In the grand scheme of things Les Mills, the Philippines hasn’t been a major player. I’ve been instructing for about six years now; up until recently only one gym chain had acquired the license to use Les Mills group exercise programs in their clubs. We were blessed that we had Arnold Warren, a program coach for BODYJAM in Southeast Asia, residing in the Philippines, and twice a year we’d hold our own workshops and invited trainers from the region. At least we didn’t stagnate, but not much was happening with us beyond purchasing the new releases with new choreography and music on DVD every quarter.
Then the advanced instructor modules were introduced, and for long-time instructors like myself it brought us back to why we had started teaching in the first place: because of our passion for these programs that had brought about so much change for the better in our own lives.
We had our first official Les Mills metro workshop in the last quarter of 2012, which made us feel more connected to the whole network of Les Mills events in the region. So a large number of us decided to make the trip to Kuala Lumpur for the Ultimate Super Workshop happening on February 16-17, 2013. It would be the only official workshop held for the first quarter of the year (we have workshops quarterly) and it was an opportunity to represent the Philippines among the other Southeast Asian nations.
Crazy me booked a flight on the 14th of February because I’d been told the workshop was from 15-17. Only later did I find out the workshop proper for my programs BODYBALANCE and BODYJAM would be on the 17th. That’s why I had so many free days to spend by my lonesome in KL. Wawa naman.
Anyway, workshop day commenced at the Sunway Resort and Spa Grand Lagoon Ballroom, and BODYBALANCE was first up. On the roster of trainers who would lead us through the master class was Kylie Gates, who is also a presenter on the DVD of this particular release, BODYBALANCE 60.
What can I tell you about BODYBALANCE 60? The release teaser states, “Big, beautiful songs combine with simple moves to create something magical in this yoga-inspired class.” Well, the music is more R&B and pop than past releases, which means instructors and participants alike can more readily connect with the music and the feel. There’s extra challenge in the balance track, but of course it’s all doable as you can expect from a BODYBALANCE class.
So that was at 8:30am, and since I wasn’t attending the BODYPUMP or BODYSTEP classes following it, I had breakfast with my fellow Pinoys before going back in to see the 30-minute GRIT and CXWORX classes. We’re not planning to add those to the programs we currently offer at the gym, but it’s always great to see what else Les Mills is up to.
(I couldn’t find any photos of BODYATTACK.)
It wasn’t just Pinoys from the clubs in the Philippines that attended the workshop. We’ve had so many of us move to other Southeast Asian countries to teach the Les Mills programs they love, so that weekend a large number of them also came. What a reunion!
The next class I joined was SH’BAM. It’s the 11th release of this 45-minute “bubbly and playful workout which sees you wiggling your hips and singing along to the music as you increase your fitness.”
Arnold is also a SH’BAM trainer, so even though I normally don’t attend this program, I did here and enjoyed myself despite the totally cheesy “Gangnam Style” track.
BODYJAM was the last class of the day. We’d only barely done four weeks of BODYJAM 63, and here was the 64th release already. It’s lung-busting, heart-pumping dance party action which I’m still trying to get my head and body around.
The trainers and presenters also took the opportunity to raise funds for the medical expenses of one of their fellow trainers Renato Cordeiro Mecca. He was in a serious motorcycle accident which broke his back and left him immobile. I may not know him personally, but I know what it’s like not to be able to move and teach the programs you love. :'( They’re currently trying to raise funds to fly him home to his native Brazil, and my heart goes out to him.
With 700 registered participants for the entire workshop, I’m sure the Sunway Resort Hotel was shaking and quaking with every foot stomp and landing. We saw so many super-fit and inspirational trainers and instructors there; I think nobody was there with the gym mindset of “Just gotta get a workout in.” I mean, obviously the presenters were there for about 4 to 6 hours (most of them had multiple programs to teach). It was their passion and love for sharing these programs with us that carried them through.
I guess what I’ve learned from the workshop is that as a Les Mills instructor I’m not just another brick in the wall; we’re the frontliners whom participants see as representative of the programs we teach. So you can’t just go through the motions in your class; each class is important to the participants who show up to take part in it. I think that’s what I’m taking with me from the workshop into my classes. I’m not teaching my classes for myself; I’m there to take my participants on a journey where they not only get fit, but also enjoy the experience of getting there for its own sake.
Thanks Ben Sim for allowing use of his photos!