Type to search

Les Mills’ Jess Romeo explains how our favourite workouts stay popular

Les Mills’ Jess Romeo explains how our favourite workouts stay popular


“To sustain a fitter planet, we need to inspire the next generation”


Chances are you’ve done a Les Mills class without even knowing it. Here, Jess Romeo, Marketing Director, Les Mills UK & Ireland explains how your favourite workouts have stayed relevant for so long

For those unaware of the Les Mills story, tell us a bit about the origins and growth of the fitness programmes back in the 1980s?

Fitness is literally in our DNA. Les Mills Snr was not the only family member to represent his country in sport. His wife Colleen, daughter Donna and his son Phillip (now our Managing Director) all wore the silver fern as national athletes of New Zealand.

Phillip joined the business full-time in 1980 and immediately began to create innovative ways to motivate people. Not afraid to take risks, Phillip was the first to create group workouts driven by the beat of modern music. Those early aerobic programmes drew queues down the street and Phillip could sense the real power of group fitness.

In 1990 he changed the game by adding barbells to the studio with the original PUMP class. Massively popular in Australia and New Zealand, we knew it was a winning formula. In 1997, it was renamed BODYPUMP™ and our crew of road warriors took it to the world. Les Mills International was born. Since then, we’ve kept designing workouts that inspire people to get results. Our yoga-based BODYBALANCE™ and RPM™ cycle class both took off in popularity. Next up was BODYCOMBAT™, our combined martial arts and fitness workout. We’ve just grown from there and you can now find our 20 fitness programmes in fitness clubs in every corner of the globe.

To sustain a fitter planet, we need to inspire the next generation with new experiences.

Why is music so important in a fitness class?

This is something that we have researched extensively as a business, as there is no doubt that when we work out with music it makes a difference. The effect of the music depends on the type of exercise you’re doing by affecting our level of arousal, the perception of how hard we are working and finally our mood. When our mood is positively influenced it strengthens our exercise adherence by encouraging us to work out frequently. Put simply, there’s no doubt that music can have a profound effect on how you exercise and ultimately how you’re feeling while you’re exercising.

Fitness trends change so much, so why and how do you think Les Mills has stayed relevant for so long?

We refresh the music and moves in all our workouts every three months to keep motivating our tribe and stay ahead of the game. We also continue to innovate and grow our programmes as the market grows and changes. One of our latest additions is our high intensity interval training program, Les Mills GRIT, and we have more exciting news later in the year!

Has technology changed the way Les Mills instructors can train people? If so, how?

Technology has certainly changed the way we go about our business. We continue to explore new, cutting-edge possibilities. One of the most exciting new things we’ve got is ‘immersive fitness,’ an original group exercise concept that makes use of a spectacular purpose-built studio. Participants are surrounded by cinema quality video projected on three walls while an instructor cues exercise movements synchronised with music and graphics.

Tell us about the new les mills GRIT classes and what they involve?

In short, non-stop action; even the recovery periods include some type of movement. Lots of squats, lunges, jumps, pushups and burpees. There are three classes in the series, some classes use weights, while others don’t require any equipment. You’ll push your heart rate to the max, and get your sweat on. And while you can always give all three classes a go, between the Strength, Cardio and Plyo classes to get some variety, they’re all updated every three months to give your body fresh new challenges. Strength will build strength and lean muscle. Plyo will create an agile and athletic body. Cardio will burn fat and rapidly improve athletic capability. With every workout, you’ll work more muscle tissue and keep calories burning for hours longer than with traditional training, increasing aerobic fitness, unleashing fast-twitch muscle fibres and growing lean muscle tissue, burning fat. So for a quick 30-minute workout, you can get some very effective results.

And tell us about Les Mills Live. What is it, and why should people get involved?

We’ve teamed up with Reebok to deliver this ultimate fitness experience. Take what you thought you knew about Les Mills and think again. With the hottest music and a line-up of the most epic Les Mills workouts, including everything from the all-time favourite BODYPUMP™ to the HIIT challenge of LES MILLS GRIT™, this global fitness event will blow your mind. People should get involved to work out with hundreds of others in an amazing venue. They’ll be able to experience up to six classes across the day with the best trainers in the UK. www.lesmills.com/uk/les-mills-live

Where can people look to find their closest GRIT session?
Check out the ‘Find a class’ section of our website: