Why do we do this?

As Fitness instructors I think that sometimes we get carried away with the politics of clubs, who’s got the fullest classes, who gets paid what and are we keeping losing classes ect.

The just as we begin to lose our way moaning that we aren’t earning enough and everything has gone up.  One of our clients comes along and gives you a good kick up the arse and reminds you why you love doing what you do because you make their lives better one way or another.

On a previous blog I have spoken about taking people away from their every day life (What Makes a Hero?) but the other reason we do it is to improve the quality of peoples lives.

Recently after a BODYVIVE™ class I was chatting to a couple of my class members in the bar afterwards.

One of the ladies was so excited.

Since doing BODYVIVE™ with me once a week for the previous month she is now able to bend down and pick up the post off of the floor. She said it seemed silly but it obviously was a very big and inspiring achievement for her.

Apparently she used to kick the post along the floor at work till she was out of sight to be able to lean on something to get down to pick it up.  As it was to embarrassing to have to lean on a chair to get it.

Of course that’s just a narcissistic way of looking at things but obviously important to her.  But the implications are so much bigger.  I take it for granted as do probably a great many of us that we can stand on one foot and put on my socks or shoes without having lean against anyone or anything for support or even with out having to sit down.

This lady is well on her way to being able to do that and it makes me buzz to know that I have been a part of that journey and I have helped her to make her quality of life so much better and eventually more productive.

Sometimes when we see people every week we don’t always see the big changes that are happening in front of us as to us they are happening little by little.

But sometimes the smallest changes can have the greatest impact on people’s lives.  I hope my classes continue to remind me why I do what I do.

So why do we do what we do?

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Will going digital save the planet?

I am reading the book “Fighting Globesity” by Phillip Mills and Dr Jackie Mills and a great premise that I have taken from the book is what small things we can do as individuals that could assist in changing the world for a better place. 



I have believed for a long time that one rule to live by is “Treat other people as you wish to be treated”.  To have thoughts and Ideas shared with me is the way I would like to be treated so there for I need to honour that and share some of mine.  Maybe, just maybe one of my thoughts could spark and ignite the idea that starts the chain to one of the big ideas that change the world. 


So the thought was a simple one “What if Les Mills™ went digital?” 


This is a question that many companies would ask themselves in this day and age looking at the advantages and disadvantages of such a change and usually just to see if it would increase the profitability of the company,  But it appears that Les Mills also has a conscience and may look at this from a different angle to other corporations.  


Every quarter Les Mills™ release there new programmes to the world and every instructor that teaches them receives and education pack containing a CD, DVD and choreography notes and programme notes.   


How could this be made digital? 

All of these components more than likely started their life in a form of a digital format.  The notes would have been typed up on a computer in a publishing platform and are probably sent to the printers as a PDF document to be printed on to paper.  The CDs would start as a set of MP3 that are burnt on to a disc as would the video and educations session be burnt on to the  DVD being a Digital Versatile Disc. 

So it appears that all of the media is already digital before it transferred to what we would now call a hard copy. 

There is no reason that this could not just be put in a digital folder and downloaded via the web. 


But there must be! 

Of course there must reasons that a company like Les Mills™ feel that they have to spend all the time and money to transfer all of the digital data in to hard copies before sending it out to their dedicated instructors. 


I would expect that the main reason to do this is to protect the copyright of the material that they have spent vast amounts of money in researching and developing.  By placing the Audio Visual presentations in this format they can be copy protected to stop them from being copied and distributed. 


The question is then throws up is, does this work? 

Quite frankly the answer is no. 

The encryption that is used to protect the media on the hard copy is easily bypassed with free software that is available on the internet.  Legitimate software such as itunes from Apple will allow you to rip the music from the CD and burn your own copy in just a few steps.  The same is available to do the same with DVDs. 


This then brings up two questions 

Is it worth it then? And 

Is it a problem? 

Is it worth it is a question That only Les Mills™ can answer whether the amount of money they spend encrypting the media is a viable option if its so easily bypassed. 


Is it a problem? 

From what I can see the majority of instructors that copy their music onto MP3 do so for the following reasons 

A Backup in case of damage 

Use on an MP3 player 


The beauty of the MP3 player is its ease of portability and its efficient filing systems as well as being able to create playlists, at the touch of a button you have your entire music collection in a package the size of a mobile phone or even intergraded into it.  

Those instructors that copy the DVD do it to be able to play it on an alternative portable device, allowing them to access the information anywhere, and at times it was impossible to do in the past. 

Now days we can watch video on a smart phone where as before we were tied to having a video player connected to a large tubed TV. 

So in essence this probably isn’t a problem for Les Mills™ the media is being used as it was intended and by the recipient who bought it.  It has just become more mobile allowing the purchaser access to it at more convenient times. 


