Death Investigator, Vet, CEO… discover what Les Mills Instructors get up to when they’re not in activewear!

Charlotte Mitchell-Brennan, US, Death Investigator/BODYCOMBAT™

My job is nothing like CSI or those shows that solve crimes in 50 minutes. I don't drive a Hummer, I don't wear high heels, and we don't perform autopsies in the dark.

When someone dies in our county, we respond to the residence or scene if the death is anything but natural. I notify family, work with law enforcement and emergency responders, review medical records, photograph the scene and interview family, friends and bystanders, relocate the deceased to our office, pull fluids for toxicology, drop off samples at the hospital lab, document property, personal effects and medications, write narratives for our forensic pathologist, work with the FBI and state patrol on identifying the deceased... the list goes on and on.

I struggled for most of my adult life trying to find a workout that I enjoyed. I dreaded going to the gym. When I came back from university, I'd gained a significant amount of weight so I went to the local gym and tried BODYSTEP™ and BODYPUMP™, got a personal trainer and lost some weight — but I still wasn’t motivated. In 2006, I was the victim of a domestic assault in an abusive relationship. The results of that incident were physical injury, as well as emotional and psychological damage.

My father (who loved BODYPUMP) tried a newer class at our gym and suggested I try it because he thought it would be healing for me. The first time I tried a BODYCOMBAT class, I fell in love. I began taking it whenever my schedule would allow (sometimes 6 days a week!). One Instructor, a dear friend of mine, sent me home with a BODYCOMBAT Release so I could shadow her on stage. I was terrified, but the encouragement of the Instructors and members gave me the courage to go through training and I’ve been teaching ever since (2007).

My day job helps me to be less judgmental. I know that everyone is different and going through their own hardships and situations. Grief isn't a linear process and it doesn’t just go away by itself. I understand that it can be difficult to just get through the gym door. I have the utmost gratitude for every person who shows up to my class, regardless of what’s going on in their lives. They committed, they got there, and made exercise a part of their day. That’s pretty huge.

Hilary McMillan, Australia, Group CEO/BODYPUMP, RPM™

I'm a mum of three little kiddies and Group CEO of an incredible woman’s footwear label that's rapidly expanding around the globe, FRANKIE4. I trained as an Instructor nearly 20 years ago, following in the footsteps of my mum (I think she trained on BODYPUMP 4). Teaching has been my savior through peak times in business and life in general. Even though I'm running our company and life is crazy, my classes are a non-negotiable!

Teaching has massively helped my confidence with public speaking. I did a lot of presenting in front of fellow students at university, and it always made me so nervous. It baffled me why I was so confident teaching group fitness, but so nervous presenting in the academic setting. I realized I needed to take the same approach towards learning my presentations as I did with learning choreography, and it was a game changer for me. Now, in my current job as CEO, I present to our entire company regularly and sit on the board for FRANKIE4. I recently flew over to Florida to film a segment for a daytime talk show. My confidence has grown and it’s because I learned to trust myself. It all stemmed from the behaviors I learned as an Instructor.

Teaching truly is my happy place and keeps me balanced in what can be a very fast-paced, stressful job. I get asked all the time how I fit it in or can be motivated to teach as well as everything else, and my answer is that I don’t think I would be able to do it all if I didn’t teach. I need to have that small window of time every day that is just mine — even if it's only 30 minutes at 5am.

Kester Lim, Singapore, Suicide Prevention/BODYBALANCE™, LES MILLS TONE™, LES MILLS Strength Development™

I work at a Suicide Prevention non-profit as a community development trainer. My role is to equip members of the public with basic suicide respondent skills such as active listening, empathy, and how to guide people towards resources should they feel distressed.

My experiences in the fitness industry helped me to secure my current role. I was full-time in the industry for 13 years, but decided to make a shift and found this job which really speaks to my personal values. I do believe what I do in the fitness space makes an incredible impact, so I continue to teach and I’m also a part of the Les Mills Asia Pacific TAP Team.

