By Lubna Hamdan
Its high production online classes attract an average of 25,000 people join per day, according to regional CEO Glen Stollery
Fitness giant Les Mills International has seen a 700% uptick in subscribers to its on demand digital platform in the Middle East and 800% globally since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Glen Stollery, CEO of Les Mills International in the Middle East, India and Africa.
The New Zealand-based company is best known for its 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts shot in high production and virtual reality settings, and distributed across 20,000 clubs around the world. In the Middle East, it attracts an audience of 24-43 year olds of which 85% are female.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Stollery said the company’s core business, its live group exercise classes, has suffered due to gym closures as part of governments’ Covid-19-related safety measures. But its Les Mills On Demand platform has seen a massive spike thanks to home-bound consumers.
“Our core business is actually live group exercise classes, so in that respect, because we have about 20,000 clubs that distribute our product all around our worldwide - so if you’ve ever done a body pump class in a Fitness First or Gym Nation, those are our classes - in that retrospect we have been affected.
“[But] we're quite fortunate that we’ve got a number of strings to our bow and we already have an existing online platform that has really great content on it and that’s seen a massive spike, because everyone is home-bound at the moment. So our core business has been affected significantly but this other part has seen a massive uplift. We’re kind of in both camps,” he said.
Its top four most viewed programmes in the Middle East since the pandemic are Body Combat, Body Pump, Les Mills Grit and Body Balance. History Body Pump has been the platform’s most popular class. In months of April and March however the Body Combat 28-Day Invincible programme has taken its place to become the most popular, particularly due to the inclination toward non-equipment programs with broader fitness-interest audience groups. It is followed by Grit which is currently the second most popular programme.
"The novelty of people doing burpees in their bedrooms has now probably worn off and they’re looking for something new,” Stollery said, adding that the platform used to welcome between 5,000-10,000 subscribers a day worldwide but is now seeing an average of 25,000 people join per day.
Some of its local gym partners include affordable fitness chain Gym Nation, whose members have been offered free access to Les Mills classes as a motivational gesture to keep them fit during quarantine and lockdowns.