The problem comes from the few bad apples that are in any society that believe that they are entitled to everything for nothing.  For instance instructors would ask their fellow instructors to give them a copy of the releases.  Or someone even more unscrupulously selling the copies.  


So how do you combat this? 

The second one Les Mills™ already do by legally challenging and where appropriate persecuting people who knowingly and with intent breach the copyright and distribute their material.  As cases are won and published.  Les Mills™ are showing that they protecting their property rights to their material and the large amounts of money they put into it. As each case is highlighted it will become a warning to others. 


The first is a harder fish to fry.  Bonds between instructors and loyalties raised between them can be hard to break to safeguard your copyright. One way to tackle this is to point out a very simple fact to instructors, apart from having signed an agreement not to do this when you first trained the simple point is.  

Why the Hell should you BODYPUMP™, BODYATTACK™, BODYCOMBAT™, CXWORX™ or any other of the Les Mills™ programmes your arse off to pay for your training pack for someone else to steal your hard work off of you. 

There is always the one instructor that asks, and they ask every one and probably never pay for their own. By giving yours away you are effectively paying for theirs too as they never have the expense and why should they take home more for doing the same job! 


The other way of looking at this requires what seems like a leap into another dimension across a period of time and a bit of a history lesson. 



In the 1980s a new technology came about that was going to kill the film and television industries, This was the video recorder. Of course those of us that were around at the time remember that there was more than one platform to use the Betamax from Sony and the VHS.  This medium was heralded at the destroyer of all film media.  With this product entering our homes we would just record what we saw on televisions and never want to see anything new ever again! 


“We are now faced with a new and troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life, and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder” 

Jack Valentti, MPAA President 1982 


With hind sight it is easy to see that the video Cassette was not that at all but ended up being a valuable commodity to the film and television industries.  Probably accounting to a large proportion of sales in the years after as we the consumer strove to have good quality pre recorded versions to keep.  This was an income that they never would have had before. 


With each new technology coming to fruition there is always someone heralding the end of world because of it, yet we grow we adapt and people gain well from these growths. 


Les Mills™ would never have been able to have sent out their programmes to the world with out the development of this media they have used everything from Video and music cassettes and moved with the times eventually to CD and DVD. 


Of course there were always pirates that reproduced the material but as we all knew the videos were never as good as the shop ones.  They may have been cheaper but you got what you paid for. 


Gabe Newell Head of Valve software a video game development and the largest digital distribution company in the United States Said “Piracy is a service problem. The way to defeat piracy is to provide a better service than the pirates” 


This statement has proven true.  By Apple taking on many of the pirates they created a platform that nearly everyone is aware of and called it iTunes.  I personally have never bought more music than I do today because of this platform.  Why?  Because it’s easy I can find the tune I want, listen to it and with one click I can buy it.  But do I buy just one? No I buy the EP and then go looking for other songs or suggestions that they give me. They have made it easy to purchase songs legally, rather than for me to go and find a platform which I have to download to my computer, to then search for someone who is on line to file share who has the track I want and then hope they are not going to log off whilst I’m downloading it.  

One click, and its mine in seconds. 


By going digital Instructors would never have the excuse of blaming the agency that sends out the media to them as it would be almost instantaneous between purchasing and having a file on your computer.  It would be come more hassle to get it off someone else than download yourself.  That is, if you have done the periodical training to keep up your certification allowing you to buy the product.  This would diminish the amount of excuses an instructor could give to another one for the reason they want one. 


The only problem I can see here is our older generation of instructors that are technophobic.  But what are we if not educators and teachers.  How hard would it be to teach them how to down load.  If it has been made simple to combat piracy it will be simple for the most technophobic instructors to be able to pick up.  But as a tribe we support those within the tribe. 

Besides you can still have a cross over period and teach them on the educational sessions on the DVD. 


So is that it? 

No its not.  You see the whole premise of fighting globiesity is to save the world one little bit at a time.   

How will Les Mills™ going digital save the world? 


Now I know where I am going to take this but so far I haven’t done the research to go with it.  I can only hope that I can find the information easily, but I think that even I might be surprised to the actual numbers I’m going to find out. 


So lets find the figures that save the world! 


These are the figures that I am going to use and they are conservative. 

Les Mills™ believe they have 50,000 instructors around the world. 

We know that they may teach more than one of the 10 programmes that Les Mills™ produce (I personally teach 8 at the moment), We also know that they are likely to teach more than one a week but for the purpose of this we shall say that 50,000 instructors teach a 1 hour class a week as it’s a nice number and easy to configure in sums and then you can multiply it by as many programmes or classes that you want to for the complete range. 


