I was reading this post over at Pedal-On this morning. In it an Instructor was asking about securing a teaching position with Life Time Fitness - where Amy and I have taught for years and feel we know the company well.

After posting my response a thought occurred to me; "teaching for a large multi-location chain like Life Time Fitness, with thousands of members and huge studios has it's own unique challenges... and I don't know that our existing resources really address the needs of a Big Box Instructor."

So as a new service for our ICI/PRO members we will begin offering resources that are designed specificily toward helping those of you who teach at a Life Time Fitness, LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Equinox or other large Big Box health club.

You will be able to find this new category under the Instructor Training > Big Box Instructor navigation drop downs above.

Here was my response to the question about Life Time Fitness:

I've taught for Life Time Fitness for 6 years. I have scheduled classes at two Athletic (Diamond) level clubs here in MPLS where it's all about the members. I also sub regularly at the Chanhassen club that shares the parking lot with the LTF corporate headquarters. For you or anyone else looking to join LTF as an Instructor I can offer this advice:

1) Memorize the LTF mission statement -

Our Mission is to provide an Educational, Entertaining, Friendly and Inviting, Functional and Innovative experience of uncompromising quality that meets the health and fitness needs of the entire family.

I'm not kidding when I say memorize it as you will be expected to deliver it as part of any interview or Instructor audition.

2) Contact the club's Group Fitness dept head and ask to schedule a time for a call or better to meet with them in person. Do not call and just ask if they are holding instructor auditions. Your objective is to meet the Dept Head to learn what she/he is looking for in the Instructors they hire... which may be very different than who is currently teaching classes at the club. If the club is looking for someone or has a scheduled audition time they will tell you. Also, my experience is that Dept Head's do have some authority to hire someone without holding any auditions if they like/need you.

3) LTF is very focused on their Club within a Club initiative where they create small groups of interest; Run Club, Cycle Club, Tri Club, Swim Club, etc... If you are an outdoor cyclist I suggest contacting Cycle Club coordinator at the location and become their friend  LTF is very interested in Instructors who could potentially take their Indoor class participants outdoors.

4) Understand that first and foremost your role as an instructor is to deliver a fun and entertaining experience for the members. You may teach the most real/authentic cycling class on the planet, but if it's boring because you feel constrained by focusing too much on what not to do, it will show in your class presentation and your chances of getting hired are slim. LTF's head of Instructor training Jeff Rosga said it best; "first you need to give them what they want, and then give them what they need."

5) If you do get an audition, teach a class that's appropriate to the audience. LTF wants to see that you are flexible as an Instructor and can teach appropriately to varying member groups. You may teach a very "cycling specific" class, but that isn't what a room full of housewives want during a 9:30am class. (See #4)

6) Once you do get hired you can typically teach the class you want, remembering #4, as long as your numbers are reasonable, without interference from management. You are expected to follow the periodization schedule as to the objective of the class - but that doesn't dictate the actual profile you use.

Now I know there are many of you who instinctively revolt at the whole "you need to internalize our Mission Statement" group think thing. I know I did at first.

But when you consider that Life Time has thousands of Instructors, who are in front of  something like half a million members each month, you really do need to find ways to keep some consistency of instruction... without forcing Instructors into little boxes that crush all of their creativity and passion for fitness.

I can think of a bunch of people I could have on the Podcast to explore the challenges and issues facing the Big Box Instructor. Stay tuned...

Originally posted 2012-01-02 12:27:18.

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