The absurdity of it all was astounding to me.
I’m talking about being unceremoniously dumped by Life Time Fitness recently.
And because timing—it was one day after celebrating my 16th anniversary as a beloved, venerable group exercise instructor there. My God, did I cherish my students—some of whom had been with me since the gym’s inception. I would have moved mountains for them.
The apparent reasoning? Yours truly was canned for only teaching one class a week—which had been the case for the last decade. The club’s purported new mandate? Instructors were suddenly required to teach two or more classes per week. When I asked for another class to meet their petty, minimum requirement, I was denied. Oh, and allegedly—per an e-mail—I wasn’t “promoting Life Time and our other classes and formats inside and outside of the club.”
Color me jaded. Color me bitter. Color me disheartened. Whatever color you choose, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth—complete with bile. Given that I was, say, a less-than-stellar promotion vehicle for all things Life Time, I can now switch gears a bit. (Pun intended.) Here now, in no particular order, are eight reasons to avoid ever working for this godforsaken company.
8) David Pettrone Swalve
Go look him up. Under “hubris” in the dictionary, there’s a teeny-tiny picture of him next to the definition. This podcast alone where he offers up a “real conversation” about diversity and inclusion is a wearisome word salad at best—and disingenuous at worst. (Update: he’s been terminated. Which perfectly coincides with …)
7) The mindboggling turnover in upper management.
I was there 16 years and I’ll guess-timate I had around 18-ish different general managers. The last few years I didn’t even bother to learn GM’s names. Why? That’s how fast they were shuttled in and out of service.
In 16 years—uh, and one day—not once was I given a raise. Yup, I asked for one every year. While I probably should have made more of a fuss about it (and, yes, this one’s on me), I also opted not to stir the corporate pot, which reminds me …
5) … there’s a staggering, insufferable amount of annual training.
Many women dread annual mammograms. Many men loathe yearly dental check-ups. I, however, despised—with every fiber of my being—the poorly executed corporate videos we were forced to watch every spring. Cartoonish in nature, both figuratively and literally, these videos gave Life Time employees insight on how not to instigate, enrage, or disappoint members. Or colleagues. Or upper management. (I kid. Upper management were never around long enough to enrage or disappoint.)
At the end of the animated videos—which were obviously created on something akin to a Commodore 64 computer—employees would be given a rudimentary quiz.
4) Last year, there was a 55 percent increase in membership dues.
Bless. Their. Hearts. Also, please refer back to #6.
3) But don’t just take it from me. Let’s hear from an enlightened, humble former yogi:
“I started teaching one class a week. Before you know it I was teaching a minimum of eight yoga classes a week. I was always available to substitute if somebody canceled at the last minute. And I literally put in thousands of my own dollars to do continuing education so I would be the best yoga instructor around.
I had huge classes. My average class size was always between 35 and 50 people.
All of a sudden, a new coordinator came in. They were very threatened by the fact that as the current manager of the club put it, ‘the students here see you as the authority on yoga, the tip of the spear as it were.’ The new coordinator slowly and methodically began taking away my classes. They couldn’t handle the fact that the students seemed more loyal to me than to the corporation. After three months, the writing was on the wall.
I really felt used and abused. I cannot possibly stress enough the dangers of working for such a corporation. Anybody who is trying to make a living as a full-time job who starts at Lifetime invariably realizes that the company is bleeding them dry. My hair stylist, massage therapist, and the best personal trainers that worked in the Des Moines location have all left and started businesses of their own.” – Curtis Linhart
2) This publicly traded company is also $1.8 billion in debt.
Per this insightful article, Lifetime lost between $100 million and $280 million per year between 2019 and 2021, with no positive year. CEO Bahram Akradi makes $24 million a year—a figure that “can’t be ignored,” says author Marco Brecciaroli. “I think that LTH is a long-term unsuccessful company. Loaded with debt, it is trying a dangerous, volatile path towards de-leverage.”
1) Rumor has it, they’re opening a secondary club in Overland Park.
At the corner of 99th & Metcalf-ish. Let’s just see how this plays out—and if it ever comes to fruition. Godspeed to those who end up working there. Hell, this is a company who wouldn’t even let me have one last farewell class to say goodbye to my esteemed students.
Have a Life Time horror story or tale to tell? Chime in below or drop me a quick e-mail with your experiences. Trust me, you’re not alone in your unabashed loathing for this corporation.