So every Quarter each instructor receives a pack containing 


1x DVD 

1x Choreography notes 

In a double DVD case. 


The CD, DVD and Case are all made majorly of plastic.  As we all know plastic is non biodegradable and some plastics are estimated to have a life of hundreds if not thousands of years once they are disguarded.  But what some people may not know is that plastics are made of oil. 


How much oil is used to make plastic? 


It’s a hard thing to work because you don’t just make x amount of plastic from one barrel of oil, as different things come from the barrel at different points in the processing action. From my best accounts of scouring the internet I have found you need about two tenths of a gallon of oil make 1kg of plastic.   

There are 42 gallons in a barrel of oil so that makes 210kg of plastic. 


Each educational pack (conveniently) weighs 100g so that’s 1kg for every 10 packs. 

50,000 copies comes to 5,000kg or 5 Metric Tonnes 

Which in turn equates to just shy of 24 barrels of oil. 


For ease of calculations I am going to round this up to 100 barrels a year.  But remember this is just the amount of oil, the raw building blocks that has been used to physically make the plastic not the energy needed to get those building blocks out of the oil or to transport it between plants and factories or to turn it into a CD, DVD or case. 


And when we have finished with all this plastic what happens to it? 

Well if put it in a landfill site it could be there for hundreds if not thousands of years we can only make educated guesses as to how long it could be there as even a hundred years is outside of our timescale to actually see if it degrades and plastics haven’t been around long enough to see the real impact of this. 


We could just burn it to get rid of it, but then we know that burning oil sends Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in to the atmosphere which most scientists agree is warming the planet up. 

Each barrel of oil if burnt produces 317kg of CO2 which would make our 100 barrels of oil 3,170kg of CO2 to pumped into our atmosphere. 


Our 5 Tonnes would become over 3 Tonnes of CO2.  Times that by 10 programmes, over a decade, and the numbers start to exaggerate wildly, to over 300 Tonnes of CO2. 


If you think that the programme BODYPUMP™ has been going strong for over 20 years. 


This is all long before you even add in the energy cost of manufacturing and transporting the product globally.  Thank fully someone else all ready did this and put it on a graph which I have borrowed and placed below. 



Its not all bad, Plastic can be recycled and we can use again, what we already have. 

One tonne of recycled plastics saves 685 gallons of oil. 

10kg of recycled plastic can make one gallon of synthetic crude oil. 

There is hope. 


CO2 is also pulled out of the atmosphere and used in the building blocks of plants and trees.  Unfortunately the other part of the pack is choreography notes printed on paper which as we know is made from trees. 


Finding out how many trees are in paper is even harder than finding out how much plastic than is in oil.  Paper now is largely recycled and there are different grades and coats that go on paper and that’s before you even add any ink or cut and bind them. 


Here’s what I found on average 1 tree will make 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets. 

Lets say that each pack contains 10 sheets of paper in the notes (this doesn’t include the paper in the DVD cover or any additional advertising leaflets or the paper used in packing for transportation) 

That’s 500,000 sheets a quarter or 2 million a year 

That equates to 240 trees a year. 


Now on average a broad leaf tree in its lifetime can absorb in the region of 1 tonne of CO2 in its life time. 


So by not printing the choreography notes Les Mills™ could save 240 trees, which in their life time would absorb 240 Tonnes of CO2. 

Now all of a sudden that 300 Tonnes of CO2 from plastics produced in a decade, seems saveable in a single year. 


But lets take this even further.  Lets say that Les Mills™ go digital. 

Over the next year they could not produce a minimum of 30 Tonnes of CO2 the saving on paper would save 240 trees which would take out 240 tonnes of CO2 from the air. 

Their carbon foot print from this alone would mean they have then started to take out 210 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere on top of what they have saved! 

And that way before you even look at the savings of transportation and then imagine if Les Mills™ actually planted those trees so they really have saved them! 


Ok that’s quite impressive but I have a feeling that this has far wider implications on a global scale. 


A CD player used 85watts an hour 


If everyone of the 50,000 instructors taught 1 hour long class a week the CD player alone would use 4,250,000 watts or 4,250kwh a week. 


An IPod in contrast uses only 7wh under the same calculations it would use 350kwh a week. 


The difference yearly would be CD at 221,000kwh minus IPod at 18,200kwh saving a grand total globally of 202,800kwh. 


Are you still with me? I know its amazing but wait the impact is phenomenal. 


1kwh of energy produces about 1kg of CO2 which means with this single swap over Les Mills™ via this change from CD players could save an additional 203 Tonnes of CO2 or the equivalent of 203 trees.  Times that by 10 Les Mills™ programmes and that’s 2030 Tonnes or trees a year! 


I’m not going to work out the actual money saving that would be for you or you club you can do that yourself all the info is there for you to use. 


