Dishing On Chain Gyms: What I Learned From My Brief Time In Corporate Fitness
I recently left the major gym chain location that I had worked at for 9 months. It was a fast transition, but one that allowed me to get back into the sport performance realm. I learned a lot in those months. I learned some good things, and some bad things.
A lot of time, in the performance world, big chain gyms get a bad rep (looking at you Planet Fitness) because of the equipment availability or the rules regarding which exercises are allowed to be performed or not performed. Corporate fitness, as a whole, isn't as bad as it's always made to seem by your local instagram coach or CrossFit enthusiast friend. But I figured, having had a few weeks to think about my time there, I'd give a few pros and cons for both the gym goer, or prospective employee.
First for the prospective gym goer:
1. The gym is a business, and just like any other business, it needs to make money to grow. This is often done through personal training, group fitness classes, and different membership types. Some gyms utilize low prices in hopes that they can oversell memberships than what they can feasibly handle, knowing that many members won't end up using the membership often enough. If it feels like someone is trying to sell you on something when you sign up, they are, but it's because they're trying to make a living, not force you into something you don't need.
2. Many places offer a free session/consultation with a Personal Trainer. Though this is supposed to be a sales pitch, it actually can provide you with a ton of value. You may not necessarily need personal training, but it can help you get oriented with your new gym, find out what programs are offered, and teach you a lot. Plus, if you do realize that you need help, most personal trainers are pretty knowledgeable in ways to get you to your goal, and it could present you with a great way to reach your goals.
3. Personal Trainers don't make the prices for the sessions you can pay to train with them, nor do they make all of the money that you pay per session. They aren't going to tell you that it will take "X" number of sessions to reach your goal because they want money, it's because they want to see you hit your goal as well. If the prices seem ridiculously high, it's because budgets for equipment maintenance, cleaning staff, and other gym amenities are paid for through those prices.
For the prospective Personal Trainer:
1. Corporate fitness is structured to help you get clients, so if you have little business sense (like me) and don't know how to start personal training, this is a great start. It's also a tough start. Expect to put in lots of time without a lot of immediate return. In my own experience, I often spent 10-12 hours a day on site and was paid for 3-6 hours of them. It takes a lot of time and effort to get going, but once you do, it becomes a bit easier to maintain, and definitely has a high job satisfaction rate.
2. Many gyms have a cap on how much of a split you make on each individual session. These are often determined by number of certifications that you hold, or years of experience. In this case, constantly pursuing new certifications and information is beneficial in increasing your salary. The top caps on most personal training sessions aren't very high, but in case you're wondering why, reference the above section, point 3.
3. If you have a personality type that thrives best in consistent schedules, or if you are highly introverted, you have to know when enough is enough. My own schedule changed daily, with some days being extremely busy, and others not. It's not a bad thing for some people, but if you like consistency, you will need to get used to some level of inconsistency. If you are introverted, you need to make sure that you can maintain a high level of work-life balance. You will constantly have to interact with people, or groups of people, and not balancing out everything could lead to burnout.
Overall, Corporate Fitness isn't as bad as a lot of people assume. For the daily needs of the average individual, it's a great deal for your money. For those looking to work as a Personal Trainer, it's a great way to get started, learn how to market yourself, and get experience. For athletes searching for intense training, I'll be the first to tell you that you need to find a legitimate sport performance facility. If you are looking for the highest level of General Physical Preparedness (non specific fitness), you may need something a little more in the functional fitness realm.
These are just my perspectives, and take them for granted, because every individual has a different story and situation. But if you wanted my take on it, this is it.