Many of you will have been in a gym at some point – but few of you will have worked there.
This article is written by a personal trainer and gym manager. It aims to point out some of the common mistakes made by those running and working in gyms.
The Trainers and Coaches
Most of you may not even realise that in most gyms the personal trainer is expected to pay rent each month – whether they make their money or not.
Frankly, where I’m from you could rent a nice house for the same amount the personal trainers are expected to pay to operate in a gym. The cheapest I had to pay when I started out was £360, and from there it varied from £495-525 per month. If you don’t make the money, you still pay it.
Now, technically the price per session is £30 an hour, so you might think a busy trainer is earning at least £600 a month. But it doesn’t always work out like that, selling sessions by the hour is a really difficult way to live – the trainer’s money is not guaranteed so what they tend to go for is selling blocks of sessions in order to guarantee monthly money.
This level of client/trainer relationship can take time to build – the client is expected to part with their hard earned cash as well as trust the trainer with their body and their health.
In order to build this relationship most trainers will end up doing a lot of work off the clock, in order to foster this relationship to a point where the client just keeps returning.
However, various clients, gym members and gym staff will take advantage of this willingness to go the extra mile and simply expect the trainer to help out with tasks that have nothing to do with their job. This can range from gym members thinking it’s the trainer’s job to clean up their mess to other staff expecting the trainer to simply cover their classes when they can’t be bothered.
The trainer is paying to be there and they should not be taken advantage of.
Especially when you consider most commercial gyms make their money by relying on too many people locking into a contract they don’t use – imagine if every member used their gym regularly, there would be no space to do anything.
The face of the gym.
When people enter the gym they should be made to feel welcome. A good member of the front of house team should be able to remember enough about regular members to hold a conversation of small talk with them.
I don’t expect them to be able to remember all full names, surnames and date of births but at least be able to chat for a few minutes with their regulars.
A friendly and welcoming atmosphere will make it a lot easier to motivate yourself to go on those days you are wavering.
The commercial gym that I worked in had a separate manager for nearly every role – a fitness manager, a sales manager, an operations manager and a general manager. I never quite understood the point of the wide array of managers due to their focus all being pointed towards one thing – sales.
As a result of this the fitness manager was below the sales and operations manager in terms of the hierarchy. Now, I understand why this was done from a business point of view, but the over the top focus on sales and promotions meant that things like member satisfaction, member retention and equipment were woefully ignored. Generally, the fitness managers in these situation would have a better understanding of what the members would want and how the equipment should be maintained – their job can not be under stated.
A private gym might only have one or two people covering these bases. In some ways this is probably better – having a manager focusing on both membership growth as well as their retention and satisfaction will probably lead to a business that is both well run and well enjoyed – by members and staff alike.
These guys will obviously have to be able to sell. I know this sounds terribly obvious but I’ve seen people try to sell products without actually understanding the product or with zero ability to read the person they’re selling to. Being a salesperson does not mean that you have to be some sneaky, Machiavellian type – its simply about understanding the potential member or client and what they need.
The majority of the time these staff will be working with someone who has already made the decision to physically come in to the gym itself – once they are that far its more likely that they will sign up in some form of other. With this in mind, its surprising by how many sales don’t pan out due to some staff.
Being able to read people is an often neglected skill, even if your selling skills are fantastic – convincing someone who wants to be a powerlifter that joining their gym will have them looking like a Victoria’s Secret model will never work. But being able to discern between the different clients wants and needs will go a really long way.
Whether you are a member of staff, a gym owner, manager, member or client – you should expect your gym staff to be in line with the values of the gym itself.
If they don’t fit the place they work in they will either struggle to stay there, or the gym itself will struggle.