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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

Life lessons: Sarah Luna

Appointed president of Xponential Fitness when she was only 34, Sarah Luna attributes her career success to the grit, determination and stamina she honed as a dancer by day and Pilates teacher by night. She talks to Kath Hudson about how owning her choices has given her the resilience to take on one of the top jobs in the US fitness industry, while also raising a family

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 5
Luna has been president of Xponential since 2021 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Luna has been president of Xponential since 2021 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Either get on and do the job you’ve signed up for and deal with the good, the bad and the ugly, or get out of the way

The biggest influence of my career came while I was dancing professionally in Chicago in the early 2000s and I still draw on the lessons learned from that time.

There were five professional dancers in the company and five understudies. I was one of the understudies and it was a strange time, as we were all waiting for our break, which would only come if someone else was injured or retired.

As understudies we would learn, and rehearse all the choreographies so we could jump in if needed. It was 40 hours of dancing a week and completely unpaid.

To make ends meet, I taught Pilates from 4.00pm until 10.00pm every weekday and all day on Saturdays.

Because I wanted to be a dancer so badly I pushed myself really hard and ran myself down.

One day I felt a sharp pain in my abdominals, which felt like a knife. When I told the artistic director the message was: “You don’t sit it out, the show goes on.”

Next up was a 12-minute high intensity piece and about half way in I felt an excruciating pain. The woman dancing opposite me said my face went ghost white. Afterwards I discovered I’d ruptured a cyst and my abdominal cavity was full of fluid. I ended up taking the next two days off to rest and recuperate.

At that point it dawned on me that I had a choice. I could either get back in the fight and go again, or I could lay low or I could step away altogether…

I decided there were tons of people lined up for that opportunity and although the experience had been very painful, it was also short-term and it did pass. At that point I made the choice to keep showing up and get the job done.

Ultimately that’s the life lesson I've taken with me for the rest of my career. When the going gets rough, I evaluate whether it’s a short-term pain and whether that short-term pain is worth continuing to be in the fight.

Own your choices
Our life is a series of choices. It's common for people to say they hate their job, or a certain aspect of their life, but I subscribe to the idea that if you don't want to do it, there are tons of people who will, so either get on and do the job you’ve signed up for and deal with the good, the bad and the ugly, or get out of the way.

This mindset gives me a sense of control when times are hard.


I've got two young daughters and one is in the middle of teething and the other one hasn’t been sleeping, so I’ve been getting by on two to three hours of sleep each night.

At the same time there have been challenges at work. It's been very stressful on a lot of different fronts. There have certainly been a couple of times when I’ve felt defeated, that everyone wants a piece of me and I don't know how I can be successful.

But then I give myself a talk. I remind myself that I wanted my daughters and I love them to death. So even though it’s painful that they want to play and eat bananas and learn to walk in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I made the choice, I wanted to have children and sleepless nights are part of that deal. On the work side, periods of intensity come with being a public company, you just have to work through it.

What I learned from that dance company experience allows me to take a breath and tell myself that I recognise this low place, I recognise this exhaustion and this feeling of defeat and I also know how to get myself out of it.

Lesson two from that experience was that it taught me how to manage my health better, be more in tune with when I need to slow down and when I can accelerate, rather than always being pegged at the high end of the range. You can’t constantly operate at high velocity and expect your body to keep up. I’ve certainly had to learn how to throttle energy and mental capacity. Although my husband says I like to keep it at 100 per cent!

The experience also gave me the confidence to say yes to opportunities. My break came, in 2015, while I was working as a Pilates instructor at Equinox. Former Xponential CEO, Anthony Geisler, came to one of my classes because he was planning to buy Club Pilates. I had an MBA and knew how to sell Pilates so he offered me the job of national sales director of Club Pilates.

After a couple of years, I became senior VP of operations for the brand, before becoming president of Pure Barre and then president of Xponential in 2021. I just kept showing up every day and getting more responsibility and then walking through the doors as they opened. I've had a non-traditional career path, but it's been exciting and enjoyable.

