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Les Mills- The World’s Best Fitness Classes

  • March 20, 2013
  • By Brittany
Les Mills- The World’s Best Fitness Classes

Hello all!  Happy Hump day!  I’m really enjoying the fact that because we sprung forward the other weekend that the sun is now setting after 7pm.  Wheeee!!

I’ve mentioned before that the hubs and I lived in Australia for a few years before moving to NYC (the hubs is from down under and yes he has a cool accent).  Well, of course the first thing I did when I moved there was immediately enroll myself at a local gym and check out their group fitness classes.  I absolutely fell in love with the Les Mills fitness classes!  For those of you who don’t know, Les Mills is a group fitness training program that offers participants high quality classes.  Les Mills has pre-choreographed classes that are updated every three months.  Instructors are specifically trained in each class by attending a multiple-day training program.  The instructors then must learn the new choreography every three months.  The choreography is set to inspiring, motivating music.  The result is 60 minutes on non-stop, heart pumping, exhilarating movement!

Les Mills Fitness Classes

Les Mills Fitness Classes


Because Les Mills was created in and is based in Auckland, New Zealand, the classes are infused with Maori tradition.  Maori are native tribal New Zealanders and their history is steeped in a tradition of great tribal warriors.  In fact, if you’ve ever watched a footy game between Australia and New Zealand, you’ll see the NZ team perform a traditional kapa haka or Maori performance dance.  You can read more about the Maori influence on Les Mills here.


Here’s a breakdown of all the classes offered by Les Mills and my thoughts!


This is sports training at its best.  The class is comprised of high interval training combining athletic cardio moves like running, high knees, jumping jacks and plyometrics with strength moves.

A typical 55 minute class starts with a warm-up that previews lower impact version of the moves you’ll see later in class like repeater taps, walking forward and backward and step touches.  The warm-up is followed by mixed impact track (each segment is split up by song track)-featuring high and low impact options like hamstring curls and gallops, aerobic track-featuring running, knee lifts, etc. and then a plyometric track- featuring jump switch lunges, squat jumps, etc.  After the first four tracks you get a cardio break and move on to upper body conditioning (think pushups until you collapse).  This break is short lived because next you know you are on to a running track-you run around the room, agility track-think quick moves requiring change of direction, interval track and then a power track.  You’ve finally finished your cardio at this point and you only have to be tortured by lower body and ab training before you cooldown!

This class is tough but not impossible and you burn a ton of calories.  I usually burn about 600 per hour class.  It’s actually a ton of fun and the music keeps you going!  Want to learn more?  Click on this link to see a video!





From sports conditioning to yoga fusion, BodyFlow (or BodyBalance as we called it down under) combines tai chi, yoga, pilates and meditation to build strength and flexibility for a total mind-body experience.

In a 55 minute class you can expect to start off on your yoga mat standing to do a tai chi warm up to rhythmic melodies.  After working up some heat in the body, you then head into a yoga-inspired sun salutations track, which really warms up the body and begins to stretch out the hamstrings, back and shoulders.  Sun salutations are followed by a standing strength track also inspired by yoga- think warrior poses, and then a balancing track-think eagle pose or tree pose.  You then finally hit the mat for some blissful hip openers (one of my favs!) before turning up the strength in an abs track and then a back track.  The last two tracks are my favorites-twists for the back and hamstring stretches.  Now that you’re nice and limber, you get to relax in savasana for a guided meditation.  Just try not to fall asleep!

In a typical Balance/Flow class, I usually burn about 100 calories.  This is not a huge calorie burner class but it does wonders for your flexibility and it strengthens the muscles that are key to good heath and fitness performance like your core and legs.  I also sometimes feel like I’m in a physical therapy session when I take this class because the moves are meant to make your body feel good.  I highly recommend this class for anyone who is active.  To see what I’m talking about, check out the video here.

bodyflow 2



BodyCombat is a mixed marital arts training program.  BodyCombat draws from an array of marital arts training programs to create an energetic class.  Although Les Mills claims this class to be high intensity, I find it more moderate than other classes mainly because of the complexity of the marital arts moves.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great workout, it’s just not the heart-pumping, ithinkimightdie! feeling you get in BodyAttack!

