During the one-hour session, you use a light barbell and a step to do high reps of strength moves for your entire body.

By Amy Schlinger, editorial assistant
April 25, 2012

When I was invited to try a Les Mills Bodypump class, I expected to pump iron… and I wasn't too far off. During the one-hour session, you use a light barbell and a step to do strength moves for your entire body. The class is divided into "tracks"-basically a group of exercises performed to one song-and there are 10 tracks in a class.

After the warm-up track, we performed ones that focused on different body parts. The exercises were fairly basic (think: squats, overhead presses, and deadlifts) but because you do them many times in a row, you really feel the burn and have to push hard to complete the sets. During every move, you lift and lower the weight to the beat of the song. (The instructor calls out a direction like "3 counts down, 1 count up" to keep everyone going at the right pace.) I found this made it easy to follow the routine, and focusing on the song distracted me from how many reps I was doing. The instructor had warned us that we'd be doing hundred of reps during the class, so I erred on the low side when putting weight on my bar. I'll definitely take it up a notch next time.

At the end of the session, I felt like I had worked every muscle from my shoulders to my calves. And because there's little downtime between tracks (just a minute or two to set up your step), your heart rate stays elevated-that means I got in a cardio workout too.