So can Les Mills™ save the world by going digital well it looks like they could save 2290 trees a year. 

Or even 22,900 tonnes of CO2 in a decade from one switch and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 


The financial incentive behind this is a strong enough one on its own, which I have only touched on here and should not be underestimated it’s a hell of a lot bigger than it looks, but this goes so much deeper. In fact because of this move it could increase the standard and quality of the products that Les Mills™ produce not to mention the replication by the instructors that deliver programmes.  But how that works is a whole other ball game which would require a massive spider diagram a white board and laser lights to help add to the effect of its awesomeness LOL. 


So this is what I came up with from reading the book “Fighting Globesity” by Dr Jackie and Phillip Mills, and I’m only half way through. 


What would happen if you read it? 


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Who killed the last Rhino?

I first posted this on 30th October 2011

So Today was a sad day for humanity and this planet!

Today the last wild Rhino was killed in Vietnam.  This was the last wild Rhino left on Asia mainland.

Let me just write this again it was the LAST wild Rhino in Asia!

I know as humans we see ourselves a higher creatures on this planet and more intelligent than any other animal, but surely you have to prove that you are more intelligent than the other beasts that walk on this earth.  

Just because we have managed to leave the confines of this globe, or even can create on demand something as primitive as we see it as fire, does that make us intelligent?  Surely a mark of intelligence is not destroying the environment around you that supports you, especially when you have no idea how removal of just one part of that environment will effect it as a whole whole.  How could removing one link in a chain reduce the strength of it or make it fail.  What if the removal of just one link means it now doesn’t stretch all the way to you?

What part of this animal is so important that someone actually had to kill the very last wild one?  Where did their minds not compute that there has to be a sustainable breeding population to be able to make money by killing them for what ever parts are so valuable.  Its when I see stories like this that I fail to understand the intelligence of man.  Even if you looked at this as an economic tragedy, there are people out there that seem happy to destroy their own income.

So when they are looking for a new job they have to explain that they used to be a Rhino hunter but the were stupid to kill the last one this killing their livelihood and now unable to feed their families they have had to find alternative employment.  Is that the type of person you would employ? One that manages to destroy any future for themselves let alone your company.

But this also raises another question.  Who in this day and age has the money to be having the last Rhino killed for what ever part of it the deemed necessary to ingest or put on their mantle piece?  Surly if they have made enough money to pay for such a valuable commodity they must have had some intelligence to get to where they are? So where did the intelligence waiver so much that they needed that part of a poor animal.

I saw an interesting fact the other day If the entire 7 billion people that live on this planet were to live in one super city it would be the size of france.  To me that seems to leave a rather large area for all the other creatures that roam this earth.  

So far as we are aware this is the only planet in the universe that has life. 

How is it that someone is as shorted sighted as to kill the very last of anything?  Yet science estimates that we as humans destroy one species a day. that is 365 species wiped of this planet every year. 

What if this planet provides everything we need?  What if only this planet provides it? With all the endless possibilities in the universe, even if there was life else where, the only solutions to problems created on this planet had been provided through evolution here.  We have found so many cures to so many diseases here, no rock from any other planet ever cured an ailment but bacteria helped us create antibiotics.

What if the very thing that could have cured cancer was held in that Rhinos genetic make up, or any of the the other 365 species that have been exterminated in the last year.  We could be wiping out our very own chances of survival in the long term.  But then if a super virus came along and wiped out this single species it would save 365 others a year and would have done nothing different to what we as a spices have done countless times.  Remember the Dodo?

I suppose that we can but hope that one thing will die out in time and thats the poachers and people that believe that these animals need to be killed to fu fill what ever need they have.  And then maybe, just maybe, one day they can be reintroduced in to the wild from the few precious remaining members of a dwindling species that we have managed to save in zoo’s.  And maybe by then we may have figured out that we can all share this marbled rock.

I have so much respect for people that stand up and shout for this planet, people like Philippe Cousteau. People who manage to do it the right way, they are passionate about what they do and can see the failings of this species we sometimes call human.  they beg and implore the people with power to have some humanity to save our neighbours that we share the earth with.  One day they might save us.  Their voices are quiet in the din of big business, and we know that money talks.

But at what point do those of us with common sense stand up and say wake up before its too late? Act now before we lose all of them.

Or do we wait till the very last one is gone?

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Is there a secret to tribal success?

I first posted this in june 2011.

Les Mills, Probably the largest and most successful Gym chain and company producing fitness classes that are taught all over the world have just readdressed their mission statement. Their new mission statement is to get 20 million people around the world doing their classes by the year 2020.

