Beachbody & Les Mills Pump
Posted October 19, 2011on:
So if you’ve been keeping an eye on lesmills.com or the Les Mills facebook pages over the last few days you’ll have heard about the “new” program “Les Mills Pump”. You mean BODYPUMP right Glen? Well, no, I mean Les Mills Pump; a new, straight to consumer package of home use DVDs and pump equipment sold via infomercials and the Beachbody network. Home Pump DVDs being sold straight to participants? Wait what?!
Yes it’s true. I’ve known about this for some time but I’ve been unable to discuss it – but as Les Mills released an official statement about it yesterday (not to mention the fact that Beachbody ‘coaches’ have been blasting the Les Mills facebook pages and forum with “offers” and “discounts” in recent days) I can finally let the cat out of the bag.
So what’s the deal? Let’s start with the facts as listed on the Les Mills statement: Les Mills Pump is a set of 12 workouts based on BODYPUMP sold straight to home users launching December 2011 in the US only. I say it again; US only. That’s important to know. Basically, as far as I understand it penetration of the Les Mills brand in the USA is nothing like it is here in NZ, Australia, the UK, Middle East or in many other parts of the world. In any of those countries you can basically throw a stick and hit a Les Mills franchised gym. As I sit and type right now I have 5 within a 5 mile radius. In the UK whilst I was there last month I managed to find LM classes everywhere I went, even in tiny little villages of a few thousand people! However from what I’ve seen that’s not the case in the United States. I had an American attend my classes at my local gym here who was on holiday from the US, she fell in love with BODYCOMBAT and has since told me upon returning to the States she has to drive over 40 miles to find a single gym that offers it – and she lives in a fairly well populated city! So for whatever reason LM haven’t quite made the inroads they’d like into the ol’ US of A just yet.
So, to build the brand, they’ve partnered with Beachbody, a “Multichannel Marketer” to sell Les Mills Pump via a network of tens of thousands of BB sales agents (network marketing) and informercials. Okay, so those are the facts as I understand them.
Here’s the problem. You only need to read the Les Mills forums to see for the most part instructors are pissed. Actually some are outright furious. The words cropping up are “angers me to my core” “TOTALLY DISGUSTED” “disgrace” “selling out” – and that’s on this one page alone – and there’s at least 7 pages of feedback! (so far!)
There’s a couple of issues here. Now of course if you’re an instructor living in the USA you might feel a little threatened that your members might toss in the towel and grab a DVD and equipment kit and start training at home. However, realistically I don’t think that’s going to happen – nothing replaces the amazing group fitness atmosphere with a pumping sound system and a kick ass instructor. I don’t think this is what people are upset about.
What they are concerned about is the degradation of the “Pump” brand, the crazy claims being made in the infomercials; The clip below claims 1000 calories being burnt in a session at home using a single set of two 5kg and two 2.5kg plates? C’mon… even our BODYPUMP posters only claim up to 600 and that’s with a full set of equipment! Plus there’s quite a bit of animosity about the way most found out – that is, second hand and not from LMI themselves.
Possibly here’s where you went wrong LMI. What you perhaps should’ve done is thrown a small leaflet in the BODYPUMP 79 DVD kit effectively saying “Look guys, we’re about to launch a home DVD product for the US market only; this shouldn’t affect your class numbers at all it’s aimed at a completely different non-trained segment of the population. In fact, we aim to actually drive MORE people into your gyms as non-gymgoers become familiar with the Les Mills brand, and become less intimidated by our programs. We’re actually even going to stick some free class passes in with the DVDs so once they become sick of the limited number of workouts they have at home they can try out your classes for free…” yada yada yada. It’s called preemptive damage control. Addition: I’ve since been told instructors who attended the massive Lonestar event in the US were told – but it still seems many were left out of the loop.
That way, the instructors who are at the forefront of representing the Les Mills brand every single day would have felt a little more respected, and less of a case of “oh s@#t there’s pages and pages of instructors furious on our forums – we better tell them something!” – which is kinda how it looks. The upsetting thing for many was that the first they heard of this was second hand from some Beachbody coach offering them 25% off on a program that quite frankly they’ve already paid through the nose for.
I do know a wee bit about this very subject as I used to own the New Zealand agency for a very well known US sports supplement brand (EAS). We sold exclusively through specialty channels such as gyms, health food stores and nutrition centres. Once we’d hit saturation we looked at bringing in a lower tier “mass market” line to sell through supermarkets. What I did was consult all my specialty line customers and tell them “hey, this is what we’re doing, we aim to bring new people into the supplement market – once they try our basic supermarket line we aim to educate them on the benefits and upsell them into our specialty line – which means more customers for you”. The method worked and for the most part everyone was happy. However, if I’d just released the same products into supermarkets without consulting all my specialty customers guess what would of happened. The proverbial would’ve hit the fan. And that’s kinda what’s happening here with Les Mills… your “specialty customers” (instructors) had no idea you were going mass market and they’re not entirely impressed. You have 70,000 very passionate soldiers on the front line for your company – a little heads up would’ve been nice.
What’s my personal opinion on the move? Well, I actually think this is a good thing for LMI (however – I don’t live in the USA and if this was on my doorstep I might feel a little differently). I do think it’s going to build the brand and I do think it will drive more people into classes (much like it did with Zumba). But, do I feel they could’ve handled it better? Absolutely.
That’s not to say I don’t have some concerns. I am a little worried about the gimmick factor. Remember Taebo? Remember the Abdominizer? Ab King Pro? Those products exploded… then imploded on themselves. There was no longevity because they were gimmicks. What goes up must come down and I don’t know about where you live but where I am the same thing is happening with Zumba. It was literally everywhere, gyms, church halls, community centres – but now, well all those classes have just vanished. I don’t want to see “pump” thrown into this category.
Then there’s the cheese factor; Take a look at the video below; The “rep effect”? “1000 calories” – “ohh can you feel the burn!” “you so deserve this!” – it is so cheesy it’s almost painful to watch. I really don’t want the program I love so much to become a cheesy gimmick – especially as it works so well! My $0.02 – interested in your thoughts.