Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Tribute to Lifetime Fitness

In honor of the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon this weekend, I decided it was fitting to do a proper shout out to the great people behind the scenes of a company that’s had such a wonderful impact on my life. I know that sounds hokey, but just the other day I was thinking about all the opportunities that have come my way as a result of Lifetime Fitness, and I even surprised myself as to how significant it’s been.

First off, Lifetime Fitness was my first employer after I graduated from Iowa State in 2001. The sister of one of my teammates was a Personal Trainer at the Plymouth Lifetime Fitness club, and she loved it. I visited her during my spring semester and I fell in love with the club, the people and the location. I moved from Ames to Minneapolis for my first real job, and I thank Lifetime Fitness for that.

It goes without saying that the next part is the most important to me - I met my wonderful husband at Lifetime Fitness. It’s hard to believe that almost 9 years ago while swimming at the Plymouth LTF club, I found myself in a lane next to my soul mate. I vividly remember swimming a 400m set, and at each flip turn I would see this guy flipping at the same time. Sort of annoying really - I would speed up, he would speed up- Eventually I stopped and sure enough he stopped as well. I think the conversation stared when Kerry said something like “you’re a good swimmer, are you training for anything?” I think we’ve all heard that one before… but it was probably my response that piqued Kerry’s interest. “I’ve never done a Triathlon before, but I’m thinking about doing one someday…I’m a golfer! “ Sure enough a few weeks later, I get a voice mail from him asking if I wanted to join him and a few friends for 18 holes. Well as the cliché goes, the rest is history.

Although, I enjoyed my 2.5 year employment with Lifetime, I was at a point in my life that I desperately wanted standard work hours. There’s nothing I wanted more than to spend as much time as possible with Kerry, and it killed me to be working random/unpredictable hours. I would be training people VERY early in the morning, throughout the day and late in the evenings. I loved the work, but I needed more structure to my days. So from there I left the fitness industry and moved into the finance world…Big change I know. It was actually one of my loyal clients (now a great friend) who got me my next job, which is where I’ve been (same company-different positions) for the past 7 years.

This weekend’s event will be the 9th year for the Lifetime Fitness triathlon. It will also be the 9th time that I will be racing alongside the world’s best pros in the heart of Minneapolis. There’s something special about urban races, and Lifetime Fitness does it better than anyone. I think the first year, I managed a 3rd place AG finish (the girl who originally finished 3rd got a penalty) so I landed a little hardware. In 2004 I moved up into the Elite Age Group wave, and in 2006 I picked up my first triathlon pay check and my first Elite amateur win. Lifetime fitness was one of the very first triathlons to offer prize money to amateurs! I love how that’s caught on with many other local races.

In 2006, Lifetime Fitness continued its tradition of supporting Triathlon and producing BIG events, by creating the Lifetime Fitness Series (now known as the Race to the Toyota Cup). This new series links the NYC, Chicago and LA Triathlons (Philly was added this year) with an end of year series Championship at the US OPEN in Dallas. Lifetime’s support for amateur racing continued as they invited (and paid for) the top three amateurs from each of the series races to attend the US Open in Dallas. I’ve been fortunate to have raced in EVERY US OPEN Series Championships and each Lifetime Fitness Triathlon since the beginning (that’s 11 races), and I have no plans to deviate from that trend anytime soon. Even this year with my intentions to step back from mainstream racing to focus on Leadville and Ironman, I just couldn’t break my streak of consecutive LTF Triathlon events.

After the race this weekend, I’ll get my Leadville hat back on, and join the Lifetime Fitness Crew for a training camp in Leadville CO next weekend. We plan to preview/ride the course during our three day camp, but more importantly we’ll have an opportunity to meet fellow LTF team riders. Kerry and I owe our Leadville adventure opportunity to Lifetime Fitness, as they hosted a contest for their members to earn coveted Leadville 100MTB race entries. This will be an epic challenge for both of us and something we are so proud to be doing as part of the Lifetime Fitness team.

Aside from all the great events, it goes without saying that I frequent their top notch fitness centers on a regular basis. With convenient locations all over (and now in the AZ area) I’m always covered- MAC (LTF Minneapolis Athletic Club) and Target Center during the workday, and Eagan and Lakeville for everything else. At the risk of sounding too much like an advertisement, I better cut it off here… But again-THANKS Lifetime Fitness for doing everything FIRST Class!

Best of luck to all the racers this weekend and special thanks to all the volunteers and event staff that will undoubtedly produce another exceptional race.