TTTG part 2: BODYPUMP. Someone make the soreness stop

Last time in Tara Tours The Gym, I told you that my gym features several of the Les Mills fitness classes. The first one I went to was BODYSTEP, but the most popular and the most famous of the Les Mills classes is BODYPUMP.


This is what it looks like. Except I am not as fit as these women and I sweat 100% more.

BODYPUMP has the most rotation at my gym at least, and apparently everyone except me has heard of this class. While most gym classes are about cardio, BODYPUMP is about strengthening and pumping muscles with weights. Hence the PUMP. I was apprehensive about this class because before I went to it my friend Melanie told me, “I was so sore after that class that I thought I was sick.” And my coworker said, “Oh God, I was so sore after that, I like, died!” and lastly my dad said to me, in a dark and foreboding tone: “I’ve seen that class, it’s…demanding.”

For those of you out there who are saying, “Well duh Tara, it’s BODYPUMP! Everyone knows about that class.” Well, I didn’t. Before this project I had never taken it, and I had no idea what it entailed. All I knew was that it was the most popular class at my gym.

When I got to the gym there was already a long line in front of the studio, and everyone looked like they had done it before. By the way, I’ve recently come to realize that I’m not dressing properly for the gym. All the women were beautiful and fit, and they were all wearing yoga pants, and the kind of tank tops that you can tell are bought specifically from the “Work out attire” section of target. My gym wardrobe is like, “Hey, I have these PJ pants I don’t really sleep in anymore…and I’ve got this shirt that they gave me when I donated blood. That works for the gym right?”

Finally the class before ours ended, and everyone began rushing around the gym with a sense of urgency and purpose that made me feel very out of place. There are a lot of props that go into BODYPUMP.  I found out that you need to set up a step, then get a mat, then get weights and a bar. Seeing the step from BODYSTEP again terrified me for a moment because all I could think was, “Oh God, this is what BODYPUMP is, they are going to make me jump over and dance around this step, and lift heavy weights above my head, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. I’m going to kill myself, it’s for sure this time.”

new years

My parents should use this as my obituary photo. Underneath it will say. “Tara was TARA-IFIC. She will be missed.”

Luckily, that didn’t happen, the step was just something for us to sit down on. But back to the weights portion of this class. I had no idea how much weight to put on my bar, but I didn’t want to hold up the class, so I went for 10 pounds on each side, and then grabbed two 5 pound weights to put on later. I decided to start small so that I wouldn’t wimp out during the middle of the workout, especially since I had no idea what it was going to entail in the slightest. I felt really embarrassed later though, as I watched all the petite, yoga-pants-wearing women hefting around heavier bars than me.

halloween tall

Don’t let my large frame deceive you, my muscles are actually made of marshmallow fluff.

Then the class began. This workout is definitely all about strength training, and much less about cardio. There was a lot of squatting with the bar, lifting the bar over your head, laying down on the bench and doing presses, etc, etc. The idea is that every major muscle group gets used. And everyone in the class seemed really serious about what we were doing. Like sometimes after difficult sets, when the instructor indicated that we were done everyone would yell and fling the bar to the ground with a loud, dramatic thunk. Like, I started getting the feeling that I wasn’t grunting enough.


I guess this is how we’re all supposed to do it.

I definitely had to really work in the class. Just like in the BODYSTEP before, I started sweating immediately into the class, and didn’t stop until we were done. There were parts where I couldn’t do what everyone else was doing. I’d have to rest for a rep, or just do a different variation.

Finally though, the class ended. My muscles felt abused.

Actual serious thoughts about the class:

Everybody was right, this class was pretty intense…but not from a cardio perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I sweated, but I sweat at the slightest provocation. Cardio classes are my favorite, because I just feel like I’m burning more calories. I feel like I need to do this again though. I’ve always heard that it’s important to have a mix of cardio and strength training in a fitness regimen. I wouldn’t ONLY do this class, but it would be something good to work in my routine once or twice a week. I need to work on my muscle strength. Which I know because…

What was sore afterwards: OMG EVERYTHING. ARMS. LEGS. ABS. MAKE IT STOP.

Will I go again: Yeah, at least once. Especially since they have like 4 of these classes everyday at my gym. Like I said, it’s popular.

And that is all for today. Come back for the next installment, where I find out that Pilates is an exercise class, and NOT a fancy dessert!



Tara Tours The Gym, or TTTG Part 1: BODYSTEP!!! Where I trip a lot.

Back in September my coworker Josh busted his hamstring working out at the gym, and was gone from work until December. Please don’t judge me too harshly, but I MAY have made fun of him about it just a little bit. The thing is, he was always updating his facebook with ridiculous,girl-baiting gym status’s like:  “Middle finger up to my competition”, “Change is Opportunity, don’t be afraid to create your own opportunity” And, “I want to go train at the Mecca one day.” So after he busted his hamstring working too hard at the gym I MAY have said something like, “HA. He won’t be posting those inspirational, girl-baiting quotes now.”

