Path to BODYATTACK instructor certification


BODYATTACK certification picture

The group picture above was taken the day we recorded the video that earned me the Les Mills BODYATTACK instructor certification. That day and the one when I received the assessment results are two that I will never forget.

While I had been attending BODYATTACK classes for several years before pursuing the instructor path, I also started the process with a lot of doubts about myself. First, how on Earth does one go about memorising the choreography for 11 tracks that run for a total of 55 minutes? Learning the choreography is also not enough, you also need to learn proper technique. And just "knowing" the technique is not enough, you need to execute every single movement properly for your audience to see and acknowledge, and you must stay strong for the whole duration of the class. You are a role model now, you cannot falter!

Once you know what movement to do and how to do it, you soon realise that you are only halfway there. It's time to talk, you have to coach the class. Coaching the class requires that you anticipate every single move. You have to know what's next. And before the next move starts, you have to cue it: either say the name of the movement out loud like it's an old pagan incantation, or start doing the movement ahead of time. If you do the move just in time, your members will be lost. They want to see what's coming so that they can plan ahead and not lose a single beat. They want to be as precise as you are.

Remember that there are mandatory safety cues too. You have to explain how to do the movements correctly, ideally in the first block of every track. Otherwise, you put your members at risk of injury. And really, everything so far just covers the basics. You also need to challenge and motivate, all while landing the words in sync with the music. Kind of like singing. And if English is not your first language, you are signing up for an extra layer of difficulty.

Once you have mastered the art of anticipating every move and coaching the class out loud (this has the annoying short-term side effect of unconciously announcing everything you are about to do when walking around the house), you have to put all of the above together. You have to anticipate, move and talk, all at once. Soon you realise that your oxygen intake must be distributed to your thoughts, muscles, and speech mechanisms simultaneously. You hadn't thought about that one, perhaps. You used to go to class as a regular gym member and go 120% on intensity, but now you have to do two additional things alongside moving, and they also require non-trivial amounts of energy. This leads you to the realisation that as an instructor, you can no longer go 120% on intensity, not even 100%. Perhaps 70-80% on average, with the rest reserved for coaching. But bear in mind that that is just an average; when the challenging parts of the tracks come, you better go 120% and show them how it's done. They want to be challenged, they want to see the next level. You are the next level.

Finally, once I have all that going on, I am left wondering: how is it remotely possible for an introverted type like me to perform in front of a bunch of people? And not just perform, but tell them what to do. I don't feel in any way entitled to tell people what to do. Just thinking about this whole situation made me very anxious.

But after many hours of hard work, I proved to myself that it was all possible after all. You learn 11 tracks one track at a time, one block at a time, one move at a time. You learn the technique by watching the masters, attending the BODYATTACK classes in your area, attending the training, and by asking for feedback from your instructors. When you know the choreography like it's second nature, you are able to easily anticipate every single move. Talking in front of people is also hard, but it's just another skill you can learn. And after you have done this a few times, you start getting a feel for how to gauge yourself and balance your intensity and coaching throughout the performance.

The picture above then bears a lot of personal value for me. It is the physical materialisation of an achivement. A big step and moment in my personal life, carefully captured by an image sensor and digitalised into several million pixels. But the best part of this picture, above all else, is the people around me and what they represent. Meet:

  • Mark. Have only met him a couple times. He is a friend of Sebastian.

  • Sebastian. We met in a BODYATTACK class two years before this picture was taken. Then only met him a couple more times. Two years later we met again, and I explained to him that I was working on the certification. On a Saturday afternoon I texted him - "Hey, I'm recording a class tomorrow for my certification, would you be able to join?" - He did.

  • Miguel. An old friend of mine. Half of the things that have happened to me recently are thanks to him.

  • Diantha. She organises the BODYATTACK group in the area. She booked the studio room the day before the recording. Apparently also borrowed a camera tripod from her neighbour, and arranged all of the setup the day of the recording.

  • Anna. We met one or two times in the rehearsals for the BODYATTACK release that I was to learn and record. I otherwise do not know this person.

  • Nensi. My wife :)

What I find amazing about all this is how all these people, half of them basically strangers, sought out to help me without a single ounce of self-interest. Knowing that recording a real class full of demanding gym members would make things unnecessarily difficult for me (and also some gyms don't allow this), I had asked what were basically strangers to help me out, and this was all in a rush and less than 24h before the event. And on a Saturday! People make plans for the weekend and stuff. But all these people answered the call, the class was recorded, and a certification accomplished. Thanks to them.

And for this I am truly thankful.

There are a lot of other people who are not in this picture and who have also all helped me directly or indirectly in the path to certification. Roger, Marlon, Delcy, Joe, Shanna, Shyamali, Janelle and the other aspiring instructors at the training. Together, all these people have helped in the making of the picture above. They have contributed to the shaping and crafting of a new instructor, for no interest of their own. Hopefully, with more hard work and practice to follow, their creation will be able to inspire others the same way they did.

Thanks all for your help.