Friday, January 29, 2016

All about: Les Mills' newest experience, THE TRIP


“THE TRIP is a cycle class, but not as anyone knows it…”

So says that ever-growing Les Mills Tribe, who recently unleashed the all new THE TRIP fitness class to their incredible range of fitness friendly options.
I am a HUGE fan of spin classes, especially if the instructor and the music are so top notch that I don’t notice my legs turning to jelly. So when I was invited to try Les Mills’ new cycle-centric class THE TRIP featuring virtual reality technology that takes you to a whole other place, I was intrigued. And post-class? Most definitely impressed!
Based around the idea of “immersive fitness”, the concept is the brainchild of Les Mills Jr (pictured above), grandson of Olympian and founder of the world's largest provider of choreographed exercise-to-music group fitness classes, Les Mills International. Les Jnr. Was on hand to chat to the class beforehand, and explained how the new programme was created in response to a Future of Fitness paper, which along with themes of connection, personalisation and convergence, explored the blending of technology into fitness and activity as a game.
Mills Jr says this new concept ‘exergaming’ highlighted the blurring lines between the real and the virtual and he and friend Adam Lazarus saw an opportunity to create a fitness experience that would appeal to the dynamic needs of the millennial generation. They drew inspiration for the concept from immersive tents at music festivals and the video innovations brought to life at big name concerts, which can alter your mood when done well and make your experience that much sweeter. It was also a direct response to the younger generation’s entry into gyms all over the world, and the way that those establishments have to adapt to compete.
“Younger consumers - or millennials - now represent almost 50 per cent of the global fitness market,” says Mills. “This demographic thrives on technology rich experiences - many already bringing their own devices and customised content to the gym with them, integrating it into their fitness routine.
“We know they thrive on technology rich experiences and we wanted to create something that met this need by combining exercise with social connections and entertainment,” he says. “We wanted to reinvent everything people expect from exercise and create a place without time, one that’s removed from the day-to-day, where people can feel inspired.”
I know I left inspired, and totally energised – and well distracted! – by the visuals throughout the 45 minute class, which were the handy work of a team of Kiwi audio and visual creatives and a local animation team. You ride through futuristic cities, new galaxies and virtual worlds, guided by an instructor encouraging you to power through those hill climbs and let loose on the sprints. The room is dark with the focus not on the instructor, but rather on the visual wonder before you.
 The time goes by so quickly that I hardly knew I’d done a full 45 minutes on the bike, but MAN can I feel it today! You enter several “worlds” along the way and when I go again I’ll be keen to ask if these worlds change with each month or season, along with the soundtrack.
Mills says the company goal is to have 20 million people enjoying a live Les Mills experience every week by the year 2020, and I don’t doubt that they will hit that.
The world’s first permanent Immersive Fitness studios have opened internationally and The Trip is a permanent fixture in Santa Monica, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Stockholm. New Zealanders can experience the technology at the beautiful new Les Mills Newmarket, Auckland for now, at $2.50 per ride, and bookings are essential. 

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