Creating Community One Kegel at a Time!

It’s Friday and I am on my mat in Diane Klenke’s Pilates class at Life Time West County in St. Louis. I am smiling as she is asking us brain teasers and keeping us laughing, engaged and present as we are holding our abdominal muscles in, working our pelvic floors with Kegels, and performing one of 899 Pilates mat exercises. The class is full and most of us are indeed laughing as Diane sings made-up lyrics to her playlist. In each class, Diane makes a point to reach out to each and every one of us to confirm we are with her and okay. One of her magic powers is perception; she knows when someone might need something extra or something to smile about.

Take her class once and you understand Diane’s passion for teaching Pilates mat class. She calls it her favorite hour of the day or “Happy Hour,” which it most definitely is. “This is our feel-good class!” she reminds us time and again. Even as she is asking us if we are doing our Kegels and holding our abdominal muscles in. Diane sets the tone of calm, acceptance, hard work and yes, a little silly in her classes. Often, Diane will say an exercise is delicious which makes us all laugh!

Classes structure my day as I am freelance and work from home. I know beyond a shadow of any doubt, that my time at Life Time will be well spent. And that I will see and connect with other human beings. I can actually feel myself exhale once I hit the doors.

As I gradually realized how important and special the environment had become it occurred to me that If I was feeling this way, others were feeling it too. While I knew I was looking forward to group fitness classes and yoga, I came to understand other members shared my feelings. I began asking others their thoughts on why they continued to participate in group fitness classes. It was evident to me by the fact that we all keep showing up that people found something special about our classes.

We feel good, happy, and more importantly part of a community that we have co-created within group fitness. Our happy feelings of belonging have been created, nurtured, and celebrated on an on-going basis. I also know part of the magic is US-the members in the class that have found a tribe of like-minded friends we enjoy. When you spend time in a class at Life Time it is easy to make friends. New friendships easily emerge while other friendships have deepened.

It might sound crazy; however, I have met some of my favorite people at Life Time. It is a feeling that is contagious (the good way) and considered a perk of our membership. Friendships have grown and flourished and are maintained in classes and outside the club.

Our commonality of wanting to be healthy and making the time for it is simply a starting point. Yes, we can make any place a happy place, however, there is some kind of magic happening at Life Time. I often joke there is a force-field around the place!

It’s not just Diane’s Pilates mat class. Look around at any class and members are chatting, catching up and making friends. This is all supported by the incredible, available, hard-working instructors and their fearless leader Ashley Gormley, Director of Group Fitness. This co-creation of community is possible because of staff as much as members.

The friendly, welcoming feeling is happening all over the club and reflected everywhere you look in the café, the outdoor swimming pool and the Pickleball courts. Promoting community comes from the top, which is evident in all staff members. From the front desk concierge, to housekeeping, maintenance, personal trainers, aqua and café staff. This is possible because of the leadership and commitment in our club.

Sandye Muncy, a member for almost fourteen years told me, “I make it to class, regardless of the weather, because the people there make it worth the effort. They are my community, my circle of friends, my tribe.”

Jill Auterson, member for over thirteen years comments, “I love our Pilates class. It’s fun, the music is great, Diane gently coaches us, and there are great friends there! It’s a nice way to do something good for your body!”

I met Alex Culberson, Membership Concierge, Yoga Instructor, and past Café manager when I happened upon her yoga class. Alex is one of the many gifts at Life Time. She says this about her tenure at the club: “We are a community, and many play a strong hand in this, from leadership to incoming team members. But in my almost 8 years with Life Time, experiencing many GM’s, one stands out for a very special reason. Bradley Bryan runs his club in a way that fosters true connection and growth succession. Don’t get me wrong, you have to work for it – and it is not always easy. But here, we can be successful and bold in our actions to live a healthier way while also honoring ourselves, missteps along the way included. We can be vulnerable and honest with him about our career and health aspirations, as he truly wants what best for us. Knowing that by supporting our healthy visions, we will pour that love and support into our Life Time community. By allowing his teams to lead with our hearts and wisdom, trusting our judgement – we feel empowered to encourage all our members to do the same! I have learned that I love making an impact on those around us, by providing the space to expand, learn and grow.”

