I've discovered that I really like writing reviews, more so than I like picking favorite tracks. I'm sorry for the lapse in the 101 series, and hope to resume it soon. But now, my long overdue review of Attack 75 is here! And not a moment too soon, as I will be debited for 76 in just under a week!
When I reviewed BodyAttack 74, I commented that it was "a step in the right direction". If that was the case, then 75 was one small step for Attack, one giant step for Attackers all over the world. I absolutely love this release and could not be more excited to be writing this review. I'm jumping the gun a little bit, but the anticipation started the moment I first watched this DVD, and by the time the first launch class came around, the energy was off the charts. It was hands down the funnest class I've ever been part of. Wanna know more? Let's dig right in!
As I've said before, I understand that everyone is different and has different tastes. It is not uncommon for me to find myself slightly at odds with some people on the Les Mills forums. We often differ on opinions, but I have to remember that some of these people have been Attacking a lot longer than I, and the program used to be very different. With that said, I could not believe when I was reading about 75 and some people were commenting how much they didn't like it. 75 is, hands down, my favorite release we've ever had since I started Attacking (Just to give you an idea, 64 was the first release I launched as a participant, and I moduled on 67. But I have every release dating back to 37).
I will admit this release is very well tailored to my personality. It lends itself largely to my teaching style, and almost every song on the playlist lit me up and inspired me to try harder. Bottom line... it's just fun. I remember in AIM discussing the essence of the program and how each program is different. There's this really cool diagram where they show the spectrum of member needs and where each program falls. I can see Attack 75 falling a little bit closer to Sh'Bam then most releases. I have not ever been an avid Sh'Bammer and don't plan on it (truth be told, I have no business in any dance class!) But when I think of Sh'Bam, I think fun, and when I think of Attack, I think of hard work (please don't read too much into this statement...) One of the forum comments I read was that 75 was way too easy. I don't think it was too easy, but I will admit it was easier than releases like 66 and 74. However, as I've said before, if it inspires me to work harder, then what difference does it make?
Let's talk about the music. As of this writing, I have taken or taught 75 in its entirety 8 times, and I am nowhere close to tired of 10 out of 12 songs. With this release, I didn't even feel like I was working out until track 4. The first three songs are like big party. High energy, tons of smiles, and even if you can't always sing along due to fatigue, you wish you could. To me, this is the absolute perfect example of the Aerobic dimension, and I think Lisa was really smart to use 3 really well known top 40 songs in a row here.
Track 4 is a bit funky, but it serves as a nice contrast to the high energy we've just built in the Aerobic tracks. After we finish the first cardio block, we've got a really sexy/gritty upper body track, and the energy picks right up again. The running track is a remixed Cascada song, and I pretty much love everything she does. I was undecided about Agility when I saw the playlist, but the choreography took care of any doubts I had (more below). I didn't like track 8, although I like it better than 71,72,or 74 (more below). The power track really grew on me. Lots of people have said (and I agree) that the song would've been a great choice for the interval track. I do see their point, as it's got that emotional high we're all looking for in 8. Even so, I don't feel it was a poor choice for the power track.
And then... we have the leg track, which was the absolute highlight of the release for me. This leg track is hard (more below), but the song has pushed me to try my absolute best every single time we've done the release, and I've noticed definite changes to my body as a result. The core track is good, but not noteworthy for me. And the cooldown... didn't like the song, and that hasn't changed after teaching the release for two weeks.
There's tons of innovation here. The warmup sees the return of a long lost arm combo that we haven't seen since BA56. It sets the tone perfectly for "the party" you're about to experience. In addition, we see the return of the "walk-it-up" combo from 70, where you walk to one corner, and then the other. I wish this had been introduced earlier in the track, as it felt a bit out of place by the time you get to it in the final minute of the song, but it's still fun. Track two is an absolute highlight. Yes, BodyAttackers everywhere get as close to Sh'Bam or BodyJam as we ever will by doing a modified Running Man (and then a legit one). This track just goes off. Every time the song starts playing, the crowd roars, and every time we get to the final block with the travelling running man, everyone busts a move (even me... the tall white boy who has no business doing so!)
