Barbells may seem like the workout buddies of bodybuilders and CrossFit enthusiasts, but New York Sports Club’s newest class, introduced at the end of March, brings the age-old fitness tool to the rest of the workout world in a new way.
Les Mills Bodypump, created in partnership with the international fitness brand Les Mills, is a serious strength-building 45 minutes during which you work upper and lower body muscle groups and rarely put down the weighted bar.
How much weight you add to your bar depends on your strength and experience level, and you add and take off plates throughout, to match the exercise you’re doing.
In a recent class at NYSC’s 23rd Street gym (which was so packed, it had a waitlist), we did lunges with the bar resting on our shoulders, push presses, rows, dead lifts, chest presses, curls, and surprising combinations. Killer squats seemed like they’d never end, a quick plyometric section added a burst of cardio, and we finished with five minutes of ab work. Barbell not included here, phew.
The fun—and popularity—of the class is owed to the fact that you’re lifting in unison with the men and women around you, and to the beat of the music, so it feels like a fun group fitness experience instead of a trip to the (possibly less exciting) weight room. And the workout brought me to muscle-shaking exhaustion several times, which makes me think real muscle gains would happen quickly if you stuck to it. —Lisa Elaine Held
Who’s it for: Those who like a little motivating structure in their strength-training sessions; when CrossFit isn’t going to happen but you could see yourself lifting more; group fitness types who work harder with great music and a fun format and instructor