Lena talks about her role in the fitness industry, loving what you do, sources of inspiration, and how to battle professional and personal challenges.
First steps in the fitness industry
I never really planned to work in the fitness industry. I got into the business through my sister and mother, who were both instructors at the time. I was 16 years old, and I thought it was a good extra job. Eventually, I became a Membership Salesperson at SPORTSCLUB and then went on to become a Sales Manager quite fast. When SPORTSCLUB was sold to SATS, I went to tour the US for 1,5 years. When I came back to Sweden, I was offered a job at Canal Plus TV, where I was working 5 years in the broadcast team for Live Sports events. Although I was working with sports events, I felt it was not really inspiring people to move and be active, rather sit on the sofa and watch the broadcast on tv instead.
From that experience I realized that I really wanted to do something with a higher purpose so when Jesper Magnusson, CEO and part-owner for Les Mills Nordic at that time offered me a job, I decided it was the right time and a good fit. We were a team of Salespeople all working together and sharing the same passion. We had no Sales Manager and I felt we lacked structure from the work we did. I had been working in my new role for about 4 months and the office was an open space office with only Jesper Magnusson having his own office. I told him half-jokingly that I would be so much better at my job if I had my own office, and I could focus on what I am doing. By Monday he had moved out of his office and put me in it. From that day I really started to focus better on what I was doing and in 6 months I became the first Sales Manager at Les Mills Nordic and have had my own office ever since.
Love what you do
For me, work is something I really enjoy doing. Not many people know this about me, but I never set an alarm clock for the mornings. I wake up every morning at 04:45 and take my coffee and go to work and I really love that quiet time before everyone else wakes up. I find my job purposeful; I support the Les Mills Nordic office of course but I also still work with our partners on a daily basis and my job is to help them to become successful in their business. It makes me happy when I see our partners being successful. To be able to really support our partners, I am always transparent and honest, and I expect the same of them.
Future of Fitness
I think the digital, online, and home training will stay but I also think that nothing beats LIVE. We will never go back to having only live services. We can see people starting to change their minds about digital services and today they expect a club to offer both live and digital in their offering. That’s why I think we will see more clubs having a full solution that combines these in the future. You can already see this trend in Finland and Sweden now and I believe you will start to see it in other countries soon. On a personal level, I hope we will be able to support and uplift our partners with a structured and professional way going forward, whether it is a chain of clubs or a smaller individual fitness club. Les Mills have also developed our partner services to be more user-friendly to make it easier to do business with us.
At the start of every year, we always talk to our partners about their expectations of us as well as our expectations of them. A healthy partnership is one where both understand why the partnership exists and why we do what we do. The key is transparency and the biggest challenges come when there is no trust.
Another area that I find challenging, and I wish we could focus more on, is children and creating a happier, healthier planet. Children really are our future, and the future members of fitness clubs as well. The Les Mills program BORN TO MOVE® was started and developed originally in Sweden with programs for younger kids and then for older kids developed later in New Zealand. I am so proud of the BORN TO MOVE® program and I wish every child could have a chance to experience it.
I was in a serious accident last year. After the accident, I have been thinking a lot about what is really important in life. Phillip Mills has always been someone I look up to, not just because of all the things he has done for the world and how he treats the whole Les Mills staff and family but also because he is so genuine and kind with everyone he meets, from partners to club members. In New Zealand Phillip has planted trees in our names and looks out for all of us at Les Mills like family. After I had my accident, he was helping my whole family through it. Phillip Mills is really one of the kindest most genuine people that I know and a true role model.
In work life and innovation, I loved Steve Jobs's mindset of always hiring people who were better than him in certain areas. He always understood the components he needed to be successful.
My personal hero would be the cartoon character Pippi Longstocking. If someone asks Pippi if she can do anything, she will answer yes sure I can, never tried it but I am sure I can do it. Pippi really has that mindset that I want to have, so before I think I can’t, I answer I can!
When I had my accident last year, my mother said she never saw anyone so positive with a jaw broken in two and I really did not once wake up in the morning complaining about it. It happened, I am still alive, and I will keep on going.
There are people in all of our lives who inspire us and whom we look up to. Lena Holmberg is one of those people to many around her. She commands any room with a positive light and ageless energy. A quote she loves is “Don’t Stop until you are proud”