Life Time Fitness Takes a Healthier Approach to Reporting

Tired of dealing with administrative tasks, the team at Life Time Fitness implemented Wdesk.

Collecting and deciphering handwritten comments. Checking and rechecking numbers. Fiddling with table alignment. Footing and cross-footing. Struggling with the timeline. Managing all of that and more, Megan Rowekamp, Director of Financial Reporting for Life Time Fitness, was getting a real workout compiling her company’s periodic SEC filings.

Rowekamp oversees external report development and filing for Life Time Fitness, which operates more than 100 large and distinctive sports, professional fitness, family recreation, and spa destinations in the United States and Canada. She previously outsourced the company’s XBRL block tagging but found she couldn’t always get the help she needed—or rely on the answers she received. “It was really hard to get dedicated help, and you just hoped that whomever you got knew what they were doing,” she says. “You just had to trust them, but it was a little scary.”

Another challenge was the five-day pencils down period when no changes could be made to the report. When Life Time’s CFO declared the wait “untenable,” Rowekamp started searching for a better reporting solution.

The “Right Way”

During her search, Rowekamp identified the External Reporting Solution powered by Wdesk and invited a Workiva representative in for a demo. Life Time’s Corporate Controller and Stacey Hohn, Senior Financial Analyst and Project Manager, joined Rowekamp for the presentation. “I’ll never forget seeing the demo,” says Rowekamp. “We were in awe of the collaboration, tagging, and the ability to EDGARize and file the report ourselves. On top of that, we saw the opportunity to save money and create time efficiencies.”

The reporting team was ready to switch to Wdesk, but it had to sell management on the platform and its security. “Accountants are pretty set in their ways. Plus it’s a big risk area, and filing late or inaccurately is not an option,” remarks Rowekamp. She secured management’s approval with the agreement that she would have a back-up process in place during the transition to Wdesk. “I planned to compile our 10-Q report with Wdesk and also maintain the word processing document offline,” she says. “But that didn’t last for more than a day. Wdesk immediately proved to be the right way for us.”

Wdesk ensures I’m more in control and comfortable with the XBRL process.

— Stacey Hohn, Senior Financial Analyst and Project Manager, Life Time FItness

Professional Transition

Because the team didn’t have much time between signing with Wdesk and filing its quarterly report, it had Workiva professionals set up the company’s 10-Q and 10-K reports and conduct a full XBRL tagging review. “I’m really glad we did that because we didn’t have a lot of time, and we wanted to make sure it was done right,” explains Rowekamp.

A Professional Services Manager reviewed Life Time’s XBRL tags and found many ways to improve them. “He is good at what he does,” says Rowekamp. “He even knows the next taxonomy, so he can suggest new tags that are coming that make more sense for us to use.”

Because Workiva handled the transition, it gave the Life Time Fitness team ample time for Wdesk training. “It was pretty straightforward—minimal training for Wdesk is needed,” comments Hohn. She and Rowekamp attended one webinar, Hohn did some additional online training for XBRL tagging, and then she relied on her dedicated XBRL Professional Services Manager for help when she had questions.

Life Time’s reporting team currently uses Wdesk for its 10-Qs and 10-Ks, and the company plans to transition 8-Ks and the proxy statement soon.

I don’t know when I last got excited about anything in accounting, but I love Wdesk!

— Megan Rowekamp, Director of Financial Reporting, Life Time FItness

Collaboration is Key

When asked what she likes best about Wdesk, Rowekamp doesn’t hesitate. “It’s the collaborative function. We can have several people reviewing, commenting, and editing in the current document without fear of document compromise,” she says. The linking functionality is second on her list. “Once you put a number into the document and link it, it’s done. You don’t have to worry about footing and whether it will show up in the right places in the right way.”

Hohn says the review, editing, and XBRL features are big time savers for her. “There are many options that make reviews easier. So much of the busy work we used to do isn’t necessary anymore.” She also points to the platform’s extensive XBRL features. “It also offers many functions for XBRL tagging. Wdesk ensures I’m more in control and comfortable with the XBRL process.”

It’s not just the platform that’s given the Life Time team a healthier approach to external reporting—it’s the customer service. Rowekamp and Hohn appreciate their dedicated Customer Success Manager and XBRL Professional Services Manager who are always available and are very familiar with Life Time’s reports. “It’s easy to say that you have great customer service, but Workiva actually delivers,” says Rowekamp.

In short order, Wdesk made Life Time’s reporting process far healthier—it’s faster, less stressful, and more effective. And like a good exercise regimen, it’s incorporated into the team’s day-to-day process. Rowekamp says her enthusiasm for Wdesk remains strong. “I don’t know when I last got excited about anything in accounting, but I love Wdesk!”

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