Hi Erin! LES MILLS GRIT has recently gone through a bit of an evolution with LES MILLS GRIT Plyo changing to LES MILLS GRIT Athletic, and LES MILLS GRIT now being distributed as one single program. Can you talk us through the reasoning behind the change?
We did some research into how we could bring more Instructors on board as LES MILLS GRIT Coaches, and it became apparent that selling three different programs separately was expensive for Instructors. We wanted to make the product more affordable, and so from LES MILLS GRIT 28, you will now receive three programs for the price of one. This is the same for clubs too, so now your club will be licensed with all three programs. It’s great for Instructors because we now have the option to teach the three different variations, and it’s great for participants because all clubs will now be licensed for the full LES MILLS GRIT suite.
For the change from Plyo to Athletic – market research informed us that the term “plyo” was outdated, and didn’t translate well in all languages. It also didn’t resonate well with a lot of our members. 30 minutes of jumping on a bench presented an intimidation factor for a lot of people, and this was also a barrier to them trying the workout. We wanted a program that incorporated jumping but could switch up the training focus to include speed, agility, strength and power – to give more of a sports conditioning effect. It’s great because we keep mixing up the training styles so that when you feel yourself going to failure in one aspect, we change it so you can keep going. This helps people to feel successful, as opposed to 30 minutes of pure jumping where they might feel demoralised if they can’t keep going. Ultimately it means the workout is more inclusive and more accessible.
What is your involvement with LES MILLS GRIT?
I am part of the creative team, working with Les Mills Junior, Corey Baird and Ezra Fantl.
What is the process with putting a release together?
As soon as we finish filming one release we roll into the next one straight away. Eight weeks before filming, Corey, Les and I piece together the structure and moves and we start trialling in class. At the same time, Ezra, Les and I will be looking at the music to get those really cool sounds for LES MILLS GRIT. At this stage we get initial feedback from our technical consultant, Bryce Hastings.
At five weeks out, we’ll be starting to see music approved for use, and we’ll also send the workout to Dr Jinger Gottschall of Penn State for her to test that the heart rate is getting into the HIIT zone for the right amount of time. We’ll tweak the workout based on her feedback, and then three weeks before filming I’ll teach the three workouts over one week in Les Mills Auckland City in front of Corey, Les, Bryce and Jackie [Mills] for their final sign off. We have a big feedback process where we discuss the moves and structure and fine tune the workout, and then the following week I film it and send to the filming presenters along with the music.
We trial the workout many times over that eight week period, which means that it is honed to perfection by the time we film the final product.
How much does it change from original concept?
It doesn’t tend to change too much, HIIT is what it is - we have to make it hard and get the heart rate up. If we can do that within the first five minutes then Jinger is happy. Jackie and Bryce are all about safety, so if anything feels unsafe we will modify it. Les looks at it from the perspective of, does it feel cool? Is the concept cool and can we bring in some creative coaching?
It really depends how creative and out of the box we’re trying to be. Corey and Les are really creative and innovative. Corey knows the body so well and – he’ll put forward those moves that raise the eyebrows, that’s what we want from this program! When he introduced the Donkey Kick and the Bronco – they got people talking. However far we go though, we always have to pull it back a little.
Where do you get inspiration from for the structure and moves?
Corey is always upskilling himself with movement and mobility courses. He has such phenomenal knowledge from being a personal trainer and working with lots of different clients, so he gets his inspiration from those things.
I get inspired by the music. The tabata in LES MILLS GRIT 26 where we work on the beat was derived from the music. The Athletic block in LES MILLS GRIT 28 was inspired by my running playlist; I thought, this could be cool for a coach call track. My current idea for 29 is again inspired by music.
What's your favorite release and why?
LES MILLS GRIT 19 is my “go to”. There’s some complexity; the sets are fast with innovative moves; there’s a fun structure with lots of variety and I love the music.
Why do you love doing LES MILLS GRIT?
My journey in fitness is that I went from being a dancer to an aerobics competitor to a soccer player, then I started teaching BODYATTACK™ and BODYCOMBAT™ but never trained weights or HIIT. When it was suggested to me I do HIIT training I was like, nah, I’m good thanks, I like dancing [laughs]. But the more I did it, the more I fell in love with that real hardcore style of training. It’s such a different experience to any other program and I love LES MILLS GRIT because when I do it I’m internally focused. I love pushing myself to the absolute max.
LES MILLS GRIT makes you go to that place of challenge, regardless of your fitness. There are no excuses and you can’t get out of it! You’re in it and you’re going to work as hard as you can and you are going to get F’d up. That’s what I love about it. Initially LES MILLS GRIT is a little bit scary but the more you try it, the better you will get. And the better you feel and the more confident you get, that gives you the confidence to do a lot of other things.
So how does that translate to coaching it?
I’m a real introvert and I really struggle to do those big connection things in class, so HIIT really suits my personality. There’s a different mindset from teaching other Group Fitness workouts. You’re less on the stage performing, and more just training with mates. People are with you. I love the sense of inclusivity where nobody is judging each other, nobody is looking at you, and people are completely internally focused. There’s so much power in that silent struggle and I absolutely love that - I feed off it.
Because I love training at that level, I love taking other people with me to that place. I love seeing people pushing themselves that hard and experiencing what I experience and you really can only get that feeling from a HIIT workout. HIIT is just that next level, F you up and I love getting that kind of energy when we are caning ourselves together.
At the start everyone’s so fresh and so happy and like, yeah we got this… and by the end of it everyone is totally annihilated. Regardless of who you are and how fit you are those 30 minutes are going to challenge you and I get to facilitate that and bring you into my world. Everyone is going to smash themselves and everyone is going to get a great experience.
So that’s why I love teaching LES MILLS GRIT. The feeling and experience is unlike any other Group Fitness product.
How does LES MILLS GRIT compare to other programs in the market?
I don’t think any other programs do the research we do. I doubt other programs have a Jinger who are testing each workout to ensure that it’s delivering on the HIIT promise, or a Jackie that actually take into consideration if we are overloading muscles, overloading joints, avoiding too much flexion. We are backed by science and safety is paramount for us.
In terms of music, not many companies can license the labels and artistes that we manage to.
And of course, we have highly skilled Instructors who go through rigorous training to ensure they deliver a high quality class.
Why should someone become a LES MILLS GRIT Coach?
If you’re already an Instructor, doing LES MILLS GRIT will make you even fitter for your other programs. Teaching LES MILLS GRIT means that it's easier to sustain those anaerobic periods in tracks 4 and 9 in BODYATTACK. It’s also a great challenge because you might be able to talk and teach BODYPUMP™, but can you talk and do HIIT at the same time?
Coaching LES MILLS GRIT teaches you to actually look at people in your class. You learn to look for technique; so your own technique will naturally improve too because that’s what you’re looking for in others.
You always feel good at the end of the class because LES MILLS GRIT is guaranteed to give people a good workout. People work hard in class and when you see people working hard, you feel good - you know you’re doing your job properly so this can really help your confidence as an Instructor.
What are we in for with LES MILLS GRIT 29?
Les has just approved a concept for LES MILLS GRIT Athletic 29 that is inspired by soccer – with a concept around speed ladder drills.
There is one track that everyone is going to talk about - which is inspired by the music! People going to love to hate it. You’re going to hate cause it’s really hard! But playful at the same time. Playfully hard. And that’s really what LES MILLS GRIT is all about.