NZ Glen : BodyCombat fanatic

Covers, covers, covers…

Posted on: June 11, 2010

I’m still writing my reviews of the latest releases (I know I’m so slack!) – it’s taken way longer than I’d hoped but I have set myself a final deadline of this weekend (addition – it’s Tuesday and I still haven’t written this… good things take time?? Is anyone buying that excuse?? ;)).

In the meantime here’s a really quick post about a very hot topic right now; musical covers. As you’ve probably heard the fitness industry in Australia has been turned on its head by the Copyright Tribunal’s decision to increase PPCA music licensing fees about 1500% for gyms and fitness centres wishing to use original artists’ music in their group fitness classes. Les Mills has responded by stating they will move to PPCA free music (essentially using cover bands). The CEO of the PPCA responded by calling cover music “inferior” and “cheap”.

Well, I’ll let you decide. Below is one track (the original) and the second is a Les Mills cover from BODYATTACK 69. I’ve only used the first minute of each (under fair use)  as I don’t want to get in trouble for infringing any copyrights – but have a listen and you be the judge:

I mean seriously could you tell any major difference?? Hopefully LMI keep their covers to this kind of standard.

If you are from Aussie and you instruct how have your members met with the change? Or if you participate I’d love to know your thoughts on the matter. Meanwhile I’ll get writing!

35 Responses to "Covers, covers, covers…"

Hi Glen – Yes, I think , on the whole, the standard of the cover artists used by LMI is excellent and in some cases I prefer the cover version! I haven’t heard the latest releases as I haven’t been teaching for a few months but there was a complaint about the Britney track in Step being rather awful. This whole business sucks but at least LMI are finding the best way around it that they can. Love your work here by the way!

Yeah I think we’ve all just got to try to make the best of the situation, especially given this Australian case could set s precedence worldwide. There’s talks of similar cases is Canada and here in NZ too.

I’ve not heard the step covers but how hard could Britney be?! Haha. Womanizer in BA66 was a cover and it was pretty good.
Thanks for your kind words too!

Have just received the “covers” version of Combat and Pump for the latest releases. If the Brittany one is the same as Step as it is for Pump, then yep, its pretty awful and a couple of the Combat ones are a bit lame as well, but I think thats only because we are used to, and have learnt the original music. It might be better in the next lot of releases where we learn the new chorey with the new “cover” music.

I agree.. just received my Pump new covers and cringed my way through the cover for Jaime Knight and for Britney…..

Eek that sucks 😦

Maybe LMI rushed them due to the ppca decision? Mind you that’s really no excuse they’ve known about this for years.

We know they are capable of good covers, as the above shows. Mind you, you only have to look back to see they’ve done some pretty awful ones too! I’m in Australia later this year and look forward to checking them out

After BP on Monday I asked the instructor when she was moving to using the PPCA-free music. She replied that she had been doing so for the previous fortnight…

I suspect that I’m in the very large majority of participants who couldn’t care less whether it was the original or a cover. The choreography and instructor presentation are far more important factors in making a decent class than who warbles the tunes.

Yeah I hope you’re right Graham, after all the music is only one element of the class

I’ve listened to the entire BC44 covers disc and although most of it’s not as good as the originals I must say that it’s a darn good attempt. It will only get better.

PPCA have definitely missed the point … they can diss the covers as much as they like but so effing what? Does LM or us even care what they think? Do the covers have to meet with their approval? I think not. Sod the PPCA in their arrogance.. they reckon we will be ruing the day when we switched to all covers and come running back to them begging for forgiveness, willing to pay whatever price they demand.


The standard of covers will improve. I LOOOOVE the cover version of ‘Ignorance’ ‘Use me’ and ‘Without a fight’.. to me they’re even better than the original. If these covers were done in a rush due to the situation, then wow, good effort!

Yes I’ve heard about ‘3’ , cover but like I said… it will get better. I’m suggesting that Les Mills holds a competition – find the best bands. One to do the dance themes and one for the rock music. Whaddya reckon??

Just listened to the two songs and in my opinion, it sounded really good compared to the original… especially when the singing starts. Good job.

