We started the first day of training with a Masterclass of Bodypump 89. We joined the gym's regular Bodypump class that was scheduled for that time of the morning, so the room was full of people. Someone standing near me asked what a Materclass was and I realized I wasn't 100% sure I understood what I Masterclass was. I didn't know if it meant that you did all the tracks from the same release or if it has to do with the instructors being experts. As enthusiastic as I am about Bodypump, I keep realizing I am still quite a novice. But now, I've Googled it, so I think a Masterclass is one taught by at least one master trainer and that's certainly what my trainer was.
Her name is Evelyn. She taught with the gym's regularly scheduled Bodypump instructor, doing a few tracks and then letting the regular instructor coach a few. Of course, Evelyn demonstrated excellent cuing and what looked to me like perfect form. She had great control of really, really heavy weight. I think she did the entire squat track with 66 lbs. on her bar. It was inspirational to see a beautiful woman be so strong.
I enjoy Bodypump more than just about anything, so I was just jazzed to be there like Guy on Galaxy Quest. I was doing Bodypump with a master, looking forward to a whole weekend of Bodypump with a master. (There have been several days when I have wanted to do Bodypump more than once in a day or two days in a row, but in an attempt to give my body a healthy break between weight lifting, I have refrained. I was actually glad that I would have all the Bodypump I wanted for once.)
We sat through a lecture about the Five Key Elements. A lot of light bulbs came on for me. I've been going to fitness classes on and off since I was a teenager, teaching for some years now, if you add them all up, and all at once I understood why some fitness classes I teach or attend totally flop and others are transcendent. It became clear to me that if I master the basics, I may be able to create transcendent fitness experiences for my participants.
Then Evelyn lectured about technique and we all practiced some of the most common exercises using the bars with regular weight as Evelyn came around and watched and coached us on our form. At one point, she said, "Beautiful!" and patted my back. I about died. I was so encouraged. Anytime I put my bar down, I was making notes about the correct targets like bringing the bar to "mid-chest" or "nipple line" in the chest press, so that I would remember them and I could start practicing them myself and assimilating them into my coaching. A lot of light bulbs came on during this segment for me, too. I made some significant connections about human anatomy and muscular function from the technique lecture and practice. I realized I was doing some exercises wrong in some of the current freestyle, group fitness classes I teach. I felt like I had learned so much from that portion of the weekend alone that it was worth all the expense and trouble already.
We had thirty minutes for lunch. I went out to my Jeep, opened the back, and tailgated in the sunshine. I listened to a song, one that wasn't on the release, just to have a mental and emotional break, and I texted my husband. I told him I felt like I was in the right place, like Les Mills was a group where I would fit in, where I would be inspired and equipped to just keep growing in knowledge and in skill. My husband believes in me more than anyone and he wasn't the least bit surprised a few months ago when I told him I thought I was discovering a life's calling to teach group fitness. We shared the joy for a few minutes then it was time to go back.
After lunch, we had more lecture, this time about learning choreography, if I remember correctly. I didn't get a photo of the schedules, so I can't be sure I am remembering everything correctly, but I think this is how the first day went. Then we had some time to practice alone before we did our first presentation.
While the other participants presented their tracks, the rest of us were asked to do the tracks along with them as if we were the Bodypump class. So we all ended up doing most of the release for a second time that day. We were asked to use role model weights on the track we would be presenting, but we did not have to use heavy weights on the others. I used moderately heavy weights, because I felt strong enough and I enjoy feeling the resistance.
I presented the lunge track. I knew everyone else was probably using moderate weights as I would have been if it wasn't my track to present and I knew everyone probably didn't really want to lunge anymore, but I tried to pull them into the lunge track right along with me. Evelyn filmed and photographed portions of each of our presentations and when she wasn't filming, she was watching and taking notes on our assessment forms that we had to print and bring to training.
We had a short break and then we all sat in a close circle and listened to Evelyn's assessments on each of us and we watched the videos on her ipad. I learned a lot from what she said to me and from what she said to other people, too.
I did well with my choreography and counting and Evelyn said I even got into coaching a little. I had practiced a lot at home and I think that paid off. I made a significant self-discovery during this portion of the day. Evelyn said I did well using my voice and the way she stressed that word stuck with me and made some lights come on in my mind. I had actually been self conscious because I yelled at the end of the lunge track, but Evelyn and everyone else in the group seemed to think that it was totally appropriate that I lost control a little and yelled since that part of the track was really intense and quite painful. I think what I realized in that moment was that even though I can't sing or I read out loud well or deliver speeches, I do have the ability to perform using my voice in a group fitness context. Then I realized I can practice and learn how to use my voice even better as the years go by. In this setting, I am actually already quite a competent performer using my voice, just in a different way. Like a singer at a concert or a speaker at a lecture hall, I can also use my voice in a group fitness class to communicate emotion and inspire and educate and entertain and I can get better and better with practice. That was really enlightening and empowering for me personally because I have always envied those who have singing, public reading, and speaking gifts.
