Tuesday, September 7, 2010

“You get what you pay for.”

Sadly, when it comes to Personal Training, that saying is not always the case…but when you think about it, it is.
When some clients first come to me for Personal Training, they usually ask more questions about the price than questions about how to reach their fitness goals.
I don’t blame them.
It turns out; the clients who had originally started their fitness journey at “big, chain gyms”* had every reason to be concerned.
I became a Fitness Professional for many reasons; the most basic one is to help people live happy and healthy lives. I am almost certain that 99% of the trainers that you’ll find at “big, chain gyms” had the same idea when they became trainers.
Sadly, many trainers who apply to “big, chain gyms” are not aware that their biggest responsibility (other than training their clients) is to hone “used car salesman” skills in order to sell more Personal Training Packages, gadgets, and supplements in order to ensure an income that does not reflect what the consumer is paying.
I had heard the rumors of low pay and pressure to “sell on the floor” from friends who started their Personal Training careers at “big, chain gyms”. So when I kept hearing from my clients about their terrible experiences at “big, chain gyms”, I decided to look into it myself.

I recently applied to 4 “big, chain gyms” anonymously  to see what was going on.
Golly! First off, how can a Personal Trainer expect to deliver a “personalized” experience to a client in an atmosphere that does not encourage any “personalized” interactions, beginning with the application process?
The application process is done via their website where you are to plug in your information as if you are signing up for a company newsletter…guess what, you will get the company newsletter and a free pass for a 1 week membership in your inbox within 5 minutes.
I was unable to find anything out about the pay scale for Personal Trainers from any of the gym’s websites. It turns out, the pay scale pretty much works the way they sell packages…lots of bartering, haggling, “negotiating”…choose the word that you find least offensive.
Upon further investigation, and contacting the gyms personally, I found it is almost impossible to connect with the fitness director since they are usually juggling 3-6 gyms in one region.
I must say, many of the front desk people were wonderfully helpful, and had no problem “divulging” information, almost to the point of tattling. Once you got them started, they couldn’t stop.
The further I got into my inquires, I found that a trainer is better off teaching Group Fitness Classes for the time, money, and hoop jumping required-or just work at the front desk.

What the Personal Training Client Should Realize
If you are paying $65-$85 per Personal Training session at a “big, chain gym”, the trainer is lucky to see $17 of it. They may see up to $20 at most, per session, if they paid extra money (up to $200) to take the sometimes “required” certifications specific to the gym they are working at.
Imagine how little they are getting paid when you purchase a package as low at $20 per session. It is shameful that they are also encouraged to sell these low priced packages in order to secure their job and get bonuses.
Personal Trainers at “big, chain gyms” are also encouraged, with bonuses and incentives, to sell products while “on the floor”, which are the best way for the gyms to make money.
Would you prefer that your Personal Trainer is spending their down time working on Personalized Program Design for their clients; keeping up to date on the latest fitness trends; looking over your chart in preparation for your next session? Or would you prefer that the main focus of the Personal Trainer you hired to help you reach your fitness goals is more focused on selling Packages, Pedometers, and Supplements?

More “food for thought”
If you are receiving “nutritional counseling” from a trainer in a “big gym”, and they suggest purchasing products that with be “helpful for weight loss”, “build muscle mass”, “boost your metabolism”, most likely, the “nutritional certification” they have was sponsored by the company that manufactures the supplements and gadgets.

*Please note, not all “big, chain gyms” are the same.
There are some out there that offer excellent Personal Training and Employment Opportunities, but you will pay a bit more for it.
I encourage you to do  your own investigation and find what works best for you.

I would love to know about your experiences with Big Chain Gyms
Please feel free to post your comments here.

Have a Happy and Healthy Day!
-Melissa Adylia Gutierrez
Owner/Personal Trainer

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