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Why Signature Group Training? With Nastassia Smith

With Nastassia Smith

Season 4, Episode 16 | March 22, 2022

Many people engage with group training programs for the community and accountability — and because, when designed based on science and research, they can offer fitness growth beyond what an individual might otherwise be able to achieve on their own. In this mini episode, Nastassia Smith shares the advantages of Life Time’s signature group training, and offers guidance if you’re considering giving it a try yourself.

Nastassia Smith is the vice president of class experiences at Life Time, which includes group fitness and signature group training. She’s been with Life Time for over 16 years, working both as a performer and on operations.

In this mini episode, Smith describes the differences between the group training options at Life Time, including what to expect from each of the formats:

  • GTX: “GTX is your ultimate group training experience,” says Smith. “It’s the perfect blend of cardio and strength that anybody and everybody can be successful in. It challenges you no matter where your fitness levels are. It delivers a total-body workout every time. I like to think about it as a sweaty social hour.”
  • Alpha: “Alpha is more of an advanced strength training and lifting program,” explains Smith. “It’s a program that will leave you with zero plateaus and that you’ll never outgrow. Coaches will guide you to new personal records using progressive, phased-approach movements that will prevent overtraining and injuries. I like to think about this as Olympic lifts mixed with metcons — and a bit of friendly rivalry.”
  • Ultra Fit: “This is a transformation of your body on a cellular level,” says Smith. “This is the one class that pushes all three of your systems — your cardiovascular system, your neurological system, and your musculoskeletal system. It pushes your limits through a combination of sprint interval training and balance work. I like to think of this class as all systems firing on one cylinder.”

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Transcript: Why Signature Group Training? With Nastassia Smith

Season 16, Episode 16  | March 22, 2022

Jamie Martin

Welcome to Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that’s aimed at helping you achieve your health, fitness, and life goals. I’m Jamie Martin, editor-in-chief of Experience Life, Life Time’s whole-life health and fitness magazine.

David Freeman

And I’m David Freeman, Life Time’s national digital performer brand leader. We’re all in different places along our health and fitness journey, but no matter what we are working toward, there are some essential things we can do to keep moving in the direction of a healthy, purpose-driven life.

Jamie Martin

In each episode, we’ll break down the various elements of healthy living, including fitness and nutrition, mindset and community, and health issues. We’ll also share real inspiring stories of transformation.

David Freeman

And we’ll be talking to experts from Life Time and beyond, who’ll share their insights and knowledge, so you’ll have the tools and information you need to take charge of your next steps. Here we go.

[MUSIC]

David Freeman

What’s up, everyone? We’re back for another episode of Life Time Talks. I’m David Freeman.

Jamie Martin

And I’m Jamie Martin, and we are really excited for our guest today. We have Nastassia Smith. She is the vice president of class experiences at Life Time. That includes group fitness and small group training. She’s a long-time Life Time team member. She’s been with us for over 16 years, has been a performer, and is on the operation side as well. So Nastassia, thanks for coming on and talking with us.

Nastassia Smith

Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

David Freeman

Nastassia, I know I call you Nas, so everybody that’s listening, you’re going to hear me calling her Nas throughout today’s episode. Nas, let’s go right into it. So what is group fitness, and why has it grown in popularity over the years?

Nastassia Smith

Yes, that’s a great question. So group fitness– group training– has always been popular. People thrive off of coming into a room with familiar faces that become close friends. Ultimately you’re accountability partners for life, I like to call it. And you’re in a room with energy, instructors that push you beyond your comfort zones, leaving you dripping with sweat while having a lot of fun. And you just don’t get that experience working out by yourself in a basement setting.

And why it’s grown so popular I think in the past decade or so, is that the last decade has all been about the boom of the boutiques. Individuals found themselves finding their niche, whether that be cycle, bar, yoga, and immersed themselves in those communities. And then the pandemic hit and individuals were forced to work out in isolation.

And so really, I think people are starting to seek that connection, community, and a space to get back into a sense of accountability that you just don’t get working out on your own. And you know, I’ve been talking to members all the time about why they go to classes and what makes it so special. And they just always give you that, would you rather go to a party with one person or would you rather go to a party with 20 people? So it’s really neat to be able to have that sense of sense of place and community.

