Its long been a concern of mine that Gym Staff particularly Fitness Instructors get treated very poorly. Back in 2002 I found it bizarre that despite having a qualification they received less pay than the cleaners. This is despite the fact that most Fitness Instructors end up doing a lot of cleaning!!! The register of exercise professional has done little to help them, from the time it was set up, it seems to of been more about creating a position for some industry fatcats.
Despite often being concerned about the level of education involved in most gyms I was met at this gym by a few good staff who whilst not yet trained fully, were inquisitive and keen to learn (its a continual learning process), and a Gym owner who seemingly knew his stuff. From the outset I had concerns as the gym was so quiet despite the owners protests that his staff could easily earn £1000 a week!!! Quite why he would leave a £52,000 a year PT job to risk it all in an small gym that doesn’t have the huge membership quota just didn’t sit right with me. When he later bragged about driving a Ferrari and working in Law I again wondered again why you’d turn your back on that.
He continually ridiculed the fact that a fitness instructor may only earn £12,000 a year which I found shocking that he’d talk in such a manner about low wage earners. Then came the shock at the actual scam, I was required to pay £100 license fee to work in the gym, become a member of the gym, on top of this I had to pay £10 rent per client and had to buy my own staff T-shirts. I was even required to pay for a photo-frame in which to place my profile!!! One member of staff was even approached and asked to contribute towards a new piece of equipment as ‘he’d be using it.’
Despite all the payments required to work there, it was impossible to get a receipt and so today I left. I think they call it kicked out :-) but despite still being owed some work clothes that I paid for their is just no way I’d pay for things without a receipt so I’ve gladly left.
However, I was on a good deal compared to the actual gym staff. They open the gym up, clean the machines, floor, changing rooms, walk the owners dog/clean up after it, along with many other tasks for absolutely no wage!!!! Gym staff are signed up as part of an educational program in which they receive training instead of actual pay.
The training occurs through Lifetime which offers a range of work-based learning (WBL) programmes or apprenticeships based upon government funding in which they are supposed to ‘learn valuable new skills whilst enjoying all the benefits of paid employment.’
The company further state that ‘if you want to learn how to do a job, develop the skills an employer needs, gain nationally-recognised qualifications, and get paid, then work-based learning could be for you.’
Lifetime aren’t doing anything wrong in this picture, the woman who meets the staff to engage in training for their NVQ’s has no idea that they are unpaid and I’m sure she’d be horrified to find out. The courses are funded yet the gym owner is scamming them all with the promise of £1000 wages via PT once they qualify. Until then they are literally unpaid workers (think they used to call it slavery) who don’t even get spoken to with common decency.
I fell out of favor for refusing to be on a shift pattern, I work on a 1:1 basis so I attend when I need to meet with clients and understandable wasn’t over enthusiastic to take on a roll running the gym for no wages (who would), on top of this, my desire to have receipts for my payments seemed to cause too much anxiety for a poor but sneaky business model. Staff seeing me refusing to work for free was destabilizing the scam so I had to go.
The staff could get this training from any gym and also receive a wage (bonus) and I think they’re all starting to realise it. If your thinking of working your way into the fitness world, be aware that all is not what it seems. If your joining a gym, check that they treat staff well and maybe even that they get paid to work. Hopefully the staff working there won’t be too disheartened by their treatment and will continue to work (hopefully paid) within the fitness industry