Currently they have estimated 8 million people are doing it in 80 countries around the globe which is an achievement not to be scoffed at.  They have 10 programmes that at least one would suit anyone wishing to gain something from fitness, and would find enjoyable.  Their programmes are well researched and presented giving their instructors reliable and up to date education.

So the question arrived to just how are they going to get an extra 12 million in the next 8 years?  I’m sure they have a game plan on how to do this but It got me thinking if I was in the same position how would I do it?  Obviously I am not as successful in business as they are, but its not going to stop me putting a game plan together. who knows I might need it myself one day.

The first question I asked myself was is it reasonable to get that many people doing the classes around the world?  Very few of us are going to see 20 million or even 1 million people at one time in our lifetimes, so I wanted to put it in context.  So far there are 8 million people attending Les mills classes which equates to the entire population of London attending 1 class a week.  Mumbai or Moscow have  around 12 million people living in the cities.  From this point of view it doesn’t seem too unfeasible to get that many more people.  Shanghai has nearly 14 Million people living there.  With an estimated global population of just under 7 billion their goal is a fraction of a percent of the world population.  With less than 1 person in every hundred it shouldn’t seem too difficult.  Well theres an accountants way of looking at it, I’m sure the reality of it is something quite different.

In April 2011 Facebook said it had over 500 million users with over 250 million users accessing the website via mobile technology.  Twitter has over 175 million accounts.  Which shows you just how successful a company can be if its accessible and well known enough.

I have thought for a company to be globally successful it needs to have a number of factors. A quality product. Return-ability, Accessibility and become a household name.

Product Quality is one thing that Les mills have surpassed themselves on.  They have set the bar so high that any other company coming in to the industry with similar products is going to be hard pressed to compete on this.  All 10 of their programmes go through regerous trial procedures and each move has been assessed for its safety and effectiveness.  They have such a massive array of knowledge at their finger tips from Medical doctors to physio therapists working with them not to mention internal and external people giving feed back from all over the world.  Qualified instructors on each release have available to them a DVD showing the moves of each release including choreography and at least 2 educational sessions on them either being specific to the release and the programme or generic to fitness and teaching.  By creating these resources there is only 1 step from themselves and the product they wish to produce to the world and the person delivering it.

So Can they improve on the quality of their product?  Unlike Coca Cola which is made to a precise set of ingredients and can be reproduced by machines to be and to taste exactly the same where ever it is produced around the world.  Fitness programmes are presented by humans and will always have an individual slant put on them by the person presenting it.  Is this a major issue?  Well in essence no its not, as the very nature of being human allows us to like different things so we can all like the same product but the delivery difference between instructors suits individual tastes and personalities thus allowing access to more types of people.  The problem comes here when instructors deviate from a minimum required knowledge and basic standards of the products.  So how do they combat this?  With Agencies running the training programmes regionally and having assessors at stages of instructor development as well as interaction with in certain periods with instructors.  Les Mills have their product quality quite well covered.  The only way I can see to improve on this which they may already do I don’t know, is to have some sort of authority with their agency’s that represent them in every country in which they can have a final say in how their product is being represented.  So their brand standard is continually assessed with in the agency and for the agency to continually assess the standard of the instructors delivering the product.  Each agency should be trying to install in its members in self improvement and calling on the competitive nature for the standard in their country to be the best in the world.

Return-ability is also well covered with new releases be presented every 12 weeks or 4 times a year.  I have clients that have been doing my classes for over a decade,  Maybe some of that can be attributed to the product and some of that to how I teach and interact with them.  But with people returning time after time, year after year and it looking now into decades I think this base is pretty well covered.

So this brings us to accessibility.  Les Mills run a license fee on their programmes which I assume helps to pay for the continually escalating costs of research in to the safety and effectiveness of the programmes, as well as music copyrights for the music used in each programme, and for the agencies to manage the instructors and ensures everyone is adhering to the procedures of continuing education as set out by Les Mills.  All of these things take money in which is used to create a quality product,  and lets not forget that they are a business and Im sure they would like to make a profit and expand, as every business wishes to.  We all work so we can live comfortably and have something more than we have now.

Going back to Coca cola as its such a well known brand.  You can buy it almost anywhere in a big city Your probably not more than couple of 100 meters from either a machine, shop or stall that will vend you the drink.

Lets now go back to Les Mills mission statement to have 20 million people doing their classes.  By imposing a license fee it has narrowed how many people can actually afford to put their programmes into their premises.  Is it possible for  a company to release programmes without a fee?  Well it appears it is, as Zumba has.  Hence you can now find Zumba in every village and church hall not to mention the big gym chains.  Zumba have made their product accessible to everyone and if there is a license fee involved it isn’t so much that an individual cant pay for it to take it to a church hall or maybe its applicable to the person and not the venue.  So freelance instructors can pay one monthly fee and teach the programme in multiple venues rather than being tied in to one venue with a small catchment area.

