Caitlyn Davey gets the lowdown on the New Zealand import currently dominating the city’s group exercise scene
Caitlyn Davey gets the lowdown on the New Zealand import currently dominating the city’s group exercise scene.
New Zealand firm Les Mills International is the world’s largest provider of choreographed exercise-to-music classes, and over the years has spawned a raft of imitators. We speak to UAE-based Les Mills instructors about six different classes, how to get the most from them and who specific classes are best suited to.
‘It is popular because the classes are fun, motivating and energetic, and they get results. Participants like the fact that they know the format of the classes they attend and that if they leave here and attend Les Mills classes in other countries, the classes remain familiar,’ says Paula, group fitness manager at Abu Dhabi Country Club. ‘The American Society of Sports Medicine advise three cardio training sessions, two strength training sessions and one stretch or flexibility training session a week.’
Body Attack This high-intensity workout is all about bouncing in an aerobic, interval-training style. It’s the highest intensity cardio track, but fear not – there are lower-intensity options for beginners. Think chart music with a faster beat and marching, high-kicks, star jumps and lots of cheering. There is also a running track, a sports track and active recovery periods providing a combination of exercises that will improve your agility, stamina and cardiovascular system. Sweat factor: High Calorie burn: 675 per class
Body Balance A zen class made up of a combination of yoga, Pilates and tai chi. It’s a low intensity option – safe for people with injuries and in pregnancy. This is about stretching, breathing and moving in a fluid motion. Don’t be fooled though, you will still feel your muscles working hard. There is a meditation session at the end. Sweat factor: Low Calorie burn: N/A
Body Combat A combat class with moves inspired by boxing, Muay Thai, karate and various other MMA sports. Release your anger through positive energy with this aerobic session. It will have you gasping for air and there are lower-intensity options when you need them. The class has some technique aspects that require a couple of sessions to get the hang of, but with upbeat music and guided moves, you will be kicking butt in no time. It’s great for core strengthening, too. No experience of martial arts is needed, the instructor will coach you through the techniques. Sweat factor: High Calorie burn: 737 per class
Body Pump The heavy-lifter of the Les Mills family, Body Pump is where it all began. Don’t be put off by the weights, this is an endurance-based class with 55 minutes covering ten different muscle groups. It’s a musical mixture of empowering classic songs and hard-hitting pop tracks. The best part is seeing tangible progress as you load your weights up. Focusing on low weight loads and high repetition movements, you’ll burn fat, gain strength and quickly produce lean body muscle. Sweat factor: Medium Calorie burn: 560 per class
Body Step Using a step and raises (as appropriate), Body Step is an aerobic class that can harness your inner dancer. The session uses the step, with marching, stepping up and down and other signature moves. You will feel a little uncoordinated during the first class, but this tried and tested exercise is hugely popular for good reason – so be sure to give it a go. Sweat factor: Medium to high Calorie burn: 620 per class
RPM This cycling class puts the pedal to the metal as riders are taken on a metaphorical journey of a workout. The bikes are fitted with gears so you can adjust according to the tracks. It’s not just about legs, Paula tells us. ‘As you can see from the benefits it tones your legs, hips and butt – and if you brace your abs throughout the class you also have a 45 minute ab-workout.’ Sweat factor: Medium to high Calorie burn: 675 per class Calories burned is an average. For more information visit www.lesmills.com.
Try around town
Fitness First The large gym chain offers various Les Mills classes, keeping up to the minute with new releases. Various locations, including Ibn Battuta Mall (800 348 3677).
Gold’s Gym A wide variety of the classes in some of the city’s most enjoyable fitness studios. Various locations, including Al Barsha Mall (800 46537).