Phillip Mills

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Phillip Mills
Phillip Mills at the Les Mills International, New Zealand.
Phillip Mills
NationalityNew Zealander
OccupationSportsman, businessman

Phillip Mills (born 13 February 1955, in Auckland) is a former track and field athlete and businessman from New Zealand. He is the founder and Chief Executive of Les Mills International and a founder of Pure Advantage, a green business lobby group.[1][2]


Phillip Mills was born into an athletic family. His father Les, mother Colleen and sister Donna all represented New Zealand at Olympic and/or Commonwealth Games in track and field.[3][4][5]

Mills competed in the 110m hurdles at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and in the 110m and 400m hurdles at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta.[6] He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a track and field scholarship, and graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1978.


On returning to New Zealand in 1979, Mills took an increasing role in the Les Mills fitness-club business founded by his parents, Les and Colleen Mills in 1968. The Les Mills business floated on the stock market in 1984 and was taken over by an investment company in 1987. After the share market crash that year, Mills bought the business back.[7] Phillip Mills continues to operate the Les Mills gym business in New Zealand. As of May 2015, there are 11 Les Mills fitness facilities in New Zealand and a total of 50,000 Les Mills members.[8]

In the early 1980s Mills developed an exercise-to-music choreographed set of exercises, and commercialized them based on licensing instructors to lead classes.[9][10]

In 2004, Phillip Mills was Ernst & Young's New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year.[11] 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.[12]

As of 2006 the company marketed seven pre-choreographed workout programs under the brand name, "Body Training Systems".[10] 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.[13]

In 2009 he won Kea New Zealand's World Class New Zealand Award for New Thinking.[14][15]

In 2011 Les Mills introduced the Smartbar, a barbell designed for BodyPump workouts.[16] That year, Mills was presented with an Australian Fitness Network Lifetime Achievement Award.[17] In recent years Phillip Mills was named on The National Business Review (NBR) Rich List in 2011.[18]

As of March 2015, there were 18 different programs distributed across 100 countries.[19] Phillip Mills has also developed a group fitness management system for maximizing the commercial benefits of the Les Mills programs.[20]

Mills’ views on fitness industry trends and the secrets of the most successful fitness facilities are regularly shared across the fitness industry.[21][22][23]

The environment and sustainability[edit]

Mills is an advocate for “green” business.[24][25] His belief in the importance of sustainability has been widely publicised in New Zealand[26][27] and he has authored a number of articles on the financial benefits of a clean, green economy along with the need for New Zealand to take action on climate change.[28][29][30]

He is the founder of Pure Advantage, a group of New Zealand business leaders lobbying for green economic policy.[31] The Pure Advantage Trust has recently commissioned a group of world-leading economists to review New Zealand's green growth opportunities.[32][33][34]

Works and publications[edit]

In 2007 Mills and his wife, Dr Jackie Mills MD, published Fighting Globesity – A Practical Guide To Personal Health and Global Sustainability (Random House).[35][36]


  1. ^ "Phillip Mills and Barry Coates: Stakes too high to stay silent on climate change". New Zealand Herald. May 21, 2015.
  2. ^ The Future of Fitness White Paper – Les Mills International. “The Future of Fitness”. Accessed 03 June 2015.
  3. ^ New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association website. Les Mills profile. 2010. Accessed 28 July 2010.
  4. ^ New Zealand Olympic Committee|New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association website. Colleen Mills profile. 2010. Accessed 28 July 2010.
  5. ^ New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association website. Donna Mills profile. 2010. Accessed 28 July 2010.
  6. ^ New Zealand Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association website. Phillip Mills profile. 2010. Accessed 28 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Twelve Questions: Phillip Mills". New Zealand Herald. Jan 20, 2015.
  8. ^ Scoop Business. Les Mills Unleashes New World-Class Gym In Britomart Auck
  9. ^ Phillip Mills. Magazines Today
  10. ^ a b Felstead, Alan; Bishop, Daniel; Fuller, Alison; Jewson, Nick; Lee, Tracey; Unwin, Lorna (June 2006). "Moving to the Music: Learning Processes, Training and Productive Systems – The Case of Exercise to Music Instruction" (PDF). Learning as Work Research Paper, No. 6: Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Ernst & Young List of winners of NZ Entrepreneur of the Year". Ernst & Young. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013.
  12. ^ Phillip; Mills, Jackie (2007). Fighting globesity : a practical guide to personal health. Auckland, N.Z.: Random House New Zealand. ISBN 978-1869418540.
  13. ^ Smith, Jessica (July 2001). "Safety Principles of BodyPump". American Fitness.[dead link]
  14. ^ Kea New Zealand website. “Winners of the 2009 World Class New Zealand Awards”. Accessed 28 July, 2010. Archived 27 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Made from New Zealand website. Video interview: “Phillip Mills – World Class New Zealand – Les Mills”. 2009.
  16. ^ "Working out the workout with Les Mills' Smartbar". Idealog. February 2013.
  17. ^ Lifetime Achievement Award Winners. Australian Fitness Network. 2011.
  18. ^ The National Business Review MILLS Phillip & Jacqui
  19. ^ New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. All the right moves Archived 2 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ The New Zealand Listener. Influentials: Business movers
  21. ^ "Les Mills CEO: HIIT training popular". CNN. April 17, 2012.
  22. ^ "Group Exercise for Growth and Strength". OnSite Fitness. April 1, 2012.
  23. ^ "Fitness is now the world's biggest sport, according to Les Mills survey". Health Club Management. March 11, 2014.
  24. ^ Mills, Phillip. “Green chances far outweigh costs”. New Zealand Herald. 2 January 2010.
  25. ^ Mills, Phillip. “To do more than catch up, we need to clean up and green up”. Dominion Post. 25 February 2010.
  26. ^ "Lisa Owen interviews Les Mills CEO Phillip Mills". Scoop Politics. May 3, 2014.
  27. ^ "Climate swings donor left". New Zealand Herald. April 15, 2014.
  28. ^ "To do more than catch up, we need to clean up and green up". The Dominion Post. February 25, 2010.
  29. ^ "Phillip Mills: Green chances far outweigh costs". New Zealand Herald. January 2, 2010.
  30. ^ "Phillip Mills and Barry Coates: Stakes too high to stay silent on climate change". New Zealand Herald. May 21, 2015.
  31. ^ Fallow, Brian. “The upside of climate change”. New Zealand Herald. 21 January 2010.
  32. ^ Revington, Mark. “New Zealand's cleantech change agents”. Unlimited. 21 June 2010.
  33. ^ Tobias, Chris. “One hundred percent”. Idealog No. 27. 2010.
  34. ^ 100% Plan website. Accessed 28 July 2010.
  35. ^ Mills, Phillip and Dr Jackie Mills MD. Fighting Globesity: A Practical Guide to Personal Health and Sustainability. Random House. 2007.
  36. ^ Monroe, Mary. “Fit Body, Fit Planet”. IDEA Fitness Journal. September 2008.