Confessions of a ‘Pump’ Addict


So Dee is so obsessed with her “Body Pump” class I had to find out more.

What is this ‘Pump’ – how does it work?

Pump (scientific name: Les Mills BodyPump) is a strength conditioning class that involves weights, a bar, and a step. The format of each class is 10 ‘tracks’ (songs) that target a specific area/muscle group and you vary your weights accordingly. It goes: warm up, legs/squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, legs/lunges, shoulders, abs, and cool down. Every couple of months, there is a new ‘release’ – most often it is just new music and mixing up the choreography. It doesn’t change dramatically release-by-release.

How did you first come to do Pump?

In October 2011, I joined GoodLife as part of the ‘get fit’ regime for Jess and James’s wedding (Jess and Jess were already members). The very first time I took a Pump class was at the Morningside gym with the Jesses; I remember thinking it was all so complicated and was completely exhausted by the end of the class. Unfortunately, we had decided to do back-to-back classes and the yoga instructor must have thought I was the worst participant ever because my legs were shaking so much it was almost impossible to do the downward-facing dog, etc. I am pleased to say it has become much easier and I can now lift more than 2.5kgs without having major aches the next day.

How often do you Pump, and are you obsessive about it?

I try for three morning classes a week. And yes, at least a bit – but if you stop for more than a few days it really hurts getting back into it! Admittedly though, we have found ourselves talking about our favourite tracks in the new release, and what sort of weights we’re using at the moment more often than is probably healthy. Oh, and I guess having Pump-mares (see below) is a bit obsessive.

Tell me about your favourite instructor, and why is he/she so special?

That would have to be Donald, who takes the Tuesday & Thursday morning classes at Bardon. He’s hilarious, and motivating without using those god-awful pseudo-mantras like “pain is just weakness leaving your body.” And he doesn’t sing along to the tracks, which is important. As well, at the last class before Christmas, he did the whole thing wearing a Santa hat—amazing. You’ll just have to come to one of Donald’s classes to appreciate him as we do.

Some of Donald’s choice quotes (not quite verbatim…):

“I feel sorry for Rihannon (sic), because she can’t afford to buy a full outfit.”

“Keep your knees together – good life advice!”

What sort of music is played?

Every class starts with this voiceover: “Disclaimer: The music you’re about to work out to is a combination of 100% cover music, and specially licensed originals!” Jess has learned this by rote.

All Les Mills classes are soundtracked by a mixture of covers and original music. It’s mostly covers of Top 40 pop songs, but every now and then they’ll throw in an old one. For instance, the chest track in the new release is a cover of Guns & Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ – fabulous. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I’ve downloaded some of the original versions of tracks as motivating songs for when I’m doing cardio/general life-stuff.

Have you ever missed out on Pump because the class was full?

Once – Christmas Eve 2011 at the Valley gym. Everyone wanted to get a pre-Christmas workout and it was just pandemonium. No equipment, nowhere!

Do you have a favourite spot in the room, and if so what happens if it is taken?

Yes, at both of the gyms I frequently go to for Pump. At Bardon, it’s in the back right-hand corner and at the Valley it’s in the back left-hand corner. Even though we are totally boss at Pump now, I still get antsy if I am forced anywhere except the back row. God forbid if someone takes my spot at Bardon—even being shoved across to the left totally throws me. I may or may not arrive about 20 minutes before the class to ensure that spot is mine.

What’s your most embarrassing Pump moment or mishap?

I’m sure in the early days there were many embarrassing fails but nothing is really leaping out at me (probably because most people are just focused on their workout in classes—true fact). Oh, once this older lady corrected me throughout the whole class – she was well-intentioned but it was embarrassing nonetheless.

What type of people frequent Pump, and are there annoying things they do?

They’re more serious, and seriously fit/gym bunny, in the Valley but at Bardon the participants are a bit more varied and less srs bsns. Some people do tennis-style loud groans to show they’re really working out, you know? Maybe that is a genuine response but it’s not mine. Also kind of annoying are the people who yell ‘WHOO!’ during tracks. Leave it to the instructors.

What are these Pump nightmares all about?

It’s usually that I turn up late to the class and there is no equipment/only unsuitable weights available so it’s all ruined. I don’t know—maybe a psychotherapist could have a field day with that. It’s probably because I always worry about a) missing my alarm clock if I’m waking up early, and b) being late and flustered when setting up.