4ormfunction

Les Mills SmartBar™

The classic barbell weights system hasn’t changed much at all in decades, but 4ormfunction and Les Mills have developed a system that radically challenges the status quo.

Barbells haven't fundamentally changed since they were invented in the 18th century. 

We set out specifically to enhance the user experience in a Les Mills BodyPump™ group fitness class. There are significant differences between the requirements for a BodyPump™ class and say a Barbell used in a gym for normal weights lifting. Speed of transition, better ergonomics and range of movement.

Les Mills is a gym, not a product manufacturer. How steep was the learning curve?

It was a very steep learning curve. They know design process in terms of what they do with their choreographed programmes, but there was a significant adjustment in terms of expectation in timescales, and the detail and rigour needed in the design process in order to be ready to manufacture. Also the whole process of manufacturing was new which bought a lot of new challenges and understanding and responsibilities needed by Les Mills.

Designing a product is one thing. Designing a product to be patented globally is a tougher assignment.

Evolving a mature design, or doing a facelift is generally straight forward and without risk. When you push to innovate and as a result create new Intellectual Property you embark on different journey. It is a tougher assignment – in that there are many more processes  you need to undertake in order to reduce the risk when launching an altogether new product onto the market.

The SMARTBAR™ is designed in New Zealand, but used in Les Mills famous BodyPump™ programme worldwide.

Whilst 4ormfunction, Christchurch were the hands on designers and engineers it was a collaborative team effort with the team at Les Mills in Auckland. The product would not be as good as it is without each others expertise.  Right now the product is currently in 22 countries throughout the world.

What is feedback from both instructors and gym-goers?

Everyone loves it!

—David Lovegrove, 4ORMFUNCTION