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For Eve and Tyler Lawrence, 1 + 1 does not = 2. When this dynamic husband and wife team come together in the studio, sparking off each other in their team-taught sessions, the power is magnified tenfold, as Kate Cracknell reports.
“Eve and Tyler saw a total of 2,762 members during the 73 classes they taught in Q2 2018,” says Dana J Monson, national group exercise director for VillaSport Athletic Club & Spa in the US. “Now consider that the largest studio at the club where they teach – in Colorado Springs – has a capacity of just 42. Meanwhile the cycle studio has 37 bikes and the mind-body studio a capacity of 28, and they teach multiple classes across all these studios.
“Whether at peak or off-peak times, they pack every single class they teach – from BODYSTEP™ to CXWORX™, LES MILLS TONE™ to BODYBALANCE™ to RPM™ – achieving an average of 96 percent capacity.”
And even in a club that’s known for excellence in group exercise across the board, the members recognise what a good thing they’re onto in Tyler and Eve.
“In the first half of 2018, 28 people gave a shout-out specifically for Eve and Tyler in our member feedback system,” explains Dana, as she shares member comments that include “Saturday morning BODYSTEP has become my favourite class. Tyler and Eve are wonderful: inspiring and positive. I love starting my weekend with them”. Meanwhile, a Facebook thread includes comments like “Total admiration. They are like my personal trainers – I just follow them around!” and “They are that good. Seriously. A powerhouse couple!”
“The average score awarded by those who took the time to identify Eve and Tyler was 9.6 out of 10,” adds Dana. “They really are hands-down, second to none in excellence.”
But positive member feedback doesn’t end there, as Tyler and Eve explain when they pick up the story. “One of our participants is a former college volleyball athlete. After taking our classes for the past six months, she says she’s now jumping higher, more agile, with more endurance and in overall better shape than when she was a college athlete,” explains Eve. “At the other end of the scale, a brain tumour survivor credits our classes with helping him fight and navigate one of the most challenging times of his life.”
But the pair add huge value to regular members too: “One male participant said he never felt like an athlete until he started taking our classes, and a female participant says her favourite part of the week is Tuesday BODYSTEP with us,” says Eve.
“We teach to who’s in front of us, focusing all our attention on our members at that specific moment and treating every one of them as an amazing individual, regardless of age, athleticism or ability. We believe that, if we’re 100 per cent present in every class, our participants will surprise themselves 100 per cent of the time.
“We speak about consistency and hard work, but we also pull in our personal stories and humour – and a bit of flirting, especially Tyler! All of this takes people’s minds off their fatigue and helps them feel part of our lives outside of exercise, and this keeps them coming back. It’s real-life people helping real-life people.
“We focus on the functionality of the workout too, making it applicable to real-life scenarios. For example, we might be chatting to a member before class who tells us they’re going hiking that weekend, and we’ll use that throughout the class.”
But although the impression for members might be of a couple spontaneously bouncing off each other, this fun and flirtatious atmosphere is backed up by meticulous planning. Eve explains: “To make this all work, we come completely prepared and practised, with our playlists and choreography complete. We talk weekly about our coaching too, discussing the effective and not-so-effective things we did that week. That’s the very open way we clean up team-teaching as a married couple.”
But discipline aside, the couple clearly enjoy teaching together. “Our styles are definitely impacted by how often we teach together,” says Eve. “We have so much respect for each others’ ideas and approaches that it becomes contagious.
“However, we are different people and that shows in the way we teach. Tyler is more of an entertainer and makes people laugh without trying, plus his music and dance background allow him the ability to show swag like I can’t. Rap: yup. Opera: why not? Boy-band: without hesitation. Where some instructors get tuned-out, Tyler therefore holds attention. He says ‘lift your chest’ and they do. He says ‘jump higher’ and they try. He’s the instructor who makes the 76-year-old retiree feel like they’re 40 again.”
Tyler takes the baton: “Eve is a natural encourager, always bringing out the best in people and inspiring them to achieve levels of greatness they didn’t realise were possible. It starts the moment she walks into the gym, engaging with members so there’s a connection before class even starts. She engenders trust in participants so that, when she encourages and pushes them in class, they want to say ‘yes’ and believe they are capable. At those exact times when I think I can’t jump higher or push harder, Eve comes in with the perfect one-liner of encouragement that shifts my mindset.”
Eve does teach some classes solo, but as Tyler explains: “Dual teaching makes us better, every time, and enhances the experience for participants. For example, Eve might jump in and take the back half of a track I’m teaching, focusing on a coaching element that I wouldn’t have, while I hang with high or low options depending on participants’ needs at that time. Or else Eve might be teaching a cardio track in BodyStep, and when the music hits a hard techno beat and the moves become bigger, I'll take over with a different feel.
“By dual teaching, we’re able to ‘entertain’ in a sort of way. A member recently told us that coming to our class is like watching an episode of Saturday Night Live!”
This sort of impact on members would be impressive in any scenario, but now let’s factor in a few other elements of Eve and Tyler’s life: Tyler works as an assistant principal at a high school, and the couple are also parents to four children aged five years and under.
Yet they’re still hugely enthusiastic about group exercise – the thing that brought them together in the first place – and keen to continue to fit instructing into their lives, delivering six classes a week and splitting the fee between them.
“We’ve always loved being active, but now exercise is ultimately about family,” explains Tyler. “It helped Eve stay well – emotionally and physically – throughout her pregnancies. And now our consistency and style of exercise means we can throw our five-, three- and twin one-and-a-half-year-olds in the air and run around the house with them, while at the same time balancing laundry, dishes and so on.
“Our daughter and sons will grow up knowing that strong is cool – and that physical strength underpins mental and spiritual strength – but that it takes work and discipline. In fact, this one of the key reasons why I continue to instruct, in spite of my 75+ hour work weeks at school: because I know that, to be the best husband, dad and employee I can be, I need to maintain wellness in body, mind and spirit. These are the lifestyle choices I want my kids to see and emulate.
“It’s also good for our marriage: it’s incredibly special for me to teach with my wife.”
He adds: “Finally, our class participants give as much to us as we try to give them, if not more, so getting up early on Saturday to teach, or putting in a long day to teach back-to-back classes during the evening, is honestly a joy and not a sacrifice.”
All that said, there’s a limit to what’s feasible. “I’m sure Dana would gladly put us into more class slots, but she’s understanding of our 1.5-hour round-trip drive, with our small children and other jobs pulling us,” says Tyler.
And yet there are no plans to slow down, as Eve explains: “We want to become the best instructors we can be, so we’ll continue pushing our fitness levels and our professional development. We’ve even begun to dream about auditioning as national presenters. Ultimately, we want to get as many people as we can into Les Mills group fitness, so they can be inspired to live their best life.”
“Eve and Tyler understand the huge role they play in members’ lives, and the way they uniquely care about their participants keeps everyone inspired,” concludes Dana. “They are the kindest of people who are simply the finest at what they do.”