I was searching the internet to see if there's anybody out there who has tried (or is trying) to change the industry standard of pay for fitness professionals. I have been a certified (AFAA) fitness instructor for 11 years and have always felt cheated out of decent pay by the various clubs and gyms I have worked for.
Right now I am teaching six classes a week at a brand new YMCA in our area. The rate for a single member is $43.50 a month and $95 for a full family membership. You would think with 17,000 members some of that cash flow would bounce back into the laps of those of us who work the hardest in the fitness industry. But, they are paying us $7.50-$8.25 an hour. Everybody knows that you can't teach classes all day long. This kind of pay for what we do is ridiculous.
I have considered leaving behind my AFAA certification, and my SPIN certification, (which costs me a minimum of $500 every two years to maintain) and all the 60 or so people who attend my classes every week, to do something else with my life. But I would like to say I at least tried to make a difference before I go. I think the paying customers (the members) deserve qualified, competent, and skilled instructors to teach their classes. The only way they're going to get (and keep) this type of fitness professional is if the industry standards change.
We can't afford to be forking out at least 30 percent of our pay to our jobs (i.e. our expenses include certification renewal, continuing ed workshops, music - 29 bucks a pop - athletic shoes, proper fitness clothing, etc.). These expenses are necessary to maintain professionalism.
Even at $15 to $20 an hour, we are seriously underpaid in our region.
That's why I'm writing you. I noticed at the beginning of the Web site you said that the only way we can change things is if a special few will get together and work towards upping the standard.
I wonder: have you looked into what it would take to unionize? I have no idea how that works, or if it's a viable solution. I just need some ideas on how we as fitness instructors in our area (Seattle, Wash.) could ban together to bring some necessary changes.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom for me?
The Associate Editor responds:
While unionization is out of Club Industry's area of expertise, we do think Lael Jones brought up some valid points in her letter to the editor. Readers who would like to respond to her plea, can e-mail email@example.com. Or you can continue the discussion on industry standards in forthcoming issues by sending Club Industry a letter voicing your own take on this issue.
Thank you for your article in Club Industry, “Cycling for Cancer Survivors” [January 2002]. There are so many ways to implement community outreach programming in our clubs, and it is great for us to learn from one another.
I would like to highlight some ways our clubs, Healthworks Fitness Centers for Women, are involved in our Boston community.
Healthworks Foundation: See www.healthworksfoundation.org for specific, detailed information regarding this community project we are very proud of. One part of our foundation is our new “Healthworks Foundation Fitness Center at St. Mary's.” Our 3,000-square-foot gym provides full fitness services to both the residents and staff of St. Mary's Women and Infant Center and their neighboring partners. In addition, the fitness center will become accessible to the low-income women in the Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan communities. Please see Web site, and specifically, interview with our Owner Mark Harrington, for details.
Our club in Salem, Mass, is participating in a bike ride for charity in May. It is an 85-mile ride from JFK library to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis and it is benefiting the Best Buddies foundation that raises money for the mentally and physically handicapped. The club is offering a special membership to folks wishing to take Spinning classes to prepare for event.
Other community events and much more information regarding our clubs can be seen on our main Web page: www.healthworksfitness.com.
Thank you, Jerry. I read Club Industry from cover to cover, and really appreciate all your hard work. Please let me know if I can assist you in the future with editorials, or in any other fashion.
Maria Shea, MS
Healthworks Fitness Centers Inc.
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