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Workout for Water – Les Mills Africa

  • Two smiling young children collect water from the local community water well - The Les Mills/UNICEF project
  • Workout for Water – Les Mills and UNICEF water infrastructure project

We are enlisting the help of the entire global Les Mills community, urging clubs and instructors to help create the single biggest fundraising effort the fitness industry has ever seen.

We are working to raise millions of dollars to support the invaluable work UNICEF is doing in Africa – the life-saving assistance the organisation is providing to people, and in particular refugee and displaced children, across the trouble hotspots in this region. Our key focus is to provide clean, safe water to all those in desperate need.

How did it start?

On 14 January 2017, we launched BODYPUMP 100 – and we saw upwards of half a million participants around the world taking place in classes that day. Those are serious numbers, and we immediately spotted an opportunity to run a similar event for charity.

As many people will know, Les Mills is very passionate about global warming, and our original thought was to link up with a green charity to plant a million trees. However, our Chief Creative Officer Dr Jackie Mills MD was already closely involved with UNICEF through our Born to Move programming – and within just a week of mentioning our idea to them, we found ourselves meeting with UNICEF representatives from all over the world.

UNICEF already had World Children’s Day scheduled for November 2017 and they were very keen that we become the main fundraiser last year. They told us about the millions of displaced children around the world, and about the hundreds of thousands of lives that we could save. We couldn’t help but want to support them.


We’re working with UNICEF to try and save hundreds of thousands of lives across Africa by raising millions of dollars to supply safe and sustainable drinking water to communities in Africa.

Last year (2017) we raised US$1.1 million by running Workout for Water fitness fundraisers in over 65 countries worldwide to support UNICEF.

In June 2019, we want to take things one step further and theme one of our quarterly workout releases around Workout for Water, to support clubs and instructors in running a series of special fundraiser events.

Why is this project important?

Our mission statement is ‘For a Fitter Planet’, and that means not only the fitness and health of its citizens but also the planet itself.

As a company, we’re true ‘greenies’ and believe that every individual who becomes healthier can help create a ripple effect in their community.

Our industry has such an important role to play in driving this, so we’ve partnered with UNICEF to harness this potential on a global scale to improve water, sanitation and basic hygiene using solar power in Africa through the ‘Workout For Water’ campaign.

Project results

Last year, Les Mills club partners and instructors joined forces to raise US$1.1 million by running Workout for Water fitness fundraisers in over 65 countries worldwide to support UNICEF.

That’s enough money to build 2,600 solar-powered water pumps and help UNICEF save thousands of children’s lives by supplying safe and sustainable drinking water to communities in Africa. And in June 2019 we want to take things one step further with another global ‘Workout for Water’ initiative. More details will be released in the coming months, but for now please save the date and get ready to move the world together in 2019.

The 2017 event was organized at the last minute and we believe that as an industry we can raise much more than $1.2M next time around.

Gymtopia Comment

In the west, we take water for granted and often never give it a second thought – it’s on tap and always has been. However, water charities report that at least 663 million people in the world still live without access to clean water. Clean water is a foundational pillar for a prospering community which is why we are so excited to read about the work of Les Mills and its own community of instructors, clubs, members and all its other stakeholders. These sorts of water infrastructure projects really can change lives and isn’t that what the fitness industry exists to do?

Project by:Les Mills

Les Mills

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Location: Africa
Start date: November 2017
Status: Ongoing
Impact: Global
Submitted: 28 June 2018
Charity: UNICEF