BODYATTACK® 114 FILMING WITH JOSH FARMER
by Les Mills Asia Pacific
How did the opportunity come about to attend the Q3 filming in New Zealand?
Following my Sydney filming experience in 2019, Lisa Osborne invited me to become a member her trial team, with other Instructors from around the world, for (now) previous Releases of BODYATTACK. For this process, she sent through information regarding BODYATTACK 114 and work began compiling the music for the Release. One morning, I received a call from Amanda Breen (Les Mills Asia Pacific’s Director of People and Culture), who shared the news that Les Mills International had invited me to film for Q3.2021! Remembering back to the experience of Sydney filming, I was excited and instantly nervous all at the same time. I began filming preparations for training and teaching, pretty much straight away.
Lisa Osborne, Mandi Jones, Josh Farmer, Rawini Hirini
What was it like to be allocated the presentation tracks and teaching material?
Initially, the Release notes were sent to me within the “trial period”. Having worked on a few Releases with Lisa previously, I was pretty comfortable reading and interpreting the notes, but Facetime came in handy when information didn’t quite make sense to me on paper. Because I’d already been working on the Release with her, I was familiar with the many versions and progressions of the workout and music, so this helped me go into the filming process with more confidence.
Much closer to filming, I was allocated Tracks 4, 5, 7 and 9, which meant I had a week or so before arriving in Auckland, to prepare for those tracks. These tracks were physically intense, so training before filming was important to me, in order to ensure I could perform at my best.
What sort of preparation did you do?
Prior to filming, I increased strength training and became much stricter on my diet, so that I felt healthy, fit and ready for the intensity of filming week. I also reduced teaching some of my regular classes so I could focus on refining my coaching for BODYATTACK. Doing this also gave me time to do some Les Mills GRIT classes as part of my own training.
I spent the weeks leading up to filming, constantly recording and self-assessing my teaching and technique.
How were you feeling in the lead-up, with all the COVID-related travel restrictions happening around you?
The lead up to the trip was very stressful. With COVID flaring up across the eastern states, there were times very close to departure where I was expecting the travel bubble to close! Luckily, we shifted my flight so I got into Auckland (New Zealand) a day earlier, which meant I could pass through the travel bubble with no issues. It happened just at the right time too, because shortly after changing this flight, the travel bubble between Melbourne and Auckland closed (which was the route I was supposed to take). And then, just a few days after arriving in New Zealand, South Australia went into lockdown, which closed that travel bubble too.
How did this experience feel different to your first filming experience in Sydney?
Sydney filming at FOX studios was AMAZING and on another level! That studio was pumping and being my first filming experience, it was quite daunting. I really enjoyed the experience, but most importantly, I enjoyed working with the rest of the BODYATTACK team from Australia! It was nice to have them to debrief and work with, in the lead up and also during the Masterclass filming. I didn’t quite know what to expect going into the filming to work with so many unfamiliar faces; it definitely made this second time around more nerve-racking.
I was, however, quickly welcomed by the team at Les Mills International (LMI) in New Zealand, who turned out to be FANTASTIC to work with, which meant I really enjoyed the lead up to the Masterclass filming.
In Sydney music licensing meant that we could only practise with mirror rehearsals and individual feedback. But this time it was much more detailed, and stacked with rehearsals, practise classes and video feedback sessions with the Program Directors. As a team, there was lots of reflection and dissection of our teaching. This process helped me learn a lot about myself such as the way I teach and what I am truly capable of as an Instructor.
During the welcome meeting we were all really encouraged and empowered to teach from our strengths, and to really bring to life the content of Advanced Training; so hopefully that comes across in the Masterclass.
What was the rehearsal experience like?
