As gyms try to entice adventurous exercisers with classes of all kinds, some are gaining more popularity that others. BodyPUMP, which is coming up on its 20th birthday, is now available in over 10,000 gyms across country. With its legion of fans, not to mention its integration of weights and cardio, this method seems like it must work, right?
BodyPUMP, an hour-long group class that employs 10 short bursts of muscle-targeting lifts, curls, and squats, accompanied by varying musical tracks with an adjustable barbell, has potential practitioners and fitness bloggers running in circles about whether or not it’s actually as effective as its parent company, Les Mills International, claims. Some studies point to pitfalls that may render it ineffective, including inattentive or overwhelmed instructors, the potential for poor (or even harmful) form. But the fact is, there just isn’t that much research on whether or not, over a long duration of practice, BodyPUMP helps folks achieve the lean muscle gain and fat loss they’re looking for.
And yet, there are thousands of men and women who, every day, attend their BodyPUMP class–and look great because of it.
I’ve been attending a BodyPUMP class fairly regularly for the last four months, and I’m pretty hooked. A runner at heart and in practice, I joined because a trainer told me he was concerned I wasn’t lifting, and thus, growing weak. Which was true. And while my inaugural PUMP was definitely a more fun way to spend 60 minutes than plodding along on a treadmill or hoisting kettlebells alone, it wasn’t the series of killer lunges and tricep-blasting curls that sold me–it was how amazing the women in my class were.
Strong, powerful and in great shape, the class’s regulars, whose ages ranged from the mid-20s to the 60s at least, were repetitively hefting weights that I could barely carry over to my bench. And as I kept going to class, I felt myself getting stronger, too. I didn’t lose any weight for the first month of two–but I was burning fat and seeing definition that I didn’t think was possible. My core started firming up from the dynamic method’s full-body movements and balance requirements, and I even saw changes in area that some folks focus on for years without getting results.
BodyPUMP probably isn’t gung-ho enough for power-lifters or those who like a little extra cardio, though the weights are variable, and thus, allow for a lot of customization of the workout. And, like with a lot of group fitness, many practitioners who don’t see results are the ones who don’t hit their peak endurance potential. But as a supplementary way to get some weights into your workout, BodyPUMP, for those who stick with it and give it their all, seems to be pretty effective–at least anecdotally.
Don’t let the science scare you off. If your gym offers BodyPUMP, give it a shot. It may not be the “fastest way to get ripped” or whatever its creator claims, but adding a little smart lifting into your routine may turn out to be something you totally love.