Why I don’t Les Mills.

If you know one thing about me as an exerciser, instructor, and trainer know this: I am a stickler for form.  We will work for months on form, if necessary, before we move on to more complex exercises.  Form is absolutely essential for safe and affective exercise.  Many newer lifters lack the body control necessary to preform certain lifts and will need modifications.  We will not add or increase weight until form is perfected.  Teaching form with an individual is relatively simple. It basically follows this:-Bobby-Jo is a new client and has never lifted or done anything except home work-out videos
-I want to assess Bobby-Jo’s squat form
-I instruct Bobby-Jo to show me a squat (I usually demonstrate and discuss what I “want to see”–weight on heels, chin up, back straight, butt out, knees in line with toes, etc.–and pick a spot away from a mirror)
– Bobby-Jo “squats”.  It most likely looks like Bobby-Jo dropped a quarter and is wearing micro mini skirt and high heals.  Unstable, heels off ground, leaning too far forward, knees are together.  (Okay, that doesn’t happen EVERY time, but Bobby-Jo is slightly exaggerated to get my point across)
– I explain that Bobby-Jo’s squat was not perfect and that’s okay, it just gives us more room for improvement…  We move over to a bench.  I demonstrate a bench squat and explain “one does not simply flop onto the bench” and repeat previous directions.
– Bobby-Jo bench squats.  “Closer” I tell Bobby Joe. Now Bobby-Jo sits back a little more and keeps knees inline with toes..heels lift slightly off ground.  “Bobby-Jo pretend you are in the woods peeing (like a girl) or a gross airport bathroom, if you don’t move your weight correctly you’ll pee on yourself”
– Bobby-Jo laughs.  Bobby-Jo bench squats again.  Nearly perfect, just a little shaky.  We repeat (with breaks) until Bobby-Jo is confident.
– The next step is to remove the bench..it could happen first session or many sessions later.  Eventually, we’ll add weight too and Bobby-Jo will be squatting machine.  It could take days, weeks, or a few minutes for it to sink in for Bobby-Jo, but I have the ability to focus in our sessions on individual weaknesses.

Individual training means individual focus for however long our session is.  The more clients I have in one session, the more I will need to stretch myself.  Group Exercise lifting and discussion become exceptionally difficult when there are 3+ individuals who are new to lifting and lack body control.  There will also be more experience people in the class, I still need to challenge them and keep the class going; unfortunately these people will not be my focus..I’ll give more advanced exercises, make sure they do it correctly..but the newbies need more of my attention.  I can accommodate this because my routines are not choreographed to music, I just have list of exercises, reps, and sets with background music.  I can go over to a person and fix form.
Les Mills classes are choreographed to music and if the instructor stops to fix, it could potentially throw the class of 30 off for a couple people.  While taking a “cardio” class like Body Combat or Zumba miss-stepping isn’t a huge deal..no weight is added and the exercise is more about rhythm, counting, and memorization of choreography; some people just take longer to pick all of that up..the risk of injury is pretty low.  But, in a class like “Body Pump” that is about Olympic style lifting, lack of coordination and poor form will more than likely result in injury.  Repeating poor form creates a bad habit and the longer it continues, the harder it is to fix.
I watched a Les Mills instructor training class.  The head of this class was going over choreography and then they put it to music.  The head  gave out directions: “row!, 1, 2, 3, 4, down, up, 6, 7, 8, down…CLEAN!”  At least half of these “instructors” did what I will call a “power reverse curl”.  GREAT, I thought to myself…and these people will be INSTRUCTING!?!?!?!  These instructors could not perform the exercise properly themselves, there is absolutely no way they could teach & demo it to students.  ESPECIALLY, power, high intensity exercises like cleans where major injuries occur if improper form is used..if he or she is in a mirrored room and can’t correct his or her own form, I have my doubts that she/he will correct or know to correct a student.
Most Les Mills classes are very popular and see upwards of 30 people in one class. Even if I do know proper technique… If I am instructing, I can’t watch all 30 people.. I don’t have that many eyes.  A couple may slip through the cracks, especially, if I am busy counting and directing a new-ish routine or if the person is in the back of the room.  I watched people at this gym, come back week after week repeating the same mistakes and nothing was ever said because I am sure the instructor could not see it from the front of the class. Heck, the instructors’ instructor did nothing to correct!
Injuries happen, but I want to keep them to a minimum.  Weight-lifting is difficult to teach in a group setting.  The more people, the more difficult to correct individual mistakes.  The more mistakes that continue to slip through the risk of injury will climb.

This is why you will never see me teaching a Les Mills class or recommending Les Mills Body Pump (or now GRIT) to newbies.  (Advanced and intermediates, may find it enjoyable but need to be able to monitor themselves)  While there are benefits– if you travel, choreography if the same at all locations; men feel comfortable; it’s relatively short & sweet about an hour, and most of the normal benefits of group ex (group motivation, no need to create an exercise plan, friendships, creates a regular schedule, etc)–I can not say those outweigh the negatives of poorly trained instructors, lack of individual attention, and the risk of injury that comes from that.

As a gym employee that is a good money manager… I am less inclined to pushing Les Mills on our location and owner due to the cost.  It is $300 per month to have just Body Pump and use it’s logo. (Grit is $700!!, all of the others are $300 a piece) The cost of Les Mills instructors is low for group instructors (average rate in Columbus seems to be $25-35 per class; Les Mills are paid $17-19 per class).  I don’t necessarily agree with cutting their pay back to balance the cost of using the “Les Mills” name.  I would rather pay an instructor a little more for his or her talent and creativity.
As an Instructor:  Les Mills instructor certifications are expensive. $335 per class! So if I do the math that’s 20 classes to make my money back…most of the time these instructors teach one or two classes a week.  That’s about 3 to 5 months to make my money back, assuming I’m hired right off.  And they have to renew and pay for seminars/classes to maintain that cert. Beach Body certifications (Insanity, PiYo, TurboKick, etc.) cost $199-$250 and does not cost the facility anything to hold them or use the logo as long as a currently certified instructor is teaching.  These instructors will make the “average rate” ($25-35) for an instructor… so it will take them 1 to 2 months to make back at one class per week! Even with the cost of re-certification and seminars, it is a better investment because of the higher starting income and higher earning potential.

So no, I don’t Les Mills.

This entry was published on September 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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