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HOW a Les Mills release is created: Part 1 - music


It’s like instructor Christmas isn’t it? That moment every 3-months when the new releases become available for download: unwrapping the choreography, cues and music that will be the soundtrack to your life for the next few weeks of learning and teaching.

While hitting the download button marks your beginning of feverish learning and practice, the journey of that release started 6-months ago in the hearts and minds of the Program Directors at Les Mills International in NZ. In this new 5-part series we take a behind the scenes at how Les Mills releases are created.

No rest for the wicked

The moment one release has wrapped filming, the next release begins it’s cycle of life. The Program and Creative Directors of each program debrief every aspect of the last release: from the obvious such as the music and workout right through to the difficultly in licensing particular songs. Rachael Newsham, SH’BAM Program Director and BODYCOMBAT co-Program Director says “there’s a lot of reflection that goes into these debriefs, every aspect of the package gets spoken about and considered.”

From this debrief process, the planning commences for the following release, Rachael says “we come up with a wish list of what we want to do the same, what we want to do different –  from the process, through to the music, moves and workout intensity.”

Music selection

Each Program Director has a different process for selecting music. For Rachael the process involves sifting through the thousands of songs she files away everyday – songs heard on the radio, suggestions from around the world and songs she actively seeks out; her goal in any case is to create a different musical feel from release to release.

“The process of refining the playlist is brutal –sometimes favourite wish-list songs are left out”. In fact, the choice of music sometimes changes last minute, case in point: BODYATTACK 99. Several of the songs changed just days before filming because of feedback from the Presenting team.

Once the play-list has been finalised in the Program Directors mind, the tracks are then sent to the Music Licensing department who have relationships with the major record labels. The process of licensing can take serveral months and it’s not unheard of for some approvals to come through on the day of filming!

Next step

Once the playlist has been approved and confirmed, the process of Choreography can begin: the second part in this 5-part series.