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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Working in a Health Club versus Private Training

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Panel Discussion: Working in a Health Club versus Private Training

Working in a health club versus going private (independent): What are the pro's and con's - which provides the best opportunity for career growth, longevity, security, work-life balance, etc.?

Moderated by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

This Panel Discussion was originally posted on my facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/brent.brookbush - on July 30th, 2011

LaTasia Wright, July 30 at 10:57am: If you have the talent and skill then go independent. A health club is more a secure route because it’s easier to gain clients and most things are set up and done for you… But, who ever climbed to the ultimate levels of success by taking the easy route. Dream big and achieve big.

Brent Brookbush, July 30 at 1:56pm: I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Independent training can be a career “blackhole” as enticing as it might be from the standpoint of $/hour. If you move up in a corporation you acquire new skill sets… For example, I would not be an educator without the experience I acquired as faculty for NYSC and Equinox.

Brent Brookbush, July 31 at 11:43am: New personal trainers enter the fitness industry every day… where should they start?

Brandon Medina, July 31 at 11:47pm: Every trainer I've known, that went on to open their own facility, not only put in years of training in a commercial gym, but also put in at least 3 years as a fitness manager.

Brent Brookbush, August 1 at 10:41am: That is not a bad idea at all… It takes a different set of skills to run a facility, and learning from successful health club chains gives your venture a better chance of succeeding. Not to mention, 3 years as a manager gives you time to develop as a leader, and understand the skills that are needed to run a team.

Brandon Medina, August 1 at 11:16am: Everything that you said. Plus, for Equinox staff especially, management positions can teach you a lot about stress management.

Gabriel Martinez, August 1 at 1:44pm: Private gives you better security, money, and work life balance. Working for a health club could possibly lead into a career growth opportunity but if you want to grow your business and not theirs you will ultimately go private sooner or later. Gyms take advantage of their trainers and offer an unfair pay split most of the time. Also if I'm going to bust my ass to acquire these clients than I don't think it’s fair that the gym takes any more than 35%.

Brent Brookbush I would agree with your split… more than a 35% profit margin is pretty rough; however, most corporations do provide benefits as well. Benefits that if you tried to acquire on your own may cost more than $1200 a month (and that's just medical). You also have insurance, the payout to the facility you train at privately, and all of the time and money spent marketing. I agree that we need to have a realistic conversation about what a fair split is, but we must also be realistic as independent trainers - we do not get 100%. In fact, unless you are fairly successful you may be getting less. The only advantage to being independent is often your costs don't change as you take on more sessions. In essence your split gets much higher above a certain number of sessions.

Michael Consalo, August 1 at 2:44pm: I would like the freedom in my training hours, and the ability to make a name for myself by taking the chance to develop my own business. I like the idea of working for a gym if I had to and maybe for the stability of clients, but if you market well and take care of your clients giving them equal or greater value for what they pay for you shouldn't have an issue getting or retaining clients while you make what you decide and work when you want.

Gabriel Martinez, August 1 at 3:49pm: also working for gyms are a hit and miss situation these days. Managers hire trainers and expect them to increase sales not necessarily jump on business that is already there or not there. They want you to be able to sell personal training and add revenue to their profit stream. If you can’t do that you are screwed. If there is no business in the gym you are also screwed. It’s an iffy situation. that's just my opinion. most of the trainers i know now are either working for other gyms, no longer employed as trainers or on their own by way of being fired for not producing or leaving because they had business elsewhere.

Brent Brookbush, August 2 at 10:27am: All very interesting points. I think the first thing we need to do as Personal Trainers is set some career objectives. If your goal is to be a great trainer, you need to find a place with other great trainers to learn from. If your goal is to manage or run a facility you will be better off spending some time at a corporation. If your goal is simply to train and maximize your income training, at some point when you have the marketing acumen to do so, you may need to go independent… With all that said, if you could erase what's out there and create the perfect situation, what would it be?

Gabriel Martinez, August 2 at 1:38pm: ‎10-30 people in a group fitness class @$25 a head 4x per day

Michael Consalo, August 2 at 2:01pm: Erasing all that's out there it would be great to work in a clean facility with experienced trainers that care about their clients and earn money by providing a valuable service and not scamming people.

Scott Pullen, August 2 at 10:30pm: Personally…I have always enjoyed a large facility with a lot going on. I need a big, loud place to absorb some of my personality : )

Brent Brookbush, August 3 at 9:46am: I hope you are successful Gabriel, but there is a major issue with that price point. You are offering a service that is free when you join most health clubs, and at $25 a pop I could easily save money by choosing any health club chain in the country (providing I go 2x’s per week). I think small group training (3-5 people) is a completely underused model, but that is very different from the group exercise model you’re talking about.

I agree Mike… we need alot of work on the "culture" of fitness, but I have seen significant change within my career and I believe it is getting better.

Scott… I can certainly see your point :-)

© 2014 Brent Brookbush

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