Mother, daughter fitness instructors find reward in teaching

Every family aims to pass on a legacy of hard work that leads the next generation the ability to prosper and reach the American dream.

Sandra Lyons’ legacy has been to pass along a passion for fitness and working toward good health and well being. She has influenced her daughter Molly Lyons to follow in her mother’s footsteps since both are fitness instructors at Life Time in Eagan.

Sandra, 52, recently celebrated her 20th anniversary as a fitness instructor. She works part-time at Eagan Life Time and full-time in sales and marketing for Travelers insurance. She said she looks forward to teaching classes at the end of the day and she inspires others to get moving and blow off some steam while getting sweaty in the name of good health.

Both women have taught a LifeBarre class to hundreds of local residents.

Molly, 24, who works as a chemical engineer, said her mother instilled in her how important is it to take time for oneself. She knew as an adult she would follow in her mother’s fitness path. Molly was 3 years old when she began coming to the Eagan fitness center with her mother. Molly also teaches classes at the Life Time in St. Louis Park.

“I have already been focused on health and well-being because I know you can’t perform at any other job unless you have health and fitness and that is such a part of my life,” Molly said.

With a background in dance and ballet mixed in with choreography, Sandra said: “Life Time allows us to create our own choreography and music for classes, and that works really well for my passion and background.”

LifeBarre classes are a popular ballet inspired pilates fitness class taught at all the Life Time locations in the Twin Cities.

“It is so good for your mental health if you are feeling down and you go into the club and friendships are formed, and you can workout with liked-minded individuals and work on your body and it helps you physically, emotionally and mentally and it lifts your spirits,” Sandra said.

She admits to forming strong friendships during her two-decade tenure at Eagan Life Time. Not only does she teach and give instruction in her classes, Sandra said she receives more from her students in the form of trusted relationships.

“Some of them I have known for my entire 20 years, and we have gone through so many life experiences, and they know so much of the bad and good and they are always there for me even if life partners change, I have a love of fitness and we all have each other,” Sandra said.

As a preschooler, Molly remembers going to the child care center at Lifetime when her mother dropped her off to go teach fitness classes.

“Then I grew up playing soccer and my freshman year of high school I began going to my mom’s class, and learning the cardio and step aerobics and I learned about high intensity cardio kickboxing and the use of a bar or stick,” Molly said.

As a girl she began developing a passion for fitness and her day did not feel complete unless she was exercising or in the classes.

“I really got more of it in college and after college and then I came back home and decided to follow in her footsteps,” Molly said. She took the training, auditioned and began teaching classes in her spare time.

Both mother and daughter agree teaching classes and staying active help them to become more productive and enjoy their full-time careers more fully.

“We use our minds a lot and use our mental capacity, and teaching and going to classes helps in everyday life even when the full-time jobs can be challenging and stressful,” Molly said.

Life Time classes not only offer an outlet for stress relief, she said, but the classes allow a person to tap into a calmness that can be applied to other areas of life.

“We welcome and accept all fitness levels,” Sandra said. After coming to a few classes, she said the workouts become easier each time, adding how it can be fun to explore fitness as an adult.

“That is the beauty of group fitness, you can do it together,” Sandra said.

“I am a fitness snob and I love experiencing fitness together and I love it all, the sweat and the smell of it all. I love it,” Sandra said.

Sandra said the teaching journey has been life affirming and personally rewarding.

During her 20-year anniversary party, Sandra received a dozen roses and other bouquets of flowers, along with cards and kind words from many, including the Life Time general manager. She shared how the party filled her heart with gratitude.

The joke now is how Life Time plans to hire her future granddaughter to teach classes, so there can be a third generation of fitness instructors to carry on the legacy.

Sandra said: “Life Time has been a solid force during my life, and my life would be so different if I had not come here and it is so much better because of the members and what they have done in my life.”

Contact Kara Hildreth at

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