"I find this fascinating as I have been a gym guy since I first worked in New Zealand and walked into Les Mills World of Fitness. (www.lesmills.com ) I saw a totally new type of aerobic program with classes of up to 300. The energy felt more like a nightclub. The instructors get that it is about entertainment. Most of these participants rarely touch a machine or weight (outside of the Body PUMP class which weight lifting to music). These are the play people as there is just enough structure to know that it is a safe and hard workout yet you have lots of flexibility. Some instructor tells you what to do and does so in a motivating way.
"Then you have the weight lifters …..who tend to be far more structured. These are the people who tend to carry a clipboard to record what they lift, how often and when.
"Everything about this gym was cool – the music, the funky architectural design, the parties, the clothing lines, etc. I often talk about Les Mills in my innovation stories. What I did not know as a member is that Les Mills (the actual person) noticed that no other gyms had such aerobic programs. They found a Kiwi way to license programs to other gyms.
"Fast forward 20 years…..11,000 gyms around the world use one of six branded and packaged programs. It is a brilliant idea. If you visit any GoodLife Fitness all its aerobic programs are licensed from Les Mills. Every GoodLife member sends my Kiwi gym money.
"From my perspective, GoodLife is a model of Canadian mediocrity in action. There is nothing innovative about it other than its sales model. Service is bland by design. Even the classes to do not live up to the potential I saw overseas. Unfortunately I am one of the few that knows the innovator and the imitator. Virtually all people only know the imitator.
"What I do find odd is that many of the promotional brochures and videos used by GoodLife actually use Kiwi models and shots of the NZ gym – it is not even GoodLife! Go figure."
This was news to me, I had no idea all of these programs were coming from New Zealand. Clearly, the success of these programs has a lot to do with keeping people entertained. Just think how much more could be done, beyond putting televisions in the gym. Where's that party atmosphere?
[Distracting aside:Too bad we don't have a clearly Canadian approach to compete with. I'd love to see the Second City fitness tape series. This winter, we could have had the shovel-your-way-to-a-great-body fitness series.]