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Why Alpha?

With Konnor Fleming, Alpha Master Coach

Season 6, Episode 10 | February 21, 2023

Alpha is a signature group training format at Life Time that’s centered around Olympic-style lifting and metabolic conditioning. But what is the class like? What results does it elicit? And how does it differ from other training programs? In this mini episode, Konnor Fleming, Master Alpha Coach, shares what to know about this format.

Konnor Fleming is an Alpha Master Coach based at Life Time in Edina, Minn. As a coach, he’s passionate about using fitness to shatter perceived limitations, both physically and mentally, and ensuring every athlete has a great time doing it.

Fleming speaks to some of the hallmarks of the Alpha programming:

  • Improved whole-body strength and conditioning. The class starts with a warm-up and always includes a strength component and some sort of metabolic conditioning. Participants perform largely functional, all-encompassing movement patterns.
  • Individualized progressions. Movements are performed at an appropriate level of intensity depending on the day and on the individual.
  • Accessibility for every body. Many people perceive Alpha as being relatively high intensity, yet Fleming insists the operative word there is “relatively,” not “high.” Coaches are there to help the athletes make progress toward actions that may feel out of reach now. He stresses that people are often more capable than they give themselves credit for.
  • Increased relative strength and aerobic base. Within the scope of Life Time, Alpha is the key offering if you’re looking for something that allows you to develop strength, increase your power output, and do Olympic lifting.
  • Comfort-zone expansion. Coaches tailor programming to find the intersection between success and challenge for individuals. They don’t need to go from zero to 100 — or even zero to two, necessarily — but they do need to be uncomfortable, to an extent, to achieve new results. This is where many see mental-health benefits, too.

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Transcript: Why Alpha?

Season 6, Episode 10  | February 21, 2023

[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to another Life Time Talks episode. I’m David Freeman.

And I’m Jamie Martin.

In today’s episode, why Alpha? And we’ve got a special guest, Konnor Fleming, an Alpha master coach. Out of Edina, Minnesota. Originally, from Vermont, yeah? And Konnor came to Minnesota to attend Macalester College in 2011 and quickly found a home away from home. Welcome, Konnor.

Thank you so much. Happy to be here.

Awesome, how are you feeling? Let’s start there.

Oh, I’m living the dream right now. Are you kidding? I get to sit down with you two. We’re having ourselves a good time even before getting started and now getting started. What’s not to love? This is great.

We’re a little punchy this afternoon. I like it.

We are. We are.

I like it. Alright, so I do think I want to mention because, David, you are also Alpha as well. So I’m going to take the lead on some of these questions. So you can both chime in, but Konnor, we’re going to start with you. Alright, ready?


So first off, let’s talk about why you’re passionate about this program, Alpha, because it’s a really awesome Olympic-style training program. Let’s go into details about what it is and why.

Yeah, definitely. So Alpha is a strength and conditioning class format designed to do stuff that’s largely functional, pretty whole body, all encompassing movement patterns done at what I would describe as an appropriate level of intensity, depending on the day and depending on the individual. I personally am really passionate about it because it’s the stuff that I’ve been doing for a really long time.

And I suppose just through exposure, if nothing else, I’ve learned to appreciate not just what it is, but what it can do and really what it can do for not just your body but for your mind. And so to have the chance to give that to anyone and everyone who steps foot in a class is, I mean, a dream come true one hour one class at a time.

Well, let’s talk about some of those benefits, and the things– what you’re going to do in a program, but the benefits that come out of it.

Yeah, as far as what you’re going to do over the course of a class, about an hour start to finish. We’ll get you warmed up. Of course, start there, and get you into some strength component, some sort of metcon, metabolic conditioning, fancy way of saying, let’s get you conditioned and huffing and puffing a little bit. That’s the framework as I envision it for every class format.

And then from there, the specifics are a little hard to describe in that there is intentionally variance into what you’re going to see day over day. Some days, you’re going to have a barbell on your back trying to squat it time and time again. Some days you’ll be lifting it off of the floor. Some days you’ll be pressing it over your head.

Some days you’re going to try to jump onto the highest box that you can. Some days you’re going to attack a bike or a rower for x amount of time or calories or what have you. But no matter the means or the what built into it, it’s all built around muscular strength, muscular endurance, power expression, aerobic conditioning, anaerobic conditioning, the ability to go really fast maybe for a shorter period of time.

And if everything goes according to plan, really create a very holistic fitness program to where if you came to me and said, hey, I want to work on x, or I want to work on y, or I want to work on z, my answer, albeit in a biased lens, is going to be great. You should come to Alpha.