Well, that was definitely not good for my karma. During this step class at the gym I kept thinking, “Tara, if you fall off this step and break your ankle, the guys at work will never let you forget it.” This week I tried BODYSTEP, and I kept stumbling off of the step. Like you know those moments where you land on your leg in such a way that you know that you came THIS CLOSE to twisting your ankle? That probably happened 10 times during the class.

Why did I do this you may ask? Well, at the beginning of this year I decided that one of my projects for this blog would be to try out all of the available group classes at my gym

gym schedule

That BODYATTACK has me a little nervous…

The first class on my list was something called Les Mills BODYSTEP. Les Mills is a company that exports gym class routines to gyms around the world, and apparently my gym LOVES them. There is BODYPUMP, BODYSTEP, CX WORK, and BODYATTACK. They all appear in the gym schedule like that, with intense, CAPS LOCK font. So whenever I look at the schedule I imagine a buff gym instructor shouting the titles at me. There are even more programs that my gym doesn’t feature including BODYVIVE, BODYJAM, and Sha’Bam!…whatever the heck that is.

I decided to go to BODYSTEP first. The description said that the work out would make me feel, “liberated and alive!”

zombie me

Pictured above, “liberated and alive”.

Basically what BODYSTEP entails is a raised step on the floor that one dances around, jumps on and off of, and of course, steps on. Picking this class as my first class might have been a mistake. I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret, I am not very coordinated. Or graceful. Or athletic.

taras blog10

Shockingly, this child did not grow up to be an athelete.

First of all, this class involved a lot of step movements that are meant to be performed while looking at the instructor, and NOT looking down. I stumble frequently, even when I’m just walking normally. I know, pretty much EVERY woman claims that she’s clumsy, but I have actual reasons. It’s just harder for taller people to have good balance. That’s why you never see 6’3 gymnasts.

male gymnast

Believe me, if he was 6’3 I would have found him by now and proposed.

 Once during a gym class in 8th grade there was a day where we were going to do “tumbling activities.” When I stepped up to the mat my gym teacher took one look at me and said, “You can just sit this out if you want.”  So it should go without saying that complicated foot work doesn’t come naturally to me. During BODYSTEP I kept having to do balance checks. Including when I was just standing motionless at the end of the workout doing stretches. Every time we would do a complicated step I noticed that after watching me struggle in vain the instructors would go, “OR, a second option is to just do this…”

I’m just too tall, there’s no getting around it. The instructor would tell us to walk across the length of the step and it would take me like, one step. Also, the people behind me in the studio were probably annoyed because they were trying to watch the instructor, and there’s this giant woman, panting and waving arms wildly in front of them.

And Jeez, I sweat so much. We had “step partners” during this class, and we had to switch steps a couple of times. I kept hoping she wouldn’t notice the drops of sweat all over my step.

Also, I feel so bad, I forgot my partners name! She remembered mine immediately. In the middle of the workout the instructors told us, “Switch, and say hi to your partner!” So she’s like, “Hi Tara!” and I’m like, “Hi….” Then later after the workout I held the locker room door open for her and she was like, “See you later Tara!” And I was like, “See you later….you” Then later I realized that I was accidentally following her in the parking lot, and I had to be stealthy so she wouldn’t turn around and give me another greeting and make me feel guilty for not remembering her name a THIRD time. I wanna say it was Bethany. But it’s one of those situations where I’m afraid to say it in case it’s like, “Hey Bethany!” and she’s like, “My name is Veronica.”

The work out was pretty challenging, even some of the cool down stretches were hard for me.  And in the middle of the stretch the instructor would say, “OR, if you need a challenge, do it like this.” And I was like, “A CHALLENGE! Me not collapsing on the floor and gasping like a fish is a challenge!”

Actual serious thoughts about the class:

There really were times where I was worried I might break my foot or something, but that’s not the class’s fault, I’m just not graceful. Also, the step isn’t really narrow, but all of the other women in the class probably had size 8 feet. I have size 13 feet, there’s not as much room for them on one narrow step! The class itself was enjoyable and challenging when I wasn’t frustrated from stumbling, or almost falling over. This is a great workout if you want to work on toning your legs. Obviously the cardio is great, but the leg toning is what you come to this class for.

What was sore afterwards: My calves and my abs were sore. So you get an ab work out too, which is nice.

Will I go again: I think I might. I still have a lot of classes to try out, but once I’ve done them all I think I might try to work this one into some kind of rotation. The leg toning aspect of it really appeals to me. Also, when I left the class the instructor was really encouraging, she told me I did a good time for my first time, and that it gets easier as you go. Also, she gave me a tote bag!

my triumph

My triumph. Please, for the love of God, ignore all the sweat in this photo.

 One last final thought: I got blisters on my palms during a STEP workout. Yeah, figure that one out.