Fight The Resistance – Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Let’s start with a huge positive.

Les Mills Body Combat release 63 kicks the proverbial in delivering a tough workout and physical results.

Programme directors Dan and Rachael delivered something different with number 63. Still the same Body Combat we know and love but with subtle changes. Like Marmite some people love the changes and others hate them.

Change is good. Of course it is. But after teaching Body Combat for over 11 years I’ve found it’s taken longer to “get” this release. Longer to sell it to my participants. Longer to fully appreciate it.

In fact it wasn’t until just last night, in a packed “Monday Night Fight Club” that I finally thought, “This is a great release”. It’s taken over three weeks of teaching.

Up to that point people have walked out, demanded the immediate execution of T2 and T4, insisted upon standing options instead of  the floor work in T4, and bemoaned the lack of singalong “fun” songs.

Here’s what I think is different about Body Combat 63 perhaps contributing to the long flirtation before consummation I’ve experienced here. I’ve based these thoughts on genuine comments from participants.

Speed and Intensity

Faster than earlier classes, Body Combat 63 works you hard from the start. It feels as if there is no warm up. Straight into intense hard work our shoulders particularly feel the effects after only a few minutes. I don’t have a problem with raising the bar. We can give lower options of course.

Samey music

Tracks 1b, 3, 5, and 6 all sound the same. A heavy pounding bass and drum combined with epic synth and limited lyrics. Whilst the choreography that goes with the music is fine, it took me so much longer to find hooks in the music to translate into fun for the participants.

For example T3. “Do it do it baby”, repeated about 50 times is not as catchy and memorable as we’ve had in the past. Compare that to “And I never thought that you would be the one. Come along and snatch my heart and run.”

T5: “Hold on” repeated about 200 times.

The Muay Thai is the first track with a genuine singalong opportunity the “La La La La LAH!” in the circle phase.

Too Serious and where’s the fun?

Up until the Muay Thai it’s all so serious. I know that Dan and Rachael want to create an authentic martial arts experience. But the reality is that a large proportion of the participants don’t want immersing and definitely want drowning in the “essence of martial arts”. They want a fun escape from daily life.

This release feels as far from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” track as it’s possible to get. And yet there’s a reason “Pirates” remains the most often requested old routines.

Floor work in Track 4

Great to see some conditioning earlier in the class. And it toughens the work out. But having the floor work in the middle of a routine devoted to advancing side kicks doesn’t work in most UK studios.

Some people want mats. But there isn’t time to set them up and put them aside.

People sweat buckets on to wooden floors during the floor work and then have to skate through the liquid for advancing side kicks on the left.

A better way to handle this would have been a T4a and T4b with a musical bridge to allow time to place mats and towels where necessary.

So let’s have a look at the tracks (and you can click on the links to listen to the music on Amazon).

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Upper body warmup – Get Ready (Steve Aoki Vocal Radio Edit)2 Unlimited

Different to any warm up we’ve ever had. We think we recognise the song (first appeared in Body Combat release 10) but it shifts direction. After the bluff we have fast hooks, fast uppers and then those powerful jabs synchronised with the “Hey!” samples in the music.

Perhaps the first warm up never to feature any shuffling forwards or to the side. In fact there is no shuffling at all in this class. A definite first for Combat.

Lower body warmup – Survival Of The Fittest (Radio Edit) – Coone

Initially reminiscent of past lower body warm ups, this has an unexpected and tough capoeira section burning the legs and raising our heart rates.

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Combat 1 – BadboiPegboard Nerds

Yes the low switch lunges are hard and continue the onslaught started by capoeira in the warm up.

Yes the forty odd roundhouse kicks challenge balance, work the supporting leg and test even the most crafted techniques.

But after one or two tries T2 is just boring.

And it’s not helped that the music is an abomination. I will be acting on my participants requests to execute this track soon.

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Power training 1 – Get A Way – Sporty Breed

An epic power track with great moves and uplifting music. I love the last two reps on the main combos where the main musical theme repeats. Turn it up loud and sweat.

The “Dynamic Pull” or as people call it “The Body Attack Bit” is an interesting innovation working a set of muscles in a different way than I think we’ve ever seen in Combat.

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Combat 2 – Edge Of A RevolutionNickelback

Powerful front kicks and squats. Advancing side kicks building from the slow introductory examples to the faster section and topped off by the little Bruce Lee hop before the kick. It’s challenging and the timing is tricky but the side kicks continue to sculpt our legs.

Floor work is a welcome change but as I’ve said before it doesn’t work in the middle of the kicking. Make it a separate track.

Power training 2 – Holdin’ On Right Now – The Solar Rival

Another solid hardcore power track culminating in a huge combination of punches, hooks and weaves. Just as a power track should be. Building a combination layer by layer and then fitting it all together into melee of blurred breathlessness.

Combat 3 – Fight The ResistanceBrennan Heart & Zatox

First time we’ve ever seen the Jump Front Kick in T6. A couple of good combinations set to a pounding bass line. A pretty unremarkable track.

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Muay Thai – Dead!My Chemical Romance

Insanely fast.

Takes time to master the speed of the knee strikes to the beat of this thrash rock song (with its bizarre lyrics about death and hospitals). A grower it now stands out as one of the best in the class. The social ending with double knees in a circle and everyone singing along to “La La La La LAH!” redeems the lack of singalong moments earlier.

Power training 3 – Shine (JBC Remix)Geos Crew feat. Zara

A typical all round cardio blaster finale. The main combo builds again and the uppercut repeaters give us the opportunity to finish off our shoulders and work the core abdominals in a very visible way.

And you CAN sing along to this one! “You are my Guide. You are My Light. You take me to the place. Where I can FIGHT!”

Review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63

Conditioning – Three StrikesAfrojack feat. Jack McManus

Since we’ve already performed our fair share of press ups in T4 this conditioning routine focuses on the abdominals. Influenced by CXWorx a series of hovers, side plank raises and last crunches ignite fires in the core. Not one part of the body isn’t fatigued by this point.

Cool down – A New Way To Bleed (Photek Remix)Evanescence

Stretches and Katas to a powerful heavy metal ballad by Evanescence.

It’s taken time but like a fine wine Body Combat release 63 has matured and is another solid release.

Now It’s Your Turn:

What do you think of my review of Les Mills Body Combat release 63? Do you agree? What do you think of the floor work in T4? It looks like it’s in the next class as well. Is that a good thing? Please leave a comment below or post a link to your own thoughts.

For another perspective on Body Combat 63 – read Simon’s Blog here.

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