I’ve been hearing about Les Mills classes and programs for years but never attended one. Now that I’m a group fitness instructor, I find myself looking for other fitness formats to add to my teaching schedule. And Les Mills is one of the formats that I’m continuing to see more and more about.
For those who aren't familiar with Les Mills, he’s a former New Zealand track & field athlete and Olympian. He opened his first gym in the late 60s, and his son Phillip started Les Mills International using his name. They developed high-energy aerobics and strength classes that have evolved into 18 fitness programs. One of these programs is BODYATTACK, which I’ll be reviewing today. Les Mills has over 130,000 instructors worldwide, and you likely have a gym in your area that offers some of their programs.
Luckily, Les Mills now offers Les Mills On Demand, which allows you to do Les Mills workouts from the comfort of your home. There’s a 10-day free trial for all first time Les Mills On Demand users. I’m currently using it to try out some of the programs.
I decided to try BODYATTACK first. BODYATTACK is available as a 55, 45, or 30-minute workout (I opted for a 55-minute video).
Here’s the description of BODYATTACK from the Les Mills website:
"BODYATTACK™ is a high-energy fitness class with moves that cater for total beginners to total addicts. We combine athletic movements like running, lunging and jumping with strength exercises such as push-ups and squats. A LES MILLS™ instructor will pump out energizing tunes and lead you through the workout – challenging your limits in a good way, burning up to 730 calories** and leaving you with a sense of achievement."
I went with BODYATTACK first because it sounded like a lot of HIIT, which is one of my favorite ways to work out. It also doesn’t require equipment, which is a huge plus for someone who enjoys working out at home. I did this 55-minute video in my basement.
Les Mills programs have new releases every 6 to 8 weeks. So, you should expect to see the same classes for a few weeks before the choreography and music change. The release that I did in this workout was BODYATTACK #99. Overall, I really enjoyed it! I found it to be pretty challenging, but they offered modifications frequently. This class is suitable for people at all fitness levels.
Although it was a 55-minute workout, it went by very quickly. The music is really motivating and I could tell that all of the choreography was very well thought out. There’s a lot of running and jumping; if you're looking for a good cardio workout, then you'll definitely get it with BODYATTACK. The video is really fun because you have a group of instructors leading the session. They split up the blocks of the class so that it's constantly changing. The video also shows them teaching to a large group, which helps keep you motivated. I’d imagine that this would be a super fun class to do live!
I would’ve liked to see more modifications for the core track. One of the exercises was a side plank on your arm; this doesn’t feel good for me, so I ended up doing my own core exercises during this portion. This said, I really appreciated the difficulty of the core track.
The session included a very solid warmup and cooldown. Honestly, the warmup was one of the best I've seen in a group fitness class. You truly get a balanced full body workout with BODYATTACK; there are some compound movements like burpees, as well as more isometric movements. Each part of my body got a good workout. I was legitimately sweating after just a few minutes.
While I'd love to try a live class, I felt that the On Demand version of BODYATTACK captured the high-energy nature of the class really well. The instructors all had great energy and excellent cueing. I'll definitely come back to BODYATTACK when I'm looking for a HIIT workout that doesn't use any weights or equipment.
I'm looking forward to trying other Les Mills programs while my On Demand free trial is still active! The regular pricing for Les Mills On Demand is $12.99/month in the US (no sign-up fee). If you're someone who really enjoys home workouts, this is a very cost-effective option. Personally, I prefer live group fitness classes. However, Les Mills On Demand could be a great resource if I find myself in between gyms.
Be on the lookout for more posts reviewing other Les Mills programs! Since I don't have much equipment at home, I'll probably be trying another one of the no-equipment-needed programs next. BODYCOMBAT and GRIT are the two that I'm eyeing!
Have you tried Les Mills On Demand? Do you attend in-person Les Mills classes? What's your favorite Les Mills program?
Let me know your thoughts!
Other posts you might like:
Group Fitness Audition Tips
How I Became a Barre Instructor
How I Passed the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Exam
The purpose of this post is to explain how I got certified to become a barre instructor. I’m hoping that it’ll be helpful for anyone working toward a similar goal. Enjoy!
So, I teach barre at a local gym here in New Haven, Connecticut. Becoming an instructor wasn’t a cakewalk, though. There were a few hurdles to manage along the way.
If you decide one day that you want to be a barre instructor, the first thing you should do is figure out what type of gym or studio you’d like to teach at. If your goal is to teach at a franchise like Pure Barre, you’ll need to research their training requirements. Pure Barre, like many other barre studio franchises, requires that their instructors receive training through their franchise and in their specific method. The best way to learn about these requirements is to contact them directly.
