X Shadyside Gives You 1,000 Reasons to Sculpt and Tone

The best advice for this workout: when your body screams, tell it to shut up.

photos by john altdorfer


It’s the comment about 1,000 reps per class that I’m having trouble getting past.

My BODYPUMP instructor, Maria Porco, has continued with the conversation although the echo in my head has muted her: 1,000 reps, 1,000 reps, 1,000 reps...

“A thousand reps, huh?” I ask about 10 minutes before my class at X Shadyside is set to begin.

“Yep, a thousand,” she smiles. “The concept is based on low weights/high reps.”


Their definition of “high reps” shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The promo video for this class offers this succinct advice: When your body screams, tell it to shut up. BODYPUMP falls under the Les Mills brand of workouts, named in honor of the four-time Olympian and New Zealander whose concept uses light-to-moderate weights to sculpt and tone.  

“I will tell you right now, the chest is the worst because you’re doing pulses. When it’s over you’ll probably feel like you can’t move — but you’ll be all right,” Porco assures me.

Makes sense. The whole point of the class is getting the reps in. All 1,000 of them.

Our warm-up is brief, easy work with the barbells. Everyone has chosen the amount of weight they want to add: plates of 2.5, 5 or 11 lbs.

I was warned ahead of time not to overshoot my confidence, to begin with smaller plates to see how the squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, lunges and shoulder workouts feel.

We start in on our quads.

“All right, here we go!” Porco calls out. “Bend your knees, pick your bar up. Mid stance… slow down… and again. We’re here for awhile. Enjoy!”

Meticulously choreographed to the music, our reps continue.

3…2…1… up slow, again… 3…2…1… up slow, again.

I’m wondering if anyone is counting how close we’re getting to 1,000. I see eyes searching for the clock already.

“Now arms!” Porco says. Quick down, up 2…3…4… down 1...2… up 1...2...


“We’re not done! Sixteen pushups on your knees or, for a challenge, on your toes,” she says.

The intensity continues through our deadlifts, lunges, shoulders and abs, but there’s no pressure or tyranny as people pause to take a breath. No one screams if you decide to lighten your weight load, either. Which happens. Five pounds doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize you’ve got 800 reps to go. 

“It’s intense, but it’s your class,” Porco says. “I tell students to do what’s best for you.”

Verdict: You’ll hit muscles you’ve missed before. Be prepared, though — you’ll be facing abundant arm stretches for days after.  

X Shadyside, 5608 Walnut St., Shadyside; 412/363-9999, xshadyside.com 
Drop in fee of $10 per class.

Eat This Month

Magnesium is one of seven macro minerals vital for the proper functioning of hundreds of enzymes within the body that help to metabolize food and transmit nerve impulses. It’s also thought to alleviate PMS, anxiety and migraines and increase bone density, says registered and licensed dietitian Megan Neiman. While eating whole foods always is best, if your diet’s short on whole grains, nuts, seeds, dark green vegetables and whole wheat pasta, a magnesium citrate supplement (no more than 350 mg/day for adults) can be added, she says.

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