Wow, I can’t believe my Les Mills BodyFlow training is only two days away already!
As part of training, I have to present two tracks to the class, which means I have to memorize them in advance. I was assigned the hip opener and abs tracks. (Great, make the woman who just had a baby show off her battered abs in front of people—haha! “Do this, people—only way better than I’m doing it right now…”)
I’ve only had my DVD and track assignments for a little over a week, so it’s been kind of a scramble getting ready. It doesn’t help that the absolute BEST I can hope for is maybe 20-30 minutes of work time, at a time, before I get interrupted.
Speaking of interruptions, allow me to interrupt my own conversation with some pics from yesterday!
I helped chaperone Mason’s preschool class on a trip to the pumpkin patch and it went…ok.
Honestly, the pictures look all cute and fall-y, buuuut—I kinda regret going. It was cold and rainy, and I felt guilty having a newborn out in that (even though he was super bundled up and riding in the baby carrier). Plus, I wasn’t that helpful to the group, since I had a baby to take care of.
…and I could barely handle my own toddler, haha.
This was after I tried dragging him out of the SOPPING WET sandbox so we could leave. I hate that feeling when I’m holding his hand and can FEEL his legs starting to buckle—toddler tantrum incoming!
To be fair, what toddler boy would ever want to leave this place:
Let’s just say I was SO relieved to get back in the car, blast the heat, and then do a giant load of laundry when we got home.
Anyway! That’s my thrilling life update of the day. Back to Les Mills, for those of you who are interested in details of my training prep process. For the rest of you—no hard feelings! See ya tomorrow!
So, the first time I watched the hip opener track I was assigned, I totally panicked—the music is super flowy and non-rhythmic, and it didn’t seem like there was ANYthing in the song actually triggering changes in movement (if that makes sense). And the written choreography instructions looked like hieroglyphics.
Luckily, by the third watch, I was starting to pick out the changes in lyrics/beat and figuring out how they lined up with the choreography.
The written choreography is still a mystery to me, though—three counts of 8?? Who’s able to count to 8 while inhaling and raising the right arm to the sky WHILE SAYING “inhale and raise your right arm to the sky”?? If I’m counting to 8, the only thing that’s coming out of my mouth is numbers. Personally, I have to rely on “feeling” the music—which seems to be working ok so far. (We’ll find out this weekend!)
Everyone learns this stuff differently, but here’s the process I ended up following to learn my tracks:
1. Watch the tracks a few times while also doing the exercises. Get generally oriented to the movements, the music, and the instructor’s cues.
2. Watch the tracks a few times without following along—instead, focusing on listening closely to the music and getting a sense of how the choreography fits in to the song. For my hip opener track, for example, I recognized that the lyric “just hold on” always meant it was time to go back to downward dog and repeat the last handful of moves.
This is where I tried to make sense of the choreography notes Les Mills provided and totally failed.
3. Toss the choreography notes and write my own. After getting certified in PiYo, and now going after this cert, I’ve realized that this is the most important step in my personal learning process.
Spending an hour watching the tracks and writing out my own notes, written in the way that’s most meaningful to me, got me from about a 10% mastery of the tracks to 80%—in one hour!
4. Practice with the music—mental cueing only. I sat down with my notes and just listened to the music, reciting the moves and cues in my head. I only did this, I think, once or twice per track before actually getting on the floor and doing the moves.
5. Write “quick start guide” versions of notes. My original notes were really helpful, but crazy wordy. (You should have seen me in college…) Once I started actually doing the moves while listening to the music, I wanted a super short version that I could lay on the floor in front of me for quick reference.
So, my quick start guide versions say things like “Lunge sequence” and “Toe taps x 8,” which I know really involve several more steps that I’ve already memorized. At this point, the little reminder of what’s next is enough to keep me on track. (And it took like 5 minutes to write these versions.)
P.S. I’m guessing the average person doesn’t need to write out their own notes—much less two versions of notes—but I’m a suuuper visual learner who learns by writing things in my own words, so this worked for me. (It’s also the reason I had to write out an ENTIRE 100-page study guide to get through my NASM personal training cert—which, by the way, you can download for free here if you want it.)
6. Practice with the music—physically doing movements but still cueing in my head. At this point, I pretty much had it down, but still needed to listen to the music pretty hard to stay on track, so I didn’t cue out loud. I also needed to reference my quick start guide notes a little (although, honestly, just the process of writing them out was almost enough to memorize them).
7. The whole shabang. Just me and the music, no notes, cueing out loud. This is where I am right now!
I’m still tripping over my words a little bit and trying to smooth things out (also, trying not to repeat myself too much when doing the same movements), which brings me to…
8. Experiment with cueing and “layering.” Layering is when you’ve already introduced the basic movements and you then fill space or change things up by giving additional pointers (like reminding the class when to inhale and exhale).
This will happen automatically as I run through the tracks a few more times. Every time I do it, the cues come out a little (or a lot) differently. I’m getting a feel for what I can say in the amount of time I have to say it and when I have gaps to fill with some extra instruction. I’m also planning to rewatch the DVD, and maybe write down some of the extra pointers the Less Mills instructor uses that I can borrow. (They encourage that!)
So, now that I’ve written this all out…it kind of sounds like a lot.
But it’s really not.
I’ve probably spent a total of 3-4 hours on this entire process (for just 2 tracks, of course), with that 1-hour note writing session plus a handful of 30-minutes blips of practice time. I plan to devote another hour or two to polishing things up before class on Saturday (and I think we’ll even have time to practice there too??), but even without that, I feel pretty ready!
Overall, I think the learning process has gone pretty well for my first time. I’m hoping that it’ll just get even quicker and easier as I get more comfortable doing it down the road.
What is your learning style (visual, auditory, hands-on, etc.) and what helps you learn the most? (I’m really curious!)
Les Mills instructors: what is your general process for learning a new release? Final pointers before my training this weekend??