Teaching helps me connect with individuals and approach heavy topics without making them feel uncomfortable. My day job emphasizes active listening and empathy, helping me to empower people in my group fitness classes and cater to their diverse challenges, motivations, fears, and aspirations. I love that both my jobs not only support others' mental health, but also help them to empower themselves. In turn, I hope they might be able to support others who need help, creating a ripple effect, making the world a better place.

What's surprising about my job? You don't need to be a professional to support someone in distress; sometimes, just being there is enough.

Laura Lorenzato, UAE, Senior Cabin Crew/BODYCOMBAT, LES MILL CORE™, BODYSTEP

I’m Italian and have been living in Abu Dhabi since 2014. Being a flight attendant was my childhood dream. As soon as I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Modern and Contemporary Languages (I can speak, read and write English, Russian and Spanish, in addition to Italian) I left Italy to work for an airline here.

My typical atypical day starts with coffee. It could be daytime or nighttime — a coffee wakes me up and energizes me. I put on my uniform, style my hair and do my make-up, then proceed to my office (the airport) and meet the rest of the team before boarding the aircraft. Sometimes we go and come back the same day, other times we have a layover. Recently I was in Milan, before that, Tokyo. I'm looking forward to upcoming trips to Bangkok and the Maldives.

Teaching helps me as an Onboard Leader because one of my responsibilities is to lead by example, inspire and motivate my crew. I always strive to perform at my best, to be someone they can look up to, trust and ask for guidance if needed, without the fear of being judged or excluded.

Being Cabin Crew helps me in teaching because you will find me smiling, happy and upbeat, friendly and approachable no matter what. As my job focuses on hospitality, I want everybody to feel welcome and well looked after. What’s never missing in my suitcase? Gym clothes, a pair of trainers and the Les Mills SMARTBAND™. You’ll find me learning the latest releases in the most unexpected places!


When I was a student in Leeds, I had a fantastic BODYATTACK Instructor who was also a GP. His classes were AMAZING and I always thought to myself, one day when I'm qualified, I would love to teach Les Mills! I always imagined that would be a long way in the future when I was a GP. However, working through the pandemic as a newly qualified doctor had other ideas for my career path…

My GP placement in my second year of foundation training brought a lot of work-related anxiety and caused me to reconsider my career path. Working as a doctor during the pandemic was inherently worrying, and I found my anxiety just got worse and worse. I remember getting in from work one day and just wanting to sit on the sofa, eat biscuits and cry. But I didn’t let myself. I went into the kitchen, put my trainers on, and made myself do a home workout. The last thing I wanted to do was exercise, but I knew I would feel better (even if only slightly) and it would help to distract my brain from over thinking. I did that every day after work (or before work when I was on nights), doing livestream classes as well as LES MILLS+ workouts. Eventually, I could feel my anxious thoughts slowly becoming less powerful. That was when I made my Instagram (now @thelivewelldoctor) to help motivate me to exercise.

I was been successful in my application for an ‘out of training’ job post within medical education. However, I was still struggling with anxiety and was unsure of what career path I wanted to take within medicine, so I applied for a job teaching students on placement from my local medical school. Education is something I’ve always known I want to be a part of my medical career. This was a ‘9 to 5' job, so I knew I'd be able to teach group fitness classes alongside this. We were still in and out of lockdowns, so I signed up for a level 2 group fitness qualification, as well as my BODYATTACK and BODYPUMP Initial Training.

Teaching Les Mills helps me to manage the stress and worry of my job. It's also helped massively with my confidence — teaching group fitness classes is really outside my comfort zone! I’ve discovered a lot of transferrable skills that help me in my education role, such as communication and coaching. I also try to educate my patients on the benefits of exercise for physical and mental health.

