(This Interview and Article is done originally in Vietnamese. If you would like to read the Vietnamese version, please click here.)
Based in Vietnam, Le Thu Trang (known as ‘Kun’) started her exciting fitness career in 2016, as a certified Les Mills Instructor for BODYJAM®, BODYBALANCE® and BODYCOMBAT®. "I was motivated by the desire to make high-quality group fitness accessible to my local community, and to combine world-class standards with a touch of Vietnamese vibrancy!I” Kun says.
Today, Kun is also a Presenter for BODYJAM and BODYBALANCE, and in her non-fitness career she has enjoyed an almost 10-year tenure as a Senior Multimedia Designer.
LMAP: What originally inspired you to become a Les Mills Instructor?
When I attended my first Les Mills group exercise class back in 2015, it happened to be a BODYJAM class led by Bella Le who, later became my mentor, but at the time was the remarkable Head Coach of the BODYJAM team in that club.
Stepping into that first class, I carried the mindset of a dancer with 10 years of experience. However, my class experience was nothing short of astonishing. I was genuinely taken aback by how Bella, as the dance Instructor, could motivate, inspire, and entertain, as well as effectively teach the movements. I was deeply impressed with how this class was designed to teach so many more movements than I typically could within a 90-minute hip-hop choreography dance class.
Despite my love for BODYJAM, a limiting belief persisted in my mind around my ability to communicate effectively. However, Bella displayed immense patience, and after six months of her helping me to build my confidence – by constantly reminding me how my dance skills and comprehensive knowledge could contribute to the team's efforts in helping people fall in love with fitness – I agreed to complete Initial Module Training and I became a Les Mills Instructor.
LMAP: How did becoming a Les Mills Instructor positively impact your life?
I found out that I am a leader! I discovered my innate leadership qualities, and that I have a distinct leadership style that is unique to me. I also learned that this holds true for everyone – we all possess leadership attributes. My interest in leadership intensified so much that it has caused me to take a Master's Degree in Leadership, driven by my aspiration to unlock and harness my own capabilities and those in others.
I also found another mission in my life – to serve as the bridge between the Vietnamese Les Mills Instructor community and the rest of the world! Language is often a barrier for fitness enthusiasts in Vietnam to access credible resources for education, training, materials, and expertise. This can make it challenging to keep pace with the rapidly evolving innovations within the fitness industry. But, me having been nurtured within an educational system that amalgamates Australian and Vietnamese influences, I eventually realised how my adeptness in a second language – English – could serve as a conduit for helping to educate and upskill Vietnamese fitness enthusiasts. Doing so also offers a platform to spotlight Vietnamese talent and facilitate their integration into the global fitness landscape.
So, to answer the question, my life has changed profoundly since becoming a Les Mills Instructor, as it enabled me to learn so much about myself and the potential I hold within.
LMAP: What tips can you offer, for successfully balancing being an Instructor with having a full-time job?
My number one mantra would be: prioritise the transferable skills.
Think about: how do my two (or three!) jobs complement each other? Are there shared skillsets and then dedicate resources to further strengthening these skills. I eventually became a BODYJAM Head Coach, and this was a result of honing leadership competencies I initially didn't think I had. When I recounted the experience of mentoring a Les Mills Instructor Trainee to my Manager at my full-time workplace (explaining how it contributed to my understanding of leadership dynamics and engagement with young workers), my Manager’s response was: “The leadership abilities you’ve obtained suggest it’s time to elevate your position to a Design Mastermind of the office”. Less than a year later, I was promoted to become the Design Lead and managing my own team.”
My second mantra is: “Don’t do what you can’t do”.
Having more than one job is like juggling multiple balls simultaneously. Sometimes, the pursuit might spiral into chaos – you might tend to pay too much attention into one ball, or you might find you have more balls than you can handle; so don’t hold on when you can’t hold on! The key is to take good care of yourself at all times.
LMAP: Describe your journey that led to becoming a Presenter with Les Mills Asia Pacific?
Before my Les Mills journey started, I always considered that being a Les Mills Presenter was the ultimate achievement for elite Instructors. I held onto that belief and I set a goal to one day become a Presenter.
I worked really hard towards achieving perfection. I went through IMT and Advance Training within a year. I taught several BODYJAM classes a week, to make sure I gained enough in-person experience. I spent countless hours a day practising in private. I made sure I had self-reflection between the classes, where I critically evaluated my own teaching. I went to EDM shows to glean insights from DJ performances to look for performance tips that I could integrate into my classes. I familiarised myself with every nuanced beat and lyrics of BODYJAM music, even looking at it from the perspective of a music composer.
But the opportunity didn’t come to me; at least, not during that early phase of my Instructor career.
Unexpectedly, I was not disappointed because I was also busy focusing on the BODYJAM Instructor team and new Trainees, who were entrusted to my care.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened but I experienced a distinct shift in my focus. I started to enjoy the journey of nourishing the others, rather than having it be about myself. There is a quote by Amy Lu that I couldn’t agree with more, which says: “When you’re in that place where you’re no longer super introspective, where you have laid strong foundations that you can back yourself on and you’re in the position to give – that’s often the time when people start to get opportunities”.
It’s just so true. During my fifth year as an Instructor, when the time was just right, the opportunity to become a Presenter arrived, and with it came my chance to empower and nurture so many others.
LMAP: What do you love about being a Les Mills Instructor?
I am proud to be a Les Mills Instructor. I am proud to deliver workouts that are scientifically proven, to belong to a united community of brave hearts, where care and respect are at the foundation, and where education is encouraged, and innovation and creativity are embraced.
In Les Mills, everybody has a place, everybody is loved, inspired, and empowered.
It is so magical to be able to make a positive impact in the lives of people I know, and don’t know!
LMAP: What’s your advice for someone who is considering becoming a Les Mills Instructor, but does not quite feel ready?
Being not ready and being scared are different. If you don’t feel ready then do whatever is necessary to make yourself ready – ask questions, read the stories, seek mentorship, take a deep breath.
If you are scared: there’s nothing wrong with feeling scared but still take that step forward with a brave heart. Scared is what you’re feeling, brave is what you’re being.
To follow Kun on Instagram check out @kunnilicious