Les Mills International

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Les Mills International is a New Zealand company providing coreographed workouts to fitness centres[1] distributed to health clubs. The first Les Mills program was BodyStep, with BodyPump being the first program released internationally.


Les Mills International was founded by Phillip Mills and named after his father Les Mills, four-time Olympian and founder of the Les Mills World of Fitness chain of gyms in Auckland, New Zealand.

Beginning in the 1980s, Phillip Mills developed a series of exercise-to-music fitness programs that would later become the Les Mills Group Fitness programs. Mills developed them for use in the gym chain owned by his father in Auckland, officially releasing the first one, Pump, in 1990. In 1995, after experiencing success with Pump in New Zealand, Phillip Mills, with the support of his family and Bill Robertson, an Australian fitness industry leader, released Pump in Australia. Convinced by the product's success in Australia as well as New Zealand and enticed by what he perceived as a gap in the health and fitness market worldwide, Mills founded Les Mills International in 1997 with the purpose of developing further programs and licensing them for use around the globe.[2] The programs have expanded to more than 15,000 gyms and health clubs in 75 countries, with an estimated 90,000 Les Mills Instructors worldwide and an estimated 6 million participants every week attending a Les Mills class.[3]

One of the programs is called "BodyPump"; classes are performed to music using free weights-plates, barbells and an aerobic step. Participants choose their weights based on the exercise and their personal goals. Major muscle groups are worked via series of compound and isolation-based exercises including squats, presses, dead lifts. The focus is towards muscle endurance by moving light weights at high repetitions.[4]

In 2004, Phillip Mills was Ernst & Young's New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year,[5] and the following year he competed in Monaco as a finalist for Ernst & Young's World Entrepreneur of the Year award.[6] In 2005, Les Mills International was named New Zealand Services Exporter of the Year by NZ Trade and Enterprise and, in 2007, he and wife Jackie Mills co-authored the book Fighting Globesity – A Practical Guide to Personal Health and Global Sustainability.[7]

In 2011 Les Mills introduced the Smartbar, a barbell designed for BodyPump workouts.[8]

Recent Activity[edit]

Since 2015, the Les Mills gym in Newmarket, Auckland has been offering a 40-minute multi-peak cycle class where clients become immersed in a three-dimensional world created by digital graphics and audio.[9]

In 2018 Les Mills released a free 30 minute training video in association with Reebok. The campaign, called "Like Nina", included Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev. It became one of the most popular workout videos on YouTube in early 2018.


  1. ^ Felstead, Bishop, Fuller, Jewson, Lee, Unwin (2006). "Moving to the music: Learning processes, training and productive systems – the case of exercise to music instruction" (PDF). London, United Kingdom, p.6. 
  2. ^ "LMI Corporate Website – Our History". Company history – LMI Corporate website. Les Mills International. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Les Mills Unleashes New World-Class Gym In Britomart Auck". Scoop.co.nz. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Smith, Jessica (July 2001). "Safety Principles of BodyPump". American Fitness. 
  5. ^ "Ernst & Young List of winners of NZ Entrepreneur of the Year". Ernst & Young List of winners of NZ Entrepreneur of the Year. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "LMI Corporate site – PHILLIP MILLS APPOINTED JUDGE FOR 2006 ERNST AND YOUNG WORLD ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR AWARD". LMI Corporate site – News Releases. Les Mills International. Retrieved 26 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Phillip; Mills, Jackie (2007). Fighting globesity : a practical guide to personal health. Auckland, N.Z.: Random House New Zealand. ISBN 978-1869418540. 
  8. ^ "Working out the workout with Les Mills' Smartbar". Idealog. February 2013. 
  9. ^ "Les Mills' 3D digital export". Stuff. Retrieved 3 December 2015. 


External links[edit]