Currently it appears that Les Mills licences are only in large venues that have the capital to  put into the fees.  Maybe as a company Les mills need to readdress their licensing structure, If they want to more than double their target audience then they need to allow their product to have a wider catchment area allowing more instructors to teach in more venues,  Here is the question that affects most businesses do you drop your fee and hope that by dropping your fee more people take on your product as they can now afford it, and the increase of use increases your profit. Or do you stay where you are and try to get more which is made especially hard in a global recession.  Or will the reduction in fees reduce the quality of the product because there isn’t as much disposable income to use on development and research?

One thing is plain to see the licenses are currently held by gyms and leisure centres and as with all big business in a recession they are looking at cutting expenses. Currently these programmes are only available to those who can afford it.  If only 10 percent of the global population can afford to go to a venue that has the product then you have already made it more than ten times more difficult to achieve your goal.

Its at this point the question becomes is the goal to get 20 million people doing the programmes or is to get that figure whilst making a profit of X amount?

Becoming a house hold name must be one of the most important part of this mission.  People will only buy into a product if they know about it.  There appears to be little point in “preaching to the converted”.  People that are into fitness will talk to others and search out the latest or the best programme of the moment.  Your target audience is those that don’t know, they are your new customers, the ones that need you but don’t know about you yet.

If we look at global house hold brands like coca cola there is hardly a person in the world that has never heard of the drink, but why?  They advertise everywhere and sponsor more events than you can shake a stick at.  Sponsorship of the right event will get your name seen in so many places.  What has been the official drink of the Olympics?  Coca cola for as long as I remember, its not exactly a sports drink but they sponsor so many sporting events as they get so much air time.  Coca colas advertising campaigns are so powerful that they have turned Santas traditional suit from green to red, and the Christmas season doesn’t start till the Coca cola “holidays are coming” advert comes on our television screens, any one who advertises christmas before Coca cola looks greedy and as if they are jumping the gun.

Zumba has become a house hold name in fitness, ask most people on the street if they have heard of it they will say yes, ask the same of Les Mills and the answer will be different, yet Les Mills has been around longer and probably has more people doing it globally.  Now days Marketing is a science in itself, where do you market your product to get the best response? what are the demographics you want to reach and which medium is best to reach them.  Even here in the UK we know that adverts that are run in the SuperBowl cost a fortune and are specially created to be shown first at that point as a big thing.  So many people will be watching at that moment that you can reach your product to most of America, and make the advert right and it will be spoken about, tweeted and facebooked to the entire world. That is as long as Justin Timberlake doesn’t help Janet Jackson with a wardrobe malfunction.

So where would I put my money to achieve this mission statement. How would I grow the Les Mills Tribe of instructors to a global phenomenon? I would be advertising my product so that even an Ant wanted to try it once, and making sure that my product was available every where.  How would you do it?

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Has Zumba Killed REPs?

I first wrote this in may 2011, I teach Zumba now and think this still throws up some interesting questions.

As always this is just my stream of consciousness at the moment feel free to leave or add your own comments and thoughts to it, especially if you have answers to some of the questions I think Im going to ask.  This has been buzzing around in my head for the last couple of days.

So for those of you that have been living under a rock for the last couple of years and have no Idea what Zumba is, It’s the global “fitness phenomenon” a latin style dance aerobics class.  If you are not in the fitness industry and have never heard of REPS then I wouldn’t be surprised.  REPs stands for the register of exercise  professionals.  Basically fitness instructors pay them to have their name put on a list and they endorse different training programmes that reach their criteria.

From my own personal point of view I do have issues with both  Zumba and REPs.

My main issue with Zumba is that I didn’t think of it first!  Zumba also gets my back up for a number of other reasons.  Anyone can become a zumba instructor without any formal teacher or fitness instructor training, Yes your aunty maud can go and pay her money do a 1 day training course and then start teaching.  From my understanding of it, a zumba instructor is taught to just do the class and let the participants follow the movement, the less talk the better, hence a lack of safety cueing.

Because of this Zumba is a bit of pot luck on what type of class you get.  If you do it with an Instructor who has experience in the fitness industry and teaching qualifications then Im sure you will have a fantastically safe class and have great fun, I am also sure there are some stars out there that don’t have a formal teaching qualification that are teaching this with common sense and a great personality,  But in the same breath I have seen what can only be called poor reproductions of teaching, failure to hear a beat (which I would have thought was a fundamental to a dance class), instructors fitness levels that are rivaled by that of a couch potato, where they are extremely over weight, the class out perform them embarrassingly.  Asking their participants to perform moves that at best can be described as controversial. Unfortunately I have seen this type of instructor more than I have seen the good ones.  The lack of standard across the Zumba brand is an issue for Zumba and can only be detrimental to their product.  No matter where you go in the world a Big Mac looks and tastes the same hence the brands standards of McDonalds allow you to trust them globally.  Zumba has failed to create their own brand standard which as I see it will affect their longeviety.

