Y’all. I LOVE my Body Combat by Les Mills. If you haven’t tried it before, you should. I know what you’re thinking; “It looks completely insane!”, “I’m not really into kick boxing or even that coordinated, so this isn’t something I would like”, or “Body what? Les who?” So let me start from the beginning for those uninitiated with the Les Mills brand.
Les Mills started in New Zealand a couple of decades or so ago, and their mantra was that they wanted to help fight obesity across the world. Noble, I dig it. The company was started by a guy named, wait for it… Les Mills. And it’s a family biz, but it’s gone global and viral and you basically can’t go to a gym anywhere that doesn’t offer Les Mills classes. That’s where I discovered them. The classes range across all types of workouts from a yoga / mat Pilates spinoff they call “Flow”, to a strength training class they call “Body Pump”, to a spin class called “RPM”, and essentially everything in between. I really dig Les Mills because you can go into a class with a specific purpose, like “I need to burn 600 calories in the next 50 minutes” or “I really need to focus on building some lean muscle”, and you can essentially pick which class to attend based on that desired outcome. Also, the routines that are set to awesome music which help you forget you are working out, and the group fitness aspect keeps you motivated. At least it helps me feel better when I can see my neighbor is straining just as much as as I am… Les Mills workouts can be as hard or easy as you make them based on your effort and the amount of weight you use. The instructors in my experience are really good about showing you alternative techniques if you need them, like low impact options if you have a bum knee like me.
So, now that you are schooled on what Les Mills actually is (and no, I don’t work for them I’m just a huge fan because it works), I can tell you about why Body Combat RULES. Again, you can take live group classes or try to buy the DVDs somewhere online. Les Mills quit selling their DVDs through Beach Body (for some reason I’ll never understand), so you have to buy them second hand or see if you can find some free videos online. You can find it easily enough on eBay or somewhere if you look (I tried and found some for sale with a quick Google search) and trust me, if you decide this is up your alley then it’s worth it! I provided some pics of the workouts from my DVDs below, so you can get an idea of what you would get should you decide to go with the DVD route. The group classes are also super fun and I enjoy doing those as well, since they are always changing up the routines and the music every month or so.
So here’s why I love this workout:
1. It’s Easy To Learn. They start off slow to really warm you up and help you nail down the moves before you have to kick it up a notch and really dig in. That helps a lot when you’re first starting out, and it helps you know what to expect for that segment of the workout. Also, they have one person in the group always doing low impact alternative moves in case you’re not one for all the jumping around and need another option.
2. The Segments are Achievable. Each workout is broken down into segments that work different parts of your body. So you’ll do the warm up, then you’ll do an upper body segment, then legs, then core, back to upper, and so on. Each segment on the DVD version is timed and counts down backward so you know exactly how long you have to hang in there before you get a little break. But the same thing applies to the live workout, you just don’t have the clock counting down in front of you. Rest assured, there is always a break around the corner for you to catch your breath and grab some water. Knowing this really helps you to stick each segment out until the finish, and also knowing you’ll get a break on your legs and move on to arms or core in the next segment helps too.
3. Strength + Cardio= Winner! You are working on your strength by using your body weight while simultaneously burning like 100 calories every 10 minutes you work out. They sneak in squats and lunges often, with lots of arm movements. And you can punch or kick a bag if you have one, and /or use weighted gloves to add some extra load during the punching routines, like these:
4. No Skill Required. You DO NOT have to be an MMA fighter to do this workout! You don’t even have to be very flexible or coordinated (trust me and I can tell you this from experience…). The moves are easy after you’ve done it a couple of times, and they build on each other in various combinations to keep things familiar but exciting. You don’t have to kick high or punch hard, at least not at first. Just put in the effort and you’ll get rewarded for your hard work in the end.
5. It’s Kind of Badass. Seriously. They combine muay thai, boxing, karate, kickboxing, kata, and all sorts of other things I am sure I don’t know the name of. This is really cool, because you get to learn moves and different kinds of fluidity or control that’s required in many various styles of martial arts. Each of these works your body in a different way, plus it’s great practice for self defense!!
6. The Music. The music is cool, high energy, and helps you to keep your rhythm and stay psyched up to be in the workout. I’ve done the DVD workout so that much I mute their voices on my favorite tracks. Since I already know the moves I just love to crank up the music and kick some ass!
7. It’s FUN!!! Had a bad day at work? Kids annoying the crap out of you? Traffic got you all jacked up on the way home? Combat is what you NEED (hello street brawl punch!!). Even if you’ve had a good day, it feels good to jump around and punch the air, or a punching bag if you have one!
Combat for me is a huge motivator to go get my workout in for the day. If there’s a class near you and this sounds like something that would get you in the mood to work out more, go check it out! If you’re intimidated at first, don’t be. You’ll catch on right away. If I can, believe me so can you. Just mention to the instructor it’s your first class and they’ll give you special attention until you are comfortable with the moves.
If you’ve never tried Body Combat or Les Mills, go give it a whirl! I’ve included a video below from one of my recent DVD workouts. It’s from a 45 minute one, but I reduced the video down to 10 minutes (I know still long… just fast forward through to the good parts, they’re each divvied up with a title section). I only included what I thought would give you an idea of what it looks like to take a class, and based on my red face just how many calories you can burn!
(PS: I look at the camera several times but I’m not checking myself out I promise!! Just making sure I’m in the frame! 😬).
Do you have any favorite, super fun workouts? Let me know in the comments below!