Meadville Tribune

Our Health

February 3, 2014

Let's combat obesity 'one pump at a time'

MEADVILLE — Two years ago, a friend of mine convinced me to try a group fitness class at the Meadville Family YMCA. At the time, I wasn’t a huge fan of group workouts, but I also understood that some people thrived on them.

Yet, what I attended was a bit more than just an hour of exercise with a group of people. It was an experience. It was a Les Mills BodyPump class. Although you may have heard about this class, you may not realize that it’s more than just weightlifting to music. It’s actually a fitness movement … a public health initiative.

The whole Les Mills story is unique and has moved into the public health realm to combat the obesity crisis around the globe. It all began with the vision of one New Zealand Olympic athlete — Les Mills. He competed in four Olympic games from the 1960s and into the 1970s. During that time, Les and his wife, Colleen, opened up their first gym in Auckland, New Zealand — a place to help others become fit and strong.

In 1990, Les created a group strength training regime he called “Pump,” which rapidly soared in popularity across New Zealand and Australia. The group class focused on proper weight lifting technique and was choreographed to current popular music. As people were gaining strength and fitness, the craze of Pump spread internationally. In 1997, the program was renamed “BodyPump” and remains the same today.

Les Mills International has grown to include 15,000 licensed facilities and 100,000 instructors across 80 different countries. It offers 12 group fitness programs, all focused on one thing: getting people more active and fit in order to reverse the worldwide obesity epidemic. According to the Les Mills philosophy: “We aim to help others around the globe by increasing awareness … and putting energy into important causes.”

Kudos to Les Mills for starting a movement to combat obesity! There are many ways that public health professionals look at reversing this chronic disease. While group exercise may not be for everyone, it certainly is one method that can work. Today, after two years of group fitness participation, I got addicted. I am now among those 100,000 instructors certified to teach BodyPump anywhere in the world.

Group fitness has turned out to be one of many worldwide efforts to reduce obesity through physical activity. Whether you participate or not, you might be interested in the many benefits of working out with others. Here are five benefits noted by the American College of Sports Medicine:

1. It offers the opportunity to feel young again. Children and youth spend time together, play together, chat with one another, and enjoy each other’s company. As adults, we often do not take time to just be with friends. Group exercise offers that benefit.

2. Exposure to an effective and safe workout. A personal trainer is often pricey, but in a group setting, you can still have some personal attention as your instructor will coach you to proper form and technique while you get in a great workout.

3. Social engagement. Bored in the weight room? Some people just can’t get motivated with just a set of dumbbells. Group workouts provide you with the social atmosphere that promotes camaraderie, accountability, and motivation, all because you are with your friends.

4. Workouts for all levels of fitness. Group fitness is not for a certain exercise level. Beginner exercisers to advanced fitness gurus can get a great workout because the work is already put into the routine of a group program. Follow the instructions and beginners will get a workout without feeling like quitting, and advanced people will work up the sweat they want.

5. Less gym time for you time. Most fitness classes run an hour or less. When you’re on your own, sometimes you drag your feet from station to station and end up skipping half your workout because of time constraints. Group exercise is structured. You’re in and out in the allotted timeframe, leaving far more time to do what you want for the rest of your day.

As we noted in certification training: We are working to combat obesity “one pump at a time.”

Nina Bell, Ph.D., MPH, is a public health professor with Ashford University and works in health promotions for the Meadville Family YMCA. She is a co-author of the book “Community and Public Health,” published by Bridgepoint Education Inc. You can email her at

Text Only
Our Health
  • Prescription for Medical Nutrition Therapy

    Nutrition is a vital part of being well, and an even more important part to getting well (or healing). It’s a critical part of prevention, yet if I surveyed physicians or lay people, and asked them “Does diet therapy work?” chances are at least 70 percent of them would say “No.”

    April 21, 2014

  • Is getting your daily ‘shot’ of caffeine OK?

    Can’t live without your daily dose of caffeine? I know many people who will go out of the way just to grab a fresh cup of Joe or any caffeine shot to jump start their day or combat that afternoon lull.

    March 17, 2014

  • How virus sleuths and public health officials track the cause of a mysterious illness

    When a mysterious disease fells people - as happened in California recently, with as many as 20 children experiencing unexplained paralysis - teams of physicians and epidemiologists quickly mobilize. Perhaps you saw the movie "Contagion"? The idea is to find the culprit before it spreads but also to prevent public panic.

    March 12, 2014

  • Enjoy the taste of eating right

    It’s National Nutrition Month, and I really love this year’s theme: “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.”

    March 11, 2014

  • ERIC-HOLDER.jpg Holder: Heroin deaths an 'urgent and growing public health crisis'

    Attorney General Eric Holder, calling the rise in deaths from overdoses of heroin and prescription painkillers an "urgent and growing public health crisis," is outlining a series of efforts by the Justice Department to combat the epidemic.

    March 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lilly's diabetes drug rejected by FDA

    A diabetes pill developed by Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim was rejected by U.S. regulators because of previously disclosed manufacturing deficiencies at a German plant that hadn't been resolved.

    March 5, 2014

  • Study says too much protein could lead to early death

    Even as researchers warned of the health risks of high-protein diets in middle age, they said eating more protein actually could be a smart move for people over 65.

    March 4, 2014

  • Do flu shots cause runny noses?

    The vaccine used in the study is similar to FluMist, of which 13 million doses were distributed in the United States this year. The work helps explain why runny noses were an occasional aftereffect of FluMist in clinical trials.

    March 4, 2014

  • Trying to lose weight? Reach for the nearest calico cat

    Interesting studies have discovered that cats may actually help us with weight loss.

    March 3, 2014

  • Six reasons childhood obesity has fallen so much

    A major new paper appearing in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that childhood obesity - age 2 to 5 - has fallen from 13.9 percent in 2003-04 to 8.4 percent in 2011-12.

    February 26, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide