Get Fit for Michaelmas: Body Pump

It may sound like a wussy new-fangled fad in manner of Zumba or Doggy Yoga, but this was definitely the toughest of the classes I tried. Of course this may have been down to the fitness Hitler who was instructing. Her catchphrase: “If it’s too hard…tough.” It’s geared towards people looking to tone rather than bulk up muscle. I like to think of it as ‘Bums, Tums and Thighs’ on steroids, because every movement is made harder by bar weights on your back, in your arms, or above your head. Sound good?


  • The good news is you can vary how much weight you use and if it gets too much you can leave them out altogether, although you do risk looking like a puny wuss.
  • There’s something quite sexy and old-school about lifting weights. Doing it in unison with everyone else and with a heavy baseline in the background, I felt like a marine (even if I was only lifting 2kg.)


  • There’s a lot of equipment involved including mats, steps, dumbbells and the all-important bar weights, so setting up can be a bit of a faff.
  • You have to be very careful with your weight selection. It’s easy to be overconfident and start off with too much weight on your bar, in which case you’ll be on your knees and begging for death by the end.

Morning After Burn Factor:  9/10 – A full hour of lifting weights to music is always going to have repercussions, but never more so than the day after your first ever session. In short, I was crippled.

Classes in Oxford: The University doesn’t offer Body Pump classes, but a number of independent gyms do. Heading down could be the perfect way to break out of the University bubble.

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