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  1. #1
    Registered User PaulintheUK's Avatar
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    UK. Are personal trainers seen as slave labour as cleaners and lackeys by gyms?

    I have been looking at jobs in gyms as a recently qualified L3 PT. I cant find any, not one that offers a salaried position.

    As a PT you are expected to be a cleaner wiping down equipment half the day, running classes and put weights back and do inductions...but not get paid, oh and be aware of H&S rules !

    For this I can either :-

    Pay them rent for the privilege of being there.
    I can pay the gym a cut on all the money I make from private clients I find.
    I can work for the gym for 10-15 hours a week for no pay in return for keeping all the money I make.
    or some other combo, but none offer a salaried position.

    A PT does not have to mean self-employed. I used to be a computer programmer, I could work self-employed as a contractor or I could get a part-time or full-time salaried position.

    What is it with the UK Trainer Industry that gyms treat PT's in this manner?

    Do they not consider a career ladder?

    I would be interested to hear other peoples opinions of the state of the market in the UK, the treatment received by PT's from Gym Groups and should we just give up and accept their terms, or should we all go on strike and demand proper jobs like other industries.?

    Are gyms taking the michael out of PT's and gym instructors?

    This is for debate. Thanks ,
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  2. #2
    Technically we todd ed cc19882012's Avatar
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    This is a fairly accurate description of how the system works. I had to pay my gym £400 a month to work there, after paying £2000 for the pt certification.

    In the end it doesn't matter how you feel about it, there are an endless stream of people willing to pay for this training despite there being no guaranteed job when they finish. So they pay, and the courses keep running. It's a revolving door with no oversight or protection for customers.

    The same thing is happening in a lot of different industries like with lifeguard training, security training and in academia
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  3. #3
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    This is fairly normal.

    Look, any idiot can buy a bunch of gym gear and stick it in the boot of their car or their garage. Now... where do the clients come from?

    You work at a big gym, they average 2,400 members. That's 2,400 people who are already interested in fitness, the only question is whether they're interested in doing their fitness stuff with you. But they're a lot more interested than the random neighbours you'll drop flyers off to.

    This is what you're paying a chunk of your fees or giving your time for: access to the gym membership. Every single day you can talk to at least one new person, and every single day you can teach someone a movement (say, a plank). So after two years you can have spoken or taught a movement to over 1,000 people. From them, you need to get 20-50 clients, depending on your hours, rates and retention. That's 2-5% of people already interested in fitness. Not a big ask.

    Now, starting from nothing, go to your garage and try to get 20-50 people there in the next two years. And while you're sitting there alone on a Tuesday night ask yourself how much of your income and time you'd be willing to give to have access to 2,400 people already interested in fitness. Would it be worth wiping down some treadmills and putting dumbbells back in the rack?

    In the meantime you also get to practice your skills. You may be a good or a bad trainer after two years, but you'll be a better trainer after talking and teaching a movement to 1,000 people than you were after none, or 10, or even 100. So you improve your skills, build up a client base, and build up a reputation so that people start coming to you from outside the gym, and you can then go and do things on your own, if you want to.

    Perspective, son.
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  4. #4
    Registered User PaulintheUK's Avatar
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    well, I hope you feel better after that.

    Normal, doesnt mean its morally right does it?

    My point was why cant you get a paid job in a gym as a gym instructor/PT? A job with a salary, where they pay you? How amazing is that?

    Not everyone want to be self employed, not everyone has the business acumen to do that.

    I have a friend 'a doctor and works in the hospital, he also does private work. Guess what, he doesnt have to clean the equipment at the hospital after surgery because the Hospital are kind enough to provide him with 5,000 potential private patients. He has a salary !.. One can use this analogy across a myriad of industries.

    In the Uk all I see is - Become a PT and earn £40k... go on our course for £000's , then they cant find a job that they can get paid for as the only "jobs" out there are as self employed PT's. The gyms know there is a high drop out and they know the next poor bugger is on the next course and they will be coming along soon.. The gyms take advantage of the system and they have the use of skilled PT's as cheap/Free labour. Keeps their costs down and profits up. I suppose thats why they can offer monthly subs for £15 a month.

    There's a high turnover in gyms because not every PT has the skills, wherewithal or desire to run their own business , they just like fitness, working out and helping people. So after they have been working in the gym for 3 months cleaning equipment, putting weights back, and not earning any money they give up. At least that's what it seems to me.

