Les Mills finally goes digital

Adapting to change is always difficult. It takes time, but eventually, we come to realize that new formats are the right ones.

A huge change will impact Les Mills group fitness instructors come August, as the group fitness giant will be sending instructors like myself quarterly releases in a digital format.

For the time being, instructors have the option of receiving releases digitally via a download or sticking with the old-fashioned method of waiting for a kit that includes a DVD, CD and choreography notes to arrive on their doorstep. But come August, everything will be digital.

The gist of what is going to happen is the masterclass DVD presentation, music to each track and choreography notes will be sent via email to be downloaded to a computer, flash drive, and so on. Basically, the entire kit is going to be found in an email as opposed to your mailbox.

Much like another topic that hit this space this week – the fact that anybody who shows up at an Advanced Instructor Module II will automatically receive “advanced” status – the idea of going all digital had plenty of instructors talking.

Some liked the idea. Some despised it. That’s OK. Nobody agrees on everything, unless, in our case, it’s delivering the best workouts on the planet to our gym members.

One of my own teammates mentioned she likes the idea of going digital because of the fact that the second we get charged for our releases, we can download the material and print them right off. As somebody who doesn’t like waiting two weeks for the material to arrive in the mail, I can certainly roll with that. Personally, I’m going to be trying it this quarter to see how it goes. We got charged for Autoship on Monday, so we’ll find out sooner rather than later!

Another instructor mentioned that Les Mills is merely keeping up with the times. While not all of us own Ipads or Iphones, that is in excellent point in the context that we are now immersed in the “digital” era. Those of us with Iphones may be able to download the music right into our music library, which I would take any day over the hassle of using Itunes.

When Les Mills released its first BodyPump release over 20 years ago, Twitter, smartphones and Ipods didn’t exist and nobody outside of New York knew who Mark Zuckerberg was. Those first releases were sent to tribe members via video cassette. Eventually, the cassettes and music tapes gave way to DVDs and CDs, and come August, those will go by the wayside as well. Choreography notes will also have to be printed out, as opposed to using the booklets we’re all used to having.

Like a few other instructors, I’m surprised it took them this long to take this step. Do some of my teammates not like it? Sure. Ever since I’ve been instructing, you put your CD in a computer, uploaded the music to Itunes, transferred it to your Ipod, then spent time learning the material before churning it out to members.

Some people are “old school” and prefer this method, along with using the bible also known as the choreography notes. There’s nothing wrong with it. I have grown attached to my release kits over the years. But not everybody has a computer. Hell, not everybody has a Facebook, either.

Will it take time? Absolutely. Nobody is going to adapt to change overnight. But judging from most of the feedback I’ve been getting from my instructor family, the positives outweigh the negatives.

As long as Les Mills continues to produce the best workouts in the world, which they have done for decades, the matter in which my releases arrive doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is that they get learned and properly presented to our members, who in turn receive the best workouts imaginable! Before we all assume the digital concept is going to be a disaster, let’s give it a little bit of time.

Ryan McLaughlin

About Ryan McLaughlin

BDN sports reporter Ryan McLaughlin grew up in Brewer and is a lifelong fan of the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. In "The Boston Blitz" he'll be sharing his perspective with BDN readers about what's happening on the Boston professional sports scene.