The fitness industry is in search of answers for an existential challenge: It needs to stay relevant in a highly competitive world that’s moving at an increasingly fast pace.

What’s ironic: the latest evolution in fitness in this ever-changing world is based on the fulfilment of a human desire that’s probably as old as mankind itself. It’s about the wish to put yourself into a completely different, faraway place to escape for a moment from unsettling reality..

What 'holodecks' and yogis have in common

For some it might be enough to read a good book to forget the world and deep-dive into a new place. The creative minds behind the science fiction TV series “Star Trek – The Next Generation” envisioned a more sophisticated approach: the “holodeck”, an enclosed, empty room filled with idealised, holographic projections, where the starship crew breaks away from the troubling day-to-day life that takes place in the micro-system of their spaceship.

Yogis use meditation for their quest to enter “Nirodha”, a state of mind that is not distracted by random thoughts but is fully absorbed in the object of focus. Similar attempt, different approach, and different name: athletes across a number of sports often refer to “the zone” to describe the desirable place without time. One of these athletes is Les Mills Program Director Les Mills Jr.

Les Mills, the world’s leading fitness programmer, is a true expert in guiding regular people to “the zone”. They have been leading the way in creating such environments in fitness for 30 years, through music, choreography and highly professional instructors.

The greater mission behind this effort is to create a fitter planet. This includes winning over the significant and largely unhealthy portion of society that perceives physical activity as a chore. Helping them to experience “the zone” and to excite and motivate them is crucial to eventual success.

The challenge of staying relevant

But it has become more challenging in recent years to achieve this mission. It’s not only that fitness studios and sports in general compete with the excessive supply of entertainment and leisure time options.

It’s also because of other sociological developments such as the younger generation’s view of permanent connectedness as a given. This leads to distraction and shorter attention spans.

But “the zone” demands focus. A simple shoe pinch could be contra-productive. Therefore it is crucial to identify and accept the new challenges ahead.

The Project – Immersive Fitness

About a year ago, Les Mills Jr. developed a new workout that would lift the studio fitness category to a new level. It’s called “The Project: IMMERSIVE FITNESS™” and complements the basics of studio fitness (choreography, music and professional instruction) with a completely new, visual component.

Les Mills creates a new and truly immersive fitness experience.They combine knowledge of studio fitness with a 360° cinema technology that is also used for live music performances.

Inside the zone

IMMERSIVE FITNESS Yoga
With IMMERSIVE FITNESS Les Mills wants to take fitness back to the studios and make it cool again.
IMMERSIVE FITNESS Yoga
The workout is an integration of technology, exercise education and creative design.
Bodycombat
A hard out 30 minute mash up of martial arts moves and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
The Trip
"The Trip" lifts a normal spinning class to another level, where the participant experiences rides through glaciers or space age cities.
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Participants in IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ will find themselves surrounded by video content that projects onto three screens of a purposefully built studio. People are immersed in the video content’s perfect synchronisation with music and the trainer’s instructions. They get into the zone, leaving their day-to-day life behind.

Participants taking part in a cycle class may find themselves riding up an impossibly steep glacier or sprinting their way around a digital velodrome. In a dance class they might be experiencing a music festival where everybody is dancing together. Star Trek’s holodeck-inventing screenwriters would be stunned to see how closely fitness aligns with their science-fictional vision. However, seeing is believing:

In the name of a greater mission

The new programme was introduced to media during an event in London in May 2014. And helping launch this new, innovative concept was Les Mills’ partner Reebok. Reebok and Les Mills share a very similar mission and it was this united view of the future of fitness that led to the long-term partnership in 2013. Both Reebok and Les Mills want to empower people to be fit for life – with innovative products and experiences that get people engaged.By having two key players in the fitness industry joining forces, “The Project: IMMERSIVE FITNESS™” presents itself in full vigour. It underlines the ambition to really change what fitness is all about. Matt O’Toole, President of Reebok, believes that fitness is at an important crossroad. He says:

Touring Europe: 'The Project – IMMERSIVE FITNESS'

Engaging experiences create relevance. To provide more people with the opportunity to be part of a fitness experience that is as exciting as it can possibly be, Reebok is now taking “The Project: IMMERSIVE FITNESS™” on a tour of major European cities including Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Milan. A wider consumer launch in Europe and the United States is planned for 2015.“The Project: IMMERSIVE FITNESS™” is ground-breaking in how it brings participants into the zone. It will provide extra motivation for a demanding and fastidious society. Maybe it is a reminder for the industry not to rest on laurels but to evolve the game to stay relevant. The world is changing and fitness needs players that are capable of inspiring and engaging consumers. The world needs to get moving and Reebok and Les Mills are helping ensure this happens – now and in the future.

Name:  

The Project – IMMERSIVE FITNESS™

Programmer:

Les Mills – lesmills.com

What is “The Project – IMMERSIVE FITNESS™”?

Les Mills The Project IMMERSIVE FITNESS

  • Provides another sense of purpose to studio fitness by allowing participants to “get in the zone” with use of wrap-around audiovisual projection.
  • Participants will escape to a place without time, removed from their day-to-day world.
  • The studio becomes whatever best fits the fitness experience.
  • Instead of counting reps, individuals react directly to visual cues.
  • Integrates technology, exercise education and creative design.

What are the origins and goals?

  • Adam Lazarus and Les Mills Jr. drew inspiration from immersive tents at music festivals and concerts.
  • Movements and music of exercise classes are synchronised with video content.
  • The studio is purposefully built to meet these goals.

Les Mills and Reebok

  • Reebok has a storied history in studio fitness and believes that a partnership with Les Mills, who shares the same values of community-based fitness, will prove successful – benefiting the new generation of fitness-oriented individuals by reinventing studio fitness.
  • Reebok works with The Project IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ to bring the concept to life.
  • Check out Reebok’s line of Les Mills workout gear: Reebok Les Mills Apparel.

Where is it located?

  • Currently, The Project – IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ is touring five European cities including Stockholm, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris and Milan.
  • Anyone can register; it is first come, first served.
  • Follow The Project IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ on Instagram (Instagram.com/thepr0ject #immersivefitness) for updates.

When will it reach the United States?

  • Les Mills predicts that The Project IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ will be available across Europe and the U.S. by 2015.

What are the workouts?

The Trip:

  • A cycle class – newly defined.
  • Participants climb glaciers, or ride through space-like cities, through velodromes and into sunsets.

BODYCOMBAT/BODYBALANCE Immersive:

  • 30 minutes of martial arts moves in a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) style class.
  • Martial arts is utilised heavily.
  • Participants find themselves kicking a spaceship to destruction, ducking under road-signs and punching away oncoming cars as they explode through the air.

BODYJAM/BODYBALANCE Immersive:

  • Music, dance and yoga mixed into a fun 30-minute class.
  • Looks and feels like an immersive tent at a music festival, but everyone is dancing together.

 How are classes conducted?

  • Each class is derived from scratch to fit the needs of its participants.
  • A blueprint is used from pre-existing workouts.
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