BodyPUMP Release 81 Review


What an awesome weekend. Seriously-such a good one! (I am okay with Monday coming too, though, because it is 1 day closer to seeing my husband, and moving out there!)

On Saturday I had the awesome opportunity to be a part of the first gyms to launch the newest BodyPUMP release 81!

{Woke up, got my red and black on<–BP official colors, and took the pic. Hello bedhead and eyes and ugly curtains!}

I seriously had a great time on Saturday and I am going to miss my gym ladies. They are an inspiring bunch!

Quick BodyPUMP Overview

For those who are not familiar, Les Mills BodyPUMP is the original barbell class that strengthens and tones the entire body (source). Les Mills releases a new release 4 times each year, so this was the second one of 2012 (see release 80 review). By the way, this year marks 20 YEARS since BodyPUMP started! Wow. This is a fitness class that has only gotten better with age, and is still topping the charts of people’s favorite way to strength train.

I am still totally and completely addicted to BodyPUMP. And Saturday further confirmed that fact. :)


Anyways, after the release is launched (like it was on Saturday) the release is taught in its entirety for 3 straight weeks (allowing people to get the moves down, start to get used to it, and maybe even add weight to some tracks), and then once those 3 weeks are upthe teacher can then mix and match tracks from previous releases, giving the participants a brand “new” workout every single class! I love that part of it sooooo much! I get to do what I want (within the guidelines) and that rocks as an instructor.

(Despite what you might think, teaching every day can be hard and quite difficult if you get bored with the material. So it is SO nice when there is a lot of material to work with!)

And THAT is why BodyPUMP will change the shape, look, and feel of your body! And this release is NO different. Quite the truth actually: this release took fitness to another level. We introduced the rep effect as well, which you can read about (click the link).

It is a scientific, proven way to get strong, lean, and fit….fast. And if you haven’t noticed, my teaching 3-4x/week has helped me tone up (and slim down) in awesome ways–so I can attest to the fact that BodyPUMP works.

BodyPUMP Release 81 Review

Track 1 – Warmup. Song: “You Make Me Feel” Lightest weight of the class on the bar for this, so the body gets used to lifting a bit of weight. This also allows the body to warm up and prepares the body for hard work to come, and reduces the risk of injury. This track has a fun, uplifting, dance feel (Wahoo!) to it, and makes me want to smile through the hard stuff later on. 😉 My weight selection: 25 lbs. <—weight listed does not include weight of the bar (1-2 lbs.)

Track 2 – Squats. Song: “Higher Ground” Heaviest weight of the class goes on the bar for the quads and glutes, as these larger muscle groups comprise the legs and butt. This squats track is pretty great because it involves a lot of 1-1 timing and bottom halves (staying low) to give the legs and butt the tension and isolation training effect. This track has 3 sets, and they kinda flew by, but then again, I love squats–so that could explain it. My weight selection: 55 lbs.

Track 3 – Chest. Song: “Loud” Probably my most favorite track of the entire release!! LOVE the song. SO much. The work is really hard as there are only 3 long sets of chest press with only 1 recovery, so I enjoyed it a lot. I think I have gotten a lot stronger recently, because the weight I used felt a little too light…… My weight selection: 35 lbs.

Track 4 – Back. Song: “Ravers Fantasy” This track is insane (in a good way)!! It is over 6 minutes of back training, and by the end, I kind of wanted to die (in a good way).  I loved how half of the track focused on high intensity power training, and the 2nd half focused on locking down into strength (lots of bent-over deadrows). It is a great, great track. My favorite move (the Clean and Press) is in there and they felt so good! I, again, could do more with my weight, though. DANG you, gettin’ stronger. 😉 Complacency is not very fun…… but the idea of adding weight is definitely a challenge! My weight selection: 40 lbs.

Track 5 – Triceps. Song: “Domino” This track is a great one because it involves three long-ish sets that progressively get harder. The track involves triceps extensions (wahoo!), triceps presses, and some more (standing) triceps extensions. A very, fun track that made my arms scream for mercy! My weight selection: 25 lbs. for the 1st three sets (on the bar) & 15 lbs for standing triceps extensions.

Track 6 – Biceps. Song: “I Own You” Did not like the music that much, but it is a hardcore song that is shorter–so the intensity works with the moves.  There are NO recoveries, so like before, this one had my arms on FIRE! The track involves a lot of biceps curls….a LOT. And my favorites: bottom-halves! The varying tempos allow for good work to happen, strong, lean muscles to be built, and leaves no room for momentum or trunk swing (no-nos in lifting for biceps!)My weight selection: 25 lbs.

