03 Apr 2020 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2016 issue 9

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Leisure Management - Les Mills - A workout with Heritage

Promotional feature

Les Mills - A workout with Heritage

When the original Les Mills gym opened in Auckland in 1968, it attracted a large following of athletes. Today, thousands of clubs benefit from the brand's high-powered approach to fitness

Today's fitness members are looking for more athletic-based classes
The first Les Mills gym members were mostly serious athletes
Les Mills pioneered the concept of 'strong is the new skinny' well before it entered the mainstream market
Les Mills classes now inspire people all over the world

After 25 years of continuous development, with a dedicated team of researchers and scientists now in its squad, it is undeniable that BODYPUMP™, the fuel that spread the Les Mills fire across the globe, will continue to evolve and endeavor to give revolutionary workouts for years to come. BODYPUMP has been challenging muscles for decades. From its humble beginnings as a dumbbell class in a basement gym, to the biggest fitness class in clubs around the world, this is the BODYPUMP story.

While some are born into families of businessmen, craftsmen or even fishermen, BODYPUMP was born into a family of athletes.

The Mills family had athletic blood pumping through their veins long before the creation of the first Les Mills World of Fitness. Phillip Mills is the second generation to drive the family business and he believes authenticity is the reason BODYPUMP became so popular so fast.

When Phillip’s father, Les Mills, opened the first Les Mills World of Fitness gym in Auckland in 1968, most of its members were athletes. With Les competing in four Olympics between 1958 and 1972, and Phillip representing New Zealand for 10 years in track and field – it is no surprise that much of their community was from a sporting background.

Long before the creation of BODYPUMP, when fitness for the masses involved a lot of aerobics and tae-bo, the Les Mills family and its gym, were weight training. It was this athletic style, in an environment full of elite athletes, that people seemed drawn to. Soon a simple, but popular, dumbbell class was offered within the gym.

“People loved group fitness but wanted something more athletic than the stereotypical ‘leotards and legwarmers’ classes,” says Phillip Mills.

The benefits of strength training on fitness and functionality meant the class quickly became so popular that the amount of dumbbells needed made the whole thing almost unfeasible. This issue created the first step that took a simple dumbbell class towards the global phenomenon that is BODYPUMP today.

With his wife Jackie, also a former New Zealand athlete and gymnast, Phillip created a group barbell class as a more efficient system to deliver all the benefits of strength training.

BODYPUMP for every body
Feminism was also taking off in New Zealand at this time. Women were chasing strength and empowerment not only metaphorically, but physically as well. “We wanted to break the stigma that women couldn’t, or shouldn’t, weight train”, says chief creative officer Dr Jackie Mills.

Jackie knew weight training was perceived as ‘masculine’ exercise that created bulky, muscular bodies. She had been incorporating weight training into her exercise through her gymnastic career and knew that the right type of strength training could create a strong lean body. Championing “strong is the new skinny” well before its time, Jackie and Phillip emphasised the gains involved in strength training; from cardiovascular health to joint functionality to hormone responses.

Participants soon realised that weight training in a group environment accompanied by great music, and led by a motivating coach, was more fun than a traditional weights workout.

With so much goodness packed into just one exercise class, the BODYPUMP concept quickly shot into the international fitness stratosphere.

Now BODYPUMP can be found in more than 15,000 health and fitness clubs around the world. Read the full story at: www.lesmills.com/uk/knowledge/newsfeed/history-of-bodypump/

This January Les Mills will launch its 100th BODYPUMP release. That’s 25 years of BODYPUMP classes across the globe. Find out how your club can get involved at www.bodypump.com

Make your BODYPUMP 100 January launch your best ever. Book your free space at a Power of Events seminar today at www.bodypump.com

TEL: +44 (0)207 264 0200
EMAIL: lmuk.clubs@lesmills.com
WEB: www.bodypump.com


Originally published in Health Club Management 2016 issue 9

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