Anjali Ranadive, US, Forensic Scientist and Attorney/BODYPUMP, BODYCOMBAT, RPM, LES MILLS STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT™

I currently consult on criminal cases from all over the US that involve DNA evidence. I teach a course at Arizona State University on testimony and ethics, plus I’ve co-authored numerous texts and articles on various aspects of forensic science, evidence collection and ethics. My day toggles back and forth between teaching morning and evening classes, taking my dogs to the park, and working (usually in gym clothes) on reviewing cases or prepping lectures for my class.

I'm a teacher in both my fitness job and my ‘day' job. Being an Instructor so early on helped my confidence when I first began to testify on behalf of the lab results. I was already so used to being in front of an audience that I never had the anxiety so many of my colleagues experienced when they first had to start testifying. I think having another outlet to educate others on a particular topic helps to inform my fitness instruction as well. I’m always thinking of what additional information I can offer during class — whether about form, technique, trivia about a song or a move, or just pure motivation.

I think people think they know what forensics is from watching shows like CSI, but it’s really not like that. I just returned from testifying in a murder trial in South Dakota last week and there was a lot of debate about how the case was handled — from the crime scene to the lab, all the way to the courtroom. The system is certainly far from perfect, but I feel fortunate to be able to be a small part of it knowing I am helping families of victims find closure and finding justice for all those involved.

Marita Manley, Fiji, Hiking Social Enterprise/BODYPUMP

My “day job” is running a small hiking social enterprise, Talanoa Treks, where I have the privilege of helping to organize trips for guests to Fiji to visit some of the more remote parts of the country on interior multi-day hikes.

I’m originally from Wales, but moved to Fiji in 2006 for work and fell in love with the country. I’ve lived in Suva, the capital, since then. My background is working in natural resource management and climate change and that’s what brought me to Fiji. I've spent 20 years working on climate policy and finance, but the problem is getting worse rather than better. 10 years ago, I co-founded Talanoa Treks, working directly with indigenous communities who depend on agricultural income, to support them to access additional income from tourism. We'd got to know one of our partner communities really well by taking groups informally from Suva since 2007, so when we were asked by them to see if we could turn it into a sustainable business venture, it felt a bit more practical!

A lot of my job involves managing people and motivating them to work together to achieve something collectively. Teaching BODYPUMP is incredibly valuable for that as it teaches you to be constantly watching out for who might be struggling and might need some encouragement, and to create that team spirit of supporting one another to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. On a practical level, as someone who might spend the entire day at her desk, it's also invaluable to ensure I work muscles that can be neglected!


My daily freelance job is Voice Talent or Voice Actor (for some animated characters such as Disney's Aladdin, Sonic the Hedgehog and Peter Parker AKA Spiderman). Recently, I just got promoted to work as a Voice Coach at Apple.

Teaching classes gives me the energy both physically and mentally to get through life. My role as Voice Talent often involves sitting or standing for hours. Thanks to my classes, I have a good awareness of my posture, and can correct it if I can feel I'm out of alignment. Teaching classes has also helped me to control my breath for extended periods of speaking, which is helpful for my day job.

My role as Voice Talent has trained me to have acute recognition of people's emotions via their facial expressions, body language, or gestures. This helps me to understand how my members are feeling in class so I can tailor my teaching to them. I also know how to control my vocal intensity, condition my pitch and duration of speaking to align with the music and the essence of the program. This works particularly effectively in my BODYBALANCE classes.


I work for the US Army as a Medical planner. I cover operations, training, and intelligence for units I’m assigned to. I currently work for Special Forces and have been assisting multiple theater-level commands with the medical portions of their Comprehensive Defense planning with partner nations.

I started going to BODYPUMP in 2016 when I realized I needed to really change the way I worked out. I was a collegiate hammer thrower, shot putter, discus thrower — all about the heavy/power lifting. That body frame is not desired by the military and my joints were needing some relief as well after over a decade in Service. Group Fitness was completely new but I really enjoyed the accountability of class schedules and sense of community.

