What is this Les Mills You’re Always Talking About?


The Les Mills concept is something I’ve noticed can create some confusion for the uninitiated, so I thought I’d just make a quick-reference post, something I can refer people to when they ask in the future. It’s definitely not all-encompassing, just a quick run-down!

Personally, when I first started taking BodyPump and BodyFlow, I thought those classes were exclusive to Gold’s Gym. I only started to get an inkling of what the real deal was when I heard an instructor talk about her BodyJam training. She said she had been through a lot of group fitness training, but really thought Les Mills was the best.

I remember being intensely curious about what a “Les Mills training” was. It sounded exotic somehow, like an exclusive club. (I had no idea that five years later I’d the proud veteran of 3 Les Mills trainings myself!)

So, Les Mills was an Olympian who started a fitness club (Les Mills World of Fitness) in New Zealand, where he was from.  I have an article somewhere that I’ll try to find and link to later, but from my fuzzy memory, the club (or clubs? Not sure when it became multiple clubs…) was sold. Again later, his son, Phillip Mills, and his wife, Jackie Mills (love her! More on that later) bought the clubs back into the family.

Phillip is the president of the company, which still bears the Les Mills name.  In the 90s, the clubs boomed with the aerobics explosion. This was the time of inception of BodyPump and BodyAttack. My understanding is that Les Mills the man is also still very much involved with the running of Les Mills International, though I’m not sure how current that information is.

(As an aside, Phillip and Jackie’s son is also named Les, and was recently a presenter on a BodyPump release. Total cutie. I had brief daydreams about marrying into the Mills family, but he’s far too young for me! 😉 )

All of the Les Mills programs you know and love are created by Les Mills International. Each program has a program director, responsible for choosing the music and creating the choreography for each quarterly release. (About which, you’ve probably noticed, we instructors can become a tad bit obsessive.) The company sends out the DVDs and choreography to instructors and trainers all over the world (usually distributed by region:  ex., I’m under Les Mills Mid-Atlantic). It’s pretty huge.

Clubs pay for the license to run Les Mills programs, and instructors are trained and certified through Les Mills.

My favorite program – my passion, and the reason I became an instructor – is BodyFlow, which I love beyond expression. Jackie Mills is the program director, and it floors me what she is able to put together every three months. As far as I’m concerned, it is really an art. Jackie is pretty awesome, all-around, and I tend to gush a little whenever I start talking about her.

She puts together this amazing class, but she also is also such an awesome presenter.  Every time I get a new release, I get a dose of inspiration, joy, and comfort. She brings a little of everything. All the BodyFlow presenters are wonderful, but Jackie brings something really special, heart and soul. See, I told you I gush… Really, if they had fan magazines about BodyFlow, I’d probably be the first in line every month!

Anyway, I think that’s the overview, not as concise as I planned… and I’m leaving out a lot! Let me know if this makes any sense. Is there anything about the system that confuses you, or you’re just curious about? I will probably streamline this information at some later date, so please let me know!


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