TVNZ and Les Mills are collaborating to ensure the nation gets its exercise fix during the lockdown.

From next week, the pair will be making daily group fitness classes available Monday to Friday at 9am on TVNZ 1 as well as a follow-up show at 3pm on TVNZ 2 geared at teens and younger viewers. The programming will also be available on TVNZ OnDemand for the duration of the lockdown.

The group fitness classes will vary in intensity on the different days, giving viewers a taste of the workouts usually exclusive to Les Mills members.

The move comes as both organisations deal with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.


Les Mills was forced to shut down its gyms and put all its memberships on hold as the nation introduced social distancing rules to combat the virus.

Rather than sulking its way through the next four weeks, the organisation decided to innovate by bringing the gym into Kiwi homes.

"We appreciate all Kiwis are confined to their homes right now, but there are steps we can all take to stay well - and even improve - over the coming weeks," said Les Mills creative director Jackie Mills.

"From high-intensity training to stretching and even meditation, it will all be on offer, for free, on TVNZ from next week."

TVNZ has also faced its share of pressure with a number of local and international shows being either postponed or cancelled. The most high profile of these would be the Tokyo Olympic Games, which were meant to screen on TVNZ this year but have now been pushed out to 2021.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will take place in May, June or July next year.

"It's a challenging time for everyone, naturally we've seen all NZ productions temporarily halt and our overseas suppliers are facing the same Covid-19 disruptions," TVNZ director of content Cate Slater told the Herald.

"For TVNZ this means long-running international shows like Coronation Street, Home and Away and Ellen and are taking a break from filming and favourite US dramas like Grey's Anatomy and The Walking Dead are pausing mid-season.

"We will have later delivery of some hotly anticipated new shows that were in the middle of production, locally and that includes Black Hands and our much-loved Sunday Theatre dramas."


TVNZ has had to move quickly and adapt its schedule with alternative content.

And while the initiative with Les Mills certainly functions as a clever piece of content marketing for the gym, the Herald understands this is a non-commercial partnership between the two companies.

"Right now, the nation is under pressure with the Covid-19 pandemic threatening our health and wellbeing, and the addition of Les Mills content to the TVNZ schedule will provide physical and mental support by way of free and easily accessible exercise options and plenty of motivation," Slater said.

"This is something we are really pleased to be able to offer to all New Zealanders during this trying time. We hope it will be the bright spot in many people's days as they take some time to focus on themselves while being physically distanced from others." The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

This also comes at a time when many brands have pulled campaigns and held back on overt advertising because of the uncertainty businesses face.

There's a level of fear in the marketing community about how Kiwis might respond to seeing advertising at a time when the nation is going through a tough period.

However, David Thomason, the chief strategist at ad agency FCB, tells the Herald there is an opportunity in the current context for brands to be creative in how they communicate with New Zealanders.

He says relevance will be key in any efforts to get a message across.

"I think the really big opportunity is for brands who have some relevance in terms of helping people in these times," Thomason says.

"If you can get your audience to say 'Ah, you get me, you know what I'm going through right now' then that's a good thing."

Thomason says businesses don't have to be boring in getting these helpful messages across and he expects to see a pick-up in creativity from both Kiwis on social media and brands as the lockdown progresses.

"People will always use humour and escapism to get through difficult times. It's just what has always happened," he says.