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Les Mills Unleashes New World-Class Gym In Britomart Auck

Media Release
07 April 2010


New Zealand’s largest and most awarded gym chain, Les Mills, wants city workers to unleash themselves at a brand-spanking new gym in the heart of Auckland’s hottest transport centre, Britomart, opening on Monday 11 April.

Over $8 million has been invested in the new Les Mills Britomart fitness complex on a specially designed 2,200 square metre site. Well over $1 million has been invested in a stunning light and sound system that will give an ‘exer-tainment’ experience like no other.

Building features include full air-conditioning, recycled flooring material, energy saving day-light sensor lighting, double glazing, there is even very special carpet in the group fitness studio that has to be seen to be believed.

Around 90 jobs have been created to support members at the new gym, including new fitness instructors, personal trainers, support and reception staff.

As creator of the world’s best group fitness classes - including Les Mills BODYPUMP®, the most popular group fitness programme in the world - Les Mills Britomart offers a range of class options for members. These include sharp lunchtime work-outs, alongside an array of pre-work and post-work classes, which are all held in inspiring studio spaces.

Never seen before in New Zealand fitness equipment will be throughout the gym. Over 90 pieces of cardio equipment with individually controlled full-screen entertainment and MP3 player connectivity, will provide amusement for members working out individually. Other services include free internet access, a members’ coffee bar, sauna, and lavish locker rooms of Italian tile with hair dryers, straighteners and ironing facilities.

The best fitness equipment from the world’s best brands, along with the support from Les Mills’ army of personal trainers and group fitness instructors will have Auckland’s downtown workforce seeing results in no time.

Carrie Kepple, Manager of the new Les Mills Britomart says, “We are excited to bring Les Mills’ passion for fun and fitness to a site that is so accessible to Aucklanders. We are gearing up to be the city’s morning wake-up call, evening wind-down and midday break.”

“We know that city workers will really enjoy the social atmosphere we foster at Les Mills, particularly our unique TEAM TRAININGTM programmes that allow them to get fit with a group of work-mates.”

New Zealand’s largest gym chain, with close to 50,000 members nationwide will also be investing further in the New Zealand market, with other gyms currently being planned.

You can check out all the details for Les Mills Britomart now at

Notes to editors:
• Les Mills has 11 gyms throughout New Zealand
• Les Mills group fitness classes are enjoyed in more than 13,000 gyms, in 75 countries
• Each week six million people world-wide take part in a Les Mills group fitness class
• Les Mills has been a New Zealand owned company since 1968
• For more information visit


Les Mills World of Fitness is recognized as one of most innovative and professionally run health and fitness companies in the world. As one of the global leaders in the industry, it is interesting to take a moment and reflect on how this empire, on promoting an overall sense of well-being, was born.

In the 1960’s, Les Mills ran the Auckland Weight Lifting Association gym in his Grey Lynn garage. Fellow top New Zealand weight lifters such as Don Oliver, Bruce Cameron and John Bolton trained there. The seed was planted for what has become nine Les Mills’ clubs in five cities in New Zealand, many national and several thousand international Group Fitness Licensees.

Les and Colleen Mills shared a history of contributing to New Zealand’s athletic achievements and both shared an interest in fitness as a hobby. Les was a one-time New Zealand Olympic team captain, representing New Zealand in four Olympic and four Commonwealth games in shot-put and discus throwing sports. He won gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. Colleen represented the country in the 400 metres at the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Their two children Phillip and Donna inherited their talents and both later represented New Zealand as athletes at Commonwealth or Olympic level.

In 1968 Les and Colleen Mills opened the first Les Mills gym as a hobby business and a change from their property development business, home appliance stores and shoe store chain. Located in Victoria Street, Auckland (same street as the central Auckland Club, but down the city end) it was only 370 sq. metres and had only one set of changing rooms. The gym therefore had to open alternate days for men and women. Auckland had only a few gyms then. Today there are more than 100. In 1979, the Les Mills gym was relocated to the current premises and opened up on a larger scale. What had been an interesting hobby had become a prospectively big business.

In 1980 Phillip returned from the USA where he had been studying at UCLA on a four year sports scholarship. UCLA did not offer a desired business degree at the undergraduate level. Instead he majored in philosophy. Phillip believes the study gave him the focus and ability to understand and pursue ‘big picture’ options. He became the manager for the rock band ‘Hullo Sailor’. When the band toured the USA he visited a friend’s Los Angeles gym and discovered group exercise. He immediately saw the possibility for New Zealand. That moment was the turning point for Phillip, who until that point in time was not sure what he wanted for his future career.

With his mother Colleen, who was the current world 400m veteran champion and an aerobics teacher, he developed Jazzergetics and Jazzercise. He introduced it to NZ in our Auckland club. It was a huge success. Consequently there was a heightened involvement of women in sport. It was a harder, more intense program focused on attracting both men and women. What is now known as Group Fitness was then known as Aerobics.

