It all started with one man. In 1968, four-time Olympian Les Mills started his first gym in Auckland, New Zealand. It was a simple operation, basic strength and cardio training for a small community of athletes. Now, 50 years on, it is the hub of a global revolution – a vibrant destination where the world’s top fitness talent create new ways to get fit, combining music with movement and then taking it to the world.
It was Les’ son Phillip Mills who drove the change.
Phillip started working in the family gym after school. Back then he was charged with motivating exercisers by delivering magazines to them as they pedaled away on indoor cycles. It’s fair to say it’s a role he wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about. But all that changed when he returned from a UCLA track scholarship. He had witnessed the birth of the aerobics phenomenon and as a result his enthusiasm for motivating exercisers had been kicked into a higher gear. So in 1980 he eagerly jumped back into the family business to create group workouts driven by the beat of modern music. Those early aerobic programs drew queues down the street and Phillip could sense the real power of group fitness.
Together with his wife Jackie, a doctor and former gymnast, Phillip spent years developing the concept, learning first-hand what makes – and breaks – a good fitness class. In 1990 they changed the game entirely by introducing weights – BODYPUMP was born.
Phillip and Jackie took BODYPUMP to the world. Employing a team of talented presenters to travel the globe and introduce other clubs to the power of great group fitness. There are now 20,000 clubs offering LES MILLS programs.
Over time, the suite of LES MILLS programs has grown. These days Les Mills’ offers everything from yoga to cycling, dance, martial arts, HIIT and more – and every three months we create new music and moves to ensure our team stays motivated and ahead of the game.
Phillip and Jackie’s children, Diana and Les Jnr, are now propelling Les Mills into the future. Leading a global team of thousands they are tapping into the freshest exercise trends, fusing science, music, movement and ground-breaking technology, and doing whatever possible to make life-changing fitness experiences more accessible.