Xponential franchises boutique studio concepts / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential franchises boutique studio concepts / photo: Xponential Fitness
The company bought metabolic health brand Lindora late in 2023 / photo: Xponential Fitness
The company bought metabolic health brand Lindora late in 2023 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential bought Kinrgy and has extended it from digital to physical locations / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential bought Kinrgy and has extended it from digital to physical locations / photo: Xponential Fitness
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/967384_607016.jpg
Appointed president of Xponential Fitness in 2021 at the age of 34, Luna talks about life and the industry experiences that have helped to shape her and her career
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features

Life lessons: Sarah Luna

Appointed president of Xponential Fitness when she was only 34, Sarah Luna attributes her career success to the grit, determination and stamina she honed as a dancer by day and Pilates teacher by night. She talks to Kath Hudson about how owning her choices has given her the resilience to take on one of the top jobs in the US fitness industry, while also raising a family

Published in Health Club Management 2024 issue 5
Luna has been president of Xponential since 2021 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Luna has been president of Xponential since 2021 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Either get on and do the job you’ve signed up for and deal with the good, the bad and the ugly, or get out of the way

The biggest influence of my career came while I was dancing professionally in Chicago in the early 2000s and I still draw on the lessons learned from that time.

There were five professional dancers in the company and five understudies. I was one of the understudies and it was a strange time, as we were all waiting for our break, which would only come if someone else was injured or retired.

As understudies we would learn, and rehearse all the choreographies so we could jump in if needed. It was 40 hours of dancing a week and completely unpaid.

To make ends meet, I taught Pilates from 4.00pm until 10.00pm every weekday and all day on Saturdays.

Because I wanted to be a dancer so badly I pushed myself really hard and ran myself down.

One day I felt a sharp pain in my abdominals, which felt like a knife. When I told the artistic director the message was: “You don’t sit it out, the show goes on.”

Next up was a 12-minute high intensity piece and about half way in I felt an excruciating pain. The woman dancing opposite me said my face went ghost white. Afterwards I discovered I’d ruptured a cyst and my abdominal cavity was full of fluid. I ended up taking the next two days off to rest and recuperate.

At that point it dawned on me that I had a choice. I could either get back in the fight and go again, or I could lay low or I could step away altogether…

I decided there were tons of people lined up for that opportunity and although the experience had been very painful, it was also short-term and it did pass. At that point I made the choice to keep showing up and get the job done.

Ultimately that’s the life lesson I've taken with me for the rest of my career. When the going gets rough, I evaluate whether it’s a short-term pain and whether that short-term pain is worth continuing to be in the fight.

Own your choices
Our life is a series of choices. It's common for people to say they hate their job, or a certain aspect of their life, but I subscribe to the idea that if you don't want to do it, there are tons of people who will, so either get on and do the job you’ve signed up for and deal with the good, the bad and the ugly, or get out of the way.

This mindset gives me a sense of control when times are hard.


I've got two young daughters and one is in the middle of teething and the other one hasn’t been sleeping, so I’ve been getting by on two to three hours of sleep each night.

At the same time there have been challenges at work. It's been very stressful on a lot of different fronts. There have certainly been a couple of times when I’ve felt defeated, that everyone wants a piece of me and I don't know how I can be successful.

But then I give myself a talk. I remind myself that I wanted my daughters and I love them to death. So even though it’s painful that they want to play and eat bananas and learn to walk in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. I made the choice, I wanted to have children and sleepless nights are part of that deal. On the work side, periods of intensity come with being a public company, you just have to work through it.

What I learned from that dance company experience allows me to take a breath and tell myself that I recognise this low place, I recognise this exhaustion and this feeling of defeat and I also know how to get myself out of it.

Lesson two from that experience was that it taught me how to manage my health better, be more in tune with when I need to slow down and when I can accelerate, rather than always being pegged at the high end of the range. You can’t constantly operate at high velocity and expect your body to keep up. I’ve certainly had to learn how to throttle energy and mental capacity. Although my husband says I like to keep it at 100 per cent!

The experience also gave me the confidence to say yes to opportunities. My break came, in 2015, while I was working as a Pilates instructor at Equinox. Former Xponential CEO, Anthony Geisler, came to one of my classes because he was planning to buy Club Pilates. I had an MBA and knew how to sell Pilates so he offered me the job of national sales director of Club Pilates.

