Monday, February 8, 2016

Les Mills BodyStep Training Review

Kia Ora!

That's the Les Mills way of saying hello. I finished my very first Les Mills training last weekend. Yep, after 10 years of teaching, I finally drank the Les Mills kool-aid. And it's pretty damn good kool-aid.

Before I get into the review, let me provide some context for the post.

I've been teaching 10 years and have done a variety of specialty trainings and workshops (Werq, Zumba, P90x, Insanity, RIPPED, Piyo, Turbokick, YogaFit, etc). I have my AFAA Group Exercise, Personal Training, and Kickboxing certs. I've taken a variety of "skill development" one day workshops for continuing education (Pilates, Step, Strength training, HIIT). Even with all of that experience...BodyStep was still a challenging format to learn to teach.

No, I don't know everything and I'm always open to learn new things. I still maintain that new instructors would benefit from a general certification before specializing--even in Les Mills. A basic cert provides a basic understanding of WHY and HOW fitness companies create choreo, basic anatomy, and what exactly the benefits are of a "3 peak cardio workout" like BodyStep.

Les Mills does not require this basic foundation cert. I'll admit, a LOT was covered in the two day workshop (as I'll discuss below). However, a basic certification will make it easier for new instructors who are struggling with hearing the 32ct. beat, safety, and cuing. I still stand firm in my recommendation to go get a general certification first and I'd recommend that for any training or fitness teaching.

Please don't misunderstand my opinion. I'm NOT saying that Les Mills-only instructors aren't prepared to teach. For sure they are. I'm just recommending to new instructors that a basic cert will give you a foundation to make your Les Mills training easier. *end of opinion*

Okay, let's dig into the training details...

Day 1

I happen to live about 7 minutes from where the training was being held. This NEVER happens with fitness trainings and so I was jazzed that I was going to be able to sleep in my own bed at night! After arriving, I met our presenter, Stephanie. If sunshine was a person, it would be Stephanie. She was a fantastic presenter (and all around human being) and she put us all at ease. We did our introductions (yay public speaking!) and then did the traditional Les Mills "handshake" where you touch foreheads and noses with everyone in the room and say "Kia Ora [insert your name]." Talk about breaking down barriers immediately! (side note: I'm TOTALLY doing this with my Communication students!)

We went over the 5 Key Elements that make up BodyStep. Next was the master class, where we all got to do the choreo from start to finish. Then a break to talk about choreography. Stephanie had this awesome red light/green light system to let us know when to refuel during lecture or break. Green = FOOOOOOOD. RED = MOVING. It was a great reminder to eat and drink water! Please excuse the horrendously out of focus pic. I tried to snap it at the end of the day and my hands were shaky! It was a great idea that all presenters should use! I've been at trainings where you don't know what the break situation is!

Please excuse the blurriness. My phone camera can't handle low light!

After the choreography overview, we worked on our step technique, going over every move that's done in BodyStep. After moving for two hours straight it was nice when our 3pm break rolled around and we discussed coaching. The coaching overview was an excellent reminder for me personally. Les Mills has coaching broken into three layers. I've been teaching so long that it was hard for me to separate the layers out. I'm also going to say right here that Stephanie's notes and visual aids were FABULOUS! They were interactive and fun to follow along with!

Three Layers to Coaching

We practiced coaching and ended our first day! I went home and ate tons of pasta, had a glass of wine and CRASHED.

Day 2

Day 2 Schedule

Day 1 had NOTHING on the physical demands of Day 2. We started the day with a fun "Family Feud" style review game to help us remember the stuff from yesterday. Again, I can't emphasize enough how contagious Stephanie's energy was. Seriously was hard waking up that morning! Then we talked about the requirements of certification. You have to film yourself within 60 days of your training, for example. Speaking of filming...

We jumping into teaching each other our assigned tracks while Stephanie filmed and critiqued us. So basically we went through the whole workout. Afterward, we watched our videos and discussed the feedback as a group. This was helpful for me because listening to the critiques of others gave me perspective on what I can also do to improve. Not gonna lie, my feedback made me super starry eyed. Just gotta learn to space out my cues (and not talk so much).

