My Journey from BodyCombat participant to instructor

This post has been sat in my drafts folder for about 5 months. I’ve not been teaching very long but I now think it’s the right time to talk about my journey going from a participant to an Instructor. Hard to believe I started this over a year ago. I done my module in Aug 2010, received my official pass in Dec 2010, and started to teach proper in March 2011.

Last June I wrote about “What’s Occurring” , taking the 1st step into what I can only describe now as a life changing experience.  For anyone thinking about going from participant to a group exercise instructor please keep reading as I will give you numerous reasons why you should.

Proud to be a member of fitpro

The Groupex course is ran by FitPro and is a combination of exercise to music level 2 and a Les Mills programme. I talked briefly about exercise to music before but from start to now I am going to give an insight into my experiences.

Attend a class

Everyone attends the gym for a variety of different reasons mines was lose weight and tone. I set myself a series of goals over a couple of weeks. Changes happened but after a while I got bored of doing the same routine. Adding in other exercises helped but boredom set in eventually and motivation slowly got lower and lower. I spoke to one of the personal trainers at the gym and they suggested trying a spin class.

After a couple of weeks of attending spin classes the weight dropped off, cardio increased and on the social side met people like me having similar goals. I plateaued quite quickly in spin and needed another challenge. This is where I took the plunge and attended my first Body Combat class.

First Body Combat class

Body Combat is the empowering cardio workout where you are totally unleashed. This fiercely energetic programme is inspired by martial arts and draws from a wide array of disciplines such as karate, boxing, tae kwon do, t’ai chi and Muay Thai. Supported by driving music and powerful role model instructors, strike, punch, kick and kata your way through calories to superior cardio fitness.

I remember this like it was yesterday. The instructor was a guy called Scott, he went through what Body Combat was, how the class was put together and more importantly safe technique. I remember the music, the atmosphere, the sweat, and all the red faces. My body afterwards felt like it had worked out, legs and arms like lead, the addiction started.


If you think back to your 1st Body Combat class do you remember hearing words like hook, cross, bob, roundhouse, ginga, and you think eh? Trying to get co-ordination, listening to the instructor, processing each move, this takes time.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.

* Jim Watkins

Through time confidence grows and you’ll notice you’re able to do the moves without even thinking about it. You’ll look in the mirror and think is my technique right? You add more power and the workout goes to a whole new level. It was at this point I realised I wanted to be the instructor up there, working hard, making a difference in someones life not just my own.

Taking the first step

In order to complete Les Mills Body Combat programme you not only need Exercise to Music but you also need a Les Mills licensed venue that will give you regular classes of which is explained over on the FitPro Groupex page. * This may have changed please check with FitPro.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

* Martin Luther King Jnr

I approached my gyms fitness manager Vicki. I was a bit nervous as I wasn’t sure if she would be in a position to help me or if it would have to go further up the management chain. Vicki gave me the thumbs up, supported me 100%, documentation was completed and it all began.

Exercise to Music

The 1st stage was to complete my Exercise to Music which was ran by Drummond Education.  I spent 2 weekends out at Ratho armed with water, jelly babies and a tonne of gym stuff. I was on my way.

The course was a mixture of exercising, talking about the anatomy of the body, and delivering a safe structured class.  Speaking to everyone on the course they like me out of passion wanted to progress and teach a Les Mills programme.  The 2 weekends were fun, exhausting and challenging. I made some really good friends which are still 100% supportive. Having never done anything like this before they helped me get my bearings. Thank you guys.

Body Combat training

My course was confirmed to take place over 3 days at Broadwood. I was delighted to Lmi-BodyCombat-Smallfind out that the course would be taken by Tanya Walker the UK head Body Combat trainer. Nerves set in, lots of questions going through my head.The long weekend approached and I decided to stay at a neighbouring hotel. I am glad I did as the 3 days I have to admit was physically the hardest thing I have ever done.

Introductions were done, talks about Les Mills culture given and then it all began. Body Combat 44, delivered again, and again and again. During this time aspects of teaching the programme were covered, fitness magic, pre- queues and technique.

Tanya worked us hard watching our every move correcting when needed on posture and technique. It was amazing. Tanya’s teaching, her presence, personality, it was like a wave of motivation, we all worked hard, giving 100%.

Towards the end of the 1st day we were allocated a track we had to learn and teach the following day. Being my first ever programme i was fortunate to get the upper body warm-up. Day 1 done, 1000’s of calories burned, 100’s of combo’s thrown, 10’s of Jelly babies and banana’s ate. I remember the feeling getting back into the hotel.