The 55 minute class begins with an upper and lower body warm up.  You then head off into a mixture of Combat training and Power training, interspersed with muay thai, followed by conditioning and a cooldown.  The moves you’ll see are from karate, boxing, taekwondo, tai chi and muay thai.  You’ll be punching and kicking your way through the class!

I typically burn about 450-500 calories per 55 minute class.  To learn more about the moves, check out the video here.



This is my favorite Les Mills class!!  O.k. I have a confession . . . I’m certified to teach BodyJam.  So yeah, now you know why it’s my favorite.  But seriously, if you like Zumba, you’ll love this class.  It’s a dance-based class that is choreographed using the hottest and latest music and incorporating styles from hip hop to latin to house dance.  It’s seriously fun and an awesome change up from the all-Latin Zumba (but I still love Zumba!).

Each 55 minute class starts with a warm-up song to get your heart moving.  This is usually comprised of simple, easy-to-follow choreography.  The second track is usually dancer isolations to warm up chest, shoulders, neck, core and hips.  Then we move on to our first block of choreography, which usually means we learn 2 different combinations.  The first combination is spread out across usually 1-2 songs and then the second combination across 3 songs (the more songs = the more choreography per combination so you see how we build here).  This is followed by a recovery track where we bring the heart rate down a bit and just jam out.  Then the second block of choreography is usually 4-5 songs and is one big continuous layering of choreo.  It’s usually the most intense part of class and also the most fun!  We then groove down and stretch.

A typical class is moderate to high intensity depending upon the choreography and I burn usually between 400-600 calories.  To check out some of the dance moves, watch the video here.




When I think of Les Mills, I think of BodyPump.  Pump is the original of all classes.  It’s the first and best barbell class.  This is your strength training and toning class- a great compliment to all the cardio!  Each participant is required to use a barbell and at least two sets of plates to work lighter and heavier weights.  A step bench is also used for support.

Each 55 minute class begins with a warm-up that previews the moves you’ll see throughout the class but with a smaller range of motion to allow the body to get used to moving.  Generally a light weight is used for the warm-up.  Then you head straight into thighs and bottom with a Squat track-this is the heaviest weight you’ll use in the class and it’s also one of the biggest calorie burners.  Next, you’ll lie down on your step bench to hit the chest with a medium sized weight.  The Chest track always burns for me.  After Chest, comes back where you’ll usually see one of my favorite moves- the clean and press.  Back is also a big calorie burner and the weight is a bit on the heavier side but not as heavy as Squats.  After back, you’ll head back down on the bench for Triceps with a lighter weight and then stand back up for Biceps.  You then pile on some more weight for Lunges, followed by a lighter weight and usually individual plates for Shoulders.  Finally, you hit the Abs and then Stretch.

Even though this class doesn’t have a cardio focus, I typically burn between 300 and 400 calories because this class requires you to lift heavy weights, which makes the body, including the heart, work harder.  I can’t even begin to tell you how sore this class makes me!  Check out the video to see what I’m talking about!




So I know you may think step aerobics is so 80’s but BodyStep is nothing if not innovative. This class is unique because it combines sports training with traditional step moves for a killer workout.  You won’t see a lot of complicated step choreography in BodyStep, rather Les Mills focuses on easy-to-follow moves interspersed with high intensity options to get your heart rate up.  The step height is changed throughout class to provide interval work and the main conditioning focus in this class is on the legs!

In each 55 minute class you’ll begin with a warm-up on the floor.  You’ll then progress to a step warm-up.  I usually start off the class with two step risers on each side.  The first two tracks are a bit flower to allow your heart rate to gradually rise.  The class then moves through a cardio peak followed by some legs and butt toning.  I drop a riser about half way through the class to accommodate some fatigue before picking things up in the second half of class.  Some arm and ab conditioning round out the class before the cooldown.