When it comes to training, there are hundreds of barre instructor certificate programs out there; I researched quite a few of them before making my decision. I ended up choosing Barre Above because both the timing and location of their upcoming training were ideal for me. Originally, I was planning to travel to New York City for training. So, I was glad to find one much closer! Pro tip: Barre Above adds new training dates every day. Be sure to check their website for sessions near you.
There are also several online barre instructor certificate programs out there, but I would strongly advise against these. I don’t think anyone can be an effective barre instructor without a hands-on, in-person training experience. It's not just about getting the job, you also want to be a great instructor who can deliver safe and effective classes to participants. While an online class may be more cost-effective, I strongly recommend at least one day of in-person training.
I would’ve loved to attend a multi-day training (mostly available in major cities), however, these can be pretty cost prohibitive. Some cost thousands of dollars, which I wasn't willing to spend. The Barre Above program was $269.99, which I think is on par with other one-day specialty certificates.
Here are the details of the training:
It's a one-day, 8-hour live training. Prior to attending the training, you’re asked to complete two online modules (one on barre biomechanics and the other on musicality). While completing these beforehand isn't absolutely necessary, it’ll help you get the most out of your training day. You’ll need to complete them eventually if you want the full 12 credits for continuing education (1.2 ACE credits). Barre Above CECs (Continuing Education Credits) are accepted by all major Group Fitness Instructor certification programs. It’s a huge benefit!
The course was from 9 AM to 5 PM on a Saturday. The schedule was packed; we had very few breaks. And we spent the whole day in a fitness room. Our training included a full 75-minute workout and about 120 minutes of practical work. Having nutritious snacks to stay fueled was a must!
This training was actually my first time taking a barre class! I wasn't the only first-time barre attendee there, either. A lot of the trainees were already teaching another group fitness format, like yoga or Pilates, and wanted to bring barre classes to their studio.
During the training, we also spent time going over the history of barre, the Barre Above method, and best practices for a class. We learned about effective cueing, proper form, and the makeup of a barre class. At one point we broke out into smaller groups and created 10-minute warm-ups. When your group presented to the entire room, each person in the group had to lead a portion of the warm-up. This was my first time EVER teaching! Even though it was just a few minutes and this wasn't a real class, it was nerve-wracking!
This experience is one of the many reasons I recommend in-person training over an online certificate program. It’s helpful when your first time teaching is in front of a group of people you don't know, who aren't actual class participants. Teaching to family or friends just isn't the same! I was really grateful that I got this moment out of the way during training instead of during an audition.
They crammed a ton of content into this day, and I loved every second of it! It was great being able to network with the ladies in the training. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next group fitness instructor position through someone you meet at a training!
I ended up getting my first barre instructor position just a few weeks after the training. I’ll be writing a post all about that very soon, including tips on how to land your first group fitness instructor job.
Overall, I was very satisfied with the Barre Above training. Although it was just one day, I felt equipped to choreograph and teach an effective barre class afterward. Experience is the only way to really hone your teaching skills, but I found this training to be thorough and affordable. Our master trainer keeps in touch with us via e-mail and lets us know about upcoming opportunities like trainings, conferences, and job openings.
I also purchased the year-long Barre Above Elite membership after my training. It gives you access to monthly choreography releases, which include both videos and choreography notes. Each month, a few videos are released with different types of choreography. I often pick series that I like from these videos and incorporate them into my classes. Super helpful!
There are hundreds of barre instructor trainings out there. They all vary in cost and level of instruction. Do your research and find what works best for you. If you’re looking for a place to start, I highly recommend Barre Above as a thorough and affordable option. I appreciate that I can teach anywhere (with the exception of big corporate franchises like Pure Barre) rather than being limited to a specific brand or studio. With franchises like Pure Barre, you’re given specific choreography and music that you memorize and teach. I’m not knocking that format at all, but I prefer designing my own classes and having the freedom to teach something new each time. But go with whatever works for you!
Have you attended a barre instructor training? Did you feel prepared to teach after the end of your training? What are your thoughts on pre-choreographed versus classes you design on your own?
Let me know what you think!
If you liked this post, check these out:
How I Passed the ACE Group Fitness Instructor Exam
Group Fitness Audition Tips
Les Mills Bodyattack Review
I’m so excited to say that I'm officially an ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor! The days of studying for and stressing over this exam are finally over. I'm writing this post because I want to share the story of how I passed, in case there’s something you can take away from it. Keep in mind that what worked for me may not work for you. Everyone is unique, and different things will work for different people :)
The first step I took toward getting my ACE certification was selecting a study program. I chose from 3 programs that ACE was offering at the time: Pro Essentials ($299), Pro Plus ($449), and Pro Advantage ($599, but currently discounted to $449). ACE often has sales and promotions, so be on the lookout for pricing changes.