    This post was for debate, not be lectured to Kyle , or should I call you Dad ... I thought Kyle was a pop star from Neighbours anyway, didnt know you'd moved into gyms in your old age.
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  5. #5
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PaulintheUK View Post
    Normal, doesnt mean its morally right does it?
    Maybe, maybe not. But it is what it is. It was morally wrong for the Germans to inflict the Blitz on England. But I would still suggest you duck when Fritz drops one on you. You can shake your fist righteously at the immoral world, or you can make the best of it, and improve it in time.

    When you own your own business and employ others, you can change it. Until then you have to either make the best of it or quit.

    I have a friend 'a doctor and works in the hospital, he also does private work. Guess what, he doesnt have to clean the equipment at the hospital after surgery because the Hospital are kind enough to provide him with 5,000 potential private patients. He has a salary !.. One can use this analogy across a myriad of industries.
    Your friend had a five year degree before he received any salary at all. Do you?

    Your friend's degree is kept exclusive, there is no UK free market in medical degrees, they only graduate so many each year because doctors have a strong union - er, "professional association". How about your fitness certification, how exclusive is that?

    Your friend will do shift work at 60+hr a week. Will you?

    Having done his medical degree, your friend faces another 4-12 years of residency as he becomes a specialist. Will you?

    The people under his care will die without it. Will your clients?

    If he makes a mistake and hurts a patient, he faces a malpractice suit which could bankrupt him and see him struck off the register, ending his career and losing all his work. Do you?

    Given that this is the UK you're talking about, his salary is paid by the government from public funds. Do you believe that taxes should be raised so that the government can supply people with free personal trainers? Do you think this will happen in the near future?

    There's a high turnover in gyms because not every PT has the skills, wherewithal or desire to run their own business , they just like fitness, working out and helping people. So after they have been working in the gym for 3 months cleaning equipment, putting weights back, and not earning any money they give up. At least that's what it seems to me.
    Correct. But it need not be so, if the person has given themselves a solid base.
    1. get yourself a trainer, and set moderately ambitious goals that'll take 6-12 months to achieve and involve setbacks along the way
    2. then go and do a proper certification
    3. then work in a big gym
    4. and talk to someone new every day
    5. and teach someone new a movement every day - plank, squat, leg press, whatever you think is useful, but always the same one
    6. and thus in 2 years you'd have talked and taught a movement to at least 500 people, and will have learned something about people and teaching movements

    In any profession, it's a process of 2 years or more to establish the skills and reputation to have any degree of success beyond basic subsistence. For a would-be trainer, this process begins before a course has been done. This is because you can do a fitness course and not be able to perform or teach so much as a pushup, and lack the social skills to get out there and talk to people.

    For other readers: being a competent and financially successful trainer requires years of dedication and work. But again, this is true in any profession. The more dedication and work, the greater the rewards. Glance back above and you start to understand why doctors are respected. To get where they are they've put in many hours, many years, sacrificed a lot, and risk a lot.

    There is a massive turnover in the fitness world because managers are lazy and from sheer inertia do things the way they've always been done, not taking naive young guys like Paul and developing them into competent trainers, and because the low barrier to entry and casual part-time work of fitness attracts enthusiastic amateurs, dabblers who are not interested in professional excellence. Fitness is much like hospitality in this regard.

    This post was for debate, not be lectured to Kyle , or should I call you Dad ... I thought Kyle was a pop star from Neighbours anyway, didnt know you'd moved into gyms in your old age.
    Interestingly, the people who've become trainers at over 30 or so tend to do better than the younger ones. A 40yo accountant doesn't want a 19 year old with a clipboard telling them what to do. Some life experience helps with empathy and general competence. For example, as you get older you start to understand that if someone with years of experience and proven success in a field offers you advice, you should probably take it into consideration. And you learn that if you abuse people who are trying to help you, you probably don't have a sterling future in that area.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Jay12321a's Avatar
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    Kyle sounds like he owns pure gym trying and he’s trying to give excuses. I couldn’t even be bothered to read all his Mumbo jumbo!..

    Yes it is ridiculous In the UK. I’ve been looking to get Into the industry for a while. Well just researching what it’s like for half a year.
    I think I’ve found the best place to do my lvl2/3.
    Where did you get yours?