This is a high intensity class and I’m usually sweating buckets by the end.  My typical calorie burn is about 500-600 calories and I inevitably have a sore bottom the next day!  Check out the video to see more.




RPM is your spin class.  Now if I can be quite honest with you, I was never really into RPM as much as the other Les Mills classes.  For some reason I just didn’t love it, but that was before I fell in love with all the boutique cycling studios in NYC.  Now it’s been a few years since I participated in an RPM class and I’m thinking that maybe I should go back and give it a try to see if I like it!

Each 45 minute class starts with a warm-up or a Pack Ride.  You then kick things up a notch with a Pace track before heading into the Hills.  The next two tracks are Mixed Terrain and Intervals to break things up a bit.  Then its some Speed Work before a big Mountain Climb and then a Ride Home followed by Cooldown and Stretch.

I don’t have an accurate read on my calorie count for this class because it was pre-heart rate monitor days (gasp!).  But I suspect 400-500 calories would be accurate.  Check out the video!





BodyVive is marketed towards a more senior demographic.  It’s low impact and easy on the joints.  I tried a class out when I was back visiting Oz for a bit and I have to say, I liked it despite not being their target demographic.  The music is not quite as on-trend as the other Les Mills classes but there are some goodies that I enjoy being lifted out of the music vault!  This class utilizes a non-weighted ball and resistance tubing.

The 55 minute class starts out with a warm-up followed by four low impact cardio tracks.  Despite being low impact, your heart rate does get up!  Next we move on to an active recovery followed by strength and core work before cooling down.

My calorie burn for this class is about 400-450 calories.  Check out the video for more info!




Oh Sh’Bam!  This dance based class looks like heaven.  Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to try it out!  Les Mills, if you’re listening, please bring to NYC!!!!!!!!

This is a 45 minute dance class and I believe the catch is that it’s supposed to be simpler than BodyJam.  Oh how I want to try!  Readers, if you’ve tried it out let me know!!  You can also watch the video here.




We finally reach the last of the Les Mills programs, CXWorx is a 30 minute core class.  Along with Sh’Bam, I have not had the opportunity yet to try out this class but I plan to very, very soon so I’ll be back with more info.  In the meantime, check out the video-looks fun!


So there you have it!  My round up of all the Les Mills programs!  I loved these classes when I was in Sydney and I wish they were more popular in the States.  Readers, have you tried any?  Which ones do you like?


By Brittany, March 20, 2013
  • 8
  • Holly NIlson
    March 21, 2013

    I have tired bodyJam. Where in the states can I find BodyJam, BodyFlow, and BodyVive?

  • Jamie
    March 27, 2013

    Thanks for sharing and spreading the love! Some of my favorites are BODYFLOW, BODYCOMBAT and SH’BAM (as you may have guessed, the ones I am certified in myself! hahaha) Hope that you get to try SH’BAM soon- it’s such a blast!

    Holly- you can find Les Mills classes near you by entering your zip code here:
    Good luck!!

  • Lauren Hidden
    November 6, 2013

    I just joined a Gold’s Gym and they offer this line of classes. I was on the Les Mills’ website trying to figure out which classes I thought might be a good fit for me to try but still wasn’t sure. I’m glad I found your reviews–very helpful! Also, how do you track how many calories you are burning in one of these workouts? Is it an estimate or are you using a device? (And sorry if I missed this in another post!)

  • Diane
    December 8, 2014

    Cool review! My favorite Les Mills class is Bodycombat and I also take CXWORX regularly, which is killer. I think a lot of my enjoyment depends on the instructor. I’ve taken Les Mills classes back at my NJ YMCA and now at my local gym here in France and like most classes, the instructor can make or break the experience. I’m also not a huge fan of RPM but it’s growing on me. Anything to switch it up! Wish my gym offered Bodystep, it looks cool!!

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