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Entries in personal training (64)


Trainers Getting too Personal?

Dr. Haley Perlus, Nicki Anderson and Darren Jacobson discuss where to draw the line when it comes to personal trainer/client relationships:

Q: “What are the guidelines/best practices policies, if any, to give newly hired personal trainers so they understand the boundaries they must establish between themselves and their clients? I am particularly interested in professionalism and separation of work and personal lives of their clients.”

Personal training places participants in an intimate zone of physical proximity usually reserved for close family and friends.
A: The best practice for your new personal trainers is to keep communication contained within the boundaries of health and fitness. The purpose for this is twofold: (1) to prevent unnecessary ethical issues and (2) to build effective rapport.

(1) Prevent ethics issues: Personal training places participants in an intimate zone of physical proximity usually reserved for close family and friends. Often, personal trainers and clients get too comfortable in this zone and begin to discuss intimate details of their lives. Ultimately, someone can cross the line and create an uncomfortable environment that forces either party to terminate the working relationship.

(2) Build effective rapport: From a Peak Results standpoint, the purpose of building rapport with a new client is to help the client to feel that he/she belongs in the club’s community. When new personal trainers keep communication within the boundaries of health and fitness, the following is achieved: (1) the personal trainer remains the professional expert throughout the session and the duration of the program, (2) the client develops trust in the trainer’s ability and desire to help him/her achieve fitness-related results and (3) the focus of both parties is centered around the client’s training program. Consequently, the client exerts more effort in training, achieves positive results, has a rewarding experience and comes back for more. Now that’s rapport!

Dr. Haley Perlus, Peak Performance Consultant

The minute you blur the lines between business and friendship, is the minute your credibility is questioned.
A: I believe that professional client interaction, communication and service are paramount when training new staff. I have an entire portion of my personal training manual dedicated to customer service, ethical practices and proper communication. I truly believe that you can have the most beautiful gym, studio or club, but if you don’t have a staff that delivers professional service and polished social interaction, you will not be as successful as you could be. That should be part of every managers training protocol.

As for the separation of work and personal, here is what I share with my potential trainers. “The minute you blur the lines between business and friendship, is the minute your credibility is questioned. Sure, there are some great friendships that can come from training clients, but there are more disasters that have been the result of those relationships. In 25 years, I have never become “friends” with a client beyond professional. If I did, it was after they were no longer a client.” It’s the best way to keep business professional and a trainer successful and credible.

Ms. Nicki Anderson AFP, CPT, President
Reality Fitness

A: There are a number of organizations that have stipulated guidelines for Scope of Practice and professional and ethical behavior. One that I have adopted and implemented across our base of trainers is the IDEA code of ethics, you can find this on the IDEA site at It is vital to highlight the importance of a solid reference check prior to taking on your potential trainer. This "gatekeeper" attitude has saved us many headaches later in the process, when the true colors of your rouge trainer may come through. I have always maintained that if you hire the right trainers, then you as the manager/owner can sit back safe in the knowledge that your members will benefit from your new recruit. The days of hiring on physique or interviewing on personality only are over. By taking seriously this gatekeeper role, you dig deep to ask the pertinent questions, such as business motivation, dealing with financial pressures and the ability to engage strangers. This is then followed by an engaging personality and a member-centric attitude. Once you have gone through this process and recruited correctly, the code of ethics and other professional standards are a given.

Darren Jacobson, Head of Fitness and Product
Virgin Active South Africa

Pay Structure For Trainers

Brent Darden and Ryan Vogt discuss the pay structure for personal trainers:

Q: “Do you pay personal trainers an hourly rate for floor time? Is floor time scheduled in advance and part of their required job duties or are personal trainers allowed to come and go as they please?”

A: Yes, like almost all clubs I have talked to, we pay personal trainers for floor shifts. For this aspect of their responsibilities we pay them $10.00 per hour, which is commensurate with others in the industry. The floor time is scheduled at least one month in advance so that they can schedule personal training sessions around these hours. Typically, these floor hours are consistent from month to month so that trainers can plan accordingly and have a regular routine. Newly hired Trainers may work 15-20 hours per week on the fitness floor until they complete educational requirements and build their clientele. As the Personal Trainers become more senior and begin to maintain a full client load, we reduce the number of floor hours required of them down to a minimum of 3 one hour floor shifts per week. Even though our trainers charge $85 to $250 per hour for a training session, they all earn $10.00 per hour for this duty.

This responsibility and any others are covered in the position description they sign prior to being hired. They are allowed to set their own schedule to a large degree, but they must be present for the specified floor shifts.

Brent Darden, General Manager/Owner
TELOS Fitness Center

A: All of our personal trainers are paid an hourly rate for their floor time. The majority of our personal trainers are full-time, working a minimum of 32-hours per week. Our facility offers an initial consultation to each new member upon their joining. We pay our trainers their floor rate for their consultations. This rate is usually $10-13 per hour.

The trainers receive 1-hour of floor time/administrative time per 8-hours worked. We do not set specific times for them to use these hours. The requirement is that they document what they did during this time for example: phone calls, emails or intentionally working the floor. Intentionally simply means that they are working the floor with a purpose. This task may include such things as meeting 5 new members, inviting 10 women to attend the upcoming women’s workshop, leading a 10-minute core conditioning segment, or updating the fitness incentive/ client success boards.