We began rehearsal classes on Sunday afternoon and filmed on Wednesday, which I’m told is considered a short filming round. We rehearsed as a team in the LMI office and would often leave from there to teach at one of the Les Mills clubs in Auckland, taking over one of their regular timetabled classes. This was great as it let us coach real people so we could see what cues were landing and what didn’t quite work. Most days, we taught two classes and returned to LMI to review class footage and refine our scripts and coaching. As a team, we would also debrief directly after one class and refine scripts and coaching in the Uber on the way to the next club. This meant that we had to pivot and work quickly to reflect on our tracks and make adjustments, often with little time to prepare.
Luckily, as Lisa works so early and efficiently on the Release, we didn’t have to worry about many shifts in choreography during filming week. This meant we could really dive into teaching and technique with confidence, which definitely helped us make the necessary adjustments as fast as possible.
Most Instructors, at some time or another, have moments of self-doubt. Did you experience anything like that?
Leading up to my arrival in Auckland, and after feedback from our first rehearsal class, there were definitely moments where nerves got the better of me and self-doubt kicked in. We are the hardest on ourselves, and during and after teaching it’s hard not to focus on the negatives. Often, I would reflect on how I had taught and think to myself “that was garbage”. With multiple feedback sessions and debriefs though, I was able to build up my confidence and begin to trust in what I do! The welcome meeting really brought home the message of “teaching form our strengths” and the words of encouragement from the BODYATTACK team back at Les Mills Asia Pacific (via my Instagram messages while I was away), really helped me debrief and trust in my ability, which let me shift my thinking from negative to growth and learning.
What was it like having to present a track without having a Masterclass or any coaching or choreography notes to refer to?
In the lead up to filming week, the notes we were given were very basic and constantly changing. Lisa would film a practise class and send that through with the notes. From there, we’d read and piece together the workout. If ever we felt confused, Lisa would run though the movements with us via Facetime.
Prior to engaging in the filming experience, I was very much a visual or kinesthetic learner. I would spend hours watching and moving through the workout to retain the choreography. Not having the Masterclass to watch during the filming experience, and being involved in the Trial Team really developed my skills of being able to learn by reading the notes.
A big focus for this Masterclass is the lunge; so we were given scientific research to build into our scripts. This was extremely valuable in the coaching focus that I set for each block, particularly in Tracks 4 and 5. Track 7 was all about feel, so it was really cool to build that script with Ra [Presenter, Rawini Hirini] and teach that track in a fun and different way.
What was it like to present alongside BODYATTACK legends such as Lisa Osborne, Mandi Jones and Rawini Hirini?
I cannot begin to express how amazing the week was! Let’s start with Lisa Osborne; this lady IS BODYATTACK! Anyone who has worked with Lisa knows how passionate she is about the program and people! Lisa throws everything she has to make BODYATTACK a workout emphasising feel and connection. Working with Lisa and dissecting exactly how she puts the workout together, and her thought process behind every creative decision, was next level and something I will never forget.
There was definitely pressure, but pressure in knowing that she was putting her trust in us to portray the love and passion she has for BODYATTACK, in how we present it in the Masterclass.
Lisa makes you want to be better! Not for ourselves, but for the experience we give to the Instructors, the members, the people we reach at home on-demand, and in clubs all over the world. It was amazing and an honour to work with Lisa again, and especially to reconnect face-to-face!
I had seen Mandi and Ra teach on previous Releases, so when I found out I was working with the two of them I was over the moon! Before I arrived, we’d connected on the socials as a team, so our friendship hit the ground running from day one. I took a lot away from the two of them and the support we provided each other as a team throughout the week made it all feel so much more comfortable.
We all brought our own strengths to this Release, and the knowledge I took from their collaboration and feedback was invaluable. This experience gave me two great friends in Mandi and Ra and I am so grateful for that.
Perceptions can be everything in group fitness! Marlon Woods once shared his experience of feeling like a filming didn’t go as well as he’d hoped, but then the audience and directors told him how fantastic it actually was from their perspective. Have you had any moments like that?
As Instructors, we can tend to instantly reflect on what we do, and focus on everything that didn’t go to plan. This was the case for me in Sydney and also following this Masterclass for BODYATTACK 114. After the final “cut” I went to that same place of “ahhh I screwed this up”, “I missed that cue”, “my voice broke in that track when I went bigger – how embarrassing” (PS. Look out for that moment, I’m sure it will give you a laugh!).
