Five minutes into my first BodyPump class, and my legs had already taken on that rubber-band feeling of collapse.

That wasn’t a good sign.

But class leader Jacque Bush wasn’t about to let up. With only a quick moment to change weights and stretch your legs, she was charging back into the next set to attack another muscle group — the chest.

Bush let me sit in on the class as part of a new feature the Daily Journal is trying. Each week, we’ll be spotlighting a different exercise routine, workout or activity throughout the county, trying it for you to let you know what you can expect.

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The first step of my odyssey was at Fitness Indy South, a Greenwood-based gym that specializes in classes such as PiYo, Zumba and Athletic Kick. But it’s most popular offering is BodyPump.

The program was designed by trainer Les Mills, and utilizes low weights and repetition to build muscle while getting a cardiovascular workout, Bush said. Individual tracks work the legs, chest, shoulders, back, triceps and biceps with barbells and weight plates, as well as some body weight moves.

Bush warned newbies at the start of class to put minimal weight on their bars to start. It felt goofy at first to try and squat a bar with such low weight on it, but almost immediately, the reason became clear.

Repeating the same move over and over may not seem difficult at first. But after just a few minutes of constant lifting, sweat starts to bead up, your breathing becomes more labored and your muscles start pleading to stop.

Bush transitioned through different moves focused on the same body part to get a well-rounded workout. Four repetitions of upright rows are followed by two repetitions of clean-and-press, then back to upright rows.

Each track is set to music, and can last five minutes or more of constant movement. Participants are asked to hold the weight in certain positions, lower it at slower speeds for a more intense burn, and then bust out eight or 10 quick repetitions.

All of it ensures that by the end of each track, your target muscles are on fire.

That’s not to say BodyPump is too difficult for fitness beginners. The flexibility of the program allows you to choose the weight level you want to try, then increase it as you gain strength.

Even with minimal weight, the class burns hundreds of calories at a time, Bush said.

After 45 minutes of squats, chest press, bicep curls, tricep extension and pulse lunges, I was, for all intents and purposes, useless. Bush directed everyone onto their mats for abdominal crunches and side planks as part of a cool-down but my body wasn’t having it.

I could already feel my muscles tightening as I stretched out my legs, arms and shoulders. As someone who tends to neglect leg-strengthening exercises, I would pay over the next three days, walking around like the Tin Man and wincing with every step.

Still, it was a good kind of pain. My whole body hurt not because I had damaged something, but because I had effectively kicked each muscle groups butt in one hour-long workout.

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.