The clock has just turned 7 PM and the 30-or-so participants have locked eyes on the energetic figure at the front of the room. It’s a Monday evening at a local gym in Gothenburg, Sweden, and coach Julia Pohjanen’s Grit class has been sold out for days.
She executes her 30-minute choreography masterfully, making even the toughest moves seem doable to the shy first-timers hiding at the back of the room. Or maybe that was just me. In fact, she executes it just like intended by a team halfway around the globe – in Auckland, New Zealand.
Continuous learning as a core business strategy
Founded in 1968, New Zealand-based fitness company Les Mills offers subscription training programmes to gym chains all over the world. In doing so, continuously training employees like Julia has been paramount to their success over the years. To find out how they’ve managed to improve their training efforts continually, we sat down with her to hear her tell a recent chapter of their story.
Too many training days – and yet too little time
To be able to host Les Mills’s ever-evolving classes, Julia explains, instructors and trainers need to regularly learn new choreographies and stay on top of the research behind the exercises they perform.
A few years back, Les Mills Nordic used to gather us all for a three-day training that lasted over a weekend and the preceding Friday or the following Monday. That wasn’t doable for everyone – some trainers and instructors couldn’t take a day off work or pay for an extra night at a hotel.
However, getting people to attend wasn’t the only issue that the extended weekend model faced.
- Although three days were available, it was still difficult for trainers and instructors to succeed with learning choreography in such a short time.
Back to the drawing board
Fully realising the issues Julia describes, the Les Mills team had to go back to the drawing board – how could they get the instructors to attend without forcing them to take a day off? How could they make sure any changes they made did not undermine the quality of the training itself?
Providing content in advance – the silver bullet
As with any challenge, you can either perish or adapt, and Les Mills Nordic chose the latter. As a first move, the team started releasing the choreography of new exercises on their instructor and trainer portal ten days before a training session. This allowed the instructors and trainers to get familiar with the content in advance so that they could arrive better prepared at the training.
Providing content in advance also meant that participants were not bound by the training’s schedule, but could review the material at times convenient to them. As Julia explains, however, the added flexibility wasn’t the only benefit.
The best part of sending the new routines in advance was that the training event could now be reduced to just one day during the weekend. That meant that more people were able to join and that the quality of that one day got a lot higher since everyone came prepared and we could hit the ground running.
The tech was not what made the difference
A knee-jerk conclusion from this story might be that a new content portal might be a sound investment. Julia, on the other hand, isn’t so sure that technology is what made the difference.
We didn’t succeed in this because we had superior technology – we could have just as easily gotten the same results using email and Youtube. What we did well was, identify the needs of the instructors and use the tools we happened to have available.