The day hadn’t ended as I still had to take on board the feedback from Tanya and learn the track so i could deliver it to my group the following day. Watching the DVD we were handed was my 1st port of call. Dan and Rachel Cohen delivering Body Combat 44. I got to track 8 Your Shining (Hixxy Remix) – Styles & Breeze the final power track which I watched with amazement. Rach delivering such an energetic track, full of passion,motivation. Fitness magic struck and at that point I sucked up every bit of doubt, lack of confidence, nerves, I wanted to be part of this…..

The last 2 days were challenging, delivering 2 tracks, receiving feedback, working on the feedback, going through other aspects of the programme. Tanya and the other instructors on the course were so supportive. We all helped each another giving feedback and encouragement.

This post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the module. The Body Combat challenge, kicking drills, punching drills, it went on and on. I would do it all again if i could it was a fantastic weekend. Don’t think about it, just do it, book yourself on a Groupex award.

Looking back and Now

I still can’t believe what I have accomplished.  I do have alot of people to thank for supporting me and pushing me. Without them who knows where I’d be?  I remember my 1st class, just me, 30+ participants waiting on me giving my intro, nerves, mind blanks. I can safely say this wears off over time. I still get nervous about delivering a class but I believe it keeps me on my toes.

Gaining confidence in the programme you’re delivering comes from knowing the release inside and out.  I now find myself constantly going over choreography that’s just not sunk in. It could be pre-queuing, technique,fitness magic, or timing, participants might not notice, but I do.

I didn’t do my exercise to music and Body Combat training with thoughts to take it on as a 2nd job I done it for a programme I believe in and enjoy. I wanted to learn more about the moves, technique, and the culture. I believe in all of Les Mills programmes and anyone who knows me will confirm my passion.


Doing these programmes has made me a better person in more ways than one:

  • Apply myself to take on things outside my comfort zone.
  • Confidence.
  • Better core stability.
  • Weight loss.
  • Balance.
  • Flexibility.
  • Fitness levels.
  • Muscle gained and toned.
  • Better posture.
  • Meeting other people with same passions as me.
  • List goes on and on.

While most of the above can come naturally from attending a group exercise class seeing these changes in participants I teach is an indescribable great feeling. Having someone thank you as they’ve lost x amount of weight and seeing that positive change is a perk you don’t get with many jobs.

Since the end of February 2011 I have been working as a self employed freelance Body Combat instructor.  I would of been happy with just a couple of class covers a month but come August I will have 3/4 perm classes a week at various gyms. I have a fantastic support system and can’t thank everyone enough. Without this support system some of these classes wouldn’t be possible.


I’ve done my ViPR training and hope to to more with this bit of kit in ways of personal development. I do plan on doing more Les Mills programmes( CX30 looks very interesting ) but right now I am concentrating on the core foundations of Body Combat and teaching. End of the year I want to do my Advanced Instructors Module aiming high for that Elite status…..

I’ve already drawn up a week by week development program and ordered a video camera to record my classes. If interested contact me or comment below and I will post a couple of blog posts outlining my development plan. Baseline is, I will be upping my game and pushing boundaries.


No matter what type of group exercise you do if you have passion, dedication, determination and want to teach, just do it. I’ve learnt that nothing just happens, you need to make it happen. If you don’t then you’ll always wonder what if? Only you can make that change. In the words of Dan Cohen:

Living and existing are 2 different things, you are doing?? Cause I’m living!



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  • Bruno
    Posted June 9, 2014 8:04 pm 0Likes

    Dear Simon, i enjoyed a lot your starting in the world of fitness!
    Rigth now im doing body combat classes not as instructor but as a biguinner.
    My first class it was a desaster ive never done right the movements and after 5 minutes i gave up. Then next week i started aanither class and it was fantastic!! I saw a lots of videos and i learn new thecnics (les mills) and now i cannot live whithout body combat, pump and jump im always with the musics on my head!… Im 37 years old but i was since 16 years old doing sports as surf, boxing, muai tai, capoeira etc… untill now! Im too much old to start an carreear like you in fitness?
    Thanks a lot Simon! Im with you!!!

    Bruno Mendes

    • Simon Philp
      Posted June 9, 2014 8:28 pm 0Likes

      Bruno if you’re healthy,fit and motivated enough just do it 🙂 If you don’t then you’ll always wonder what if. Please keep me informed on your progress, if you have any questions please comment or contact me . Good luck, not that you’ll need it.

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