Jamie Martin

I love that. Tell us a little bit about how Life Time has responded to that trend. Because we hear about these other– like, you mentioned the boutiques and the other types of training. How has Life Time met that demand inn our own spaces?

Nastassia Smith

Yes, so we– with Life Time, as we all know, we’ve evolved and continue to evolve and innovate with all of our programming and group training, which– I look at specifically, we started back in the day with teen weight loss, teen fitness, evolved to GTX Burn, GTX Cut. And our brands have been evolving over the years to attract unique audiences. However, recently what Life Time has done, and the biggest shift, is that we’ve been 100% focused on experiences. And that comes from delivering compelling classes taught by dynamic coaches, coming from top talent no matter where you are.

So we’ve been breaking down the silos between personal training and group fitness and taking the best of the best. We’ve been redesigning our format, certifying, re-certifying all coaches, reimagining our spaces, and on the verge of launching an amazing branding and communication campaign that will really articulate the value of our signature classes to members and attracting new members.

David Freeman

Yeah, I love what you said there as far as the best of the best. And when we think of a brand– and brand is the sum of all things that we do. So when we put these individuals up on stage and they deliver these goosebump experiences, how do we cast– how do we know if this is the right song, this, that, and the third? So a lot of times people look at our formats– let’s say it is GTX, Ultra Fit or Alpha. What could somebody expect from some of these classes?

Nastassia Smith

Yeah, so– I love how you said that. It starts with dynamic coaches. Obviously, we’ll bring the experience but when people seek out what Life Time has, what they can expect from each of our formats, we offer three unique signature classes that unlock elevated access to equipment that you can’t get in a typical group fitness class. We have great, amazing, dynamic certified coaches, elevated technology, and classes that are phased and progressive based on the latest science across all of them.

But if we really were to break down the three different classes we have and what they can expect, starting with GTX– is your ultimate group training experience. It’s the perfect blend of cardio and strength that anybody and everybody can be successful in. It challenges you no matter where your fitness levels are. It delivers a total body workout every time. I like to think about this as a sweaty social hour with very like-minded people.

Where Alpha is– and I know you are big into this, David. Obviously, with Alpha, this is more of an advanced strength training and lifting program. It’s a program that will really leave you with zero plateaus that you’ll never outgrow. Coaches will guide you to new personal records, to using progressive phased approach movements that will prevent overtraining and injuries. I like to think about this as Olympic lifts mixed with metcons, and a bit of friendly rivalry mixed in with it.

David Freeman

Nice.

Nastassia Smith

And then our third signature class is Ultra Fit. And this one is– this is a transformation of your body on a cellular level. This is the one class that pushes all three of your systems– your cardiovascular system, your neurological system, and pushes your neurological limits through a combination of sprint, interval training, balance work. And I like to think of this class as all systems firing on one cylinder. And it’s really geared towards people who are looking for– that are very performance-driven.

Jamie Martin

I have done the GTX formats and Alpha at various phases, and I know Ultra Fit is on my list here at some point when it kicks off. I’m going to push myself there at some point. It’s exciting.

So now as we are thinking about this, I know a lot of people can start out feeling a little bit intimidated about trying group training if they’ve worked out on their own for a long time. As a coach, as somebody who is a performer in our clubs and meeting with people all the time, what advice do you have for those people, and knowing for them what to expect as they approach this, maybe for the first time or maybe as they want to try a new format?

Nastassia Smith

Yeah. Being an instructor and coach myself, I think this is a very important question to me, is that every single coach, no matter who comes in, is extremely welcoming to anybody new. And they will take you and make sure they guide you through what to expect for the day, what equipment you should have, and guide you through an experience based on your level of unique fitness levels. So everybody in every race starts somewhere, I like to say. And every single member is extremely welcoming to every new person coming in as well.

David Freeman

I want to dive deep into something about the experience. I think a lot of times, people always speak to their personal experience. And the example I usually give, whenever I did presentations is, what’s the difference between an iPhone and a Droid or a Samsung phone?