My eval :)

After critique, we did a little more practice of our moves/cuing and then it was BODY STEP CHALLENGE TIME.

Other Les Mills instructors at training were telling me that the challenges are usually brutal and designed to test your limits. This was just that.

We went through the Athletic Circuit track THREE times. With sprinting up/down straddles in between each track. For those not familiar, the Athletic Circuit is a series of three cardio/strength intervals designed to peak the heart rate. In this season, the track is (MINUTES) long.

By then end of the 2nd time through the track, I wanted to die. cry. pass out. But I didn't. And we made it. It was a good reminder of how our new participants are feeling when they take an intense class. It's been a lonnnnnng time since I've been pushed to that point, so it felt good to find my limits. I definitely feel like I could work harder in my personal HIIT workouts!

After the challenge, we got a chance to eat and change clothes. Then we did a fun "Survivor" style game where we faced challenges (push up, balance, arm wrestle, etc.) to find the greatest "Step Survivor." The game was a much needed mental/physical break.

Our last lecture of the training came next and focused on Performance. After lecture, it was one last practice run-through then time for our final evaluation. You could get a 1/3, 2/3 or 3/3. A 1/3 is "pass pending" meaning, you need more practice. A 2/3 and 3/3 is "Pass." I ended my day with a smile and a 3/3!

OVERALL: This was definitely in the top three trainings that I've ever done in terms of usefulness and fun. Also, it helps that Stephanie was a fantastic presenter, and that's key for really selling the format. I've done trainings where the presenter was just okay, and it didn't get me pumped on the format. Stephanie's positivity was so contagious that after training, I was like, "I WANNA TEACH THIS ASAP!" Never a dull moment in training, it moved quickly, and it was nice to meet so many awesome peeps!

Tips for training:

--Bring lots of snacks as there really isn't time to go get food.
At some trainings you have an hour break to go drive somewhere for food. This isn't that type of training. It's non-stop all day. Snacks help keep you fueled and don't weigh you down. I packed things like fruit, hummus and pita chips, Quest bars, granola, yogurt, sandwiches.

--Eat a good breakfast.
It will power you through the morning sessions.

--Bring a change of clothes for Day 1 and TWO changes for Day 2.
Day 2 is more strenuous. I didn't change on Day 1, but Day 2, you are DEFINITELY going to want to change after the challenge.

--Bring back up pencils/pens.
I made this rookie mistake on Day 1. I forgot my bag with extra pens/pencils AND I forgot my printed out forms. So I had ONE pen and I lost it within the first half hour of training. Don't be like me :)

--Absorb the info.
If this is your first training EVER, take lots of notes. If this is not your first training, take notes on the stuff you find relevant/important. Absorb what you can. For experienced instructors, this training is a great refresher on teaching and cueing.

Absolutely practice your choreo before the training and memorize your track. My best advice is to watch the DVD and listen to the track over and over to hear the changes in music. Having it memorized will save you time and stress during the training.

--A note to those, who like me, are experienced in freestyle step but are taking the BodyStep cert:
The hardest learning curve for freestyle step instructors in getting this cert, will be learning the choreo and how Les Mills wants you to preview/precue 8-16 counts before the move. Also, if you have taught freestyle step, throw out any traditional terms before this training. Les Mills has their own lingo for step moves. They are pretty straightforward (and in some cases, simpler) terms, but it still takes some adjustment in calling a "shuffle turn" a "shuffle cha cha" for example.

Today I'm team teaching 75% of the class for the first time! Wish me luck *fingers crossed* Anyone else done the BodyStep training and have advice to share?

1 comment:

  1. Great Post Laura! I did BodyAttack training 4 1/2 years ago...and I agree the Kool-Aid is good. The training is really good and you feel ready and excited to teach the class! Makes so much more sense to me to have the choreography and music before the training so you can be comfortable with it during the training! I also agree having a general certification (mine is ACE) is helpful for beginning instructors to have a platform of basic information before specializing in areas or techniques!