Reflections on transitions: Les Mills OneLive Glasgow

Saturday 14th March saw the launch of the Les Mills OneLive world tour and I was fully expecting to write a post about how shiny and amazing the event was (which it was), but actually this post is going to be much more reflective than that and much more about how the event has affected me personally.

For those of you who don’t know about Les Mills events, have you ever been to a rock show or a massive gig? You know the LOUD music, massive screens either side of the stage sort of thing? Well that’s what it was like, but instead of a band on stage there were the Les Mills UK trainer team rocking out some group exercise classes to 1000s of people.

A lot of people would immediately assume that this was some dancey, 80 style aerobics sessions for the masses, and you could be forgiven as that’s what the preconception of group exercise is.

Watch the link below and hopefully you’ll see that group exercise in the 21st century is VERY different!!

(BTW check me out at 42 seconds!)

So, lets get a few things out of the way first. The event was brilliant, the UK trainer team, as usual were spot on and made us proud to be part of the tribe. I was excited to meet Dave Kyle, the head trainer at Les Mills UK, who happens to be a really nice guy (and also very short…). I also loved taking part in the classes. But this post isn’t about how great the event was, there are plenty of blog posts out there where you can read about that.


This blog is about transitions…

Some moments in life are inspirational, they push us to want to do more and make us proud to be part of whatever it was. This is what happens to a lot of new instructors when they come to these events, the big room, music (in fact, the big EVERYTHING) blows people’s minds. This is a good thing as they then go away from these events with a fire inside that makes them instruct their classes at home better and then the members get a better service and (hopefully) become a little fitter. In turn they probably also inspire more people to become instructors so they can help more people, etc. and the circle continues.

I have been instructing Les Mills classes for a long time now, and have seen the evolution of these events from super quarterlies, to GFX’s and now to OneLive events, and have seen a massive change. Super quarterlies were fantastic, massive classes with hundreds of people in a big sports hall. But compared to OneLive, they look kind of lame. This is because of our past experiences; before super quarterlies there was no big fitness event so of course at the time it was going to feel special. OneLive was unquestionably excellent but I wasn’t as blown away as I had been at GFX in Liverpool and it really troubled me to work out why.

And then it occurred to me. It’s the problem of familiarity.

I live in Cambridge, which is arguably one of the prettiest cities in the country; the river, punting, and of course the Colleges of the University. I cycle past the chapel of King’s College on the way to work every morning, but most days I don’t even notice it. Then one of my friends from home came to visit Cambridge. They were fascinated with the history, amazed by the architecture and the general grandeur of the university grounds. I realised that because I see it all the time, because it is so familiar, it’s no longer the wow-factor that impresses me.


We run a very real risk of becoming complacent when presented with generally amazing things if we are exposed to them on a regular basis.

What I realised at OneLive Glasgow is that the loud music and epic light shows don’t inspire me as much as they used to. Which made me think about what else I can get out of these events and what did and does inspire me. I’ve been thinking about it for the best part of the last week and I am pretty sure I know the answer …it’s in observing the transitions and understanding their importance in my journey.

Over the years I have become familiar with the same faces being on the stage presenting the classes, and that along side them each time there are few new faces in the presenter team. I was struck by how few of these familiar faces (essentially the celebrities of the Les Mills UK scene) were on stage at Glasgow. There was a whole new ‘batch’ of presenters on the stage. Some that were brand new ‘rookie’ presenters and some that had historically taken more of a secondary role but were on this occasion leading the show. I realised that ‘real people’ can be up there teaching to thousands and not just the legends I’ve ‘grown up’ following.

It really resonated with me because I know some of these people from years back. I did my BodyAttack initial module with Kate Slee and my AIM 2 (Advanced Instructor Module) with Jamie Benton and Aaron Davison, who are all now well established trainers. I think lots of instructors wonder if you have to be  BFFs with the current trainer team to get ahead but I’ve known these guys for years and their successes give me confidence that bloody hard work can get you there if you try hard enough (and if you really want it).

This is how OneLive Glasgow has inspired me. Not the light show or the music, but the appreciation of the 1000s of gym hours it has taken every person to get to the point where they can present at such a high level. I think instructors (younger me included) can often be guilty of dismissing their hard work by assuming that these people were ‘born to move well’ or had some other lucky break. Whilst of course that’s true for some (that’s life), we shouldn’t use it as an excuse for not trying.

This is also true for everyday life – and living in a city with one of the world’s top universities it is so easy to make the assumption that all the students are either geniuses or super rich. In reality, 95% of the Cambridge graduates and students I know are neither, they just worked their butts off because going to Cambridge was something they had wanted for a long time. Granted, there are a few geniuses, but they are VERY few and far between, the rest are just super hard working individuals. And it turns out that it really doesn’t matter who your parents are or how rich they are, the admissions process is ridiculously rigorous.

I suppose the bottom line from all this is that bloody hard work and focus will eventually give you the best possible chance of getting what you have set out to get, and if not, at least you can look back and say ‘I gave that my all’, with no regrets. Maybe some of you have always believed that, but it’s more of a revelation to me.

I am going to finish this blog post with one of my favourite quotes from Mark Twain, hopefully it will resonate something in you too.

‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’


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