I chose the most inexpensive option, Pro Essentials. This option contained the bare minimum: exam registration, one practice test, the eBook, and the ACE Digital Classroom (chapter quizzes, videos, etc.). The two more expensive options included extra practice tests, a free exam retake, and additional study materials.
I went with the cheapest option for a few reasons. First, I have a science background; I took anatomy/physiology in both high school and college. While I had forgotten most of the material, I knew I'd only need a refresher for the anatomy part. Second, I had confidence in my ability to study my butt off and pass the exam on the first try. Third, the thought of spending almost $450 for a self-guided study program and exam seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I wasn't willing to pay more than $299.
If you're new to basic human anatomy, new to exercise, new to nutrition, or not a good test taker, one of the more expensive options may make sense for you. I didn't excel on the exam by any stretch of the imagination… But hey, I passed!
I had to renew my CPR/AED certification before I could register for the exam. They make it so that you can't register for the exam until you have your CPR/AED certification with a live skills check. The cost of this certification isn't included in the cost of your ACE study program, so be sure to factor that in.
I got my CPR/AED certification on February 23rd and registered for the April 6th exam date for a couple of reasons:
I tried to spend about one to two hours studying on most days. I read the entire book, watched the associated videos, and took the chapter quizzes. You HAVE to read the entire book and watch EVERY video! It's important that you don't skip over the videos; many of them cover information that isn't in the book. You don't want to miss out, especially if you're a visual learner. I found some of them very useful.
Be sure to read the explanation for every answer on every single quiz you take. These will be your most important takeaways from the quizzes. They'll help prep your mind for reasoning through the questions you'll see on the actual exam. I took most of the quizzes more than once, and I read through the explanations each time. The explanations also tell you where you can find the relevant information in the book. Take advantage of this! Use it to go back and study what you struggle with.
I took my practice test a few times and read through the explanations each time. Along the way, I took notes on anything I still needed help remembering. Some of the questions from the exam were the very same questions I saw on my practice exam and the quizzes.
I also spent some time on Quizlet studying flashcards that other people made. If you look up "ACE GFI" on Quizlet, you'll find tons of flash card sets from previous exam-takers! Unless writing things out helps you remember them, don't waste time making flash cards. The "Learn" feature on Quizlet is a Godsend. Use it until you feel 100% comfortable with the terms!
In my opinion, these are the most important areas to focus on in preparation for the exam:
This is NOT an exhaustive list; these are the topics I found to come up on the exam the most. You should be comfortable with as much of the material as possible!
Don't rush through the exam. Take your time. There are 150 questions (only 120 questions count toward your score but you don't know which ones!) and you have three hours to complete them. I finished in about two hours. Be sure to get lots of rest the night before and eat a nutritious breakfast.
I also did some last minute studying the night before and the morning of my exam. There were a few questions I definitely wouldn't have gotten if not for that. But do whatever works for you.
If you already have a personal training certification, the anatomy and exercise science sections might seem easier for you. However, you'll still need to understand the material on the class environment, which is very different from training one-on-one clients!
I’d imagine that many of the people who take this exam specialize in one or two group fitness formats. For example, you might teach (or want to teach) Les Mills, Zumba, aqua fitness, Tabata, or cycling. I'm a barre instructor, but to pass this exam, I had to know the basics of some other formats.
I found that ACE uses a lot of examples from cycling, step, and aqua fitness. For example, it was important to know the correct water temperature for an aqua fitness class and who that type of class suits best. You'll also need to know things like the proper BPM for music in a mind/body class like yoga or pilates vs. step or cycling. Even if you never plan to teach a cycling class, you'll need to know the proper bike setup! Remember that if ACE mentions it in the handbook or videos, you should know it (even if it doesn't apply to your format of choice)!
Ultimately, I didn't find the exam difficult. If you know the information, there's no such thing as a "trick question". However, it's A LOT of information to absorb. Give yourself enough time to read all 13 chapters and learn the information. Unless you're already a fitness expert, this exam is not something you can prep for in a couple of days. Even if you consider yourself a fitness expert, there might be new topics or topics you should brush up on. Don't wait until the last minute to start studying!
Do you have an ACE exam or another group fitness instructor exam scheduled? Are you interested in becoming a certified group fitness instructor? Have you taken the ACE exam? Any questions about the ACE GFI exam that I didn't answer? I'd love to hear from you!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
If you liked this post, check out these other ones!
How I Became a Barre Instructor
Group Fitness Audition Tips
Les Mills Bodyattack Review
Dominique Cheylise, 25 year-old engineer and group fitness instructor.