The aerobic track is fairly cookie cutter for the first two blocks, although we do get the return of the diamond arms, which again, I love (I have this soft spot for difficult moves that I'm able to get... I think it makes me feel smarter or something). The third block incorporates a running combination which is similar to 74, and I like how the final block meshes the first 3 together. It feels intuitive and well organized. I do hope we get some more Aerobic tracks in the future that are like 70 and 72 (in that they are completely different from most Aerobic tracks... I like variety).
The plyometric track is not as hard as 74's was, but it is still challenging... for the mind too! There's a fun single skate-jump combo that was difficult for participants, but I appreciate the variety and challenge of something new. I find it interesting that the past two plyo tracks have had really hard blocks in the very beginning of the track. I wonder if this is intentional or an experiment, or just due to the music? We have walking burpees again in this release, although they are different in the sense that it's a 1 burpee-4 pushup combo as opposed to doing all burpees then all pushups. I've decided that one thing I don't like is going from a burpee into a wide-stance for chest pushups. I think this lends itself too much to injury.
Running has lots of shuffling, and then we do this fun robot-direction-switch combination near the end (similar to the running track in BA54 where you change directions mid-round). Agility is fantastic! I thought Lisa did an amazing job of integrating baseball training... the moves are convincing and fun to do, and the track is really challenging and a great leg workout. (One idea I took from this track was: in future baseball themed releases, do base running in the running track, where you'd run in a diamond shape instead of a circle.)
Now let's talk the interval track... sigh... The song would've been a good choice if every other word wasn't Falling. It's too repetitive. The choreography is basically two different squares and double knees, but I thought it fit nicely as an interval track. The power track is really good. It's on the easier end of the spectrum (probably the easiest one we've had since 69), but I really like the variety of moves. You start off with heel jacks, then high knee runs to the corners a-la-BA64, and then jacks. THEN, the diamond jump from the BA69 agility track makes a surprise appearance, which I think is really fun and again, adds variety. Add more jacks, then side-step-jumps. The third block adds 6 tuck jumps, and then repeat portions of the prior combo, but this time to the front instead of the corners. And finally, we finish with the annoying high-knee-crazy-fast-sprint that I hate! Other than that, I like the track and the song drives me to work harder.
THE LEG TRACK!!! Baseball training comes back in this track, and again, Lisa did it brilliantly. We start with side lunges like BA58 has, and then it modifies into a front lunge to the side. THEN, we layer in an oblique twist, and finally it progresses into a baseball pitching move. The final round is a catcher-style move where you go into a deep deep squat and transfer your weight from side to side, and then do 7-count squats. So fun, such a great song. Cannot say enough good things about it, and it's definitely my new favorite. I've noticed a huge difference in my body since this one came around, and I've probably tried harder in this one than I have in the past.
Abs are hard... again... with bicycles and 3-pulse crunches. The cooldown's choreography was cool. Sweeping arms are back, but the chorey is still simple enough for me (I hate learning cooldowns...).
Lisa brought her A-game here. She taught 1,2,7,9,legs,cooldown. This is exactly what I taught the first time I taught the release. It was really fun to see her teaching style change in each dimension. Bevan, as always, was great (he taught 3,5,6,abs), and I can't wait to take classes from him when I go to New Zealand. I loved the small tribute he gave Lisa during the aerobic track. (One thing that I don't understand though, is after how many years of doing this, he still starts on the wrong lead leg about 50% of the time. I guess we all have our Achilles' heel!) Tomas (I think that's his name) had the same challenges a lot of non-English speaking presenters face, but I did notice how crisp his technique was. He moved pretty flawlessly, and I thought he did well enough with his two songs (4 and 8).
I seriously will find writing 76's review very difficult, because I love this release so much. It will be very very difficult to top this one. Most of these songs are in my repertoire to stay, and I would imagine a lot of them are new crowd favorites (in fact, I hope they don't burn-out-by-request). Lisa, you are amazing!