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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this is perfect timing john. i have been in contact recently with their LTF Fit. Dir. in our location and this gives me powerful information to head prepared into a meeting and/or audition.
Thanks John. I’m a 24 Hour Fitness instructor and will look forward to using this resource. Working at a Big Box gym definitely has its pluses and minuses!
Several 24HF clubs are bringing in the FreeMotion S11.9 bikes. My club just got them last week, and I feel fortunate to have already heard of the bikes and Stages because of my membership with ICI. (Cameron’s coming to do our training! 🙂 )
Congratulations, with this post you have moved ICI on to Indoor cycling 3.0. The timing couldn’t be better.
Your numbers speak for themselves. When you add LTF, Equinox, 24HourFitness, LA Fitness, ClubOne and every other chain together, millions of club athletes are attending indoor cycle classes every week.
With the exception of the few stars in this industry that are invited to move from small group very focused indoor cycle training or coaching, most of us are out there are instructors in the big boxes being reminded to write our ‘numbers’ down.
I have been doing IDC for just over two years now. ICI/PRO has been at the core of my education beyond the one day certification. Indeed I’ve immersed myself into this industry trying to start up a new company.
If I may be so bold as to share a few lessons for the big box instructors reading this.
1) Music – you will never please everyone in class but, there is no doubt that your class will get its energy from both you and the music so ALWAYS choose music that drives you and gets you going. Prepare your cues well. There is nothing more motivating than a well timed cue to get the most from them. I have found Cycling Fusions Class Builder App for the iPhone to be a superior aid. It may take some time to build great classes but you have them forever and once you build enough classes you can re use them.
2) Which brings me to this point, unmentioned expectations. Your regulars are your regulars for a reason. They bond with your complete style but there is an expectation of consistency. That generally means you will play the same sort of music, deliver your profiles in similar ways and not throw something new at them every class. That may change from your 0930 Mom’s ride to your 0600 early crowd that want more intense classes that tend toward being more cycling specific.
3) Regardless of how clear and purposeful and necessary an idea of yours is, at a big box, the idea must seem to come from management. The message, tread carefully when trying to get a new program started or you have an idea to ‘improve’ numbers. Especially if it cost money. At the big boxes management sees the cycle studio as a line item expense so adding to that is never well accepted. It is – in my opinion – the reason the big boxes have been slow to buy the bikes with more capability like cadence and power.
That’s enough from me. Suffice it to say I think this new category an excellent and important addition to ICI.
What topics would you all like to see covered?
-How to work with a group fitness department head that does not teach cycle or cycle outdoors.
-How to coordinate the group fitness/cycle department (I use these terms interchangeably, as they usually are one department at a big box) to work together with the personal training department for the good of the member/client.
-How do you get all cycle instructors on board with the periodization schedule.
-Is it a good idea to separate classes by style of instructor- in other words “performance cycle” i.e. cycling 2.0 and “studio cycle” i.e. cycling 1.0. (Whatever would we call cycling 3.0???)
These are just some ideas for future consideration in our new “Big Box” category.
Good points all of them. I especially like trying to put title or style or focus to some classes. I think cycling 3.0 is the combo of studio + performance. In the big boxes there are those that would get on an indoor bike if they saw there is a focus beyond loud music and shouting instructors.