But, as I said previously, we can instantly go to the negative. But, there were so many positive and fun moments that I tried to reflect on too. In a similar scenario to Marlon’s, conversations after the Masterclass with Jackie, Lisa, Mandi and Ra were very positive and helped me shift that negative mindset. I don’t think I’ll ever stop reflecting on what can be improved, because there is always something to work on, but I am making a more conscious effort now, to look for the positives – it’s definitely a skill I’m trying to build.
How did you celebrate post-filming?
Post-filming, we arrived back at LMI and Michelle opened up the snacks cupboard and handed me a beer, which went down a treat!
After that, I returned to the filming venue and spent the night in awe watching the BODYPUMP® and BODYSTEP® teams do their thing! I really wanted to soak up the atmosphere of filming because it really is something else!
As a team, things wrapped up pretty quickly for the BODYATTACK crew! Before we all flew home, Lisa organised a team dinner at her place with her family and the BODYATTACK community in Auckland, which was a great way to finish off the week.
After filming I had about four days of downtime which was nice. After Ra and Mandi went home, I rocked it solo by jumping into a few other classes and attending the SPRINT™ Masterclass filming, and I team-taught in Les Mills Auckland City with other Instructors (Lisa, Khiran and Vili), which was really cool. I also got a much-needed remedial massage, went to the cinema, took a tourist trip to the top of the sky tower, and adventured though multiple cafes and coffee shops – all those things I wouldn’t be able to do when I got home to a lockdown!
How are you feeling about the whole world seeing the BODYATTACK 114 Masterclass?
This Release is really fun! The track list has some really cool and familiar tunes and the workout provides multiple opportunities for challenge and connection! I think it will be a very popular Release when it drops.
If you could do it again, what would you do differently?
The week went so fast! If I was to do it again, I’d really like to take the time to slow down and soak it all up. I knew this would be the case after the Sydney filming, but with such a short timeframe this Quarter, that really stood out for me as something to focus on.
What would you say to Instructors interested in attending a filming event?
Once that bubble opens up again, get yourself and a crew of your mates across! It is such an amazing production, and so cool to see how it’s all put together; and Les Mills Auckland City is NEXT LEVEL! It’s so cool to get among the atmosphere of events like this; especially when everything has been shut down for so long!
What’s your advice for Instructors during times of self-doubt?
It can be hard to look past the negatives. We give a lot to the workouts we deliver, with class prep and self-review. Sometimes we might get the Releases and there might be something in it that we don’t entirely love; but there is always something in a Release or track that we can hook into. Find what you love about the program or Release, and coach from that space. If it’s the music, connect with the music. If it’s the workout, connect to the workout. Mix things up! Team-teach with other Instructors and connect with your members. There is a reason why we chose to teach, so teach from and keep revisiting your “why”.
How has your life changed for the better, since becoming a Les Mills Instructor?
I’ve met so many amazing people during my Instructor journey, including many of my closest friends who came from the Australian TAP (Trainer, Assessor and Presenter) team, all the way through to the members I teach week in and week out.
When I started, I was a shy kid and I really wanted to build my confidence. Initially, my instructing was very self-focused. I often felt unhappy with how I did something and was often worried that I wasn’t teaching well. But, since those days, I’ve had a complete shift in mindset.
These days, the workout isn’t for or about me. It’s about the people who are giving up their time to show up to my class; it’s about working out what they need and how I can impact their day for the better. Be it something I say or a moment of connection. It’s group fitness, and in a sick kind of way it’s all about the pure joy we can bring to the people in our classes – one burpee at a time!
Now I know, I don’t have to be anyone other than me. And when I put that mic on, I teach from an authentic place because that provides me with the freedom to connect with the people in front of me.
Want to know which club helped Josh discover his passion and become an Instructor?