The Jazzercise franchise was developed which allowed gyms throughout New Zealand to teach the Les Mills programmes. Les Mills trained the instructors who become certified Les Mills’ instructors.

Les Mills retired from the business in 1987 to focus on his desire to enter into local government. In November 1990 Les had yet another dream realised. He became the Mayor of Auckland. He had sold the business to the public sector in 1987. Within three years Phillip had progressively bought it back.

Over the years a series of programs have been developed by Phillip and carefully selected people, as we continue to instigate trends to satisfy the current needs of our members. There has been a progressive move away from high cardio to specific styles in fitness more suited to individual needs.

One of Phillip’s greatest innovations was to take weights into the Group Fitness programme options in the form of BODYPUMP®. Developed in 1990, it is now the single biggest branded exercise programme in the world.

Using BodyPump® as a spring board Phillip launched Les Mills International (LMI) in 1996, as the vehicle for establishing a global network of licensed clubs and a worldwide community of Les mills trainers and instructors.

LMI develops all the Group Fitness programmes. There are seven propriety programmes that cover the main genres of group exercise – weight-training, cycling, dance, yoga, martial arts, step and cardio. Each programme has a new class developed every 6 months. The class is then trialled up to 20 times in the Auckland club before being finalized. Once perfected it is filmed and becomes part of the training material for the national and international licensees. This is all notated and delivered to over 9000 gyms in 55 countries around the world, as well as the nine Les Mills clubs in New Zealand. These are then taught in workshop situations around the world led by one of our 300 master trainers. They deliver the material at three monthly workshops at up to 500 global locations. There are hundreds of licensees in New Zealand and Australia and several thousand around the world. LMI have Product Managers and Master Trainers of each programme that train the national and international Group Fitness Trainers - who in turn train the Group Fitness Instructors.

Phillip’s partner in life is his wife Dr Jackie Mills who in 1990 won the New Zealand Aerobics Champion title and is a practicing General Practitioner and Obstetrician. She holds a holistic approach towards medicine and also practices acupuncture and homeopathy. Jackie is the Product Manager for the Les Mills Body Balance programme. She played a major role in developing BodyPump® with Phillip.

Overseas feedback indicates that Les Mills consistently has a higher overall standard of teaching Group Fitness classes than anywhere else in the world. An achievement we are proud of.

In early 1992 we introduced Personal Training. It was trialled with two Personal Trainers in the Auckland club. The success and consequential demand quickly saw it develop as a service in all our Les Mills clubs. The Les Mills Personal Trainer ‘Boot Camp’ was developed to ensure personal trainers had the necessary business management skills. In 2000 Les Mills New Zealand (LMNZ), which is the national Head Office for Les Mills’ operations, further developed the personal training programme into BodyTrainer™ Personal Training. ‘Boot Camp’ was replaced with Session Delivery and Business training modules. In 2002 LMNZ sold it to LMI. BodyTrainer™ was trialled in Australia. It is now on hold with LMI for further development to suit the international market. In New Zealand it remains a product exclusive to the Les Mills Clubs.

Personal training has evolved into a product of high demand. One third of our national members choose to use a BodyTrainer™ Personal Trainer, because it consistently provides results. Once again, we started a nationwide gym trend. With 200 personal trainers we have the largest team in the world.

With world recognition and world class programmes, $50 million dollars was invested in developing existing and new national Les Mills’ clubs to world class state of the art standard. There are currently 9 clubs in New Zealand.

In 2004 Phillip was awarded the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He had won the category for Services which included Financial Business, Property and Arts. He was then chosen as the ultimate winner from five categories of nominees who were considered to be top in their industries. Phillip was selected for his ‘creativity, charisma and inspirational leadership.’ The judges recognized he has a long-term strategy and said “You can see in his eyes that he knows exactly where he is going and that he knows the possibilities are boundless.” They described the Les Mills group as ‘a unique company model with huge national and international expansion potential and clear strategic direction’. At the time of the award, 3 million people in the world participated in Les Mills group fitness programmes per week. He competed for the world title in May 2005 in Monte Carlo and was placed in the top five, which is a huge achievement for Phillip, New Zealand, and the fitness industry.

Coupled with having amongst the largest most efficiently run fitness clubs in the world, and global group fitness programmes, we are the leaders in a fast moving and positive industry. Les Mills’ staff members are highly sort after overseas.

With integrity, commitment and pride, we create the world class health and fitness club for the future, making a major difference to the lives of New Zealanders by dramatically improving their fitness, health and happiness. By creating world class group fitness programmes we also dramatically improve the fitness, health and happiness of people all over the world.


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