Smiles all around . . . Les Mills Group Fitness instructors (from left) Stephanie Eggleton, Lee King and Chris Meehan had a good time taking a Jazzercise programme to celebrate Mrs King's 40 years of teaching. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by Natasha Parrant

Forty years ago, Lee King donned a leotard and leg warmers and taught her first Les Mills fitness class in Timaru.

The gym was new to Timaru, and fitness attire has changed a lot since then, but Mrs King is still at the front of the class.

At 63, Mrs King now teaches classes at the Caroline Bay Trust Aoraki Centre.

She said she loved it and would continue instructing and keeping fit for as long as she could.

“If my body allows me to.”

What motivated her to keep teaching fitness classes was “pure enjoyment,” the exchange of energy in the room with other people training, the music and the performance.

Mrs King said she enjoyed teaching body balance (yoga), body pump and core.

Her focus was now on being healthy and fit, whereas when she was younger it was more about her “image” and having fun, she said.

She became involved in the Les Mills fitness classes when the founder’s son Phillip Mills toured New Zealand in the 1980s and looked for instructors in Timaru.

Mrs King said the fitness industry started about 40 years ago too, as it had been a “new wave” to exercise.

She started instructing in 1981, and, looking back, she said she was able to watch Les Mills evolve over time.

The Jazzercise fitness programme – which was about people moving their bodies to music when she started teaching.

That trend had moved to more forms of aerobics; there were more options and a variety of classes these days, she said.

“It’s limitless.”

Another thing that had changed over time was the footwear worn.

People used to jump barefoot, then wore commando shoes and eventually sneakers, Mrs King said.

Leotards and leg warmers . . . A big group dressed up for a 1980s-themed class at the weekend. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A return to 80s-style outfits at the weekend for a specially themed class had been fun.

“Everyone had huge smiles on their faces.”