Ever since I first tried Body Combat release 56 at the Edinburgh Quarterly Workshop, when the air conditioning in the studio failed and the room turned into a swamp with a river of water pouring down the mirrors, I knew it was going to be one of the best.
It’s a great mixture of music styles, very tough cardio-moves and there is something that reminds me of the early days of Body Combat. Perhaps it’s the reliance on more techno-music, or that there is more shuffling left and right, forward and back. Perhaps it is the sturdy pounding beat of a track by German rave band, Scooter. Whatever it is this release is a corker.
Let’s have a look at the tracks.
Upper body warm up (I Cry): A short warm up with simple punches, upper cuts and hooks. Lively music with enough boxing shuffles to begin to ignite our muscles. For perhaps the first time there is no transitional kata or stretch before the lower body warm up and when the moment comes we just launch ourselves into cardio-orbit.
Lower body warm up (Don’t Wake Me Up): Goodness gracious this is the most intense lower body warm up track we have ever had. We begin with a leg block and seven knee strikes on each leg sequence which we repeat four times during the track. It’s immense and will have you breathless by the end. You’ll think you are half way through the class even though you’ve only just begun. And a sneak preview of the advancing side kick. Fun to teach as well. How many knees? SEVEN!
Combat One (Welcome to the Jungle): We’ve definitely got “fun and games” here. This is a very busy track with multiple transitions and moves culminating in another breathlessly intense ending with non-stop knees and kicks. It’s an okay cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses original and keeps the heart rate at the level set by the warm up.
Power One (Hymn): We had this music back in Body Combat release 28. If you are as old as me you will recognise this as a hit single by Ultravox (famous for their electronic classic, Vienna). The song is an anthem and I find it hard not to sing along to it. In fact that is another big positive for this release. Many of the tracks have catchy or memorable choruses. “The Power and The Glory” and other great lyrics give us instructors so much material to build our cues around. The moves are simple but fast and relentless. Flat out boxing and a super workout.
Combat Two: (Hello (Good to be Back): To me the backbone of Body Combat musically over the last decade is the pounding base line and drum beat of German rave band, Scooter. It’s another sing along track with more high energy moves (jump knees and jump kicks) and, at the end a cheeky little kata before we do first a single, then a double advancing side kick.
As I expected of course I’ve had a few people object to Les Mills using a Gary Glitter song. Well let’s get it in perspective. This is one hundred percent a Scooter track, it just samples a few seconds from a Gary Glitter song so Mr Gadd isn’t getting any royalties (he didn’t write the original song anyway). Please everyone just think of it as another Scooter stadium crowd pleaser and a joy the work out. It’s fabulous.
Power Two (Stamp on the Ground): A third techno sing along track in a row. I challenge anyone, either participant or instructor not to join in with the words, “Jump Jump Jump Jump” in the chorus. It’s a great fun track with some interesting combinations. Triple jab, step over cross and then that last powerful hook. The jump jabs on the angle are messing with people’s heads, they often get the direction wrong but it’s getting better.
Combat Three (Still Getting It): Finally the pace slows down slightly so that we can focus on some leg conditioning. A wild dub-step track, we weave esquivas, gingas and a new move called the “Matrix Kick”. Once you attempt it you’ll know why it is so named. Lift your lead knee quickly then slowly extend to a front kick whilst leaning back slightly. Then snap that leg right back behind you into a lunge. It stretches the hamstrings in the lead leg and it wears out the supporting leg.
At first I found the timing difficult but suddenly, with the music loud, I heard the snare drum when you plant your foot back into the lunge and I have been spot on ever since.
Oh and the exercises in this track hurt or should I say get results.
Muay Thai (Raise the Flag): Six rounds of simple muay thai moves set to an up tempo rock song. Again it’s catchy and the running man knees at the end of each half certainly raise the heart rate into orbit. But for me it’s too long and repetitive. And whilst it’s a good work out it does seem to overstay its welcome.
Power Three (Silence): This track is even longer than the previous one at 8 minutes. But this one has variety. It’s immense. A gigantic workout and an epic even by Body Combat standards. You can build two maybe three false endings into this masterpiece and trick your participants into thinking it’s over when in fact there is still so much more to come.
For us Body Balance instructors it is also another sing along song as we have had the quiet serene version at least twice over the years. What an astonishing ending to the cardio-phase of this class.
Conditioning (Shawty Got The Moves): Short and tough. You really need to try the scorpion push up (effectively one knee bent with the ankle up to the butt) on you toes. Yes you have the knees down option but it’s too easy to cheat on your knees. Prone back raises are a first in Body Combat I think but of course a regular in Body Balance and CXWorx.
Cooldown (Hall of Fame): This is a pleasant end to the class. Simple stretches culminating in a slower repeat of the Kata from track 4.
For me Body Combat release 56 is the best we have had for ages. The larger quota of techno music with sing along choruses combined with simple, yet challenging moves creates a class that will challenge the regulars and be accessible to newcomers.
Well done to choreographers Dan and Rach. This is one for your hall of fame.
Your turn: Do you agree with my review of Body Combat release 56? I would like to hear your own thoughts, reviews and comments. Please post a reply below or post a link to your own review.