The fitness industry has undergone massive change in the last decade, and not all of it is good. While many aspire to help and make a difference in the lives of others for a living, the realities of the business aspect of it make that difficult. For people who are just looking for short term part time income while they go to college or work a second job, there is hope, but for those who really seek a long term career as a personal trainer, the future looks dim. Here are 5 main reasons why aspiring and current trainers need to be weary about health clubs and gyms in the modern day climate of fitness.
1. The Owners- Today, "most" health club owners are nothing but investors. They really don't have a passion for working out and transforming bodies and lives. They also view employees as statistics rather than to develop and grow talent. They won't hesitate to cut pay or shut down shop without any notice if they are struggling to pay their own electric bills and rent. This makes it hard for serious trainers to build a strong clientele and plan a long term financial future.
In addition, some gyms now pay around $12-20 an hour to their trainers, without discrimination. In other words, you can be a great trainer with tons of successful experience, and they will still hold you down to lower rates and wages. If you're a good trainer, the best of which whose job is as pertinent and paralleled to that of medical doctors, you should be getting paid at least $80 an hour after all liabilities and overhead is factored in. While dividing up some of these things can lower you to around $40 an hour, no decent trainer trying to make a living and qualified should earn as low as 12-20 an hour. It wouldn't be worth it.
2. Competition From Outside Gyms- Very few health clubs left last more than 5 years these days. If they last 10, it's a rarity. More than 10 is almost unheard of, and even if they're there, it is still hard to get the financial and career dynamics that you want and deserve. Even if you had a doctor degree, you still would see relatively low take home pay based on your qualifications.
Sometimes, the location you're in will change owners, but this leads to more drama and headaches as they usually come in with different and often lower pay structures, a level of arrogance, and little concern about whose feet they treat on.
All of these factors add up to a dynamic where it is hard for any gym to survive long term, yet alone pay you your worth and what you deserve.
3. Politics + Scheisters- As you would imagine, with these things being the case in a private sector, un-unionized industry, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, as people lobby for promotions, favor, power, and money. Because things are so unstable, especially in rocky economic times, many workers naturally engage in politics and dirty behavior to gain some kind of an advantage or more security. Furthermore, in a similar fashion, many owners, feeling the power position, will also engage in dirty unethical business practices-throwing people under the bus, slander, and jealousy are rampant in many clubs, and many owners become scheisters to nickel and dime their way to get their bills paid.
4. Economy- In a recession economy, like the one we are currently in and have been in for some time, luxury type services like personal training and gyms, will be the first to fold, as people and consumers focus more on needs rather than wants. The cost of a trainer relatively speaking is tremendous for even wealthy people during a recession, as they cut back on trivial luxuries to maintain financial goals. No matter how good and qualified you are, this volatility will be hard to desire in a steady career, and it gives the gym owners a good reason to drop to the low ball pay for top level talent.
5. Unqualified, Underachieving-Type Employees- When all of this instability takes place, naturally "quality" goes down- What type of highly qualified, highly educated, and highly talented type trainer wants to deal with these headaches and underpaid jobs, and future instability, as well as volatility, and scheister-type owners? None. They go on to other careers that are more reliable and consistent, back to college, or they open up their own private business. They aren't going to be devalued for all they worked hard for in their experience and education.
So what are you left with? Unqualified, underqualified, and untalented people (relative to the top) working in the gyms. The owners like it- they get to pay less, saving their wallets in volatile times. This diminishes quality, and if you're a fitness professional with top tier talent, you wouldn't want to work around lower quality talent- you would want to work with top level talent that brings out the true very best in you and each other. Instead, you get rent-a-trainers and low level, underachieving managers who are just looking to pay their bills, not trying to build an outstanding and successful career full of growth and high achievement. Let's face it-there's a reason why Harvard is Harvard and many other schools are what they are. If you're Harvard or Stanford material, you wouldn't want to work with or around anything but.
Of course, this is not the case in all parts of the country or in every gym. Most of it depends on demographics, culture, affluence, and the community you're in, but generally speaking, these are variables everyone has to deal with in rough economic times, especially.
Until someday, if ever, these facts are taken on head on, by the creation of some kind of union that protects trainers and ensures they get job security and their worth (and that is hard to imagine-moving fitness to the public sector), it will be hard to build a solid, worthwhile future for most trainers in fitness and aspiring fitness professionals as well.
My advice would be to be very picky when choosing an operation to work for, only demand the highest price (50-100 an hour no matter what), and double up with another career. The last thing you want to do is be held down by these factors and let yourself and your true value be subjected to such low quality dynamics and ideals of scheisters with any interest in anything more than making a buck.
With the noble, good intentioned, and innocent goal of just wanting to help people improve their health for a living, is all this corruption and nonsense really worth dealing with?