Whenever we speak with gym owners whose main business revenue comes from running group fitness classes, they always have the same complaints about their coaches:
The reason: The group class business model does not work for the coach.
Even if a coach starts out excited about being a fitness coach, in time, group class coaches always turn into part-time, unfulfilled, burnt out coaches.
No actual coaching really happens in a group class. Coaches spend their time feeling like they’re cheerleaders and babysitters instead of coaches, as their main roles are to manage the time, explain the workout, and make sure nobody is moving too erroneously.
This not only gets boring and mentally draining pretty quickly, it’s also incredibly unfulfilling for the coach, who doesn’t feel like he’s able to put his knowledge to use to really help people.
OPEX coach Brandon Burchfield explained it this way: “It got to the point that I was so unfulfilled. I felt like a clock starter. You know, ‘3, 2, 1 Go.’ I wasn’t really making a difference in people’s lives.”
Most group class facilities run the same workout 8 to 10 times a day. This makes for an incredibly long, boring, repetitive, monotonous day for any coach who coaches more than two or three group classes per day. (This is often why coaches choose to be part-time coaches, as coaching the same workout 8 times a day puts them on the fast track to burnout.)
“There were days I was coaching five or six classes a day, coaching the same stuff over and over and repeating myself over and over,” she said of her five years managing a CrossFit facility. “At one point a couple of years in, I would be there from 5 a.m. until 9 o’clock at night. I coached every single class.”
Group class coaches are typically paid by the hour to coach a class. As a result, their paycheck is in no way connected to taking care of the clients.
This also means they’re in no way rewarded for their efforts. If they go above and beyond—if they sell a new client, if they build strong relationships with clients, if they offer nutrition advice—they reap no benefits from their efforts. Take a deeper dive into the economic difference between a group class coach and OPEX Coach here.
This lack of ownership contributes to even further feelings of being unfulfilled, disconnected, bored and burnt out.
All in all, those who have been group class coaches for some time and have switched to the OPEX model say the same thing: The group class model will always fail the coach.
Smith put it this way: “(The group class) system doesn’t set the coaches up to win, so there’s so much turnover because it’s just not sustainable for them as a career. It’s fine as a part-part-time job or maybe for a college student just starting out, but there’s no long-term win.”
OPEX coaches take the time to assess their client, to write individual programs for them, and to conduct monthly lifestyle consults with them. As a result, they can actually dive into people’s lives, offer guidance and actually coach their clients in an effective way. Much more fulfilling than being a clock starter…
OPEX coaches don’t ever work more than two or three on-floor hours in a row, and they’re never administering the same workout even twice in a row, let alone five times like the group model.
Their on-floor shifts allow them to circle among various clients and offer guidance as needed, which is much less draining than stressfully herding a group of 20 people together to explain the same workout five or six (or 10) times a day.
CCP coach Jesse O’Brien explained what his life looked like during the repetitive group class days compared to now.
“I was perpetually tired. Fatigue became normalcy for me,” he said of his group class days.
And today: “I have what 9 out of 10 people don’t have. I wake up every day, hang out with friends and have a good time, and don’t feel like I have worked since 2015.”
OPEX coaches essentially have their own book of clients and are responsible for properly servicing them, meaning they have complete ownership over their work. They are compensated on a percentage of revenue basis; therefore, their paycheck is directly tied to how they service their clients. If they lose a client, they take a financial hit. If they pick up five new clients, they’re rewarded.
This creates a fulfilling career they can be proud of, and as a result, there’s no ceiling on their earnings. Suddenly, they’re professional, full-time coaches earning professional wages to match their hard work.
Smith concluded: “Being on an incentive-based service means the more clients they have, the more money they make, so you’re setting (coaches) up to be a professional.”
Coaching group classes is monotonous, day in and day out you are starting clocks and reiterating the same coaching cues only to make close to minimum wage. But what if you could coach clients individually within a group community and share a piece of each client’s revenue? Well, it’s possible. Learn the basics of the OPEX System of Coaching in this free course and make that what-if a reality.