Steven Peach is more like a rotten banana.

The covers that were on the original releases are brilliant, squat, lunge, bicep, shoulders, chest etc and the same with combat. I’m sure once we get cover music and the chorey at the same time, we won’t know any different 🙂

here here Annie.
PPCA go shove it. u’re artists are the ones losing out.
Covers are on the whole getting better and in some cases better then the original.
Lets hope LM chooses the ‘better’ cover versions in later releases.
At the end of the day we’re here to have fun and exercise. The music is a bonus so certainly I don’t think I’m dying in the class!

O yeah and Helen you’ll b right there. I certainly wouldn’t know the difference as the only time I ever heard the originals for most of the songs was at the gym…

I think people need to calm down about the music. Some of my fave LM songs are things I would NEVER ever hear on the radio and I could care less if it’s the original artist or a cover. If people want to hear the REAL song, that’s what their iPods are for. As instructors, it’s our job to overcome challenges like this and just get on with it. I’m tired of people griping and moaning about the covers. No complaints about music from me!

Leslie whilst I agree to a degree we’ve also got to bear in mind its the participants that pay our wages and it is harder to teach a class when an awful cover of a really well known track is playing. I know when I was teaching “know your enemy” I had several of my members cringing back at me asking what we did to the song. As a result i’ve hardly taught that track since.

You only have to go see some of our competitors and their incredibly cheesy covers (with sound effects) to know that a certain quality of cover is required.

However in principle I agree, we should be able to get a fantastic workout regardless.

I suspect instructors here are only saying negative things about the covers because we were all exposed to the originals first.

And I don’t think the participants notice any loss of quality when they hear the covers. They’re just buzzing about how hard such-and-such release is.

It’s about exposure, and how much stigma an instructor puts on the alternate music. Generally, participants are still going to work their butts off and are happy about it.

Some gyms released with the official music, some gyms (like all of Fitness First) were told to start with the PPCA-free stuff before the policy was meant to be enforced. If participants are only exposed to a single set of tracks, they can’t make the same comparisons as we can. They’re still generally happy with the new releases and that’s what matters.

I suppose the question is…are participants more worried about the workout or the music? I’ll tell you when I’m shadowing and doing several shoots, I don’t see a participant hand going up and screaming that the music isn’t as good 🙂 especially when at some gyms, they haven’t even heard the originals.

Speaks a lot about the LM covers…although T4 BC44 is still terrible 😛

Hopefully Fitness Australia will launch an appeal on or before June 30. Fingers crossed.

Regardless, if this becomes the norm, the PPCA won’t see an extra cent. But LM will have to work their butts (and wallets) off with covers…it’s worrying

Well I had a listen and personally I don’t really like the song – original or cover, but as others have said there is not a lot of difference between the 2.
I somewhat agree with Graham – the instructor and the chorry also play a big part in the class…

I’m in two minds about it all really; it sucks to a degree but artists have rights too; but that said has anyone actually heard what majority of artists think?

Majority of the covers in the pump classes I have done have been good; the release has that squat track this is who I am. till I checked your site Glen I didn’t actually know it was a cover; that said I also do not listen to alot of commerical radio more of an indie alternate fan so pump is one of the only places I hear these tracks.

Also alot of the tracks are dance/electro; how many of those are covered by the PPCA?

LMI international could develop a new side of business by using their international classes to help launch unknown bands by utilising their tracks; maybe on their site they could have a submission form for bands who want their tracks to appear in the releases; it’s just an idea.

That said so long as my membership fee is not increased dramatically or my beloved Pump classes are taken away from me I will be a happy man.

P.S. God Damn Les Mills why can they not use Sexy Bitch as a squat track in Pump! That would make my day; the first time I heard that song it screamed SQUATS to me; so much so that outside of pump I used to squat to that track just whilst utilising the gym outside of classes; till i split my pants in the middle of a squat; day of embarresment I tell you!