In order to become a member of REPs The criteria is that you have an NVQ or equivalent qualification in fitness.  Which level you enter into REPs depends on what level you are trained at.  A level 2 is the basic qualification for teaching usually either a gym instructor or exercise to music, these are both combined with an anatomy and physiology certification.  The majority of gyms and leisure centers would require both of these certificates to work for them.  A level 3 is an advanced instructor this Includes Personal Trainers.  Level 4 goes in to specialities and usually requires a number of practical hours at lower levels before even starting train on a level 4.

In order to stay  a member of REPs you have to do 2 things. 1 you have to pay your yearly subscription fee and 2 you have to attend courses that give you a certain number of continueing professional development points CPD.  And what do you get for your money a certificate and a card and a couple of magazines a year.

My issue with REPs is why do I need to pay them a yearly fee to get a card to say that they have seen my certificates when I have already done that to Fit Pro long before REPs even came around.  I wouldn’t have been able to get my insurance with them without doing that, I also wouldn’t be able to work in any of the big gym chains or local authority leisure centres without them having copies of my certificates.  If it was a fee as a pre requisite to getting my insurance through them then fine at least then I have a choice in where I buy my insurance from.  

But REPs have managed to fool the brain dead Idiots that used to run a restaurant chain in the outer Hebrides that are now at head office running some of the fitness chains in the UK, that their instructors need a REPs card in order to work for them.  Each company is paying REPs thousands of pounds for their staff to be on their list instead of saying “you know what our brand standards are so high that we check our staff anyway.  We audit regularly to keep up to date on insurance and training, and not only that but we also train our staff regularly and continuously to keep our company at the top of its game.  Why would we pay you to do what we all ready do?”  Thank fully there is one company in the UK that did just that and it also appears that they are the most successful one!

One of the things that REPs says it was established to do was “To safeguard the livelihood of professionals who have invested time and money into their education”.  REPs has given Zumba 4CPD points, Surly this is in direct violation of what it was set up to do.  REPs is supporting and endorsing a company that is undermining the validity and necessity of National Occupational Standard Training.  Every Instructor in the industry would believe that as a bare minimum you need a NVQ level 2 or equivalent to teach in the industry (and in my opinion to work in the industry, how can you manage someone if you don’t even have the qualification to do it yourself?)  If a 1 day training course allows anyone to teach with out any prior qualifications or fitness knowledge then REPs are not safeguarding the lively hood of its members they have just allowed it to be trampled all over.

Zumba is not going away the brand is getting bigger there is Zumba for seniors and Zumba for kids and I hear now Aqua Zumba.  I cant fault the company for making the most of its success they have become a house hold name through great multi media marketing.  Every morning we have all seen the infomercials by guthy ranker telling the Zumba DVDs.  This powerful blanket television marketing has thrust the Zumba name into the public consciousness.  Other more established fitness companies could learn from this.  Ask the average person in the street if they have heard of Zumba they will say yes ask them if they have heard of Les Mills would you get the same response I dont think so.

But where will it stop? Zumba Personal Training after a 1 day course?  By REPs endorsing this, it has opened up a pandoras box, It has failed it members and its Mission statement.

So am I right? Answers on a postcard.

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What Makes a hero?

I wrote this over a year ago. Unfortunately the lady in this article is no longer with us.  The day we lost her i posted it again and added to it.  As it was her birthday recently I thought with this new blog i am starting, I would re upload it as My first as every one could learn from her.  I did!

 I have decided to re post this blog from earlier on in the year, I wrote it about a client of mine who was Fighting cancer.  After writing this blog it seemed to turn up everywhere in my life from lots of people I knew and many I didn’t thanking me for writing it.  The lady It is about also thanked me for it, told me she didn’t like the fact that I called her Jane, Until I pointed out that it was because I could see her swinging through the trees in a leopard print bikini!  This explanation was good enough for her.  We had a party for her Just over a month ago where she with great pride and cheekiness told everyone that she was my hero.

Today sadly we shall lay her to rest as her fight is over, But her legacy is not!  She has touched my life and made me look for the good and the upside in my life and now sits on my shoulder like a little angel screaming in my ear “Well get on with it!”.

Fortunately or unfortunately she has teamed up with another friend who lost their fight with cancer who was a drag queen so now I have two shoulder angels telling me to get on with my life live my dreams because if they have taught me nothing else its that time is short, life is fun and is worth living now.

so maybe she can help you too if you haven’t read this yet, don’t stop till you have read it all.

