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'Exhilarating' Bodypump weighlifting class offers 'full workout'

| Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

After taking fitness classes from instructor Kelly McCaffrey at the YMCA in Delmont, Patti DeStefano of Harrison City wanted something a bit more physically challenging.

She heard about Bodypump, a type of weightlifting class offered at the nearby East Suburban Family YMCA in Plum, tried it “and loved it,” DeStefano said.

“It is very challenging,” DeStefano said of the trademarked Les Mills Bodypump classes, which the East Suburban Family Y has been offering for a year and a half. “It is a very powerful and exhilarating class.”

Les Mills Bodypump, which originated in 1990 in New Zealand, is a weightlifting class that depends on repetition of weights that are lighter than the ones bodybuilders use. The program is named for New Zealand Olympic athlete Les Mills, who opened his first gym in 1968 in Auckland. Bodypump classes are now held in 14,000 fitness centers in 80 countries.

“Their mission is to fight obesity in the world,” said fitness instructor McCaffrey of the Les Mills creators. McCaffrey is a YMCA fitness trainer who asked if she could attend Bodypump instructor training after the Greater Pittsburgh YMCA brought it into the region.

“It's a full workout,” McCaffrey said. “Within an hour, we hit every major muscle group.” Class members do so using plates that weigh 2.2, 5.5 and 11 pounds each. The bar on which each pair of plates sits weighs four pounds.

The women and men who take the classes go through at least four of 10 “tracks” of exercises using the barbells. The tracks are: a warm-up; squats; chest; back, hamstrings and glutes; triceps; biceps; legs; shoulders; abdominals and core; and cool down and stretch.

The official Les Mills Web site says “the rep effect” that focuses on low weight loads and high repetition movements enables participants to burn fat, gain strength and quickly condition muscles.

All the Bodypump routines are choreographed to music – “loud music,” said Doris Constantin, 43, of Murrysville. “It gets you motivated and keeps you going.” Every three months, Bodypump sends new routines out to instructors who use them to keep folks from becoming bored.

Constantin said she signed up for the Bodypump classes because she knew “lifting weights is good for your bones and good for your overall health. And it was something different.”

Constantin, a medical coder who works from her home while raising three sons, said she has noticed a difference since taking the Bodypump classes.

“I've gotten a lot stronger. I've been able to double the weights,” she said. “I feel like I have a lot of energy.”

“I have more muscle definition in my arms, legs and stomach,” DeStefano said. “I have definitely slimmed down.”

DeStefano and Constantin also cited psychological benefits in taking the Bodypump classes. DeStefano said Bodypump and other classes at the Y have helped her “do something for myself” aside from raising three children ages 13 to 21, including her special-needs daughter, Carly, 17.

As Constantin said of Bodypump, “It keeps me sane.”

Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7920.

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