A Better Way

Why settle for so-so results when significant improvement is within easy reach?

Bahram Akradi, founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life

I am always on the lookout for better ways of doing things — from fixing a punctured bike tire to achieving a big life goal. It just gives me a surge of satisfaction every time I manage to improve my efficiency or create a better result from a particular process or task.

At work, in particular, I’m constantly striving to find ways of improving our member experience, our facilities, our programs, our outcomes.

Since we’re in the business of promoting a healthy way of life, I’m especially interested in innovations that make it easier for people to achieve the health and fitness goals that matter to them.

Decades ago, for example, Life Time’s clubs were among the first fitness communities to embrace heart-rate monitors and heart-rate training. It just made so much sense to give people a way of optimizing their individual fitness efforts based on their unique physiology and current fitness status, rather than trying to get everybody to do the same types of workouts at an arbitrary intensity and pace.

Back then, offering VO2-max evaluations and customized heart-rate-training plans was the exclusive domain of elite sports-training clinics. It was a pretty unusual thing for a neighborhood health club to do. But I felt that whenever we discovered a better way to help people achieve their health and fitness goals, we should make it as widely available as possible.

In the past decade, we’ve taken that philosophy further, making lab testing, metabolic testing, and individualized weight-loss strategies more accessible and standard parts of our members’ healthy-life journey. (For more on the individualized weight-loss trend, see “Individualized Weight Loss“.)

Again, to me it just makes sense: Why pursue a one-size-fits-all nutrition and exercise program when there’s a good chance that it’s not the best program for you? Why invest all that energy in a “hope for the best” approach when, with a few quick assessments, you can get a program that delivers far greater certainty of both efficiency and effect?

We’re following a similar train of thought with our new LT Proactive Care Clinics — using a more integrative and advanced medical approach to help people optimize their health and well-being, rather than simply suppressing their symptoms or following one-size-fits-all disease-management strategies.

I always make myself the guinea pig for new offerings like this, both because I want to fully understand the full experience and because I want to see the difference such programs make at a practical, tangible-outcomes level.

For me, getting more advanced labs and a more thorough medical workup was nothing short of a breakthrough. It helped me see how my stress levels directly affected my hormonal status and catabolic–anabolic balance. It helped me radically improve my dietary and supplementation strategy. It helped me adjust my training approach and better understand the kind of recovery rhythms my body required for maximum progress. Ultimately, it significantly improved my health, my energy, my moods, and my athletic performance.

While this sort of testing is not yet accessible for everyone, it’s getting more affordable and more widely available with each passing year. It’s already within reach for a great many (if you’re a member, ask at your Life Time club). And it’s the kind of thing you can do at your own pace based on your personal goals and priorities.

I’ve seen countless people (from fresh-off-the-couch beginners to pro athletes) make dramatic fitness improvements as the result of such assessments. Most of all, I’ve seen the satisfaction and relief that comes as people who have been struggling — sometimes for years — to improve their health and fitness level suddenly start making noticeable headway. All because they finally discovered and embraced a few simple changes that worked better for them.

As we head into fall, I encourage you to go “back to school” on your own health and fitness pursuits. Consider building in some new learning and discovery that allows you to get significantly better results with significantly less effort and frustration.

Start where you feel inspired, and then keep on pursuing the realms of improvement that create the best experiences and outcomes for you.

Bahram Akradi is the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness.

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