As vice president of GoodLife Fitness
clubs in Canada, Maureen “Mo” Hagan, PT, still teaches group fitness, inspiring
200 participants per week in her classes. She also travels to several new club
openings a year, introducing hundreds of members to group fitness programs. She
combines her passion for group exercise and her interest in growing the fitness
industry with her business savvy to create successful mentor programs that
serve as a feeder system for GoodLife.

Please share some details about your mentor program.

The GoodLife
Fitness mentorship program (also know as the “buddy system”) runs at the club
level, is overseen by a “cluster” manager and is designed to support both new
and (newly trained) veteran instructors. This buddy system helps orientate or
“induct” instructors to the club within their first 2–
4 weeks.
Instructors who are brand-new to teaching and who have recently completed a
fitness instructor certification with Can-Fit-Pro may remain with a buddy
longer than the 2- to 4-week orientation process until they successfully
complete their practical assessments.

Was your program created out of need or was it more
entrepreneurial? What have been the biggest challenges?

We created it
out of need to help support instructors in their orientation process and to
fill a gap that exists within our management structure. A regional manager may
oversee up to eight clubs and 150 instructors. This makes it difficult for the
manager to spend quality time with a new hire or newly trained instructor. We
boast a 94%–95% instructor retention rate, which we believe is significant and
relative to an effective orientation and training system.

The biggest challenge we face is standardizing the quality of
mentorship. We have more than 150 official team leaders who oversee specific
instructor teams within a region. They act as the “head mentors” for those
programs, and their role is to ensure that each newly trained instructor
(novice or veteran) is assigned a buddy and is held accountable for meeting
teaching and training expectations.

Do you offer any type of compensation for mentorees?
What about mentors?

Mentors receive branded-program clothing
and “team leader” apparel, a complimentary registration to the Can-Fit-Pro
conference, rebates on their Les Mills quarterly releases (about a $250 value
per year) and reward dollars throughout the year for completing specific goals
and objectives. It is an investment of between $250 and $500 per year per team

Instructors who are assigned new hires or trainees also receive
recognition—they have the opportunity to be selected instructor of the month.
Their effectiveness as mentors (among other criteria) also makes them eligible
for “Instructor of the Year.” Most
mentor instructors, including myself, enjoy assisting, educating, guiding and
training others to become solid instructors. I describe mentoring as “paying it
forward” to the up-and-coming instructors.

Mentorees do not receive compensation during their orientation
process, nor are they paid for team-teaching with their mentor. They are paid a
flat hourly rate for attending team or staff meetings and program practices.
This pertains to all instructors, and the amount is $10 per hour for a maximum
of 2 hours per meeting or practice.

Do you require some sort of financial or time commitment
from mentorees? What about exclusivity or long-term loyalty?

Mentorees sign an employment contract
before they begin any aspect of a mentoring or orientation process. All
instructors are hired exclusively to GoodLife and agree to teach a minimum of
two classes per week as a new hire. All new employees are hired on a 3-month
probationary period and are not guaranteed classes until they meet

Veteran instructors who train in a new program are required to
work under a mentor for a specific period of time (or number of classes)
following training until they are ready to be assessed by video submission.
These instructors, who may be regularly scheduled and paid instructors on the
staff, are not compensated for being mentored in this new program. Mentorees
are not guaranteed a class or long-term commitment. They must perform well and
meet all expectations. Once mentorees achieve key performance indicators, they
may be rewarded with a raise or other incentives.

If your mentoring program focuses mainly on new
instructors, is there a component that focuses on class design and format?

Since our
mentoring program focuses on both new hires and prechoreographed or
GoodLife-branded programs, we focus on
outcome-related training and evaluation-related objectives that are
specifically outlined from the start. New hires receive an orientation manual
with checklists and assignments to complete within specified periods of time
during the first 4–6 weeks of the mentorship. Instructors who are learning to
teach a new program receive similar training. Both groups receive evaluations (verbal and written).

Mentorees are therefore required to learn to teach specific
programs, to reach certain expectations that qualify them for certification and
to meet GoodLife standards as an exclusive associate. For example, mentorees
learn how to meet and greet members and visitors and how to ask members about
specific needs and goals. Instructors who are already teaching on the schedule
have the opportunity to choose the program(s) they wish to teach.

Do you offer help (financial or otherwise) with
certification training? Why or why not?

We pay about
75% of all costs associated with training. If an instructor is a new hire and
has not yet completed the 3-month probationary period, we do not pay. The
instructor pays and receives a rebate on the training only after successfully
passing the training, becoming certified and teaching regularly on the schedule
(at least once per week). We believe this demonstrates commitment to our
instructors in exchange for their exclusive commitment to GoodLife. We also
reward all instructors with a rebate on the training tools they purchase
throughout the year, and we provide additional discounts to attend conferences.
Instructors have the opportunity to be re-evaluated once a year for a financial
raise based on achieving additional certifications.

What advice can you offer for other group exercise
managers who are thinking about starting a mentorship program?

Do not select mentors for their seniority
or number of years they’ve been teaching. This does not guarantee or qualify
them as good or effective mentors. Ensure that mentors uphold the company
culture and core values and follow all company policies and procedures. A
mentor is not just your best or most popular instructor. In fact, some of our
best mentors and team leaders are newer, less experienced instructors who
possess the coaching, mentoring, leadership and organizational skills it takes
to be effective.

Reward mentors for the quality of their mentorship, not for the
time they invest. This includes incentives for helping a mentoree achieve
certain outcomes (e.g., becoming a successful new hire, completing the
orientation process ahead of deadline, etc.). This reward can be many things
other than money. Ask mentors how they would like to be recognized.

SIDEBAR: What Is a Mentor?

Sandy Gribbon,
regional “Group EXercise” manager for GoodLife Fitness Clubs, used the
following acronym in her team training:

A M.E.N.T.O.R. is someone who


Educates and


instructors to take

Ownership of their

Role as educators
and leaders.