What Should You Look for from an Employer?

Dean Zweck | 10 Jul 2018

You just finished your PT certification and now you need to find a job. Do you set up your own studio? Do you train from home? Maybe set up an online business?

Or, do what most PTs do and get a job in a health club or gym? Access to a few thousand members and a ton of equipment is the preferred method of many to get some valuable experience as a personal trainer and is a great way to start you career.

But which gym? What contract? What do you look for in a boss? Having worked in different health clubs and guided many PTs in to jobs, here is my guide to picking the right job for you.

The Gym

This is a major factor in your choice. Here are just a few things to think of:

  • Travel time – if the gym is a long way away, you may not be able to leave and come back if you have early morning and late-night clients. This results in LOOOOONNNNGGG days!
  • Type of members – do you anticipate a potential niche that you want to train? If so, is there sufficient numbers of these members available to you?
  • Equipment – will you train your clients a certain way (Olympic lifting, kettlebells) and does the gym have this equipment?  If not, can you bring in your own equipment?
  • State of repair – if the gym is broken or dirty, people will be reluctant to spend more money there.
  • Membership price – if you want to command a premium price, you may be limited in what you can charge if the gym is a low-cost operator.
  • Floor space for PT use – if you want to create some cool circuits or stretch your clients, you’ll need some space.
  • Usage – is the gym crammed at peak time, which may affect your ability to accurately train your clients?

Number of members vs number of PTs – How many members does the gym have vs how many PTs? We recommend that clubs have one personal trainer for every 300 members. If there aren’t enough members for all the PTs, most will struggle, and a culture of resentment and dog eat dog will form - not a pleasant place to work.

And for you just starting out, who may not have the skills and confidence in selling just yet, you may struggle the most!

The Manager

Being new, you may need a little help and support when you first begin. In my opinion,your manager should provide that for you. Here are some things to consider and do some digging to find out if your boss is the person for the job:

  • Have they ever been a PT before?
  • Have they been a successful PT before?
  • How many successful PTs are there in the club?
  • How long have your colleagues been there?
  • How long has the manager been there?
  • What support does he offer? Team meetings? Workshops?

The manager could be a general manager, a head PT, a fitness manager or another role. Being left to fend for yourself isn’t ideal, and having one of the above could make all the difference.

The Contract

Let’s cut to the chase, there is no decent contract if you have no clients. Let’s look at the pros and cons of some of the common contracts.

Self-employed/rent model – paying rent allows you to work when you want. You’re also not required to attend staff training and meetings (although your employer may say you have to). I would encourage you to still  go to these as it may help you develop and puts you in your employer/land lord’s good graces . The downside to rent is obviously shelling out a lot of money when potentially you haven’t got money coming in from clients or paying out during  month’s when business takes a dip (fingers crossed this doesn’t happen, but unfortunately for some it does).

Gym hours – Whether these are paid or done in lieu of rent above, you will be expected to do whatever your employer wants or needs. Ideally for you , the hours should center around things that will promote you as a PT, such as taking classes, interacting with gym members. But it could involve (and probably will) cleaning, maintenance, outreach, phone calls, sales, and daily checks. The other downside is working potentially15 hours a week in exchange for $100per week in rent, meaning you are effectively getting a relatively small amount/hour! Doing hours can massively inhibit your earning potential.

Employed Personal Trainer – This model means the club takes a percentage of each of your sessions, but you get the added advantages of being an employee. This means holiday and sick pay, and hopefully includes training and education (more on this below). The downside is the chunk the gym takes can be quite sizeable and again limits your potential earnings

Additional Benefits?

Finally, are there any other perks to working at that club?

  • Does the club put you through development? Is there a training academy? One of the main benefits of being an employed personal trainer should include a full training development plan. This could include technical skills, business skills and product based training
  • Will they allow you to advertise you and your brand?
  • Will they provide you with uniform and business cards?

Ultimately, I think most PTs would be better starting with hours or as an employed personal trainer, and then once they have built up a stable client base, move on to the rental model.

In Summary

There is no one size fits all perfect employer. I hope the above gives you some ideas as to what to look for, and maybe some smart interview questions to ask. You have to choose the best employer for you and your unique situation, but knowing what to look for is a vital part of helping you make the correct choice!

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Dean Zweck

About the author: Dean Zweck

Dean Zweck, BSc, CPT, has been in the industry for 17 years with 13 as a personal trainer. For the last 7 years, he has been the lead educator for PTs in the UKs largest commercial gym chain, as well as successfully owning his own PT business. Dean's passion is helping trainers acquire all the tools so they can get clients, train clients and keep clients. The three core skills all successful PTs need to have.

In his spare time, Dean is a bit of an adrenaline junkie competing in OCRs with Europe's Toughest Mudder on the agenda for this year, plus engaging in mountain biking and rock climbing.

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