Body Pump Benefits

My Body Pump Results – part 1

So, a few months I wrote a post about how I have started to go to Body Pump classes at my gym in a bid to build strength. The reason I decided to start Body Pump was because, after injuring my shoulder muscles through running, I realised I needed to get stronger.

I think Body Pump for me is a way of taking control of my condition. Hopefully, by building stronger muscles, this will help to protect my back and core and hopefully reduce back pain over time. That’s my thinking, anyway.

I have always shied away from any kind of weights through feel of injuring my back. However, I now feel like this has had a negative effect and caused me to become very weak (especially in my upper body and back) over time. Add to that my scoliosis surgery where my back muscles were cut through and then subsequently wearing a back brace for 6 months, which meant that my back muscles weren’t really having to work at all. All this has left me very weak and vulnerable to injury when performing cardio such as a running.

Over the past year or so I have had a stark realisation that strength and resistance training is VITAL for me and I should have really started doing it years ago. The realisation came when I injured my shoulder when running (muscle strain) and then I had a body scan done at the gym which showed I had virtually NO muscle mass. This was not surprising really though, after everything I have been through!

Anyway, I wanted to follow up on my first post, update on how I’m finding Body Pump and share some small (but exciting!) victories with you.


My Body Pump Results so far…

I have now been going to Body Pump twice a week for about 6 months and have noticed that I am definitely getting stronger, which i find really exciting. It’s my favourite class in the gym and I really look forward to going. I think it’s so good because it’s FUN. As you are performing the exercises to music and in a group it’s more interesting and motivating then just lifting weights by yourself in the gym.

Below are a few benefits of Body Pump that I have noticed over the past 6 months:

        • I quickly noticed after a few months that my arms were getting more toned and defined. I now have (albeit small!!) definition in my arms and shoulders as you can see in the photo below (I really should have taken a “before” picture!)Body Pump Results
        • My strength has improved and although this is not necessarily visual, this is the reason I started Body Pump. When I started I pretty much used the lowest weight on the bar throughout the entire class (1.25kg on each side of the bar). For me, this was the right thing to do. As I had zero strength and I have scoliosis and so I knew I needed to take it easy to start with and ignore what everyone else was doing.
        • Now, I have double this for my warm up weight and am slowly increasing the amount of weight I add on to the bar for each exercise. I think it is important for anyone new to Body Pump to start light and increase the weights gradually, as Body Pump classes feature hundreds of reps and so you start to feel the burn with even the lightest of weights!
        • To give you an idea of my improvement, in 6 months I am now using the following weights (increased from 1.25kg when I first started):
        • Squats/lunges – 6.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Chest – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Triceps – 3.75kg on each side of the bar
        • Biceps – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Shoulders – 2.5kg on each side of the bar
        • Back – 3.75kg on each side of the bar
      • I’m sure many people would have increased even more in 6 months but as someone with zero strength 6 months ago and with my back condition I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I have been purposely taking it slow and not rushing to increase the weights in case I cause myself an injury. I still have a long way to go to increase my strength. I still can’t do a push up for example (without using my knees). But I feel like I am now on the right track and if I carry on, gradually increasing the weights and combining with a good diet and cardio, I should keep on improving and getting stronger.
      • Even though I have a long way to go, I have noticed that being slightly stronger in general is  having a positive effect on my other cardio activities, such as my running. I am able to run faster and for longer than ever before and I am sure that Body Pump is contributing towards my running improvements.

I will update again about how I’m getting on over the coming months and lets see where this takes me and how much more I can improve.

I’d be interested to know if any of my readers have ever tried Body Pump or any kind of weight or resistance training with scoliosis? Let me know in the comments below.

I do worry sometimes that I might injure myself but I just try to keep the weights light and have been building up very gradually over time to try and avoid this.

Louise X


To find out more about Body Pump follow this link.. BodyPump – group fitness


Disclaimers:

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing or starting a new fitness routine.

 I accept no responsibility or liability for any injuries caused directly or indirectly through the performing of the exercises described. If you feel any discomfort or pain during any exercise, stop immediately.