I think teaching has made me less judgmental. We look for ways to help everyone improve within their own ability, understanding people need different cues and options. We find ways to explain things so everyone gets it. When working with foreign partners, English is the first barrier, followed by culture; we have to find a way to understand despite those differences. We don’t always inherently understand cultural differences until we sit in our curiosity, finding the different thought patterns and questioning without judgment to make things better. Teaching has definitely helped me with this.

Stephanie Timmons, UK, Veterinary Surgeon/BODYPUMP

I always wanted to be a vet. I initially wanted to work with farm animals, so I didn't ever think that I would end up working nightshifts in an Emergency and Critical Care environment! I left general practice after 18 months and did a course fast-tracking me into ECC, where I ended up in a busy, fast-paced out of hours environment dealing with emergencies and working 15-hour nightshifts. I was absolutely hooked and loved the fact that every night was different. I never knew what was going to walk in the door and had to think outside the box when the weird and wonderful happened. I did some further study and achieved my postgraduate certificate in Emergency and Critical Care in 2020. The sense of community and family within the night teams is like nothing I have ever experienced, and this makes the job extremely special. I now work in a leadership position where I oversee several emergency clinics rather than doing the clinical work myself.

Teaching has given me a lot more confidence when it comes to public speaking. I have recently presented at conferences and I definitely felt more relaxed and able to go "off script" a bit without losing my confidence and relying on the notes. It's also helped me with coaching and mentoring younger vets joining the emergency sector, because I can use some of the principles I learnt in my Initial Training in the clinical setting too!

Meeting new people, striking up a rapport with them and building trust is key to the treatment of patients and providing a good client experience. This has really help me build connections with my participants as I love meeting and building relationships with new people; I think it's important as an Instructor to make your participants feel at ease when they come to your class, just as it is in the emergency setting when you're dealing with very high-octane situations.

I love that teaching gives me extra focus and motivation for my training, and I love sharing the workout with like-minded individuals. It's an opportunity for me switch off from the stress and strains of the day, be totally in the moment and switched off from my phone, work, and the everyday struggles of life.

Rochelle Christian, US, Crude Quality and Analytical Chemist/ BODYCOMBAT, BODYBALANCE, LES MILLS GRIT

As a young child, I always had a love for anything math or science-related – I even asked for a microscope one year for Christmas. I also had great teachers throughout elementary and high school who encouraged my passion by recommending after school science and engineering-based programs. As an adult, I'm blessed to find not one, but two careers that my younger self would have been excited to work in.

In my day job, I'm responsible for overseeing the RDCC (Rapid Deeper Crude Characterization) lab of the Port Arthur Refinery. I maintain and calibrate instrumentation and develop or validate new instrument methods. I represent both the quality team and crude production team. I help develop crude oil assays created from a series of analytical techniques run in RDCC which are then used by our trading and economics department to model the value of crude oil for the refinery. I also work directly with representatives of several departments that have ownership over crude oil supply chain.

I wake up around 3 am to pray/meditate, review notes, check work emails, and eat breakfast. I head into my day job around 8am if I’m not teaching my 5am BODYBALANCE class. As soon as I get to work I double-check the out of service instrumentation reports, check with technicians, product team leads, and process chemists to see if there are any sampling or method issues. I attend scheduled meetings to discuss which crudes benefit daily refinery needs or goals, plus I work on assigned projects for new software or instrumentation I will help bring into the lab. After work, I head the gym to teach or take a class.

I LOVE seeing the growth of my members. I’ve been teaching for almost seven years now and I've got members from my very first class that are still rocking with me today. It’s an amazing feeling to see someone become more health-conscious and physically fit, knowing you played a part in their journey. It’s a constant reminder of why I teach and why I keep adding certifications — because someone made it exciting, challenging and motivating for me. I want to continue to do that for others. It’s one of the ways I know I’m making a difference in other people’s lives. And it has forever changed me.