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I read recently that one of easiest ways to make money is through gym memberships. Most gym-goers sign up to hefty annual contracts (often around £60 per month), but only show up at the gym 4 to 5 times a month. And believe it or not, a whopping 70% don’t show up at all! Having recently had a rather negative experience at a gym where a bulked-up ex-army fitness instructor barked at me for nearly an hour, I’ve decided that gyms aren’t for me. But what’s the fitness alternative? With bikini-time fast approaching, I needed something to spur myself into action – and fast! I had heard plenty of positive feedback about streaming fitness workouts and decided to give Les Mills On Demand a try. With excellent fitness credentials, this global fitness hub founded by Olympic athlete, Les Mills, is highly regarded by fitness professionals and followers for providing a huge range of easy-to-access at-home workouts and programmes. His son, Phillip Mills, has developed many of the workouts, including BODYPUMP (my personal favourite), so it looked like the perfect fit for me – no pun intended!
As always: be sure to check with your doctor before starting any fitness program to make sure it’s appropriate for you.
I’ve long been a fan of Les Mills BODYPUMP classes, which are widely taught at most gyms, as well as through online videos. I love both the music and the routines, which are broken down into 5 minute segments. This makes the exercises more achievable as you know you’re not going to doing the same thing for long! For exercise newbies, there are helpful tutorials and ‘how to’s’ about each class before you begin. Each section has motivating music, and the coaches are ‘the best of the best’, so you are learning good form while you work out. With over 800 workouts to pick from, there literally is something for everyone and it’s widely available in the UK, US and most of Europe.
There are 13 different Les Mills programmes and over 800 workouts available, including BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, BODYBALANCE, CXWORX, BODYATTACK, RPM, SH’BAM, BARRE and BODYJAM.
Each class gives exercisers a variety of options, including longer and shorter workouts, beginner and advanced classes. There is even a youth section to get your teens off their laptops and moving! To help you find the best way to organise your month of workouts, there’s a handy “Schedules” tab, which also allows you to select your favourite classes and add them to your list.
BODYPUMP incorporates the use of fairly light weights with a high number of repetitions. This eliminates the risk of creating too much bulk and is ideal for women who want to tone-up, without developing over-sized muscles. The workout is split into around 4 – 5 minute sections with an on-screen time display to help to get you through each section. The workouts are both easy to follow and well-paced so you can keep up.
BODYBALANCE is a yoga-based class that takes you through a sequence of simple yoga moves with elements of Tai Chi and Pilates. It’s real all-rounder and ideal for all levels of fitness. Although I do yoga a few times a week, BODYBALANCE offers something different and I love the Tai Chi element. It’s not as relaxing as a normal yoga class but you do get additional benefits, such as stretching to music which definitely makes me feel more supple. This workout is perfect on days when you’re feeling less energised, as it gets you moving without being overly strenuous.
CX-WORX is core training like you’ve experienced before! Forget endless crunches that don’t get you anywhere. This is 30 minute core training workout using a combination of your own body weight, resistance tubing and weights to tighten and tone your abs. If you invest in 30 minutes of CX-WORX on a regular basis, I promise that you will see and feel the difference!
BARRE classes are fun, 30-minute classes that focus on using your own body weight to build optimal fitness and flexibility. Based on ballet techniques without the pirouettes or pliés, this workout is easy to follow, even if you have no previous experience of ballet. Designed to build long, lean muscles, BARRE also develops core strength and flexibility. As someone who struggles with flexibility, this workout has become a real favourite as it incorporates movement and stretching. I actually look forward to my BARRE workouts!
SH’BAM is a cardio dance program, so if you love dancing, you’ll love this class. The routine is full of different dance moves which keep you motivated as you shape-up as is set to a soundtrack of chart-topping hits, dance music, familiar classics and modernized Latin beats. I’ve got no rhythm whatsoever, but the great thing about this class is that even if you do mess up like me, there’s no-one watching!
Another great thing about Les Mills On Demand, is that you don’t need huge amounts of equipment. I invested in some barbells and hand weights for BODYPUMP, a yoga mat, a resistance band and a step for less than the cost of a month’s gym membership. There is an RPM (spin) class, so you could invest in an exercise bike if you have space and are really dedicated to that programme.
You can use this as a supplement training tool. On days when I went to the gym but was unsure what to do, I simply downloaded the app onto my phone and used a bike to do my own spin class or BODYPUMP workout out of studio hours. Or you can simply pick out some of the exercises from CRX or BODYBALANCE to give you some ideas for core exercises or stretches. If you travel for work and don’t always have access to a gym, On Demand is a great way to ensure that you get a regular workout.
I’ve only been doing this programme for a month and I can already see a difference; the main reason is I can fit my workouts around my life. Before, I would try and fit my workouts around work and quite often came up short, if class times didn’t fit in with my schedule, or the classes were full. I really look forward to my workouts now, as I know if I’m tired or stiff, I can switch it up a bit. This aspect is so important, as even on days when I’m tired, I know I can still do a short or less strenuous session. I would highly recommend Les Mills On Demand, although I would say it’s not suitable for absolute beginners as the workouts are demanding.
Want to give it a try, without committing to a whole month? There’s a free 10 day trial of the On Demand subscription and you can decide from there.