Our personal trainers are not allowed to come and go as they please. Each trainer has a specific shift that they are required to work. If their schedule does not warrant the use of more floor time hours then they simply clock out. If a trainer would like to use more floor time then allotted for them, they clear this with their fitness director.

Many clubs choose to use their trainer to walk the floor and be available to answer questions. We have found that this leads to a staggering payroll number. Our club has developed a great floor staff team that works for a lower hourly rate then a trainer and frees up time for the trainers to grow their clientele.

Ryan Vogt, Fitness Director
Tri-City Court Club


Personal Training and Retention

Laurie Cingle and Nicki Anderson discuss the relationship between personal training and retention:

Q: “Are there statistics on the retention of club members who do personal training? i.e. if a member does personal training how much more likely are they to commit to training vs. signing up for a membership and not attending the gym after a few months.”

A: Retention is a consequence of usage. People who use the club consistently are more likely to stay a member. People who sign up for personal training and attend consistently are more likely to continue with training. Usage is the key.

From my own experience, I have found the following:

As long as the client is engaged with the trainer and/or other group training members, they will continue.
  • People who invest in shorter-term one-on-one personal training packages (up to 3 months) have a 95% retention rate in the program.
  • People who invest in longer-term one-on-one training packages (one year) have lower retention in the program.
  • Higher pricing on training sessions sees higher retention than lower price sessions irregardless of length of package.
  • Clients who participate in group personal training see higher retention than one-on-one clients because of the member-to-member relationships that are built.
As long as the client is engaged with the trainer and/or other group training members, they will continue. Reasons for stopping training include not seeing results, injury, trainer incompetence, lack of relationship with trainer, perception of trainer not caring, trainer leaving club, placing low importance on the value of the investment.

Regarding club membership retention, IHRSA data show that 42% of club members attend their clubs less than 50 days per year. As of January 2010, IHRSA reports the average annual rate of member retention for IHRSA clubs is 75%.

Laurie Cingle, MEd, President
Laurie Cingle Consulting and Coaching

A: It’s important to remember that a successful business is possible through the building of solid relationships. Therefore, if clubs have solid trainers (with a solid staff training protocol) on staff and a great program which exposes both seasoned and unseasoned clients to their trainers, my hunch is that retention would be much greater.

We know that results create a satisfied customer which again, increases retention. Remember, trainers are a source of accountability, so in addition to the accountability factor, there is the relationship factor. Put them together and you’ve got a loyal client.

Also, those that work with trainers typically work harder which translates to results. We know that results create a satisfied customer which again, increases retention. Bottom line, solid personal training likely plays a role in retention.

Ms. Nicki Anderson AFP, CPT, President
Reality Fitness


Personal Training Revenue

This week, experts Barry Klein and John Atwood discuss what percentage of a club's revenue should come from personal training:

Q: “In a fitness center only club of 8,500 sf with a beginning membership of 1,000 and membership of 2,000 when mature, what is the benchmark percentage of revenue between membership fees and personal trainer fees?”

A: The target membership vs. non-membership revenue for most clubs is generally 80%-20%. For most small clubs, personal training is the key non-dues revenue source, so – assuming there might be health bar, pro shop, tanning, etc. – at least 15% of revenue will need to come from personal training.

However, specific circumstances need to be considered. An 8500 square foot club that already has 1000 members is at reasonable capacity. Growing to 2000 members implies a facility with a low price point whose success is predicated on an abundance (over abundance?) of members. It’s difficult to imagine such a club having a clientele that would lend itself to the target split of 80/20 dues vs. non-dues. Personal training might just be a “cherry on top”.

By comparison, an 8500 square foot facility with only 500 members would likely be much more dependent on personal training and other non-dues sources. At 1000 members, it seems a 15% target would be reasonable. Indeed, much more could be possible. But, to grow to 2000 members, it seems that the energy and investment of the club would have to go toward that growth, and personal training might have to take a back seat.

Barry Klein, Owner
Elevations Health Club

A: The benchmark for all clubs non-dues revenue has hovered around 30%, with 10.7% for clubs less than 20,000 feet, and 8.1% for fitness-only clubs.

The personal training piece of this shows high end clubs reporting 10%-15% of total revenue coming from personal training, while the all clubs sample shows 3%-11%; and among fitness-only clubs 6%-14%. Keep in mind that these numbers represent a fairly small sample group and include only clubs that have their act together enough to keep and report their numbers.

Personal training should be the largest piece of your non-dues revenue equation If you plan to have personal training as a major focus in your club then these numbers fall short for you. You really need to know what the benchmark would be for clubs that are your size, demographic, fitness-only, and focus on personal training. Clubs that focus on personal training of course do much bigger PT numbers and the benchmark, if it were available, would reflect that.

Personal training should be the largest piece of your non-dues revenue equation and as a goal I would recommend that you shoot for 15-20% of overall revenue from personal training.

One concern regarding your club model is that 2000 members in an 8,500 square foot club is a stretch, and if you hit 2,000 there may not be space for multiple trainers, with multiple clients, using the fitness area along with all the regular members.

John Atwood, Principal
Atwood Consulting Group


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