In all seriousness though Sexy Bitch has a perfect beat for squats that would give a really good workout; nice and slow perfect for bottom halves and a decent pace for singles so your not dead moving so quick (I find singles tough because I’m 6’3″) and by the time I’m at the bottom people are already on their way back up. Being so tall has its downsides….

i think the quality of the cover depends if the song is really familiar the listener.

in your example you could have said the 2nd one was the original and i wouldn’t have known any different because i am not familiar with the original.

with current technology its possible for a near perfect reproduction of the the music to be made at home (given enough equipment)

its the vocalist that quickly reveals its a cover.

i hope LM keep up the quality

P.S. God Damn Les Mills why can they not use Sexy Bitch as a squat track in Pump!

You and me both, Ryan!

I think I sit here outside of class and listen to the two side by side and can tell the difference, but in a class I wouldn’t know the difference. I had no idea that in RPM 45 that Life Is A Highway was a cover until I bought the DVD kit of it. For BJ53, a lot of the instructors are annoyed that the David Guetta version of ‘How Soon Is Now’ has been covered, but we’ve just launched and the members never heard the original so they couldn’t be happier. On the flipside, I’ve heard that some of the PPCA free covers for RPM 47 are terrible (track 1 and track 3), but for a first run at going completely PPCA free, it could have been worse, and we can take comfort in knowing that it’ll only get better from here

@ Ryan & Marshmallow – I think the title of the song is why it won’t make it to LM… even though 90% of people probably wouldn’t be offended or wouldn’t care…

I did RPM last night & my legs are still sore… but one of the tracks that was played was Black Eyed Peas – meet me half way? – but it was a cover, a very well done cover too I might add… I don’t like the song really, but was impressed that the cover was ‘almost’ the real thing.

If LM keep this up then the average Joe Bloggs may not even be able to tell if it is a cover track or not…

But isn’t sexy bitch already a LM track in another class?

Yeah but it’s called “Sexy Chick”

I did RPM last night & my legs are still sore… but one of the tracks that was played was Black Eyed Peas – meet me half way? – but it was a cover, a very well done cover too I might add… I don’t like the song really, but was impressed that the cover was ‘almost’ the real thing.

Were you aware that track 2 from RPM 47 is also a cover? The Waking Up In Vegas version used on the release is not the Katy Perry one. I didn’t know until I saw the tracklist posted on this very blog! (and I attended the filming, and rehearsals before it :-S)

sexy chick, sexy bitch I don’t care just make me squat to it LOL!

Hi Glen,
Think that the PPCA tracks that LMI “rushed” through aren’t so crash hot especially in RPM – that said though, the PPCA Track 7 seems to play better than the original.

I think that once all the dust settles, there could be a range of artists that could stand to hit paydirt by not being affiliated with the PPCA…

Liz n

[…] I'm still writing my reviews of the latest releases (I know I'm so slack!) – it's taken way longer than I'd hoped but I have set myself a final deadline of this weekend. In the meantime here's a really quick post about a very hot topic right now; musical covers. As you've probably heard the fitness industry in Australia has been turned on its head by the Copyright Tribunal's decision to increase PPCA music licensing fees about 1500% for gyms and … Read More […]

Today in pump I turned back to my friend behind me and said ‘this is a darn good cover’ to the song ‘boom boom pow’..

Is it me, or are the last two combat releases (43 & 44) less than stellar? I keep waiting for the fight…and all I get is opera, some bodyjam, and a pirate ship! I don’t know if it’s the cover music ( which sounds a little like the artists are on helium) or the class is dumbing down to get more participants. What’s going on?

Gday Glen,

Don’t know if I told you but I used to be in the RAAF and was an Armament Fitter, our motto was “improvise, adapt and overcome”. as much as I agree that some of the songs, may not have been up to scratch. on a whole the new stuff has been great to present, BodyBalance for instance people are telling me ‘greatest release in ages’, not leaving a lot of room for the 50th release.

The most important thing to remember is the instructor has such a great responsibility, it is easy to sell a song, but even more easy to destroy one, (unless of course you are doing ‘know your enemy’ WTF sorry even the chorey didn’t save that lol, tried every trick, got told to shelve it)

But there is the challenge, our job is to give people an experience that they wouldn’t be able to do at home, not tell them how bad the song is (in our opinion), as once the heart rate rises, the peeps are sweating, grunting, wheezing I am betting the music is just something their sub conscience is hearing and all they are thinking is “can I make it”.