If you have recently had scoliosis surgery, speak to your Dr/physiotherapist in order to get tailored exercises for you while you recover. You will need to be very careful and it will probably be difficult to do anything other than walking and simple exercises for a while. (Remember NO bending, lifting or twisting for at least 6 months following scoliosis surgery).

scoliosis-quote-what-does-not-kill-me-makes-me-stronger

Body Pump

So, for about 6 weeks now, I’ve been going to Body Pump classes twice a week at my gym.

For those who don’t know what Body Pump is, it is a 60 minute class where you use a barbell and weights throughout. It focuses on strengthening and toning by using light to moderate weights with lots of repetition and pretty much covers all the major muscle groups in your body so you get a full body workout.

A few years ago, such a concept would have terrified me.

You see, I have always avoided any type of weight based exercise in the fear that I would hurt my back and so as a result, I have always focused on cardio exercises in my 9 years of gym membership. However, the irony of this is, in attempting to protect my back by avoiding any type of weight lifting or weight machines, I have inadvertently made my back weaker and more susceptible to injury.

It is the reason why I injured my shoulder running last August, because my back and shoulder muscles were so weak after years of neglect. It was also a bit of a wake up call when I had a body scan test at the gym  earlier this year, which revealed I was way below normal for skeletal muscle mass. It kind of all made sense and I’m really surprised I haven’t injured myself sooner to be honest, with all the exercise I do.

So my recent shoulder injury, the results of the body scan, the advice from the gym instructor and physio I was seeing at the time for said shoulder injury, all suggested that I needed to get stronger and build more muscle to avoid further injury in the future. It was the combination of these events that led me to book onto my first Body Pump class.

I won’t lie to you, the first class was tough. But not as tough as the days that followed where I struggled to lift my arms to open a cupboard door or to straighten my hair! Luckily though, I had started with the lightest weights available (1.25kg) on each side of the bar and (ignoring the instructor who kept shouting to the class to add more weight) kept them on for the whole of the class. Now, six weeks later, I am really enjoying Body Pump and it is one of my favourite classes.

I think the key for anyone doing a class like this for the first time (not just those with scoliosis) is to start gradually. Start with light weights and build them up slowly over a period of weeks or months to avoid injury. Many people in the class lift ALOT of weight, but most of them have been going for years. I try to ignore what everyone else in the class is lifting and focus on myself. It’s not always about how heavy the weight is, but about the repetition of the exercises – you can still benefit from the class by simply using the bar with no weight at all. I know I have a back condition and need to take it slow but I also know that over time, there’s no reason why I can’t lift the same as some of the others in the class.

I am very slowly building up the weights I use and I can feel myself gradually getting stronger – although it is early days yet. I am hoping that eventually, I will feel the benefits of complementing my running and cardio exercises with strengthening exercises, which is something I never really thought about before but which I now know is key for avoiding injury.

The other benefit of strengthening exercises when you have scoliosis is pain management – having a strong back, core and shoulders is so crucial for those with scoliosis and for those that have had scoliosis surgery as it can take the pressure off the discs in the spine and reduce pain over time.

So, this is what I’m focusing on at the moment. In all honestly the Body Pump class has been a revelation to me and I really should have started doing something like this sooner. Although, I’m sure I’m not alone in that I would guess many people with scoliosis avoid using weights for fear of hurting themselves. The truth I’ve discovered recently though, is that not doing strengthening exercises can cause worse problems in the long run. It’s a catch-22!

What I like about the Body Pump class though, is that you follow a structured routine and have an instructor who shows you what positions you should be in to avoid injury, whereas when I’m in the gym with all the weight machines and free weights I don’t know where to start!

I’m also complementing Body Pump with spin classes at the moment and I do bits of running in between (albeit not as much as I’m trying to focus more on strengthening my muscles).

Yes, sometimes I do worry that I may be doing too much and I might injure myself again, but I really feel that doing nothing (i.e. no exercise) is far worse and would cause me more pain and issues long term.

For me, keeping healthy and active helps me to take control of my scoliosis and also helps to keep my pain levels down.

I will update how I’m getting on with Body Pump over the coming months!

Stay strong 🙂

Louise X