You should come to Alpha.

You should come do Alpha.

Well, all you just talked about in terms of the different elements of the program are, you’re touching on all the different energy systems, which I know, David, you’re really passionate about talking to. So let’s talk a little bit about that and why it matters.

Yeah, I’ll kind of tag team with Konnor here. So the energy system, it goes back to making it objective for the individual. So granted, we’re in a group setting. We now can give a personalized experience to each individual based off what their body is saying. Why is that a game changer? Because, one, you’re coming there for a result, ultimately.

Yes, we love community. Yes, we’re there to get results within that, but now understanding how you got there and that why is important. So the energy system is one of those elements that we definitely champion, and we want to help bring to life and Konnor alluded to it, whether it’s aerobic or anaerobic. What does that mean? With oxygen, without oxygen. The scientific terms behind it, but we specifically can cater to that from a test that we have and we offer within the active metabolic assessment.

And within that test, it starts to tell us a little story behind where we burn fat efficiently and when we start to transition from fat to carbs and how that applies not only in Alpha but just in everyday life. So if you’re doing training outside of Alpha, that’s just going to be something that is going to be substantial within your training program and your holistic life.

I love it. Anything to add, Konnor?

You tell me. That’s a pretty darn impressive overview.

I love it. I love it.

Yeah, I think it’s great.


I think it’s great.

So who is Alpha for?

Do you want my short answer, or do you want my long answer? You probably want both of those things.

I want both. I want to know. So like what’s your short answer and then let’s go long.

Totally. Short answer is Alpha’s for everyone, or at the very least, Alpha’s for every body. One of the things that I think irks me most when it comes to Alpha is, I understand it’s viewed through a lens of it is relatively high intensity. But I think the operative word there is relatively, not high. People transfix so much on that’s really scary. That’s really intimidating.

I can’t do xyz, when in truth, there is so much more that they are right off the jump right now in this moment in time capable of. And if there are things that they can work to develop towards, that’s why the program exists in the first place. That’s why you get a coach. That’s why you get the community. That’s why you get the program the way that it’s written. And then as far as, OK, well, give me a little bit more than the classic cop out everyone can do this kind of an answer. Anyone and everyone looking to develop absolute or relative strength.

Anyone and everyone looking to develop an aerobic base. But really, I think, a power output. The ability to be athletic really holistically, or people who are looking for the opportunity to do some Olympic lifting. There really aren’t within the scope of Life Time’s offerings other places where you’re going to get any of those pieces, I think, to the fullest extent that Alpha would offer, much less all of them within the same offering.

Yeah, I’ll piggyback with that. I mean, it is a mindset, and you’ve heard that as a common theme throughout a lot of our podcasts as far as the mindset and also a lifestyle. So just to piggyback on what Konnor just said, listening to understanding the programming and the intent behind it and how we meet you where you’re at within your fitness level. And there is an intimidation factor to the unknown. If I’ve never done this, how can I now start?

Well, you got us as a coach, and we’re going to help you through that process. But we want to make sure we’re doing it safely, effectively. So we set everybody up for success. So, yes, we have Olympic lifting in there, but you understand from a foundational element of how you arrive at the complex movement versus just throwing something at you for the first time that you’ve never done before. And I think that approach, and I know that approach has been successful in our time and being in this space.

Awesome, well, as somebody who has dropped in to a few Alpha classes here and there, I know it feels like– it feels like it’s safe and welcoming, and it’s not going to push me to a point where I don’t feel comfortable. I’ve never had a coach do that. It’s like, where are you at right now? How can we support you? Here’s the modification if you need it. All of those pieces, which I found to be incredibly helpful.

Yeah, it’s something that I say to my classes as often as I can, frankly, is I’m trying to find exactly the intersection between challenge and success along the way. It’s like, I need you to a certain extent to be uncomfortable. Because if you do the things that you’ve only ever done, you’re going to continue to see the results that you’ve gotten up to that point.

But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we need to go from zero to 100. And in some cases, it doesn’t even need– we need to go from zero to two necessarily. Let’s meet you where you’re at. Push just outside the margins of the comfort zone, develop comfortability there, and continue the process until, eventually, you’ve reached the point where you think you, quote, unquote, “need to be at” in order to step into an Alpha class.

I think the experience piece is huge, and you have your personal experience in this space. So prior to Alpha, your evolution around health and fitness matters, which in my opinion, elevates you as a coach to be able to justify what we’re doing in this space. So tell us a little bit about your fitness journey.

