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Founded in 1984, the gym has been managed by Mr Lee since 1994, and has steadily grown over the years to where it now occupies four floors of its Dowling St building. At the same time, the streetscape has changed, with NHNZ moving away and the arrival of several new galleries.
Now, with the building of the new ACC building across the road in full swing — in the former Dowling St carpark space — Les Mills itself is moving on to a new, state-of-the-art facility in the Meridian Mall.
Construction on the $9million facility, led by main contractor Cook Brothers, is well under way and is on-track to be completed in time for the scheduled opening on October 31.
Mr Lee said the loss of the busy gym’s main carparking across the road had made access more difficult for gym members and was a contributing factor in the move.
"So, Les Mills decided to commit to a big rebuild at the Meridian — which is something that Dunedin probably hasn’t seen before," he said.
With an entrance and reception area on the ground floor of the mall, and facilities across two levels, the new Les Mills gym is promising a "world-class fitness offering" for the Dunedin community.
Les Mills New Zealand chief executive Brett Sutton said the company was "thrilled to bring some of the most innovative workouts and experiences to the region with the reimagined club".
Inside the new space, technology will allow gym goers to experience two popular programmes that were previously unavailable in Dunedin — "Ceremony" circuit-style training, and "The Trip" immersive cycling experience.
The new facility will also include dedicated zones for group workouts, cardio machines, free weights, Olympic lifting functional training and stretching.
The club’s changing rooms will also have contrast therapy zones, which consist of cold plunge showers and saunas.
The full Les Mills team of about 60 fulltime and part-time staff, and contractors, will be moving to the new space.
Mr Lee believes Les Mills’ innovative approach to creating programmes will make the new Meridian site attractive in the city’s busy gym landscape.
"In 1994, there were about five gyms in Dunedin, now there are more than 60 gyms in the city," he said.
"There is a lot of competition out there, but we believe Les Mills’ innovative approach sets us apart."
Throughout his long career managing Les Mills in Dunedin, Mr Lee has enjoyed meeting many people and "the positive intent" of those coming to the gym.
"It creates energy."