And I asked the question. I said, can they both make calls? Can they both take pictures? Can they both record videos? And the answer is usually yes. So when we look at the experiences of GTX in comparison to an Orangetheory, or Alpha in comparison to a Crossfit, or Ultra Fit with Barry’s Bootcamp, what makes our experience different?

Well number one, our experiences are very unique to different audiences. So the wonderful thing is that anybody can find a place, no matter where their interest level. If you do go to an Orange Theory or you do go to a Barry’s, or you do go anywhere else, you’re getting one thing and one thing.

And so you can adapt and grow within your fitness journey and be able to pop into multiple different signature classes, and other classes, which is the beauty of what Life Time has to offer. So I might be a GTX-er all the way Monday, Wednesday, Friday, but I’m going to take Tuesday, Thursday and take a little time to do yoga. I’m going to have my kids be able to enjoy some Kids Academy classes. So we have so much more that we offer to really give you a well-rounded journey, no matter where you are today, to where you may be 30 years, 20 years from now.

Jamie Martin

We have built in opportunities for cross training at Life Time, but then not just for ourselves, but also that entertainment factor, to your point, for our families, as we’re all experiencing this together in this space, right?

Nastassia Smith

Absolutely, yes.

David Freeman

I would go even deeper on that. That was beautiful in the sense as far as what separates the actual experience while in class. But then I also feel like we have a full portfolio, as far as when we look at nutrition, when we look at recovery. So we have the pool, the sauna, the massage. We have the cafe to cater to a broad range of different things when you look at a program versus just a workout. So that’s another thing that separates us in a lot of ways.

Nastassia Smith

Absolutely.

Jamie Martin

So Nas, we’re going to sign off here shortly. This is a mini episode, after all. But we have to know, do you have a favorite group training format for yourself?

Nastassia Smith

Oh, gosh. That’s always a hard one, because I love them all and I teach so many formats myself. I go to so many formats too. I think that–

Jamie Martin

If anybody’s watching, David’s pointing to his Alpha shirt, saying he’s got– he’s a little biased.

Nastassia Smith

Yep, I know.

[LAUGHTER]

Nastassia Smith

Oh, my– the beauty of why I love them all, I think it’s because, even though you might gravitate towards one interest or one niche that you really, really love, I think it’s– like I said, it’s a journey through life. So what I loved 10 years ago might be something that I completely may change 10 years from now. And the fact that I can have all that at Life Time is so great.

But if I have to speak personally, I am one that loves to push my limits. I am competitive. And so I personally teach Ultra Fit right now, which is a really great crossover from me teaching Extreme to that. So I am a little bit of a– I like to push my limits as hard as I can and stay young.

David Freeman

Say it. Say it, adrenaline junkie. You were going to say it.

Nastassia Smith

I am!

David Freeman

Go ahead and say it.

[LAUGHTER]

Jamie Martin

I love it. Well, Nas, anything else about group training you want to add?

Nastassia Smith

I would just say, if anybody hasn’t experienced it, to come experience it. Check it out. No matter where you are, if you’re a new beginner or if you’re a veteran, you’re going to find amazing things that will challenge you wherever you’re at.

I hear this a lot is that, I need to get in shape before I go to a class. And I would say that that is something that I want to say is a false statement, to get that out of your head and to be able to come and immerse yourself, because there’s such an empower of community and like-minded people that not only are you going to a class, but you’re going to an experience that will take you through the rest of your life.

David Freeman

Awesome, I love it. I love it. No better way to end than that right there.

Jamie Martin

Alright. Thanks for coming on, Nas. We were so glad to have you.

David Freeman

Thank you. Thank you, appreciate you.

Thank you, Nas.

Nastassia Smith

Thank you. Bye-bye.

[MUSIC]

We’d Love to Hear From You

Have thoughts you’d like to share or topic ideas for future episodes? Email us at lttalks@lt.life.

The information in this podcast is intended to provide broad understanding and knowledge of healthcare topics. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of advice from your physician or healthcare provider. We recommend you consult your physician or healthcare professional before beginning or altering your personal exercise, diet or supplementation program.

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