My Les Mills journey began as an avid BODYCOMBAT® participant. I started participating around BODYCOMBAT 25 and, back in the day, I’d do five to six classes a week (including back-to-back classes on a Monday night!). After about a year, I decided I wanted to get certified and so I did. Fast forward a few years later, and I was trained in six Les Mills programs!
My WHY for teaching, is all about creating communities and experiences that take members outside their day-to-day life for an hour or so. Fitness has allowed me to cultivate some of the most valued relationships, and I just love that my classes can be that for someone else.
Being a Les Mills Instructor has taught me that ‘comparison’ is the thief of joy! We can get caught up too much in trying to be like others, and we forget what makes us special and individual. Since I stopped comparing myself to others, I have found that my authentic self shines through. I believe this makes my classes far more enjoyable to teach, as I’m no longer worrying about being something or someone that I’m not.
To me, being a member of the LGBTTQIA+ community means I don’t have to be afraid about not conforming to the social norms and I can, instead, live authentically. It’s about celebrating those who are different and loving everyone, regardless of who they are, who they choose to love, or who/what they identify as. I don’t hide who I am, so my family, friends and members all know my sexuality and they are supportive and never judge. In Australia, there is a large proportion of male Instructors who are also part of the LGBTTQIA+ community, and at our CrossFit box we also have a lot of community members who are inspiring athletes with lots of members who look up to them.
With regards to the LGBTTQIA+ representation in the fitness industry, I do believe that there is still a bit of work to do in this area. There are lots of diverse ethnicities represented on DVDs and in marketing campaigns, but it would be great to see more Les Mills/Reebok Ambassadors, for example, who are part of the LGBTTQIA + community. I think this is important because, personally, it can often feel like we have to prove that we can do things just as good as someone who is not part of our the LGBTTQIA+ community. And because we are not as well represented in the fitness activities I do (e.g., Les Mills and CrossFit), I always try harder to be better than others, and to constantly improve my skills so I can show everyone that gay men can be strong and tough and shouldn’t be stereotyped.
I think people just need to remember that not all cookies are cut the same; meaning, not all gay men act the same way and like the same things. The LGBTTQIA+ community includes amazing athletes, but they are not as widely celebrated; there needs to be more highlighting of the amazing athletes within our community.
What I love most about being a Les Mills Instructor is that it allows me to connect with people in a fun way. The environment is always fun, the music is always great, and it brings people into a safe space. It’s also allowed me to connect with other Instructors and Trainers from all over the world, which is pretty amazing.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with stage 3 metastatic cancer. For three months after surgery, I was unable to lift my arm or do any sort of training, so I want to show people that these kinds of illnesses don’t have stop you from doing what you love; instead, they can actually help you to feel better and stronger, both during and after treatment.
To anyone considering becoming a Les Mills Instructor, I say DO IT! It’s a great way to earn some money doing something you love, and you get to inspire others to stay fit as well; along the way, you also get to meet great people with amazing stories.
To follow more of Luke’s journey check him out on Instagram at @luke_etzler