    Pure gym basically charges people thousand pound to be cleaners and **** class Instructors.
    And when 90% of them realise and quite they have another to replace you. Another they e charged to our through there cleaner Acadamy.

    The better option of the three I think will be find a gym that charges a percent of your pt’ing.
    So no working for free as a cleaner and no paying monthly rates. Pay client by client.

    You need to look for independent gyms I think.

    Also I think how you look is the number 1 factor. All these people paying to become pts that look like they’ve never been gym themselves is laughable. You seen the state of some of these pts in pure or easy etc.

    No ones going to pay someone out of shape to train them!
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  7. #7
    Registered User CommitmentRulz's Avatar
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    The doctor actually helps the hospital MAKE MONEY. If the gym is paying you, how does it make money? Are you willing to take a salary and let the gym charge - and keep - all the money from your training sessions? Oh, and even in this scenario, the gym only hires you if you have enough "customers" for the GYM to turn a profit after paying you...
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  8. #8
    Registered User Jay12321a's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by CommitmentRulz View Post
    Are you willing to take a salary and let the gym charge - and keep - all the money from your training sessions?
    100% yes. A way in to get experience without worrying if your gonna be able to pay your rent.

    Sticking up for the way pure gym does it is ridiculous!
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  9. #9
    Registered User CommitmentRulz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jay12321a View Post
    100% yes. A way in to get experience without worrying if your gonna be able to pay your rent.

    Sticking up for the way pure gym does it is ridiculous!
    How many clients are you going to walk in the door with? Again, the gym is not going to pay you a salary if they are losing money on the deal...
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  10. #10
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Were I running a big gym, I would not use this model to run the staff. I would pay a salary.

    But I would also not hire trainers who'd done a three month course and had no other experience, who asked for advice and then rejected it, and who couldn't spell right.

    If I hired trainers with three months' learning, zero experience, semi-literate and arrogant, then I would expect virtually all of them to fail, and so I would want to shift the financial risk to them by charging them rent, etc.

    Fitness like hospitality has a low barrier to entry. This leads to it having a lot of more or less enthusiastic amateurs, and even more young inexperienced and poorly-qualified people with no idea what they want to do with their lives. These people tend not to last long in any job, and fitness is just one of the twenty different things they try from 18 to 30yo or so. Most managers in large organisations are inherently lazy, they sought their management position because they didn't like doing productive work, preferring meetings, emails and KPI reports. When dealing with the inexperienced irresolute arrogant nature of 20 year olds, they could respond by training and educating them, but that would be hard work. Instead they come up with stuff like rental agreements and casual work. "Fck it, just churn them through."

    This, unfortunately, is the industry we're in. You are new and not in a position to change the industry, so you must either adapt to it or give up on it. I suggest adapting and making the best of it. Once the British were a race of people who made the best of things and plodded on. Don't whine and have a sense of entitlement, that's profoundly American.
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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by CommitmentRulz View Post
    How many clients are you going to walk in the door with? Again, the gym is not going to pay you a salary if they are losing money on the deal...
    I don’t see how your so hung up on how many new members a new pt will bring.
    The gym has all the members already, some of these members would pay for pt.
    What i mean is the client makes a deal with the gym for pting, they pay the gym and the gym assigns a pt relevant to the clients need.
    The pt is on a salary and the gym takes the pt fee.

    Pure gym over here advertises like “earn up to £60 per hour”
    If this was true and they paid a salary to the pt and the pt worked 8 hours a day you could say the gym could earn up to 480 a day through a pt.
    It’s bull**** either way lol.

    I’m not saying pay a pt a salary and then let them keep there pt wage on top. I think this would be a better way in
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  12. #12
    Registered User Jay12321a's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Were I running a big gym, I would not use this model to run the staff. I would pay a salary.

    But I would also not hire trainers who'd done a three month course and had no other experience, who asked for advice and then rejected it, and who couldn't spell right.

    If I hired trainers with three months' learning, zero experience, semi-literate and arrogant, then I would expect virtually all of them to fail, and so I would want to shift the financial risk to them by charging them rent, etc.

    Fitness like hospitality has a low barrier to entry. This leads to it having a lot of more or less enthusiastic amateurs, and even more young inexperienced and poorly-qualified people with no idea what they want to do with their lives. These people tend not to last long in any job, and fitness is just one of the twenty different things they try from 18 to 30yo or so. Most managers in large organisations are inherently lazy, they sought their management position because they didn't like doing productive work, preferring meetings, emails and KPI reports. When dealing with the inexperienced irresolute arrogant nature of 20 year olds, they could respond by training and educating them, but that would be hard work. Instead they come up with stuff like rental agreements and casual work. "Fck it, just churn them through."

