

On top of it all, I've been sick the past 3 days, and I could definitely feel my body's lack of energy. I was pretty drained by track 4, and dying during 7. But guess what folks - I did it! You did it... We did it! Whatever your story, whatever the thing that could've easily derailed you on day 1, you fought past it and made it happen! For those of who you didn't, you still have 7 hours or so (at least from where I'm sitting!) Get up and make something happen!

I'll be posting some more factual and helpul things specific to BodyAttack here coming up, but I wanted to take a second and talk about something that's been bugging me for a long time. For those of who you are lucky enough to have your own classes, and have people ask to team teach with you, do everyone a courtesy and give a response. Even if you say no, that's far less frustrating then getting no answer at all. It's darn rude. I personally have altered or rearranged plans to allow for the option to teach, only to not receive any response. As far as my end goes, I obviously no longer do that. But really... just take a second and say "Thanks but I'm good to go for the week." Or whatever. Common courtesy is never wasted, and very much appreciated.

Happy New Year!