Track 7 – Lunges. Song: “San Francisco” A great lunge track! The song is over 5 minutes long and it starts with several rounds of squats (ouch!) with the barbell, then lots of lunges using different tempos -and without holding any weight. Because of the chance to use only body weight for these lunges, it brings a whole new meaning to fit and using the whole range of motion. Especially when you have to jump out of the lunge, propelling your body and knee up and forward! MAJOR killer (yet, fun) track. Love it! My weight selection (for the squats): 45 lbs.

Track 8 – Shoulders. Song: “Blood Is Pumping” This track is a great one as well. I love how it started with a bunch of pushups, and ended with ’em again! The track has the new move, the rotator overhead press, and boy did that one HURT (good).  This track has tons of pushups (beginning and at the end) –which makes it SO freakin’ intense , and really hardcore. I love the ‘get fit now’ mentality! My weight selection: 30 lbs. on the bar, 5 lbs. plates

Track 9 – Abdominals. Song: “Mr. Saxobeat” This ab track is loooonnnggg and really challenging It has a bunch of slow crunches (good because it forces us to think about it, engaging more muscles!), twisting bicycle crunches, plank holds, and mountain climbers (but twisting knee to elbow), that are reaaaaallllyyy slow. Hard stuff. Let’s just say my entire midsection was shot by the end of this track!  My weight selection: none.

Track 10 – Cooldown. Song: “Best Thing I Never Had” A fantastic track because we get to completely stretch all those muscles we just worked. I love this time to just congratulate the wonderful gym goers, and talk about how hard we all worked. Nothing like a room full of sweaty, tired bodies to feel so bonded! No weight selection here.

{scary’n’sweaty after the workout!}

My Reactions to Release 81

It is amazing to me how each release seems to get harder and more intense. Seriously, how awesome is that?! I really do believe I have gotten stronger, and that I could’ve added more weight to my bar on some tracks, so today (I am teaching again–my final time at my gym :( ) I am going to add weight to the tracks I know I can (squats, chest, back, triceps).
I liked most of the music for this release, so that is obviously important. Music can make or break a workout for me, so if it does not inspire me, it is hard to really ‘get into it,’ you know?!I really enjoy high intense work, the feel of training like an athlete, and bringing my fitness to a new level, and this release totally delivered! I really, really love teaching, so I am SO grateful I found a *niche* that brings me so much happiness, love, and strength into my life. Check out a BodyPUMP class near you!
I am off to do that workout again with more weights, tackle some serious work, and then teach my last Zumba class at that gym. Moving can be so hard sometimes! :(
Have a lovely day!
What hard workout have YOU done recently that just made YOU happy?!! What BodyPUMP song or move do YOU love?? What does YOUR day look like today??
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  1. That sounds like it would be an awesome workout! Have fun teaching your last class…I’m sure it’s bittersweet! I love to do moves that work my back….I can totally see definition there and I like it haha

    • It was bittersweet! And a bunch of ladies got me gifts and cards–sweet, eh?! I have a Zumba class tonight, and then I am done there. SO sad :(

      I like back work too :)

  2. Talk about lookin’ gorgeous!! Oooooh weeeee! :) If I could take bodypump on a regular basis then I could answer your second question. Boo. I did like the workout I did today because it was a circuit with five exercises, 30 reps each, go through it 3 times. It was challenging and different than my latest previous workout. I have school today and then tonight is my first class thing for the Healthy Eating Challenge at Whole Foods!

  3. haha i love how much more awake you look in the second photo! a good workout will do that to ya! 😉 can’t wait for you to move out here!!

  4. Ahhh I wish my gym had body pump!!!

  5. Looks like a really fun workout

  6. Oh what a fun weekend!!!! We launch 81 in about a month and I’ve really only listened to the songs a few times. Love the SF lunge song. I’m hoping I can do the launch, but I could have a baby by then!

  7. I’m trying my first class next Saturday (after Easter) b/c I have to work Saturday…Ben tried it last week and was sore for three days! It was hilarious how much he whined!

    • Haha :)

      HAVE fun at your first class! Remember, it takes about 2-3x to ‘really’ feel like you get the workout. So try to ‘play’ around with the weights and see what works for YOU. It is a great class, but remember that you don’t have to go all out in the very first class :) ENJOY!!

  8. I’ve never done body pump so I can’t answer that one BUT I am ALWAYS unbelievably happy after yoga…

    Zumba I’m happy after too but after yoga, I feel like I’ve nourished my body, mind and spirit…And I know I get to go home and give my hubster a big smooch and that too makes me happy!

  9. Laura says:

    BP81 isn’t released at my gym until next Saturday but now I am SO EXCITED! It’s interesting that your weights are in Imperial units (lbs). My gym has them in metric (kg) which makes things interesting for the shoulder track for example when our options are 1 kg or 2.5 kg!

