27 May 2008

Preparations for BodyJam Training, Pt. 2

Most of the instructors I asked have warned me that I'll be on my feet most of the time during training. A forum member asked me to expect "16 to 18 hours of dancing each day". I can't remember the last time I was physically active for such long periods, so as a simulation I went for a class marathon last Sunday:

10.00am: Stretching (I had lower back pain that day)
10.30am: Tai Chi (easy!)
11.30am: BodyStep (take easy options - less propulsion)
12.30pm: BodyPump (go easy on squats, skip lunges)
1.30pm: Half of BodyBalance (leave after hip openers)
2.10pm: Rest, and lunch (whey and 1 yogurt snack bar)
2.30pm: BodyAttack (easy options - less propulsion)
3.30pm: Hip Hop (easy!)

Although I did not go all out in the classes (my lower back would have given out halfway) I finished feeling I could go on for another 3 classes. I wasn't a big fan of snack bars before this, but I now appreciate the convenience and energy provided by those overpriced sugar and flour confections.

Next milestone: Continue limbering up my stiff back and tight hamstrings with daily stretches.

Countdown: 9 days....

23 May 2008

Reflections on Fitness Instructing

It's been slightly a year since I started teaching group fitness at my company's gym. I can say I've come a long way since those first few classes.

I used to copy more or less my entire class from Les Mills programs. And my cueing and execution was really weak. I still remember the first class after it was officially announced to the company - more than 30 people turned up and it was sooo packed. But I only saw less than 15 the following week! And it kept on decreasing after that.

I took that in stride and kept on evolving. Release #5 of my class was the first release that I completely stopped copying from Les Mills. The format and feel is the same, but I choreographed all the tracks myself. It is a great achievement because I consider choreography a step higher than instructing. As an analogy, there are many great piano players, but how many of them can write their own pieces?

Last month my company's new group fitness hall was opened and it can finally accommodate 30 - 50 participants (compared to 15 before renovations). I'm glad that it only opened recently - it gave me ample time to improve myself and be a better instructor.

Unfortunately, no matter how good one is, most employers look for that little piece of paper that states you're certified. And that's stopping me from teaching in the large gyms. Hopefully that will change once I get my BodyJam cert next month. It's time for another chapter in the interesting world of fitness instructing!

19 May 2008

Preparations for BodyJam Training

There is surprisingly a dearth of blogs on BodyJam training experiences! So I'm just jotting whatever I can to inform and guide future trainees.

I'll be trained on BodyJam 45, which is the coming release. I'm both happy and terrified. Happy because BJ 44 kinda sucked and was very low on innovation and the fun factor ("Stronger" kept dragging on and on...!). Terrified because I wouldn't have any chance to preview the moves since instructors only get their DVDs the weekend before my training. I consider myself a fast learner, but it's still kinda hard without having done the whole release before going for training.

And oh, there's that butterfly jump I'm deathly afraid of.

You can see a preview of the butterfly jump (or twist) around 1:02 in the video above. Looks really cool, but also hard to get it right. During the training we're supposed to present 2 tracks over the weekend. My greatest fear would be to present the tracks with the butterfly jump. Yes, there are options to take but I'm a perfectionist and I wanna be known as an instructor with good technical skills, so I'm gonna have to brush up on my jumping ability.

Furthermore, we'll get drilled on performing each move over and over and over again. I can imagine practicing this butterfly jump countless times. And it's not the safest move to execute in the first place. With my unflattering history of lower back pain and knee arthritis, I risk injuring myself if I land badly or I twist too hard. I can't afford to get injured when I have to look my best! This is also a fear that's stopping me from jumping too high.

This is the age of the Internet so it's YouTube to the rescue! Apparently the butterfly twist/jump is more common in kung fu and figure skating than it is in dancing. But the videos I found below provide some helpful advice.

First off, knowing the difference between a good and bad butterfly twist:

All in one tutorial:

Series of more in-depth tutorials:

All the best... to me!

06 May 2008

It's Wow Wow Wow Wow!

Bouncing back from breast cancer, Kylie Minogue's "X" album proves you can experiment with different genres while keeping me happy. Alright, so most of her songs remain painfully cheesy regardless of genre but that seems to be her true genius.

I actually find 2 Hearts average, but many other songs on the album are great. I heartily recommend Stars, All I See, Cosmic, and White Diamond (slow version).

And did I mention I love her concert DVDs? The stage set up is so extravagant, along with the costume changes. Now that commands respect. X is a keeper!

This concludes my series of music reviews. I'm officially out of stuff to write.

05 May 2008

Formula for Success

Unlike Madonna's flailing (failing?) attempts at genre-busting music, Mariah Carey found her formula for success and stuck with it, creating a listenable album on E=MC2. I immensely enjoyed her last one The Emancipation of Mimi as it was really a comeback album. E=MC2 continues that honourable tradition and has a similar feel.

Unfortunately, having discovered Duffy recently I didn't devote much time to Mariah as it's so... formulaic. But overall a worthy illegal download.

I know I'm hard to please. I complained Madonna for veering from tradition, while I get bored with Mariah for staying the same. But I *can* be pleased - tomorrow's artist did just that.

04 May 2008

Her 4 Minutes is Up

Madonna is undoubtedly an industry heavyweight. She's hardworking and (sometimes) innovative/provocative. But I find it hard to connect to her newer albums. I enjoy her singles immensely, but the rest of the album always felt mediocre. This is true as far back as Ray of Light, on to her latest Hard Candy.

4 Minutes is such an enjoyable song even from the first listen, but I find it really hard to say the same thing about the entire album. I forced myself to listen to a few songs several times. While some of them slowly got better (Candy Shop), most of them didn't stick (like throwing oil onto a Teflon-coated wall).

When can we expect her to regain her former glory of Vogue, Take a Bow, Papa Don't Preach, and heck, even Holiday?

03 May 2008

Duffy Ain't A Duck

If you find Norah Jones relaxing, Katie Melua enchanting, and Amy Winehouse interesting, you will absolutely fall in love love love with Duffy. Why are you still reading this? Go listen to her Rockferry album now!

My current favourite song is "I'm Scared", revealing the vulnerability one feels after losing a loved one. Her emotions in the song really pulled me in, making me feel I was in her position. Definitely a keeper.

Lyrics excerpt to "I'm Scared":

The blank pages of my diary,
That I haven't touched since you left me,
The closed blinds in my home
See no light of day.

Dust gathers on my stereo
Cos I can't bear to hear the radio
The piano sits in a shaded space
With a picture of your face.

I'm scared to face another day
Cos the fear in me just won't go away.
In an instant, you were gone and I'm scared.

02 May 2008

Eating My Words

OK.... I'll have to eat my words. Blend it, add some salt and oregano, and drink it all down. My previous post lambasted (hey! I used 'lambasted'!) Les Mills for apparently favouring Fitness First members.

Alright, so I was mistaken. Long story short I submitted my application and I got my confirmation letter yesterday. So yeah, I'll become a full fledged BodyJammer by 8th June if all goes well.

This is it! A milestone is finally in reach! The countdown begins! Dreams shall be fulfilled! (How many more cliched expressions can I conjure?)