We work hard in our group fitness classes. And we are happy to be there. As Ashley has said in her classes, “Believe it to see it.” Yoga instructors have helped me find my center by standing in my height and using my breath to steady myself. I have danced, twisted, Namaste-d, played Pickleball, lifted weights, laughed, and cried, suntanned at the pool, enjoyed a massage and had many a yummy meal in the café. Life Time is the one place that has stayed constant in my life over many years.

It is also a place that I thrive.

If they would let me move in, I would!

I know that every time I walk into Life Time, I will be greeted by smiles, sometimes hugs and always friendly faces. Believe this: Community does not just happen. It is created, celebrated, and extended. Connection + Community, what a gift to be shared and embraced.

Simply said: there is a little bit of magic that has been created within our community at Life Time. Kegels and all.

Thank you to the incredible staff at Life Time West County. And a huge thank you to Diane for her interview.

Diane Klenke is the Pied Piper of Pilates. She makes class fun, interesting and above all, encourages us to laugh. More than that, the tone she sets in class inspires us to create community and incredible friendships. I will follow her anywhere!

Creating Community:
Diane Klenke is the Pied Piper of Pilates. She makes class fun, interesting and above all, encourages us to laugh. More than that, the tone she sets in class inspires us to create community and incredible friendships.
To listen to our Storycorps interview click the link below:

Creating Community at Lifetime Fitness West County.

About Pam Wilson

I've been writing since I can remember. At heart, I am a story-teller; making sense of my world, finding humor and light through writing. Now I help clients to write their own stories. As I continue my own writing journey, my passion is to help clients write their own stories.

12 Comments

  1. Sandye Muncy on August 4, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Pam, you are definitely part of my community! I am so thankful I met you and so many other friends via our time at the gym! I love our tribe! Thank you for sharing this great article and your interview with Diane! Both perfectly illustrate the camaraderie found at LTF❣️



  2. Pam Wilson on August 4, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you for reading!!! And I agree…it’s amazing what you can find with a smile!!!xoxoxo



  3. Jill on August 5, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    Great piece, Pam. You stated what I feeel in a very eloquent manner!🥰 Love my Lifetime tribe!



    • Pam Wilson on August 8, 2022 at 9:19 am

      What a tribe we have!!! Thank you for reading!!! xoxoxo



  4. Mary Ellen Block on August 6, 2022 at 11:37 am

    Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article…I couldn’t agree more…so blessed to be a part of this amazing community 🥰



    • Pam Wilson on August 8, 2022 at 9:19 am

      And blessed to know you!!!! Love seeing your smiling face at Life Time!!! xoxoxo



  5. Alex Culberson on August 6, 2022 at 11:49 am

    Pam, this is BEAUTIFUL. Thank you so much for sharing your spirit with us all. I loveeeee reading your work!!



    • Pam Wilson on August 8, 2022 at 9:18 am

      Thank you for reading!!! And for all of your love, support and friendship!!! YOU are a huge part of our Life Time family, my friend!! xoxoxo



  6. Kimberly Peterson on August 8, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    I finally got to read this and you hit the nail in the head !! And I also hope they are giving you a free membership because this accolade if read by enough could boost membership!!



    • Pam Wilson on August 8, 2022 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks Kim! I’m laughing!!! mention your idea about a free membership to Brad for me!!!! Thanks for reading!!! And I loved your question yesterday, “What now?”



  7. Angela on August 8, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    I love it , Pam!
    Well said, beautiful!
    Xoxo 🧘🏻‍♀️



    • Pam Wilson on August 8, 2022 at 5:27 pm

      Thank you for reading!!!