The best thing, I think about covers , is now they will be able to make the music match the chorey, and not the other way around , how many times have we had that weird bridge, the unexpected pause and other musical nuances that drive us quietly insane lol, but now we have the opportunity to flow, to build a better workout , creative license. my two cents anyway.


PS hey Annie the Freo DJ I think they should look at hiring someone like you Imagine “LMI got Talent show”, songs for people like us with crook knees yeah 🙂 i’d like to see that

Hello everyone! I´m from Argentina, and believe me, LMI covers are really good, the quality and all the job behind that are really awesome looking at the results.

Here in LatinAmerica, the agent re-covered the original music AND the LMcovers, and believe me, again, YOU DON´T WANNA HEAR THIS AWFUL MUSIC, you´re really lucky to live there! BE HAPPY AND INSPIRE YOUR MEMBERS!


Hi Glen,
Thanks for your energy, opinion and passion for all things Les Mills.
I started Combat classes 4 years ago in Singapore, have since moved back to Australia in August last year and was very appreciative I could join the gym 4 mins from home and continue my love of combat.

I will say the PPCA price increases to the fitness industry for playing original music is becoming very frustrating.
The last release of combat is not quite as much fun after 4 weeks now where our instructor doesn’t have many other track options that aren”t originals. Including no other stretching tracks than the ‘gomodo dragon’ track.

For me a great part of the fun of up to 3-4 combat classes a week was the mix period after we have learnt the new release, doing some of the all time favourites from years gone by added more fun, and the music was a big part of that. Its sad to think that we won’t be able to go back and do any of those.

Fitness Australia is appealing the ruling, and hopefully the fees will be reduced to a more reasonable amount which means we can continue as previously. Althought reviewing the PPCA website, which has the transcript of the court proceedings does make interesting reading….. the content of the argument is not at all addressing the ‘customer’ us gym members, who are ultimately the ones impacted.
As a side note, when I do my personal trainer sessions in one of the smaller rooms at the gym, we also cannot play any music in that room either. Means my PT has to listen to my huffing and puffing or grunting and Its not as much fun without the music.

Anyway, so if this seems like a winge.
I love my combat classes and really just want to keep the enjoyment as part of keeping fit and healthy.

With all the replaying of older stuff with updated chorey that LM is doing at present, I’m just wondering whether we can use the PPCA-free version of the song from program to program? Surely if LM is making a PPCA-free version of one song – like for example a song that appears in Combat that was once in Pump, could this not be ‘tweaked’ a little (pitch control and length) to be used once again for Pump? Looking also at “Because the Night” – could this song be rearranged by the PPCA-free artist to again work as a lower body warm-up in Combat?

Just a thought, of course, there may be totally valid reasons why it can’t be done.


I’m just a lowly gym-participant from Sydney, AU. My main form of exercise at the gym are group fitness classes. (Because exercising by myself bores me to tears. With group fitness classes, I can at least secretly pit my performance against the instructor/other participants.)

I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while because Body Combat and Body Attack happen to by my favourite classes and I like reading up on all the previews and opinions on the classes. (Thanks for all the info!)

Anyway, getting back to the topic, maybe I’m just tone-deaf or have no clue how to critique music, but I think the Cover versions of the tracks are pretty well done. I really can’t tell the difference most of the time.

In fact, I ended up buying Paramore’s latest album because I liked the cover of “Ignorance” enough to look up the original artist.

The most annoying thing about this PPCA business is the fact that mix selections have become REALLY limited now.

We’ve been stuck with BC44’s Track 1 and Track 9 since it was launched back at the end of May because apparently there’s nothing else available to replace it with. Seems like we’ve been doing BA69’s Lower Body Conditioning track forever too.

And apparently there’s more of BC44 Track 9 in BC45. Joy! :p

I hope the appeal will result in a more “positive” decision or at least a more reasonable increase. I really miss doing some of the old tracks.

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