    This, unfortunately, is the industry we're in. You are new and not in a position to change the industry, so you must either adapt to it or give up on it. I suggest adapting and making the best of it. Once the British were a race of people who made the best of things and plodded on. Don't whine and have a sense of entitlement, that's profoundly American.
    The ease of getting a pt licence is absurd and this is most likely as your said what causes the problem In the industry.

    Im not here to complain just trying to figure it out. My plan is get qualified whilst I work. Then go part time at my current job and give it a go.
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    Interestingly, the people who've become trainers at over 30 or so tend to do better than the younger ones. A 40yo accountant doesn't want a 19 year old with a clipboard telling them what to do. Some life experience helps with empathy and general competence. For example, as you get older you start to understand that if someone with years of experience and proven success in a field offers you advice, you should probably take it into consideration. And you learn that if you abuse people who are trying to help you, you probably don't have a sterling future in that area.

    The perfect response to an arrogant poster. Well done and g'day mate !
    Last edited by Peuxfaire; 05-26-2019 at 05:05 AM.
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  14. #14
    husband, father, trainer KyleAaron's Avatar
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    In another forum, the discussion of initial free sessions came up, which one guy spoke against.

    "You don’t pick a mechanic by watching him fix a car....You wouldn’t ask a plumber to show his van and tools before he fixed your shower..... You’d never see a Solicitor doing a “taster” contract for you."

    In fact, most mechanics and plumbers will look over the job and give you a free quote while explaining how the work will be done, and most solicitors do have an initial free consultation. But let's set that aside.

    Mechanics and plumbers have done a year of school, and 3-4 years of learning under a master before they work independently. Solicitors do a 4-5 year degree followed by 1-3 years of clerkship, which is supervised legal practice.

    If all trainers did 3-8 years of education and supervised practice before working independently, then nobody would have any questions as to our competence, and we wouldn't need free trial sessions.

    As people can become trainers after 6 weeks of study and 20 hours of dusting treadmills, it is fair and reasonable for potential clients to want some proof of competence before working with us.

    Plus, nobody sees their plumber or mechanic three times a week, and if they're seeing their solicitor three times a week they have some serious problems. Once-off they can take a chance on your competence, ongoing they want to be sure, which is fair enough.

    Now, if you have years of experience and a reputation, that's different. But more 80% of trainers have less than 5 years' experience. So most will need to offer free sessions.
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    I worked at a gym for 12 months as a fitness instructor after gaining my level 2 from going back to college. I spoke with as many members as I could, I took part in classes, I covered classes whenever I had the chance, I worked my ass off. I cleaned machines in busy periods, I walked the floor, I was friendly and interested in each members journey. Then I made the decision 3.5 months ago to end my contract as a fitness instructor and go self employed as a PT. it wasn’t an ideal situation: by now I had been dropped to 20 hours as they knew I wanted to PT and took opportunities from me, I was getting paid £9 an hour and now I would have to do those same 20 hours a week to cover a £400 a month rent, that works out around £5 an hour now, for exactly the same work I used to do. But it worked out amazing. I’m currently at 16 clients, I haven’t created a business page, I haven’t been aggressively seeking new clients, people have been coming to me. In 3.5 months I have had 2 clients leave me, one was a teacher only here for summer and one was getting married in 6 weeks and wanted sessions until then. As soon as these two clients left me, 2 more came to me. Why? Because I had build myself a reputation at the gym. People want to be trained by me. It’s amqzing and overwhelming. 2 years ago I started college again, 3 years ago I was on the sick with social anxiety and didn’t have any confidence at dealing with people. But I found something I loved and people know I love this and want to be a part of it with me. Because I show up every day and have something deep in me that wants to learn and share as much as I possibly can. I do get frustrated at times with how I feel like it’s slave labour, but I’ve been given something to work with. As the guy has been commenting, i was given an environment where people want to better themselves, and people want me to help them with it. I wouldn’t have built this handing out flyers. If you don’t love this, find what you do love, when people see your passion for it, they will come to you.

    Sorry for no paragraphs
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