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Updated Friday, February 22, 2013 at 08:42 PM

Feel the weight with barbell reps set to music at Bodypump

By Nicole Tsong
Special to The Seattle Times

I EYED the barbell. I knew Bodypump was a weight-lifting class, but the barbell was heavy. The friendly girl who helped me set up said I should start light to develop strength, especially with biceps, then added 10-pound plates on each end. I wondered if I would regret Bodypump.

Bodypump, which combines music with weight lifting, is designed for those of us who need extra motivation to lift weights, i.e., an encouraging teacher and Top 40/techno music. Many gyms around Seattle offer the class.

At Community Fitness in the Roosevelt neighborhood, the Friday-morning class was full of regulars. Teacher Heather Gervais greeted the class from the front stage.

She turned on the music, had us grab our barbells and started us out on rows, where we bent our knees and pulled the barbell to our stomachs to work our shoulders and warm up our core. The pace varied between fast lifts and slow counts of two or three to lower the bar.

She mixed up the pace for all of the exercises, and we added or removed weights between exercises. For squats, we added more. For triceps extensions and overhead presses, we took some off.

Gervais kept a close eye on our form, reminding us to pull our tummies in during squats and to roll our shoulders down our backs. We worked big muscle groups like our legs and also homed in on specific muscles, like rotator cuffs. Overall, we did a lot of repetitions for each exercise.

Throughout, music from bands like the Black Eyed Peas thumped and Gervais shouted encouragement, which helped when my arms or legs or name-any-body-part burned.

Midway through the chest press and skull crusher triceps extensions, as I tried not to drop the barbell on my head, I swore the lyrics to the song by The Wanted were, "I will never be the same." I muttered my agreement.

I later learned the song said the stars will never be the same. Sigh.

Bodypump is effective, especially if you don't lift regularly. I felt like I got a whole body workout in the time I was there, and was challenged enough that by the end it took everything I had to finish out the bicep curls, especially after Gervais had us add more weight.

You can keep adding weight and challenging yourself as you get stronger. My arms need a few more shaky rounds before adding any more weight.

We did some fun free-form lunges at the end of class, but I was relieved when we went to the floor for core work. It might be tough, but I would pick holding a plank over lifting a barbell any day of the week. Which is maybe why I need more Bodypump in my life.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Read her blog at papercraneyoga.com. Email: papercraneyoga@gmail.com. Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.


BENJAMIN BENSCHNEIDER / THE SEATTLE TIMES
At Community Fitness in Seattle's Roosevelt neighborhood, Heather Gervais gets her class worked up during BodyPump. More information at www.communityfitness.com.




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