Basically, the Les Mills programs, which also include step, kickboxing, and good old fashioned high-low 80's aerobics, were developed in New Zealand and have since become VERY popular around the world. The choreography and music are updated quarterly. Each new "release" is sent out to instructors world-wide and for a period of time, everyone around the world does the same stuff in their classes. For example, my good friend R is currently in Beirut and he and I have talked about the releases for RPM and BodyCombat. Its pretty cool that we're taking the same classes even though he's on the other side of the world. When he comes back to the US, he'll be able to jump right in without missing a beat.
Its impossible to take a class from any of the Bladium's high-energy instructors without getting sucked into the Les Mills world. The classes and choreography are so well designed that you can't help but feel motivated and excited to come back for more. Yes, they're a hell of a workout, but what makes it so easy to get hooked is that they're FUN. I honestly never thought I'd really enjoy the BodyStep class, but I don't even realize that I'm kicking my own ass because I'm having such a good time. Same goes for BodyCombat and BodyJam. It also helps that the music and choreo change so frequently. Les Mills makes it easy to have a good time while working out. Crazy, I know.
Anyways, on to the point of this post....Every four months, Les Mills holds a Quarterly Conference in various cities to celebrate the release of their new material. One of these conferences just took place in Santa Clara, CA last weekend. Originally, they were only for instructors to get a sneak peak of the new releases, but recently, members were included as well. A large group of ladies from the Bladium all decided to go, and when Brent, one of the Step instructors, egged me on, I joined in as well.
I had no idea what to expect. I knew that it was an entire day of fitness, with classes running back to back from 7am until 6pm, but what exactly did that mean? Well, lemme tell you, this was like nothing I've ever seen in my life! A full stage. Lighting effects. Participants dressed up for their favorite class (like wearing hip-hop clothes for Jam or wearing cammo stuff for Combat). It was nuts! It was like a concert/rave/cardio-fest complete with the rock star program directors (some from New Zealand who had flown in just for the event) presenting the new stuff to about 250 crazed Les Mills
The guy in the blue shirt is Brent, one of the Step and Attack instructors at the Bladium. Although you can't tell from this pic, he is about 5'8" of pure muscle and cheerleading energy. His classes are insanely fun and sometimes silly and he has quite a following world-wide. He is bubbly and sweats sunshine and he's everything you'd expect a former cheerleader to be. I luf him and his gorgeous wife Michelle. The other two instructors in the pic are from New Zealand. I couldn't understand a word either of them said despite the fact that they were speaking English. They were awesome.
So, the rest of the ballroom was totally dark and the only reason this picture came out kinda OK is because the people in it were literally inches away from the stage and the lights. Not sure if you can tell, but try to see how far back the group goes. These pics were taken during Attack, which was the second-to-last class of the day (there were eight in total). A large number of people had already left, and there were STILL this many people there. The Les Mills machine can almost be described as a cult. People were SO into it. Like, they-had-Les-Mills-tattoos-on-their-arms into it.
Oh yeah, did I mention I had a horrid cold on this day? Well, I did. After coughing my way through Step, an hour-long educational session, Flow, and Jam, I couldn't quite handle Attack. Hell, Combat was still to come! I opted to sit out and take pictures instead. About 10 people saw me and immediately shoved their cameras at me so I could capture the class for them as well. Instructors posed for pictures with everyone after the class ended. People were sweaty and not looking their best, but it didn't matter. They wanted pictures with their fitness idols.
All in all, this was the single most wild, crazy, painful, sweaty, and amazing day of fitness I've ever experienced. I'm as sore and as tired as I've ever been, and I think its safe to say I am forever hooked. Wherever I go in the world, I will always have to be near a gym that offers the Les Mills programs. The classes, the instructors, the choreography, the feeling I get from doing them...I have to have it all. I've finally found something I can stick with for life. Now, if only I could get my diet in order...