I saw from the video of myself that I lean forward under the weight of my bar when I fatigue in the lunges. Over the course of the two days, I also realized I need to keep my front knee from going forward and I need to drop my back knee straight down under my hip. I need to keep a slight bend in my front knee. I was locking it out at the top of the lunge to rest for a brief second between each lunge. And I need to keep my back straight up and down instead of leaning forward under the weight of the bar. So I plan to lighten my weight until I've gotten my form right then add weight back on in increments. My legs are strong, but my muscles have memorized the wrong motion, so I have to start all over and relearn it. If I remember it right, Evelyn said it takes something like 2,000 reps to put a move into muscle memory and more than twice that many, something like 5,000 reps, to unlearn a move you've learn incorrectly.
And I have two legs!
There was more lecture about the layers of coaching. We were given homework to work on our script and we got out at a decent hour. The sun was still pretty high in the sky, but I was beat. When my loving husband texted me to see if I was okay, I didn't send him any words, I just sent him a picture of the stiff drink I was having at that exact moment. Seriously. Here's a screen shot of our funny little exchange.
I ordered a big, juicy burger and steamed veggies from the grill and drank my rum runner at the bar while they cooked my food. I don't usually even want to drink alcohol, but I think my body was so drained that I was craving the sugars in it. Since it was a two minute walk back to the hotel from the bar/ grill, I knew I would be fine. But I didn't even feel the effects of the alcohol. I think my body just burned it right up like wine poured on a hot skillet when I am making a sauce. My quads really just wanted to be alone once my food came, so I asked the waitress to bag it up and I took my dinner back to the room and ate there where no one could smell me.
After I ate dinner, I decided to seize the day and walk down to Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower, less than ten minutes walk from my hotel. It was a glorious evening, warm, sunny with a little breeze.
I purchased some souvenirs for my kids in shop across the street from Pilgrim Memorial State Park, including some post cards to show them the sights that I had seen and an authentic looking copy of the Mayflower Compact. I got them each a piece of strawberry salt water taffy. I also got one chocolate-pecan truffle for myself from a little chocolate shop right in front of my hotel.
When I got back to my room, I felt that I could not listen to my track or look at my notes yet. So I went for a swim to loosen my muscles. My legs felt like they were turning to granite and not in the sense that they were strong and solid, but in the sense that they weren't moving anymore. It was nice to swim around in the warm water, especially without kids. Not that I don't like going to the pool with my kids. But being alone, I realized that swimming is almost always pretty stressful now since I am always keeping them from drowning themselves or each other or teaching them to swim the whole time. I went back to my room, showered, got into my pjs, organized my stuff for day two, stretched, used my foam roller on my legs, set the alarms again, then laid down with my iphone, my notebook, and my choreography notes to review the track I would be presenting on the next day- shoulders.
We were supposed to work on our script that night, organizing it, and making sure we had layer one and layer two teaching cues in the correct order, but I had already painstakingly written and practiced my script at home days before. Even though I didn't really know what a script was at that point or that I was making one, when I was studying my tracks leading up to this weekend, I knew I just wanted to make sure I was saying everything I needed to say at the most appropriate times, etc. so I wrote it all down and then rewrote it again and then again in the notebook I brought from home. So, needless to say, I didn't have as much work to do on my script that evening. I reviewed what I had already written a few times and I was satisfied that it couldn't really be improved that much more. I kept it quite simple. I only had layer one and two coaching cues in it. I was planning to leave the rest for silence or for any organic things that might come to mind while I was actually doing the track with participants. Laying in bed, I played my music and went through my very basic script once or twice. I had it memorized. Then I played the video of my track and I must have fallen asleep halfway through it because I woke up during the cool down. I decided I could call it a night. I felt confident that I knew my material well enough that I could just sleep.
I'll have to end here and make this a three-part post. Bear with me, you all, I have a lot I am trying to process and a lot I want to write down so I won't forget any detail. After having had this blog since 2009-10, I can already look back see how I have changed as a person and I can even track how one thing in my life has lead to another. Sometimes I look at old blog posts and think, "Wow. That woman doesn't even exist anymore." and I find I am talking about myself. It can be embarrassing when I see that I wrote things I no longer think or believe. But it is also very rewarding and actually builds my faith and hope in the future since I know I am still on a journey and I am still changing even now. Ten years from now, perhaps, when I have proper form in my sleep, it will be fun and rewarding to look back at this post and see that I didn't even know how to lunge at one point.