by Les Mills Asia Pacific

James Lu is a Group Fitness Coordinator for the City of Sydney, where he manages group exercise across six leisure centres. James has been teaching since 2013 after having become certified in BODYCOMBAT® in December 2012. He is also certified in BODYPUMP® (2014) and LES MILLS SPRINT® (2022).

LMAP: What inspired you to become a Les Mills Instructor?

Les Mills Asia Pacific’s Head Trainer, Dee McNeill, used to teach a BODYCOMBAT class in Sydney every Tuesday evening, which I absolutely loved. So, from 2006 right up until COVID began, I would finish work early so that I could attend her class every week. One day, in 2008, Dee said to me: “James, have you ever thought about stepping onto the stage and being an Instructor?”

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do the Initial Module Training (IMT), as I am from a non-English speaking background and I didn’t know if people would understand my English while coaching. But a few years later, in 2012, my lovely wife gave me a surprise present of $500 that she’d saved up. She said, “I don’t want you to regret not doing it, or do it when you are too old“, and so I went and enrolled in the IMT.

LMAP: It took a few attempts to pass your BODYCOMBAT certification. Tell us more about this experience.

Yes. I did my BODYCOMBAT IMT in 2012, but when I was assessed, the feedback indicated that I failed all kicks. I was so disappointed in myself and I even said to my wife, “I knew I couldn’t do it.“

So, I took some time off (two or three weeks) where I did not do any BODYCOMBAT classes, and then my wife said to me, “Try it again and prove that you can do it.“

I attempted the assessment again, and I will never forget the moment I got my results. Back then, the results and feedback were supplied n a big envelope in the mail. When I opened it up and saw the words ‘Certified’ written on the top-right corner, I was so excited. My wife was next to me and started crying. She was hugging me and saying “You did it!“

In 2015, I went on to successfully complete Advanced Instructor Module 1(AIM 1) in 2014. In 2015 I completed Advanced Instructor Module 2(AIM 2) but didn’t pass. I attempted it again in 2016 and passed, and this meant I then became an Elite Level Instructor.

In 2018, I was invited to audition to become a Presenter; but unfortunately, I was unable to attend as I was in Japan with my family as my dad was unwell.

Our Advanced Instructor Module product has been phased out of our training offering and has been since replaced with our new Advanced Training Module. To learn more about Advanced Training, click here.

LMAP: What’s your advice for someone who receives a RE-SIT outcome for their Initial Module Training on their first try?

We all put so much effort and practise into it, so it’s not easy if you get a RE-SIT outcome. But if you do, I recommend pressing pause, walking away from it for a while to relax your mind and get calm. Then, ask yourself a simple question: “What is your ‘why’? Think of all the happiness you get from the classes. Think of sharing that incredible energy with more people in the world. Remind yourself of your ‘why’ and use that motivation to try again. You can do it!

LMAP: What support did you seek and/or receive during your Initial Module Training retake?

Firstly, I discussed it with my mentor Dee, and then I did extra training with a PT to improve my techniques. Also, I tried to practise/team-teach in different Instructors’ classes.

I appreciate all the advice, support and help that I got from so many people. This is another reason why I love group fitness – there is so much support and friendship, especially during those times when you need it.

LMAP: What do you love about being a Les Mills Instructor?

The best part about being a Les Mills Instructor is meeting so many different people in your class and helping them to change their life. That 45 minutes or one hour workout together, might be the only timeslot they’ve got during the week for themselves, and they’re choosing to spend it with me! Also, I’ve met so many beautiful people who have become my “fitness family” (my own family are based overseas) and these people have come to mean so much to me.

LMAP: What is your advice to someone who is considering becoming a Les Mills Instructor but does not quite feel ready?

I always say “there is no perfect time, but doing it earlier is always better than doing it later! Signing up can be the hardest and biggest step, but once you do, this amazing journey starts and it’s ongoing. Do it!

To follow James Lu on Instagram check out @james_bodycombat


Les Mills Asia Pacific