It started very young as most do, I think, with just your obligatory go get them, little league, try to remember to throw the ball the right direction kind of a deal. Lucky to have had parents who were deeply immersed in athletics. Dad played college football. Mom ran college track and field, and so it was meaningful to them, not necessarily that I go and exercise doing any one particular thing, but just that I was around it.

And then that continued on into middle school, into high school, and led to, eventually, college athletics, was fortunate to play four years of football. You talked about Macalester and then serendipitously picked up track and field while I was there. And I think through that experience, in particular, got exposure to a pretty broad spectrum of fitness. And then from that, came to appreciate that there is no one magic formula.

You got to find the thing that you enjoy and that is sustainable and that will drive you towards whatever your results are that you’re after, which then, in turn, led to getting involved with CrossFit gyms, with boutique gyms, and functional movement pattern generally. And then in turn, led to opportunity to learn more about Life Time and Alpha and getting involved in what I’m doing now. And I couldn’t be happier to be doing exactly that.


So what do you enjoy most about leading this format? And if you have an example or two of a client or some people you’ve worked with that you could share some of their experiences with it as well that you’ve heard about.

Yeah, I think my– it’s hard to pinpoint a favorite because there’s so many things, not surprisingly. I’m sure you hear it in David’s voice. I’m sure you hear it with anyone’s voice who has the chance to coach and lead others is they’re going to be really passionate about what they do. We hope.


As specific examples go, I think you can point to see someone break through perceived limitations that they have placed onto themselves is a really powerful thing. There’s a particular athlete– shout out, Cam Christensen, if you’re ever listening to this. He’s in an Edina Alpha regular, and he’s someone who, when at his, quote, unquote, “athletic peak” was almost an Olympic skier, particularly within the biathlon, I think, was his competition.

And so he came to me, and I knew he has the athletic itch, and he knows he has the athletic itch. And then over the course of what has been about six months of training, to point to a specific metric, his one rep max back squat previously was 225 pounds. A very respectable amount to be sure, and then yesterday, he came in and took my class and back squatted 335 for three, which is an unbelievable jump.

An unbelievable amount of progress. So if nothing else, the numbers are fun to point to. A very different result, but equally as enjoyable. There’s a group of folks in the 7:00 AM class at Edina. They always work out on the farthest platform. And so you’d think they’re somewhat antisocial or off doing their own thing.

They now shamelessly and affectionately refer to themselves as the party corner because they just always have so much fun taking class. And even I find myself taking class at 6:00 AM but then hanging out until 7:00 AM and 7:15 and 7:30 because I want to spend time around the infectious energy that is the party corner. And so getting to see people make friendships and meaningful friendships at that is really, really special too.


That’s awesome. That’s awesome.

Well, this is a mini episode. So we got to keep this short. Konnor, David, anything else either of you would want to add before we go more in depth than another episode?

I’ll pop off. I would say, if you’re too big to do the small things– think about that– if you’re too big to do the small things, then you’re too small to do the big things. And what I mean by that is a lot of times people want to jump at something that they haven’t put in the work for yet, whether it be an Olympic lift or seeing somebody who’s been doing a lot of reps at something.

And it’s great from an aspirational piece, but put in the work, and as coaches, trust us. We’re in this space to guide you and help you and follow the plan and stay consistent and understand that, eventually, when you do those small things, the big things start to happen. So that’s my word of advice in this space.


It’s beautiful. To anyone and everyone who is on the fence chronically or short term about coming in and trying Alpha, let me assure you that you have support. Your coach is there to back you up. And if you’re not already, you should believe in yourself a little bit more. And 9 times out of 10, the hardest part is just getting there. So come in, give it a shot. You’re going to surprise yourself. I promise you, you are, and if and when you start putting 130 pounds on your back squat, you let me know, and I’ll put you among the annals with Cam and everything, Alright?

There it is. There is it.

I love it. Alright, well, to learn more about Alpha, we’ll be linking to the landing page, which is at Life We’ll also be linking to some articles. I know, David, you’ve contributed to some Alpha stuff. There’s more, Konnor, I believe you have too with different things. So and, Konnor, where can people find you on social?

Oh, gosh. I would say probably best place’s on Instagram. It’s @konnor.fleming. It’s Konnor with a K though. A little bit of a curveball. So K-O-N-N-O-R, and then you’ll find me from there.

Got it. Well, we’ll link to that in the show notes as well.


Konnor, thanks for joining us.

Thank you so much. Appreciate you guys.


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