Phillip Mills (born 13 February 1955, in Auckland) is a former track and field athlete and businessman from New Zealand. He is the founder and Chief Executive of Les Mills International and a founder of Pure Advantage, a green business lobby group.
Phillip Mills was born into an athletic family. His father Les, mother Colleen and sister Donna all represented New Zealand at Olympic and/or Commonwealth Games in track and field.
Mills competed in the 110m hurdles at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch and in the 110m and 400m hurdles at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Alberta. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) on a track and field scholarship, and graduated with a degree in philosophy in 1978.
On returning to New Zealand in 1979, Mills took an increasing role in the Les Mills fitness-club business founded by his parents, Les and Colleen Mills in 1968. The Les Mills business floated on the stock market in 1984 and was taken over by an investment company in 1987. After the share market crash that year, Mills bought the business back. Phillip Mills continues to operate the Les Mills gym business in New Zealand. As of May 2015, there are 11 Les Mills fitness facilities in New Zealand and a total of 50,000 Les Mills members.
In the early 1980s Phillip Mills developed an exercise-to-music system based on instructor training, exercise choreography and music. Les Mills International uses this system to create and distribute various fitness programs internationally. As of March 2015, there are 18 different programs distributed across 100 countries. Phillip Mills has also developed a group fitness management system for maximizing the commercial benefits of the Les Mills programs.
Phillip Mills’ views on fitness industry trends and the secrets of the most successful fitness facilities are regularly shared across the fitness industry.
In 2004, Mills was named Ernst & Young's New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year. He was a judge at the 2006 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year in Monte Carlo. In 2009 he won Kea New Zealand's World Class New Zealand Award for New Thinking. In 2011 he was presented with an Australian Fitness Network Lifetime Achievement Award. In recent years Phillip Mills was named on The National Business Review (NBR) Rich List in 2011.
The environment and sustainability
Mills is an advocate for “green” business. His belief in the importance of sustainability has been widely publicised in New Zealand and he has authored a number of articles on the financial benefits of a clean, green economy along with the need for New Zealand to take action on climate change.
He is the founder of Pure Advantage, a group of New Zealand business leaders lobbying for green economic policy. The Pure Advantage Trust has recently commissioned a group of world-leading economists to review New Zealand's green growth opportunities.
Works and publications
In 2007 Mills and his wife, Dr Jackie Mills MD, published Fighting Globesity – A Practical Guide To Personal Health and Global Sustainability (Random House).