Weight workout pumps up participants

Mike DeDoncker

The music starts to pound and 30 barbells rise into the air.

Another Body Pump class is under way at Peak Sports Club and instructor Leslie Schaeffer starts the warmup phase of a workout that fills to capacity for 12 to 15 sessions a week. Body Pump, created in 1990, is one of eight group-exercise-to-music programs franchised worldwide by New Zealand-based Les Mills International. 

Schaeffer said Body Pump was chosen when the club was looking for a program not already offered in the area when it opened last fall. Peak co-owner Mark Banz said his wife, Jill, led the decision to bring in Body Pump.

“I felt pretty comfortable with it, though,” Banz said. “It had a lot of good feedback and, sometimes, you just have to try something and see if it works out.”

Schaeffer, who first saw Body Pump when she worked in Peoria, said she was eager to become one of Peak’s five certified instructors when the decision was made to bring the class in.

“It’s a 60-minute weight training workout,” Schaeffer said. “You get an entire total body workout burning up to 600 calories.

“The program is for anybody. It can be for beginners or it can be for advanced weight lifters because you have the opportunity to add as much or as little weight on your bar as you’d like.”

She said one of Peak’s beginners, Donielle Vicente of Rockford, has lost 45 pounds since deciding to try Body Pump in February.

“I had always had a phobia about working out in public,” Vicente said. “I had tried the machines in the club and moved on to some free weights, and I just kind of stumbled onto Body Pump. I was really sore after that first class, but I decided to stick with it and it got better.”

Vicente said she started with two class sessions a week but has worked up to three a week.

“For me, the best part of the workout is the squats,” she said. “My legs need a lot of work and that’s where I really see the results.”

A typical Body Pump workout will progress from the warmup into squats for the legs, followed in order by exercises for the chest, back, biceps and tricepes before returning to the legs with lunges.

“Then, we do some shoulder work and, of course, abs which are everybody’s favorite and then we’ll cool you down and get you out of here,” said Schaeffer, adding that she has never before taught a group exercise that seemed to appeal to so many men.

It’s just an easy thing to help you keep motivated because you have a lot of people doing it with you,” said Kevin Meyer, who has been in the classes since January. “Then, it’s also lifting weights so it doesn’t seem as girlie as doing aerobics so that’s a draw for me. It’s a good workout and it changes every three months which is nice.”

Michele Diedrichs, who began last November and takes the class the recommended two to three times each week, said Body Pump is a “two bottles of water” workout for her.

“You get your heart rate going and you definitely get a sweat going,” Diedrichs said. “It’s a great way of toning as well in an hour class and you work all muscle groups.

“I enjoy all of it because I am working every muscle group. I know that, when I’m doing things on my own, I might forget to do biceps or forget to do my triceps and this evens out everything.”

Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 ormdedoncker@rrstar.com.