After a couple of years, I became senior VP of operations for the brand, before becoming president of Pure Barre and then president of Xponential in 2021. I just kept showing up every day and getting more responsibility and then walking through the doors as they opened. I've had a non-traditional career path, but it's been exciting and enjoyable.

Xponential franchises boutique studio concepts / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential franchises boutique studio concepts / photo: Xponential Fitness
The company bought metabolic health brand Lindora late in 2023 / photo: Xponential Fitness
The company bought metabolic health brand Lindora late in 2023 / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential bought Kinrgy and has extended it from digital to physical locations / photo: Xponential Fitness
Xponential bought Kinrgy and has extended it from digital to physical locations / photo: Xponential Fitness
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2024/967384_607016.jpg
Appointed president of Xponential Fitness in 2021 at the age of 34, Luna talks about life and the industry experiences that have helped to shape her and her career
Latest News
Urban Gym Group CEO Neil Randall talks in this month’s HCM about how being passed ...
Latest News
Boxing and strength franchise UBX has taken a step closer to realising its ambitions to ...
Latest News
Fitness International has announced the acquisition of XSport Fitness, adding to its portfolio of brands, ...
Latest News
Community Leisure UK (CLUK) and The Richmond Group of Charities have joined forces to support ...
Latest News
Mental Health Swims has been awarded almost £18,000 of lottery money to extend its mission ...
Latest News
Employee wellness app GoJoe has teamed up with Les Mills for a major new content ...
Latest News
Former footballer, David Beckham, has become a strategic investor in health sciences company, Prenetics, which ...
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Gymbox has partnered with Haringey Council and not-for-profit organisation, Raza Sana, to give opportunities to ...
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Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: THFI’s new online coaching course partners with FITR: launch your business confidently post-completion
In today's rapidly evolving fitness industry, where many online courses promise secret formulas for entrepreneurial success, the reality is that few provide the necessary knowledge to thrive in this fast-changing profession.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: Altrafit introduces custom functional fitness equipment at Third Space
Altrafit has taken further steps to cement its reputation as a provider of high-quality, affordable functional fitness equipment that is built to last with the development and introduction of a new functional fitness keg for luxury gym operator, Third Space.
Company profiles
Company profile: Speedflex (UK & Ireland) Limited
Speedflex offers safe and effective, high intensity but low impact HIIT training in a variety ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Art of Cryo
Art of Cryo offers three product categories, innovative high-tech wellbeing solutions for professional and private ...
Supplier Showcases
Supplier showcase - Safe Space: Delivering the vision
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Servicesport UK Limited press release: ServiceSport UK awarded Ministry of Justice contract for gym equipment maintenance in prisons
In a significant milestone, ServiceSport UK proudly announces that we have been awarded the prestigious Ministry of Justice contract for the inspection, service, and maintenance of PE equipment across 106 public prisons in England and Wales.
Featured press releases
Alliance Leisure Services (Design, Build and Fund) press release: Alliance Leisure celebrates official opening of its first Leisure Local Health Hub
This month sees the official opening of a brand new, £9 million Health Hub in Nottinghamshire. Based on Sport England’s Leisure Local model, the new community provision delivers a host of leisure facilities designed to bring new active living opportunities to the whole community.
Directory
Lockers
Fitlockers: Lockers
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
salt therapy products
Saltability: salt therapy products
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Property & Tenders
Jersey
Jersey War Tunnels
Property & Tenders
Chiswick, Gillingham, York and Nottingham
Savills
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
03-05 Sep 2024
IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
08-10 Sep 2024
Wyndham® Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
20-22 Sep 2024
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
09-13 Oct 2024
Soneva Fushi, Maldives
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Diary dates
22-25 Oct 2024
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Diary dates
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QEII Conference Centre, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-06 Feb 2025
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
11-13 Feb 2025
Fairmont Riyadh , Saudi Arabia
Diary dates
10-13 Apr 2025
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
07-07 Jun 2025
Worldwide, Various,
Diary dates
28-31 Oct 2025
Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
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