  10. Hi Annette,

    I am a BodyPump instructor also, as well as 3 other LM programs (RPM, BF, BC). I appreciate you making a BP review blog… It’s great to know other people are as nutty as me about group X.

    I just have a couple questions… First of all, I just launched 81 and there are no tricep pushups at all, so not sure what you were talking about with that track.

    Also, your weight selections seem a little unrealistic. You claim to have lifted 25 lbs for the biceps and 30 for the shoulders… I find this rather hard to believe. 25 lbs is about what Glen Ostergaard lifted on the DVD for the biceps. Susan Renata herself only had medium and small plates on her bar. I was able to lift about 9kg (19.8 lbs) for that track, but it was HARD.

    And 30 lbs for the shoulders is a lot more than any of the female presenters ever lift… Also, I am about equal in weights with the other female instructors at my gym, and let me tell you… We look STRONG. From your picture, you look slim, but I don’t see a lot of bulging muscles there. Unless you’re 6’2, or your form is really bad, which I’m hoping not, I doubt you’re lifting as much as you say.


    • That rocks that you love Les Mills programs too! Congrats on being certified in so many formats–that is such an awesome dream come true :)

      I appreciate your feedback–you’re right, that was an error on the triceps track, and I’ve removed that. Thank you!

      As for the weight selection, each person is very different. And kg and lbs are (obviously) different as well. At the gym I launched this release at, we use the lbs plates (plus the 1-2 lbs bar). Those weights that I said I lifted, I really did lift that. If that bothers you, I am sorry!

      But lifting heavier weights does not mean I have to have bulging muscles either. I am strong (all my reviewers and bosses have said this, even at the AIM 1 training), but I don’t apologize for that! Anyone can lift heavy weights and stay lean (and look strong) as long as they eat right, keep good form (I always try my best–and once again, the AIM 1 BodyPUMP Trainer said I had great form still with the weight I had), and incorporate cardio intervals into their routine.

      I would never lie to my readers and pretend to lift something I hadn’t. I have worked very hard to be able to lift what I lift now (at the Initial Training I could not finish the biceps bar with 7.5 lbs on either side). I have consistently taught 3-4 (sometimes 5) classes per week since then, so maybe that is one of the reasons I can lift what I can.

      I always appreciate good feedback-so thank you for your thoughts. By the way, I am 5’8.

      Have a good day, Cat!

      • Yes, kgs and lbs are different, but I work at 1 gym that uses lb and another that uses kg and plate size (sm, med, lrg) is not that different. Take Glen’s bicep weight for example: 12 kg (lrg and sm plates). This is 26.4 lbs. Not that different than 25. And shoulders, 30 lbs would be about 14 kg. If you can do that weight for biceps, then wow, you are very strong. I sometimes lift 10 kg for the biceps, which is 22 lbs, but not for this song… It’s really challenging.

        If your gym is near me, I’d like to see you in action… Never seen any female lift that much weight before in BP, and the ones that have come close are pretty ripped, and do other lifting besides BP.

        • Good points. Yes, any time–come to a class! I live in SLC (just moved).

          By the way, you are right that I am strong. I’ve worked really hard at it though, and I am proud of the fact that I can be a motivator and an example for others who want to shed some body fat, get toned, lean, AND be strong. I have a friend who teaches BP and she lifts EVEN more than I do when she teaches, and she is by NO means bulky at all (and she is SUCH an inspiration to me!!). Just goes to show that there are a lot of fallacies out there about women and lifting–and if a person works for it, he/she can lift more during BodyPUMP. Personally I think too many participants are scared to try to add weights, but that’s a whole ‘nother story 😉

          Here is another post I wrote about heavy(and/or heavier) lifting that explains this. Women just don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up–unless they do it on purpose and with tons of supplements and lots and lots of really heavy lifting. It’s science, my friend! :

          Have a nice night!

  11. Hi, I am new to your blog, and I have recently gotten really into the bodypump classes at my gym. Based on the times they are offered at my gym, I can only go to them twice a week. Other days I mainly do cardio. Do you think that is enough strength training, or should I try to incorporate more weights on my own on days I can’t go to body pump?

    • Yes, twice a week is great and will help you reach fitness goals! If you want to see EVEN more fitness gains, strength, and toning, I would suggest 1 more day (either by yourself total-body weights or BP). Hope that helps!

  12. Hi Annette,
    I’m a huge fan of BP and have been doing it regularly for the past 5 months. Let me just say…you are AWESOME and a huge inspiration ! Can’t believe you life that kinda weight, with the lean frame you have ! It’s fantastic. makes me realize I have such a looooong way to go ! In this particular release, I struggle with the biceps track (with only 7kgs !) Someday in the distant future, I hope to get to where you are…:-)


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