When I first got into coaching, I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to do. I had just come off spending seven years in university studying political science and then journalism; coaching wasn’t really on my radar, to be honest.
At the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, but I did know this:
10 years later I’m still coaching, and the reason I am still coaching is because I’m able to be an entrepreneur who gets paid on a percentage of revenue basis, I get to connect with people on a level beyond talking about day-to-day happenings, and I get to be involved with constantly learning about and working in the fitness industry.
None of this would be possible if I had been hired to coach a group class for $20-$30 an hour: Not a chance I’d still be involved coaching in the industry.
For one, being a cheerleader/babysitter/performer (however you want to describe it) coaching a group of members you don’t know anything about (except maybe how much they can squat) simply wouldn’t provide any job satisfaction in the long-term.
Though I’m naturally a social person who likes to connect with people, as a group class coach there’s no real opportunity to develop a professional coach-client relationship where you connect with your clients about what they actually need from you.
There’s no opportunity to find out about their problems and then help them come up with a plan to improve their lives: You’re just not going to find out one of the people in class who you barely know is going through a divorce and another is suffering from insomnia amidst a group of 20 people. If you do form deep relationships, it happens outside of class on your own time, without compensation, or ability to scale for all members.
And even if you do acquire the tools to be able to help people achieve their goals, there’s little to no opportunity to put them to use and actually make a difference in their lives. You’re just there to give them a sweat.
Being entrepreneurial, I would find it incredibly difficult working in a job where the ceiling on your hourly wage is around $20-$30 an hour with no real chance to moving on up the ranks.
As a coach, I know I’d eventually become lazy: What’s in it for me if I go out in the world to try to find new clients to coach? What’s in it for me to bother getting to know clients on a deeper level to ensure they’re getting the service they need and stick around? What’s in it for me to do anything above and beyond administering the group workout?
I can’t imagine coaching 50 group classes a week at $30 an hour. But that’s what I’d have to do to make $75,000 before taxes (assuming I’d take two weeks off in the year). And to be honest, $75,000 before taxes in the city I live would never be enough to one day earn a house and raise a family.
In short, it simply wouldn’t be possible to be a full-time coach as a career choice in the dollars per hour, group class game.
Hence the result at gyms all over the world who pay their part-time coaches by the hour to coach three, four or five group classes in a row, where they’re administering the same workout over and over to a group and where their main job is class time management and ensuring people aren’t moving too erroneously: They do it for a year to three years, but as a career? Not often.
The life of a group fitness instructor can be dismal. But, that doesn’t have to be your fate. Learn how the OPEX System of Coaching creates another route for coaches and get an introduction to our principles in this free course.
About the Author:
Emily Beers has been coaching at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. for 10 years, in a business model that treats coaches as independent entrepreneurs—each with their own book of personal clients—and compensates them on a percentage of revenue basis. She is about to embark on the OPEX CCP in hopes of furthering her coaching education and ability to connect with her clients.