What makes a Hero?

I have been thinking about this for quite a while.

Is it someone who inspires us?  Or someone who performs an unbelievable feat?  Or maybe it’s someone who is selfless in their actions.

I ask this question because I have a new Hero, actually she has been my hero for a while, but recently I have become aware of just how highly I regard this lady, How she inspires me and how she makes me want to do anything to make her smile.

This amazing woman is a client of mine and has been doing classes with me for a few years.  I want to tell you just a fraction of why she is my hero, how she has changed my outlook on life.  For this blog i’m going to call her Jane and maybe she can inspire you as much as me.

I first noticed Jane as a smiling blonde at the back of my BODYJAM class.  She danced like many of the others creating her own interpretation of the moves and having fun and a giggle.  She was not afraid of laughing at herself when she got it wrong and certainly never held back when I got it wrong.  Jane also gets my sense of humour which always makes a client stand out as not everyone does get it.

As time went on I got to know a little about Jane by having a coffee with her and some of the other ladies after the class.  Jane appologised to me for not jumping about too much in some of the routines that I had been teaching her.  With a big smile on her face, she threw away the reason why, as if it was just a cold or a veruca, and told me she was gonna get the routine better next week.  This was my first indication that Jane was more special that she let on.

What was that reason that she discarded so readily?  The reason was that her feet hurt in the moves that had more impact, and the soreness she was feeling was a side effect from the chemotherapy that she was having at the time.  When other people would have been at home resting this lady was out working out.  She is always smiling like a ray of sunshine at the back of my class always in the same spot.

As time has gone on and some of the treatments have changed, so have the issues in the class,  With a little variation we have managed to make the class accessible and fun no matter what challenge has been thrown at us.  This can only have been helped by the fact that Jane can not only laugh with me and at me, but also at herself and the adaptations that some of the treatments forced her to take in the class. Even if it was holding her boobs down as she bounced, and she certainly wasn’t the first woman to do that in one of my classes.  It did make her spit out a laugh as a grabbed my own crotch at the same time feigning the same adaption.

Her hospital appointments have been moved around my class and another instructors class because laughter and fun is a great healer, and the escapism for the hour has benefits that outweigh the need to be having another dose for an hour.

When radiotheraphy has burnt her she has stood up and refused to be a victim thrown on something that covers the burn and come out, to live her life as much as she can as if it had never happened.  

One of the biggest compliments that I have been given by Jane is that she went to New Zealand and did a BODYJAM class with the choreographer of the programme, a massive role model of mine.  On her return she told me it was an amazing experience but she preferred the intimacy of my class and i made her laugh more which is what she comes for.

I have listened in awe as jane has told me stories about her son that she lost in a car crash when he was in his teens.  Her stories of him have always been a celebration of his life, told with a smile and an honor of having been able to spend what time she had with him.

Just before christmas Jane arrived at the club after my class and sat down with and a cup of coffee and brought out a little christmas present.  She told me that she was so grateful for letting her forget about everything for the hour that she did the class with me.  That it was a great release.

For the first time, in all the time that I have known her I actually saw sadness glisten in her eyes, as she told me that this year the cancer had come back, had spread and on christmas eve she was going to start chemo again.  Never have the strings of my heart been pulled so hard as seeing what she tried so hard to hide behind the mask of her smile.

I spent the next hour using every thing that I had to make that smile real and even if just for a few seconds, a minute or two, she laughed for real and forgot about the hand that she had been dealt this christmas.  For every real laugh that I got gave me the greatest present that I could have got from her that day.

As an instructor I have often thought that my job is about helping people achieve their fitness goals and helping them to reach a place that they can not get to by themselves.  Sometimes the greatest gift I can give in a class is to transport people away from their lives and give them the escapism that they crave.

Jane has taught me that any problem can be met head on with a smile and that my job as instructor sometimes is more than just my clients physical health and fitness.  Without knowing I am having an impact on their mental and spiritual health too.  The last thing any of my clients want to know about is my insignificant problems.  And my problems are insignificant.

What ever this round of chemo brings jane will always be welcome in my class, even if its sitting on a chair at the back hand jiving for an hour.  I will do my best to make her smile and lose herself.  This can only have a great effect for every other member in my class to as we all lose ourselves for an hour and just enjoy.

Every time I see Jane I am met with a smile and sheer determination of her living her life for every moment.  This is why she is my hero, no matter how much adversity that has challenged her she still gets up smiling and fighting.  I intend to live the rest of my life by her philosophy and try to be as great as my hero.

The glass is definitely half full, and if you look around you there is a way to fill it up.  It might not be with the same liquid that you wanted, but you can fill it to overflowing if you chose to!

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